I've been watching some games of darts and it seems to involve some tactics. First to zero doesn't sound like needing tactics. Is it true that you're not allowed to hit a double which gives you are score below zero? When I watch the game on tv it seems so strange to hear the commentators telling us exactly what will happen. How can they know? There must be more to 501 than I know.
I can see how tactics can be a part of snooker but not really how it can be a part of darts.
Please explain the game of 501!

Hello, Hank.

In professional darts tournaments, the rules require that a game be finished with a double for the exact amount remaining. This is called the outshot.

The rules are published by:
58 St Marys Crescent, Hendon, London NW4 4LH

Here is the wording of the specific rule:

5.11 Starting and Finishing:
5.11.01 In every Darts Event, each leg shall be played with a straight start from 501 to the finish at zero which must be on a “Double”, unless stated otherwise in the playing format of a particular Darts Event.
5.11.02 The “Bull” shall count as 50 and if 50 is required to complete a leg, set or match then the Bull shall count as double 25.
5.11.03 The “Bust” Rule shall apply, namely if a Player scores more than the number required then that score shall not count and the Player’s score shall revert back to the score the Player had prior to the Opponent’s last throw.
5.11.04 A Game Shot called by a Referee is valid only if the thrown darts;
(i) achieve the required finish and
(ii) remain in the dartboard until retrieved by the Player whose Throw it was at the time of calling the Game Shot. A leg is not completed until all darts are retrieved from the dartboard by the Player who has thrown.
5.11.05 If a Game Shot called by a Referee is declared invalid then the throwing Player shall have the right to continue the Throw which is in progress in an attempt to achieve the required finish.

If the players a remaining score of 50, a double bull is required, If the player has a remaining score of 40, a double 20 is required. If the player hits the single 20, then a double ten is required. Double 20 will not take out the score of 20.

Obviously, only even scores can be taken our with a single dart in a double and there are exactly twenty one such numbers in the game of 501, the even numbers between 2 and 40, plus 50 for the double Bull.


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Scott Harrison


Dartboard Lighting requirements and methods


Inventor of The Circumluminator light fixture purpose built for darts

American Darts Organization (ADO), Professional Darts Corporation (PDC)

BA, Georgetown University 1963 Graduate study in the Analysis of Ideas and Study of Methods, University of Chicago, 1963-1974

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