by Fred Everson
An ominous name for a dart game, Killer was one of the first after hours games I ever learned to play. I picked it up in St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands. I havenít been back since, but in 1988-89 there were lots of dart players there and plenty of places to play darts. The outdoor bar we played at most often was called Bottomís Up. The dartboard was set up outside and it was not unusual for eight or ten players to be jostling for position, and one of the games they played to accommodate lots of players was Killer.
Here in Florida they play Killer too, but itís a different game than the one we threw in the Islands. The game they play here merely involves besting the previous playerís score. Late Saturday night, through a fog of bass ale no less, I somehow remembered the game we used to play in St. Thomas. Itís a good game to play for multiple players on a single board, because itís fast paced and fun.
In this version of Killer, you throw a dart with your opposite hand to determine your number. Someone always asks if the entire game is played with the opposite hand, and the answer to that stupid question is, of course not. You only throw the opposite hand to decide which number is yours. This means if you are right handed, you throw the first dart with your left hand, and vice versa. Order of play is also decided by this number, with the highest number throwing first, etc. If a player hits a number already owned by someone else, he keeps throwing with his opposite hand until he establishes a number of his own. Once all players have established a number, the board is set up and each player is given 5 lives Ėdenoted on the scoreboard as tick marks. Players now throw darts with their dominant hand as they would in any other dart game.
The object of the game is to get three hits on your own number, which makes you an active killer. Should you get one hit or two hits, score them next to your number as you would score a number in cricket, and then try to close it with your next throw. Circle your number when itís closed to let everyone know that you are a Killer. Thereafter the idea is to get three hits on any opponent in one throw. Every time you do, that player loses a life, and you erase one of his tick marks. Lose all your lives and you are out of the game. The last player standing wins.
This is a dangerous game for good players, because everyone shoots at the big guns first. Temporary alliances are sometimes formed, but ultimately itís every man for himself. The inevitable sudden treachery is part of the fun.
Singles, doubles, and trebles are scored as they are in cricket. The player who hits the bull with his opposite hand at the start of the game gets to keep it, which is a considerable advantage.
In St. Thomas we played Killer with as many as 10 or 12 players. Itís the perfect late night game, because the scoring is straightforward and simple with no need for math. Simple arithmetic is challenging enough for some players, with or without the beer, so beware of them. Not having to do math tends to elevate the game of a numerically impaired player, as is readily illustrated so often in the soft tip game.