by Frederick Everson
Players new to steel tipped darts – especially those who have cut their teeth on the soft tipped game – often make the mistake of pointing opponents at almost every opportunity. The difference between the soft tip game and the real game is hardly subtle. The scoring areas on the soft tip game are larger and bounce outs are usually scored by the electronic game. This makes the steel tip game somewhat more difficult, which makes pointing a defensive ploy, whereas in the soft tip game pointing is indeed considered aggressive play.
When you point an opponent in a steel tipped game, it essentially adds to the number of darts you must throw to close and win. There is simply no way around it. If the first dart you throw hits the treble you are aiming at – and most good cricket players shoot at trebles exclusively – another dart thrown at that same number for points, deprives you of a shot at the next open treble. Even if you hit two trebles on an opponents open number, you have taken yourself no closer to the end of the game. You may be forcing your opponent to throw more darts, but you also have to throw extra darts.
I guess it depends on how well you play. If you feel that you are overmatched, a defensive strategy might make sense. But if you throw a good dart and you are as good or better than your opponent, why waste a chance to move toward closing the game? If your first dart hits the targeted treble, why not take the confidence gained from that good dart to the next open number? If you hit another treble here, you open the gap between yourself and your opponent further, and you have one more number closed. To me this is a lot more demoralizing a hit than one that scores points.
In a pick your own partner game I played the other night, my partner and I were matched against two good players. Both guys were good players and the teams were evenly matched. Our opponents repeatedly pointed us after hitting trebles with the first dart, whereas we played a more forward moving game by following up our trebles with hits on the next open number. On one occasion, I hit a treble 20 with my first dart, and followed it with double bull. We won three games in a row against these two good players, and they threw pretty well – maybe even better than we did. But we were able to beat them because of our more aggressive play and by focusing on the end of the game.
This is not to say that pointing is frivolous. Points are what make Cricket the great game that it is. But you need to know who to point and when to point him. Pointing for the sake of pointing is a game delay – a prevent defense that may prevent winning more than it does anything else.