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  • Black Country Translator

Frightening Finishes: Confusing Check-Outs Explained

If you don’t play or watch darts on a regular basis, you may be confused when you see some of the ways that professional darts players decide to go for certain check-outs.

I was also in the same boat as you when I first got into the game, but after a while, you start to see that there is most certainly a clear method in their Magner’s.

I have therefore decided to explain some of the more perplexing combination shots for non-darts players and -fans in this post.

And don’t worry if you still find them mind-boggling; even the camera crew for Sky Sports and ITV4 need the former World No. 1, Colin Lloyd, to tell them where to focus the camera during combination finishes.

This list isn’t exhaustive, of course, but it will help you understand why the pros will typically go for certain routes over others, particularly when another shot might seem more obvious, mathematically speaking.

So, without further ado, “Game on!”

With two darts in hand:

61 (T11, D14); 62 (T12, D13), 63 (T13, D24), 64 (T14, D11); 66 (T16, D9), 67 (T17, D8), 68 (T18, D7), 69 (T19, D6):

I personally never go for big trebles when I only have two darts in hand and am left on a score between 61 and 69; I’d rather just hit the single number required to guarantee myself a dart at the bull. But I suppose I’m far more conservative than most players, who will be very aggressive in this situation and try to hit the big treble, knowing that they will at least leave themselves a shot at the bull if they stay within the desired segment. That’s why you see so many of the lesser-fancied doubles being hit at the end of combos in this range, since the onus is on leaving a dart at the bull as a bare minimum by aiming for some of the less commonly used trebles, such as T12 and T13.

75 (25, Bull)

The 25 is a bigger target than a treble, right? Well, there’s your answer. T17, D12 is another option, but I will always aim for the 25 with just two darts in hand.

With three darts in hand:

82 (Bull, D16)

“Hang on a minute! Wouldn’t it be easier to hit a big treble?”, I hear you ask. Well, yes, but going for the bull here is a percentage shot; if you miss the bull with your first dart and hit the 25 instead, you will only need to find single 17 to leave D20 for your final dart of the visit. If you went for a treble with the first dart and missed it, you would only be able to leave a double by hitting a treble. Do you get where I’m coming from?

91 (Bull, 9, D16 / Bull, 1, D20 / Bull, 5, D18)

Most professionals would try to take this out in two darts (T17, D20), but you will quite often see some players going for the bull first. “Why’s that?”, I hear you ask. Well, if you went the aggressive way and hit the single 17, you would still need to find a big treble to leave a dart at a double, mostly likely T14 to leave D16, or T18 to leave D10. But if you miss the bull with the first dart and hit the 25 instead, you would only need to hit single 16 to leave a dart at the bull. You can also start on the bull when you require 92, 93, 94 or 95*, knowing that the most you can leave with two darts is 70 if you hit the 25, i.e. a score that you can still take out in two darts without needing to hit a big treble. Although increasingly rare, this is another classic percentage shot that I tend to use.

  • *92 (Bull, 10, D16 / Bull, 2, D20 / Bull, 6, D18), because 25 with your first dart leaves 67, so 17, Bull is the shot with your last two darts

  • *93 (Bull, 11, D16 / Bull, 3, D20 / Bull, 7, D18), because 25 with your first dart leaves 68, so 18, Bull is the shot with your last two darts

  • *94 (Bull, 12, D16 / Bull, 4, D20 / Bull, 8, D18), because 25 with your first dart leaves 69, so 19, Bull is the shot with your last two darts

  • *95 (Bull, 13, D16 / Bull, 5, D20 / Bull, 9, D18), because 25 with your first dart leaves 70, so 20, Bull is the shot with your last two darts

104 (T18, 18, D16)

Many professional darts players love to aim for the same segment twice in two-treble check-outs or treble and single-number combinations, hence the use of the 18 segment on 104. There’s also another added advantage of going this way: if you pull the first dart into the single 4, you can still take out 100 in two darts (T20, D20). However, if you were to go for the T20 first and drift into the 5 or 1, the shot would no longer be on, because you cannot take out 103 or 99 in two darts. The professionals probably don’t think like that, but I do.

This predilection for aiming at the same segment can also be seen in other finishes in the same region, albeit unconventional, including:

  • 108 (T19, 19, D16 for some players, T18, 18, D18 for me);

  • 112 (T18, 18, D20 for Gerwyn Price); and

  • 116 (T20, 20, D18 for myself and many other players)

I wonder if you’ve worked out what my favourite double is yet?

