KINGS OF CRICKET – Cricket Variation

Oh, how I love to play cricket! Out of all the games you can play with darts, this is still my favorite. My friend, C, and I are so obsessed with playing cricket that we have mammoth tournaments of it. When we first became dart buddies, it started out as a best of five. Neither of us were quite happy with these quick matches, so we extended it so that each best of five victory scored one towards another best of five. In other words, a best of five of a best of five.

We quickly found this extended our tournament and allowed us to break it up into a number of sessions so we could have extended bragging rights until the next session. It soon turned out that we were pretty much evenly matched, so we decided to add another round making it a best of five of a best of five of a best of five, and put a case of beer at stake for the winner. We are currently only partway through our second tournament, as this “improved” format seems to take forever to complete, what with a winter break, and sometimes breaks as long as a month before our next darts night. It’s a lot of work for a two-four of beer.

Don’t be alarmed if you’ve never tried cricket, though. Even though we play the most ludicrous format conceivable, it doesn’t mean you have to. Cricket is a simple and usually quick game that is well suited to both the first time dart lobber to the hackneyed drunk more seasoned dartist.

The basic version of cricket uses the numbers 20 through 15 and the bull to score. The numbers can be hit in any order. The first person to hit the same number three times “opens” that number, and they are free to score on it until their opponent hits the same target three times and effectively “closes” that number. When a number has been closed, it is no longer used in the game. If you hit a double or triple when opening numbers, it counts as two or three, respectively. For the bull, the outer ring scores as one and the center as two. For example, if Eric throws at 20 and scores two singles and a triple, he has effectively hit five twenties. Three are used to open the 20, and the other two are converted to a score of 40 points. Now it’s Jocky’s turn to throw, and he is at a disadvantage as Eric has the 20 open. Jocky throws a triple 20 and two single 19. This closes down the 20. and it can no longer be used in the game. Jocky also gets two marks towards the required three to open the 19. The game goes on until all numbers have been used, and the player with the highest score wins.

There are also several variants to cricket that add extra scoring targets to the game. In the game I always play, scoring for any triple or double is included. Deciding on whether to score that triple 17 as three singles or as one triple can be what makes or breaks the game. Another variation is to add three bed shots, which is all three darts in the same number. This can open up a whole slew of scoring possibilities and strategies.

A lot of the fun of cricket comes from strategy. Are you going to try and open up all the numbers making it impossible for your opponent to score? Or are you going to pick up points so your opponent is playing catch up? Please remember, if you take the second route and get obsessively greedy with points leaving your opponent with a massive deficit, you are not going to make many friends. The general consensus on a good game of cricket is to finish it as quickly as possible.

If you have any variations of cricket you like to play, or you play in any ridiculously contrived tournaments, please let us know.