Sunday, July 31, 2005

Shut Out

Following my practice against the ’Computer 60 Machine" described in the Blog entry "So How Did I Lose This one, Then?" I really felt I’d started to learn how to compete and not be afraid of winning. In fact I was still angry at raising my game yet losing. I played in The Chelmsford from 20:40hrs to 23:10hrs and lost only two games all night. The finishing was there and the big scores were there, and I really want to Blog this one before I forget it! ;

I lost an early warm up game against Roger (I still won 2-1 overall), and then a game against Alan where he checked out on 113 while I was waiting to throw for 8 against the darts. From that point it was a total shut out from me. We had two visitors who joined in, but I was in absolutely no mood to let anyone win on our board. I then played for two hours straight and beat all comers (against the darts, where they threw first) and it was a real highlight, where for once I really felt like "this is what I’ve been practising for all this time and running a stupid Blog for". A very pleasing evening, and one to remember.

In the past I would have felt the pressure and been relieved to lose and have a sit down, but not tonight, and I really feel that I’ve turned a corner with the consistency and determination to win. I do practice enough afterall :o)

So How Did I Lose This one, Then?

I played "best of 15 legs, 501" games against DartPro and lost 8-7 against the computer throwing a 60 average including the finishes. Yet my overall average was 62.3? Very disappointing, but it was a really exciting game to play. I raised my game against an extremely unforgiving AI opponent, and despite it being a game against a computer it simulated a League game surprisingly well. It’s rare to feel adrenaline during solo practice, but this came close, and I was deliberating over my finishes and swearing out loud when I hit the wire! Valuable practice, and I think it helped me on the Sunday night games in the pub. See the Blog entry for those games.

By the way, I know how I lost it; It’s like tennis, where you can win on a low total points score as long as you get the important match winning points. A very big "learn".

DartPro Analysis - July '05

This is what I love about DartPro. It lets you know exactly where the problems lie.
Forget the 153 and 140 finish, as these were just two highlights over 795 games. It’s encouraging to know I’m capable of a big finish, but the frequency is too low, and the average finish is just 24.81. Lets see if I can’t get this up to 30 by September.

The real "learn" from these figures is that more than two thirds of my shots are below 60, but I seem to be getting a respectable overall average by hitting the odd big shot. These big shots are not something I can rely on in League matches where over the three games I might only get 20 throws at the board, especially when I’m only getting 180 every 60 games.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Good Night's Practice

The three double tops (pictured) were from an earlier session in the house, but last night’s pub games went well for me ; a 7-1 win, with really precise finishing. I think it was about the fourth game before I missed the finishing double with the first dart. This is surprising, as I’ve done very little practice on the doubles this month.

Warm-up remains a problem though, and it takes me a full 30 minutes to get into the swing and feel comfortable, especially without League match adrenaline to feed off. I’ll have to improve on this before the season starts, as practice time is limited on a board being shared by 16 people before the game.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Shirt

"Polyester sportswear" is usually an oxymoron, but not in this case. They’ve added an material called Xstatic which makes wearing this thing almost like wearing no top at all.

It’s light, doesn’t restrict the throwing arm in any way, breathes really well, and it a great way to wind up our Welsh Landlord. I’ve tried it out a couple of times and it beats the cotton tops I have, so I’ll be wearing this on match nights.

Practice Music - July 2005

I’ve mostly been listening to this one for home practice ; Donald Fagen’s "Kamakiriad". It’s groove based so doesn’t distract when throwing, and it’s also an excellent piece of work from the Steely Dan partnership of Becker / Fagen.

I’ll pick another album to major with next month.

Meet The Landlord

Mr Lyndon Jollow. A good bloke with a sharp sense of humour and a real concern his customers.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Snakes & Ladders

Here’s the practice game I use. It helps with treble and single accuracy, though you can include doubles as a target if you don’t mind losing points for darts which are out of the board.

The object is to go around the board from 1 - 20. For each number the "par" score starts off at two, meaning to progress to the next number you need to hit more than two of the target number. Hit two and you stay on that number. Hit just one and you move back one number. Hit none and you move back two numbers. Using an example of aiming for the 1 as your first shot :

Hit 0 = Move back two to 19
Hit 1 = Move back one to 20
Hit 2 = Par. Stay on the 1 and try again with the next shot
Hit 3 = Advance to 2
Hit 4 (e.g. a treble and a single) = Advance to 3
Hit 5 to 9 = Advance accordingly, with 8 being the highest number you can land on with this first throw.

This isn’t so difficult, and it’s a good warm-up for moving around the board at different targets. I usually find I’ll slip right back from the initial 1 to 16, and need to get right back up to the 1 before I make any progress.

The challenge really starts once you’ve been round the entire board from 1 - 20 and you then increase the "par" for each number to 3. This is really difficult, as a nice neat three in the single will not be enough to progress to the next number ; you’ve got to be hitting the equivalents of tons and ton fortys on the numbers to progress. Of course a par of 4 is well beyond my current standard, but it’s something to aim for (no pun intended).