119 (T19, T12, D13)

This one is mind-blowing, right? Let me explain!

You have to start with the 19 segment for this check-out, because if you were to go for T20 and miss it, your shot would be over immediately; as I discussed earlier, you can’t take out 99 in two darts. However, if you miss the T19, you should be left on 100, which is doable in two darts (T20, D20).

If you hit the T19 with the first dart, you will be left on 62, one of the peculiar two-dart combos that we mentioned earlier. In this instance, you can either be aggressive by trying to find T12 to leave D13, knowing that single 12 will still give you a shot at the bull, or simply aim for the single 12 to be on the safe side.

122 (T18, T18, D7)

I know! Whoever worked these out must have had too much time on their hands.

Again, this is a percentage shot; if you manage to remain within the 18 segment with both of your first two darts and find the treble with one of them, you will have a shot at the bull for the leg. If you find the T18 with both Dart 1 and Dart 2, then you will have a dart at D7 for the leg.

123 (T19, T16, D9)

Mental again, right? Just like for a 119 check-out, you have to start on the 19s here to make sure you keep the shot alive after the first dart; if you hit the single 19, you will be left on 104, which you can take out in two darts (T18, Bull). If you hit the T19, you will be left on 66, so the way to go is now T16, D9, because, as we’ve already seen, hitting the single number in the same segment will guarantee you a dart at the bull.

126 (T19, T19, D6)

Yeah, as you may have guessed, potentially leaving a dart at the bull is the rationale for using the 19 segment again, here. Missing the treble with the first dart in any other segment would kill the shot after the first dart, while using the 19s would keep it alive until at least the second dart, because T19 and single 19 would leave the bull. If you hit the treble with the first dart, you can be aggressive on the second and go for the treble again, knowing that single 19 would guarantee you a dart at the bull.

129 (T19, T16, D12) / (T19, T20, D6) / (T19, T12, D18)

You may have noticed that this shot is slightly different to the others directly preceding it, because even if you hit the T19 with your first dart, you can’t possibly leave a single number-bull combo. In this case, the only logic behind starting on the 19s is to keep the shot alive if you miss the treble with your first dart; 19 would leave 110 (T20, Bull).

If you do manage to find the T19 with the first dart, you have many options for 72 with two darts: my preferred route is T16, D12, but T20, D6 and T12, D18 are also common alternatives. You may even see some professionals trying to place two darts in the D18 bed in the same scenario.

You will also see certain players attempt double-double combos when they are left on 80 (D20, D20) or 76 (D19, D19), for example.

132 (Bull, Bull, D16) / (Bull, T14, D20)

“Is this another percentage shot, Jae?”, I hear ask. Yes, you guessed right.

You may also think that hitting two bulls is almost inconceivable given the size of the target, but it has happened before, trust me, even though I’m not speaking from personal experience on this occasion.

In this case, the bull is the target with your first dart knowing that 25 would leave 107, a two-dart outshot (T19, Bull); if you went for a big treble and missed it, the shot would be over (e.g.: single 20 would leave 112, which is a three-dart out-shot).

135 (Bull, T15, D20) / (Bull, T19, D14)

The same logic also applies here, because 25 would leave 110 (T20, Bull).

140 (T18, T18, D16)

This isn’t the conventional route, but you may well see certain players going this way.

142 (T17, T17, D20); 144 (T18, T18, D18); 148 (T18, T18, D20); 150 (T19, T19, D18)

Although unconventional, many players will opt for these routes to stay in the same segment with their second dart. The most common alternatives would be:

  • 142 (T20, T14, D20)

  • 144 (T20, T20, D12)

  • 148 (T20, T20, D14 / T20, T16, D20)

  • 150 (T20, T18, D18 / T20, T20, D15)

I hope these examples have given you an insight into the logic and rationale behind certain combination finishes in the game of darts.

I personally learnt them all by studying a poster on my wall, but there are other ways to pick them up, including looking at the scoreboard when players get down to two- or three-dart out-shots.

I would also like to remind you that as a darts enthusiast and player (well, amateur player), I am able to combine my in-depth knowledge of the sport with my expert linguistic skills to craft engaging darts copy and produce high-quality darts translations.

Please feel free to check out (no pun intended!) my other darts-themed posts, too:

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