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     Why are the dartboard numbers in that order?


    This is probably the most asked question about the origins of the modern game. Who was the devious person who structured the segments of the dartboard in such a frustrating manner?

    The man who is credited with the 'invention' of the numbering sequence of the modern standard dartboard is BRIAN GAMLIN. Gamlin was a carpenter from Bury in the County of Lancashire, England and came up with the infuriating sequence in 1896, at the age of 44. He died in 1903 before he could patent the idea.

    In those days many working men - and in particular those with carpentry skills - manufactured dartboards out of elm or poplar wood as a sideline. This cottage industry was later prevalent across the North of England, the Midlands and the South East as darts grew in popularity from the mid-1920s onwards. The reason for producing dartboards at home, or more properly in the garden shed, was to sell the boards to local pubs, thereby supplementing the family income. However, more often than not, this income never found its way home at all. Dartboards were exchanged for credit in the local pub or money earned would finds its way back over the bar.

    The numbering of a standard dartboard is designed in such a way as to cut down the incidence of 'lucky shots' and reduce the element of chance. The numbers are placed in such a way as to encourage accuracy. That's it. Pure and simple. The placing of small numbers either side of large numbers e.g. 1 and 5 either side of 20, 3 and 2 either side of 17, 4 and 1 either side of 18, punishes inaccuracy. Thus, if you shoot for the 20 segment, the penalty for lack of accuracy or concentration is to land in either a 1 or a 5.

    There are 121,645,100,408,832,000 different possible arrangements of the 20 segments on a standard dartboard so it is perhaps a little surprising that Gamlin's arrangement of the numbers is almost perfect.

    Gamlin himself is an enigma. Like the lost court records in the case of William 'Bigfoot' Annakin, there is a vital piece of information in the Gamlin story that is missing. Despite the most thorough of searches no record can be found of Gamlin's death in 1903. Looking three years either side, for both counties of Lancashire and Suffolk reveal no one of that name terminating at that time. However, the answer may be that this is because Gamlin was on the move.

    The Daily Mirror in 1992 was asked the question "Who decided the numbers on a dartboard should be so jumbled and why?" The reply read:

    "Brian Gamlin of Bury, Lancs, introduced the odd numbering system in our fairgrounds in 1896, boasting "No Skill Required". Drunks had no chance, as a test of sobriety, the darts game ''round the clock'' (in which players have to score with darts in numerical order) became a great success".

    So this is why his death cannot be traced. If Gamlin was a showman then, sure, he would be on the road for at least six months of the year. It makes a lot of sense for the idea to have come from within the fairground community. They were the primary cause of the importation of so many 'French darts' which have, over the years become known as 'fairground darts'. Darts has been a feature of fairground sidestuff from the mid-19th century onwards, so who better than a showman - always looking for new ways of attracting punters - to come up with this devious numbering arrangement?

    Note: For those new to the game of darts the left-hand side of the dartboard is recommended as there are proportionately more high numbers grouped there, i.e. 16, 8, 11, 14, 9 and 12. No huge scores can be guaranteed with this tactic, but at least you'll never hit 5's or 1's. (At least that's the theory!) This side of the dartboard is known as the 'married man's side' because married men always play safe!

    Article used by permission of the Author Patrick Chaplin. Copyright Patrick Chaplin.

    More great articles about Darts and Darts History can be found on his great website at:

    "Why are the dartboard numbers in that order?" | Login/Create an Account | 8 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: Why are the dartboard numbers in that order? (Score: 1)
    by USUALCHAOS on Sunday, November 11 @ 04:34:06 UTC
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    Wow that was very interesting history on the placement of the numbers. Also when i first started to shoot I would shoot the married mands side. I wasnt even married yet. Just figured 30+ every turn was good for an D player.

    Re: Why are the dartboard numbers in that order? (Score: 1)
    by Black_Mamba on Friday, March 28 @ 06:43:27 UTC
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    In the four years I have been playing on league the thought never crossed my mind to ask about the numbers.

    Re: Why are the dartboard numbers in that order? (Score: 1)
    by HeRoDaRtS on Thursday, September 24 @ 14:26:32 UTC
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    that makes sense explains why i cant pop a balloon with a dart at the carnival to win a this got me thinking about the placement of the trips and doubles ring ,because when u throw at the trips with a reasonable throw your going to walk away with at least some points but a reasonable throw at the doubles does not cause you might run outta board with a close throw ....just odd that such a devious board dosent try and burn you for being greedy ...and yes i know the trips is a smaller target but i feel its placement is a heck of alot easier...

    Re: Why are the dartboard numbers in that order? (Score: 1)
    by comment207 on Thursday, March 14 @ 06:59:18 UTC
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    Using a bracket to run a tournament is perhaps the easiest way of keeping track of wins, losses, what teams need to play against each other, and the location of the games or matches. Knowing how to run a tournament bracket will help you figure out the logistics of running a tournament and make it easier to assign scorekeepers and referees to officiate the games.Thanks.Regards, research paper writing services []

    Re: Why are the dartboard numbers in that order? (Score: 1)
    by caorbaa on Wednesday, April 10 @ 01:41:29 UTC
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    Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and Green's agent Coach Outlet Online [] David Falk, maintained during the lengthy delay that the deal eventually would get done Coach Factory Online [] but wouldn't shed light on what was holding up the process Coach Outlet [] More on the CelticsKeep on top of the Green throughout the offseason with ESPNBoston. Coach Outlet [] The Legends have posted records of 24-26 in both of their D-League seasons to date [url=]Coach Outlet Online[/url] while also serving as a consultant to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban after a seven-year run in Dallas

    Re: Why are the dartboard numbers in that order? (Score: 1)
    by raj1 on Wednesday, September 18 @ 14:59:08 UTC
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    Your article has a lot of great information and it has really helped me with my paper for a class I am taking. Do you have any other posts about this topic? writing an essay for college []

    Re: Why are the dartboard numbers in that order? (Score: 1)
    by rohit on Saturday, October 26 @ 10:45:21 UTC
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    It's cool, that author decided to write on this theme. He might be interesting and awesome person. doctoral dissertation []

    Re: Why are the dartboard numbers in that order? (Score: 1)
    by dohpee on Tuesday, August 18 @ 07:57:56 UTC
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    This is exactly the type of minutiae that makes such an amazing resource for true Dartnatics and Dartaholics alike. Wonderful!

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