Monthly Average for July 2005

No more DartPro for me this month. During the month I’ve played 163 games of 501 with a 3 dart average of 53.5% including the finishes, and as the chart shows this is the new monthly record. It also brings to an end the dip in form during May and June which you can see in the chart. It looks bad, but it was only a slip of a couple of percentage points. February 2005 was far worse, with a score of 45.6.

I’ll spend the final part of the month playing pub games and practising doubles etc.

Picture of The Moorcock

Three highlights I forgot to mention earlier : Roger’s 115 finish on the bulls eye, Jimmy’s 84 finish in two darts (T14, D16), and Alan’s "Sorry Lena" just after he released the dart to beat her. He would’ve looked silly if it missed, but that’s confidence I suppose.

Friendly Game - The Moorcock

I’ll shortly post an external photograph of The Moorcock, but in the meantime here’s a write-up of the evening.

Twelve of us made the long(ish) journey to The Moorcock on our usual team bus, and we were joined by several more who made their own way up there.

The Moorcock doesn’t have a regular league team, but they assembled 6 or so players including the Landlord himself. We put the names of all players into a hat and arranged two teams of 9 players.

The 9v9 1001 Team Game went well for me personally ; I only threw 7 darts in the game, but these consisted of two 90+ shots and the winning double three at the first time of asking.

We then played three games of 3v3 501 in which I played a poor game and was beaten. This was followed by 9 301 singles games in which I narrowly beat team member Colin. I hit a ton and a few average shots, but ended up stuck on double 1 and had to watch him narrowly miss the winning double in two throws. You never feel too good about winning on double 1 as it just looks so awful, but it’s marginally better than losing I suppose.

The board was fairly dim and the oche was far from ideal (quite cramped, a lot of movement in the line of sight, and just some gaffer tape marking the line), so I’m pleased to get some pre season practice in these conditions. Venues with a “good throw” are not common, so I don’t really want to practice under unrealistic conditions. Certainly, getting barracked by a team member (Jimmy – “what are you aiming for?”) was a first for me!

On the social side this was a great evening, and thanks must go to our captain Lena for arranging this and booking the coach etc. We had a great time, and it was good to see such a strong turn-out from The Chelmsford.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Theatre Of Dreams

This is it. The "Theatre Of Dreams", where next season’s home games will take place every second Tuesday night.

It’s a very compact bar (it used to be The Lounge in previous years), and on Match Nights the pool table is covered with a wooden sheet and the food is served from it. The tables in the left hand side of the picture are moved out of the way, and we get a great atmosphere for the matches.

The bar area is on my right hand side as I took the picture, and behind this point of view there are a few more seats and tables, and a fruit machine. There’s more room next door in the Lounge area, with a real fire and a large bay window. All in all, a very friendly and inviting little pub.

Friendly match arranged

Here’s an external shot of The Chelmsford taken on Sunday afternoon. We’re having a bit of a heat wave over here at the moment, so it was a great day to take a few pictures.

We’ve arranged a friendly match against The Moorcock for next Tuesday night (our usual Team practice night). I’ll try and treat it seriously and pay some attention to warm-up and preperation, as last night’s Team practice was fairly average. I’d been on the motorway all day and arrived in the pub a little tired and immediately had to join the flow with just three practice darts. I think I won about half of the games, which is bit of a dip in recent form.

I’ve noticed these photos are a little bandwidth hungry, so I’ve started to scale them down and compress them. I’ll try to keep them all to 35 kilobytes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Leaning to the right

I’ve been trying to correct the way my darts tend to lean to the right when they hit the board. This isn’t such a problem when you get a 180 like last night (pictured), but is still something I’m working on.

Last night was a very encouraging practice evening. The highlights were a 180, a 3 dart average of 100.2 in one of the 501 legs, a 116 finish, and an overall DartPro average which has now risen to 51.15.

I'm just off to the Team practice night which we always hold on a Tuesday evening in the close season.

Last Season's Placings

Here are the League placings for last season. We were 9th, which is something of a success compared to past seasons. I’ll be posting my targets for the 2005/6 season, and I think I’ll just have a team target of bettering 9th position.

Sadly, three of these teams will not be present next season, and I’ll know which ones have dropped out when the fixtures are printed.
So far I’ve only been told "September" for the start of the season, and practice continues towards that date.

1) Chopwell Central
2) Cricketers
3) Smelters
4) Shotley Club (B)
5) Joint - Commercial
5) Joint - LeadgateCricket
7) Derwentside
8) Stanley Masons
9) Chelmsford
10) Jolly Drovers
11) Castleside Inn
12) Shotley Club (A)
13) Southmoor Hotel
14) Black Diamond

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Walking to the pub

You know the feeling ; you’re thirsty and you want a game of darts. Well this is the view I see on the way down to The Chelmsford (AKA The Knack). Actually, this is the view at 16:00 hrs. Far too early even for the ultra thirsty, so I was probably on my way to the Post Office or something.

