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Avoid Mental Mistakes
by Frederick Everson
 

The game was mine to win. My blind draw partner left me with a 67 out and as I stepped to the line, I stopped and thought about what I would do. 67 was not one of the outs that jumped into my head with flash card precision. But it will be from now on.

After a moment of thought, I decided to throw at the trip nine. Hit that and I’m left with a game shot at Double 20; so far, not a bad play. But my dart wires a single 9, and I quickly think to myself “No problem. Hit a 20 and it will leave you with 36 and a double 18, right?” Of course not. In the heat of battle I made an error in my subtraction. 67 minus 9 is not 56, it’s 58. Hitting the single 9 wasn’t a big deal; trips are low percentage shots. But throwing at the single 20 instead of the single 18 was a terrible play. The 18 would have left me the game shot at double top, and the two throws would have been on the same quadrant of the board. Not only did I spread my last two throws as far apart as I possibly could, I left myself on double 19. Hit a single 19 and my partner doesn’t have a game shot with his first dart. And that, of course, is exactly what happened. We were already in the losers’ bracket, and the resulting loss here put us out of the tournament.

My first mistake was to make a critical decision without consulting my partner. He might have offered a better option. At least he would have known what I was shooting at and had time to work out the next dart scenario in his head. He might have warned me that I was throwing at the wrong number. It’s happened before. I once started my throw at 158 with two trip 20’s. As I got ready to throw my third dart, my partner saw that I was aiming at the top half of the board.

“What are you doing? The close is double 19,” he said.

I shifted my aim, hit the double 19 and had the big close. So if you are playing as a team, why not use both brains to work out the numerical logistics. Communicating with your partner will minimize mental errors.

My second mistake was to throw at the trip 9. A better play would have been to throw at the trip 17. Hit a single, and I would have had a game shot at the double bull, or the option of taking the easier three dart out by finishing with a single 18 and a double 16. The three dart out attempt would have been the best chance of leaving my partner with a game shot if I missed. Now I know a better play for 67 and I am not apt to forget it anytime soon.

The other lesson to be learned here is to know your outs. Many players know all the outs between 170 and 99, but because everything from 98 on down is a two dart out, many players seem to spend less time thinking about them. This is a mistake. There are often many options for a particular out, but some are much better than others. Know the best percentage plays automatically and you won’t have to break your rhythm to think. That’s a big step toward winning games of ’01.

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