HUGHIE ON TARGET IN DARTS COMPETITION
Inniskeen’s Hughie Martin made history in county Monaghan when he achieved a dart player’s dream last Saturday 18th April. He hit the perfect nine darts in a competition at Aughnamullen social centre. Hughie is the current Monaghan county champion and he says he will never forget this night.
A nine-dart finish is a perfect leg in the game of darts, using only nine darts, the fewest possible, to checkout from 501. It is notoriously difficult to achieve, even by the game’s top professionals. It is considered to be the highest single-game achievement in the sport, similar to a maximum 147 break in snooker or a 300-point game in bowling.
There are 3,944 possible paths for a nine-dart finish playing a 501 double-out dart leg. A single game (known as a leg) of darts requires a player to score 501 points, ending with either the bullseye or a double. Each shot consists of exactly three darts and 60 is the maximum that can be scored with any one dart. Thus 180 is the maximum score of a shot, and nine throws are the minimum necessary to win.
Although other combinations are possible, the traditional nine-dart finish requires a score of 60 (treble 20) with each of the first six throws, that is, with the first two shots of three. This leaves 141 to score on the final shot (of three darts), known as the outshot. This outshot is traditionally performed in one of three ways:
treble 20 (60), treble 19 (57) and double 12 (24)
(how Hughie finished: see photo)
treble 20 (60), treble 15 (45) and double 18 (36)
Another way is to score 167 with each set of three darts, scoring a perfect 501 total, in the following way:
treble 20 (60), treble 19 (57) and bullseye (50)
This eliminates the chance of any dart being deflected by an already thrown dart into the wrong scoring area by throwing each dart at a different location on the board. It is only usually seen in exhibition matches, as in tournaments, players are inclined to aim for the triple 20, only switching to the triple 19 for a cover shot.
Arguably the most difficult nine dart finish would be 180 (3xT20), 171 (3xT19), and 150 (3xBULL) – owing to the difficulty of getting all three darts in the bullseye: it is the smallest double on the board. A nine dart finish is also attainable in games which require a double to commence scoring. In such games, throwing for double 20 first can lead to a maximum score of 160 with the first throw, leaving the thrower commonly requiring 180 then 161 (T20,T17,BULL) in their remaining six darts, though other outcomes are possible. It is worth noting that in these games, only throwing for double 20, double 17, or bullseye to start the leg can result in a nine dart finish.
A nine-dart finish, however, does not guarantee success in a game. In December 2014 in the third round of the 2015 PDC World Darts Championship, Adrian Lewis hit his second World Championship nine-dart finish and his third overall. He lost the match 4-3 to Raymond van Barneveld. On Saturday night in Aughnamullen, Hughie was eventually beaten 5-3 in the semi-final by overall winner Graham Unwin.