Ebchester is a small village of approximately 1,000 households. It is 13.5 miles west of Newcastle City Centre, and just down the road from Consett (famous for the now closed steel works). Even people who have lived in North East England all their lives haven’t heard of us, and it is probably this which has kept the house prices down to a very affordable level (less than £100,000 for three beds, front and back gardens, semi detached, wit hthe countryside right on the door step).

There are two other pubs within walking distance. They’re not darting pubs, but are OK for Sunday meals and a change of scenery every once in a while.

Standard Flight (cont.)

I’ve had to give up on the Standard flights, despite some fairly encouraging DartPro stats with them last night ; 18 games of 501 gave an overall average of 53.62 per throw including the finishes. They seemed to be very stable when going for doubles, even though I didn’t hit quite as many 100+ shots as usual. Shots for double tops in particular were consistent.

Everything went well until I tried them in the pub, and I found that I simply wasn’t confident with them, and my practice shots were terrible. I then swapped to the pear shaped flights and normal service was resumed. I’m sure it’s all in the mind, but that’s also the place where games are won and lost, so I’ll stick with the familiar config I have been using for the last few months.

With the pear shaped flights back I beat team-mate Roger 8-0, and the highlight was one particular game of 501, where I averaged 29 points per dart.

I reached a Milestone on DartPro, where my overall average has now crept over 51 for the first time, and it now stands at 51.01.

Standard Flight

I've had a try with standard shaped flights. These ones came with my new darts, and rather than just giving them away down the pub and fitting my pear shaped flights I thought I'd give them a try.

The design is truly awful. I can't think of the character profile of someone who would choose these! I mean, mermaids' backsides !?!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Tommys Darts

Two new sets of Hi Tecs arrived on my doormat this morning from Tommys Darts International. This will by my gear for the coming season, and will replace last season's well worn set. This means I now have identical sets for practice / League games / spare.

I've been ordering from Tommys Darts for 20 years, and they have never been so much as a day late with a single delivery. A link to one of their adverts appears in the "Links" section on the left. They don't have a web site, but I've never had any problems using phone, post, or e-mail to place orders.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Profile Picture

Off to a good start!

Blogging seems to agree with my darts playing, as tonight’s hard graft on the practice board was nothing short of spectacular. Three consecutive tons, the all important 180 (pictured), and a 3 dart average of 61.60 over 17 games of 501 including the shoot-out darts. There’ve been plenty of sweary filled evenings in the mad house, so I’ll just enjoy this one I think. It seemed to be mostly due to good finishing on the doubles, with a 110 finish being the highest. No visits to the mad house (double one) helped too. The lowest finish was 8 with the first dart, which is incredible for me. If they drug tested me they’d find only caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Another "personal best" :o)

The Darts Themselves

These are the bad boys ; Hi Tec "The Vice" 27g. They’re 85% tungsten with a "shark cut" grip. At the time of writing they cost £9 per set from Tommys Darts international. Being "shark cut" they are not very durable, but I feel it’s worth replacing them regularly to gain the benefit of such a great grip.
In the past my favoured dart was the Alan Glazier Sharks 26g, and I still have a good set of these darts which I can fall back upon if my 3 sets of Hi Tecs go missing :o)
The Glaziers aren’t bad at all, but they’re twice the price and seem to be not as durable as the Hi Tecs due to their shallow shark cut.

The purpose of this Blog

Quite simply to track my progress in the 2005/6 (and beyond?) Derwentside Darts & Dominoes League. I don’t play dominoes and just concentrate on the darts. My team (The Chelmsford {AKA "The Knack"} in Ebchester, Co. Durham, UK) are a mid table team in the league, and to be honest the dominoes have tended to boost our ranking in the past.

My first season was 2004/5, and I won 52% of my singles games and scored a single 180 during match play. Plenty of room for improvement then, and it’ll hopefully appear here.

Each match night we play a team game where all 8 team players compete against the other 8 in a game of 1001, a doubles game where randomly selected team pairs play against the opposing pairs in a game of 701, and a singles game where we compete against randomly selected opponents in a game of 501. I don’t know what they do with the dominoes, but usually our team members emerge from an adjacent room punching the air, so I presume we’re good at it :o)
At the time of writing we are in-between seasons, and I’m practising hard in readiness.

Day One!

So I've finally reserved my own little corner of cyberblog space. I'd have liked to call the blog "Tommo", but someone else seems to have grabbed this coveted title. I'll therefore have to use "Tommocubed", for which the literal translation is

Noun : tommocubed {tommo - cyubed}
1. Someone with a surname of "Thomas" who owns a Nintendo GameCube

Source - Unknon and irrelevant