by Frederick Everson
On a recent visit to New Jersey, I stopped by Donovan’s Reef, a famous watering hole in Sea Bright, which is on the Atlantic Ocean, just south of Sandy Hook. Here I was surprised to find that the Widdy dartboard is now constructed of rolled paper. Through a patented manufacturing process, Widdy claims these boards will last twice as long as those made of wood, and the paper boards are identical on both sides.
Outside of the same 20 numbered segments, the American dartboard hasn’t much in common with the English bristle board. There is little strategy here, you simply run up as much score as you can. A different version of the same game is called “No Count” -- it can be 3 No Count or 5 No Count, depending on the skill level of the players involved. What that means is that if a player or a team scores less points than the 3 points or 5 points required, there is nothing scored.
The darts version of baseball was a big game on the Jersey Shore after the First and Second World Wars, and is still firmly entrenched in a number of local taverns in the New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania area. In doubles games (not “matches”) on this board, teammates, shoot back to back. The second player pulls the first players darts, calling out that score to the other team, and then throws his three darts. The first shooter on the opposing team then pulls and scores those darts, and so on through nine innings of play. I suppose the rules may vary from house to house.
Unlike the English game, where players concentrate quietly as they throw, the wooden game is noisier with players taunting each other with verbal abuse. My friend and local player of note, John Bolte of Keyport, says it’s part of the game. But it probably has more to do with playing darts in New Jersey than it has to do with playing darts. The rules are simple, everyone plays with the same house darts, and the wires embedded in the face of the board leave little room for scoring controversy. The well established history of the game and its unique regional flavor make it interesting and appealing, and a wonderful experience for anyone who enjoys throwing darts. If you are in the area and looking for a game of darts, don’t be surprised if this is the game you find.