The Soft Tip
by Fred Everson
Some steel tip dart players look down their noses at the soft tip game. True, it costs money to play and bounce outs count, and a few other annoyances as well. But in the final analysis, it is still throwing a dart at a target on a dartboard. Chances are if you can throw steel tipped dart well, the soft tip version will also fly for you.
I have only played in two soft tip tournaments, and the idiosyncrasies of the game were slightly confusing the first time around. Not having to hit a double in the ’01 game was distracting. I found myself calculating outs that were not outs at all. I also didn’t quite get the hang of running the machine. Sometimes you have to push a button to switch players, other times not. Minor stuff, but enough distraction to cause my darts to be off. And I was playing with the cheapest house darts that came out of bucket full of the same.
My second experience with soft tip came in a money game. I had the good fortune to get paired up with a partner who knew the game well and could throw. And we played Cricket, which is basically the same on the soft tip board as it is on the bristle board. The big difference was that there were four teams playing at once. I had never understood the point mentality of soft tip players when they play hard darts, but I caught on quickly. Everybody keeps scoring points as long as any team is open on a number. That too was a difficult concept at first, but I soon got the idea. You point, point, and point if you are behind to stay in the game. And if you are ahead, you balance pointing with closures. Similar to steel cricket, but harder to control your own destiny.
If you shoot sharp in steel and close your numbers fast you win. But in the soft tip game you are constantly backpedaling to point numbers you have long since closed – which is hardly a subtle difference.
The bright spot was I had a game winning shot with a single bull and a trip 18 that was worth 20 bucks each for my partner and me. I have seldom seen that kind of money change hands on a bristle board. I would still rather play cricket with hard darts, but nevertheless, I think I will add a set of soft tips to my dart case.