Darts is a form of throwing game in which small missiles are thrown at a circular dartboard fixed to a wall. Though various boards and rules have been used in the past, the term "darts" usually now refers to a standardised game involving a specific board design and set of rules. As well as being a professional competitive sport, darts is a traditional pub game, commonly played in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Republic of Ireland, the Scandinavian countries, the United States, and elsewhere.

The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no treble, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm. The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and triples being a quarter of an inch wide.

There is a speculation that the game originated among soldiers throwing short arrows at the bottom of a cask or at the bottom of trunks of trees. As the wood dried, cracks would develop, creating "sections". Soon, regional standards emerged and many woodworkers supplemented bar tabs by fabricating dart boards for the local pubs.

It is generally said that the standard numbering plan with a 20 on top was created in 1896 by Lancashire carpenter Brian Gamlin, though this is disputed. However, a great many other configurations have been used throughout the years and in different geographical locations. Gamlin's layout was devised to penalise inaccuracy. Although this applies to most of the board, the left-hand side (near the 14 section) is preferred by beginners, for its concentration of larger numbers. Mathematically, removing the rotational symmetry by placing the "20" at the top, there are 19!, or 121,645,100,408,832,000 possible dartboards. Many different layouts would penalise a player more than the current setup; however, the current setup actually does the job rather efficiently. There have been several mathematical papers published that consider the "optimal" dartboard.

Source: Darts from Wikipedia

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