Showdown in the Dart Bowl By Terry Marchal STATE MAGAZINE, July 23. 1972 You could see the concentration. Some bit their lips. Others allowed their tongues to protude slightly. Some brought their eyes into narrow slits of determination. Each waved that one hand slightly at eye level. And then there was a flick of the wrist and a distinct thud. The steel tip of a feathered dart embedded into the cork target. The place was Kanawha City and the Red Carpet Lounge. The event was billed as the first great d a r t match in Charleston. The contestants were from the Red Carpet and the Elks Club of Charleston. The match was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. It didn't get under way until a little after nine. Five hours--and much confusion-later, the Red. Carpet team had won the first big match. At least, that's what most people were able to determine. Dart throwing is described as an art. It's a big thing in English pubs. Only in the last couple years has it begun to thrive at some bars in Charleston. The Red Carpet for one. The Elks Club for another. The Elks were supposed to be the super dart team of the city. But. until another challenger comes along to dethrone them, the members of the Red Carpet team now have that distinction. In last week's big match, the Carpeteers clobbered the Elks 6 to 2 in doubles competition and won two of three of the team matches. But, some of the Elks have lodged protests. Midway through the doubles matches, a second Red Carpet team was i n t r o d u c e d . This threw everything into confusion, notwithstanding the fact that a couple darters who had started with the Elks ended up playing for the new Red Carpet team. And. to add to the confusion, someone said Paula Hayward, the pretty little blonde bartender at the Carpet, was "lacing" the drinks of the competitors with extra shots of whisky. Everyone knew something was amiss when one of the usually reliable members of the Red Carpet dart team missed the target on one of his throws and embedded the dart into the club's main door. What got everything off to a poor start was the late arrival of the Elks learn. Someone suggested the Elks were going to let their opponents sit around drinking for a couple hours before they showed up for the match. In this way, the Elks could equalize the home-board advantage of the Carpeteers. But when Bill Swearingen, the final member of the Elks team, arrived, he said he was late for two reasons. Â· He had to go home to get his clean dart shirt; Â»* He was delayed by the huge traffic jam caused by all the dart fans coming to the great match. Actually, there were probably only 20 p e o p l e -- i n a d d i t i o n t o t h e c o n - testants--assembled for the event. And 19 of them sat at the bar or various tables ignoring the match. The 20th was the official scorekeeper who agreed to do the work, not because of his interest in the match, but because of the free drinks that went with the job. To understand how a match is conducted, here is the way it was explained. The target area of the dart board is in a large circle with a small red bull's-eye in the center and 20 areas spreading out in a fan like pattern. Each of the areas is numbered from one to 20. But the numbers are not in order. There is an outer circle about an inch wide into which "doubles" are introduced. A player gets three darts. If he lands in a numbered section, he gets the points corresponding to the number. If he lands in a double area, he gets two times the corresponding number. The bull's-eye is worth 25. With three darts, the highest possible score is 120--that's for getting into the double--20 three times. In doubles competition, the two players representing each team get three darts each. Their totals are added together and subtracted from their score. Each team doubles starts .with 301 points. The first team--on an equal number of throws with the other team--to get its total to exactly zero--is the winner. If you get a single point more than the number needed to score zero, you are considered to have "busted" and revert back to the total you had before the particular round of throws. Ron Compton of the Carpeteers showed his excellent form in the very first match of the night. On his second throw at the throwing line, he scored 120--hitting three double-20s. (In a later match, he popped a dart into the double-20 and his next struck into the first dart. Tournament director Paul Heavener ruled that even though two darts were stuck together, the second one didn't count because the point of the dart has to be in the board and not in another dart. It should be pointed out that the tournament director was also a member of the Elks team.) In that first match, Don Adams--the fastest dart in the East (plunk, plunk, plunk with little hesitation)--won the match (with the help of Compton's 120). When he stepped to the line his team had a total of 46. His first dart plunked into the 16. The next one embedded into the double- 15 and the match was over. Jim Parker gave the Elks and teammate Heavener one of their two wins in the second match, scoring a needed 49 with a double-nine, a three and a double-14 on his final three throws. Compton's two double-20s at the end of the game up ended Heavener and Parker of the Elks in the next match and Moo Cochran and Jay Eggleton of the Carpet toppled Swearingen and Jim Hahn to give the home team a 3-1 advantage. Hahn and Parker rallied to defeat the Cochran-Eggleton team and put the Elks back in the contest, but the Carpeteers won the next three matches to sweep through the doubles, despite the fact that the Elks had run in late-arriving dart expert Dave "Singer" Hamilton in an effort to snatch the victory. Because so many more darters had a r r i v e d , t h e t o u r n a m e n t director-Heavener--ruled that another team, called Red Carpet No. 2, should be allowed to compete. This called for a catchup round of doubles with Carpet No. 2 against the Elks and Carpet No. 1. And Heavener joined Carpet No. 2 after having started the Elks. Confusing? It should be. Because this was also the time that Mrs. Hayward supposedly started lacing ihe drinks. Midway through what should have been the second round of doubles matches, some of the dart experts started complaining to Heavener that they weren't getting to throw, that they had to sit around too long drinking laced drinks. When one of the overzealous but idle darters threatened to stick a dart in Heavener, he called off the doubles and went straight to the team events. Ronnie Shearer, Red Carpet Lounge owner and now a member of the Red Carpet No. 2, scored a double-two when his team needed only four to go out and gave the new team in the tournament a victory. Red Carpet No. 1 finished second with 132 and the Elks were third with 151 (some say Mrs. Hayward was lacing the Elks a little more than either of the Red Carpet teams.) The next match was won by the Elks when Hahn brought his team from 20 to zero with one well-placed throw. Red Carpet No. 1 had been given two opportunities to win the match, but "busted" both times--once at 15 and once at 20. Red Carpet No. 2 had three chances to win. Each time the team needed seven and on one throw each, Heavener, Bud Cochran and Gary Garden got too much. Finally, the championship match was held between the Elks and one Red Carpet team. The Carpeteers in the finale consisted of Charlie St. Clair, Adams, Compton and Bud Cochran. On the third round, the Elks needed 85 points to go out. Parker led off and scored 51, reducing the total to 34. Hahan took steady aim and scored an 18. A 16 would put the Elks out. But Hahn again scored 18 and the Elks were busted. The Carpeteers needed 91. St. Clair scored 15 and the magic number was 76 when old reliable and rapid-throw Adams stepped to the line. Pop! Right into the double-20. Now the number was 36. With a quick flick of the wrist, Adams put a dart into the center of the double-18 and the long, long match of the century was over. For the rest of the evening, the contestants sat around the bar and looked questionihgly at Mrs, Hayward. CHARLESTON, W.VA.
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