Getting Started

In this section, we'll talk about:

Starting a team

Starting up a team (or signing up for Singles League) can seem like a daunting task, but it's really quite easy. Follow these steps and start playing darts!

First, decide what sort of team you want to create and when you want to play.
  • Open League plays on Monday or Tuesday nights and is divided into three skill levels: Tungsten (advanced), Nickel (intermediate), and Brass (beginner). Teams of 4-8 players may be all men, all women, or mixed. Games include Dirty Cricket, 501, 301, and Chicago Format. You'll play four singles games and five doubles games.
  • Saturday League is divided into three skill levels: Diamond (advanced), Crystal (intermediate), and Glass (beginner). Teams of 4-8 players may be all men, all women, or mixed.
  • Mixed League plays on Thursday nights, requires teams of both men and women (4-8 players), and is divided into three skill levels: Gold (advanced), Silver (intermediate), and Bronze (beginner).
  • Cricket League plays on Wednesday nights. Teams of 3-5 players may be all men, all women, or mixed.
  • Youth League plays on Saturdays and is designed to introduce unrated youth (ages 7-18) to the game of darts.
  • Singles League is for individual play and is divided into three skill levels: Premiere (advanced), AA (intermediate), and A (beginner). Players determine location and night of play.

Once you've chosen the league that interests you, do the following:
  • Choose a location to play. The location will usually be a bar that has dartboards that are approved for league play. See the Darts Directory. However, you may ask your local bar to install a board and contact the WCD League for approval.
  • Choose your teammates. You may have friends lined up to play, but if not, you can always post a call for teammates. Or you could seek out teams that need extra players and ask to join.
  • Buy some darts. If you are just starting out, you don't have to spend a lot of money on a high-end set of darts. Just go to the sports section of most major stores and get a set that looks good to you. As you continue playing, you can consider upgrading. Many of the dart bars also sell darts and dart supplies.
Now, you'll need to sign up. Print the Registration Form that corresponds to the league you choose to play in, fill it out, and fax/mail it to the address listed on the form. If you are signing up for Singles League, complete the online Singles League Registration Form.

Don't forget to pay your registration fees! When you fill out your Registration Form, you'll see the fees associated with your chosen league and where to submit payment. If you are signing up for Singles League, you may either submit payment by mail, or you may use the PayPal form below.
WCD League Fees
Before your first match, there are a few more things you'll want to do.
  • Read up on the Rules of Play. This will include a description of the games that you will be playing.
  • Attend the captains meeting to receive your packet, which includes score sheets, rules of play, and your schedule. Singles League players will receive schedules via e-mail.
  • Practice. Even just a little practice can make you feel more confident before you show up for your match.

What games are played

Here's a brief overview of the games that are played in the Windy City leagues.  For complete rules, see the Rules of Play.

Note: In all of the games below (except for Drop Ten), a single bull is worth 25 points and a double bull is worth 50 points.

Dirty Cricket (DC)
The objective of DC is to close 20-15 and Bulls and have equal or greater points than your opponent. The numbers do not have to be closed in order and "slop" counts. To close a number, you have to get three marks on it; in other words, you have to hit it three times. If you hit the double or triple rings, they count as two or three marks, respectively. Once you get three marks, any additional marks count as points as long as your opponent still has that number open. The point value is the number that you are on; for example, if you hit a fourth 17, you get 17 points added to your score.

Each player starts with 501 points; the objective is to get down to zero before your opponent does. To get to zero, the last dart must be a double. In 501, all scores count as you are ticking down. A single 5, for example, counts as five points, a double counts as ten, and a triple counts as 15. Once you are at 50, you can win on a double bull. At 40, you can win with a double 20 and so on. If you are on an odd number such as 35, you need to hit an odd number (such as single 3) to even out your score so that you can win with a double (single 3 leaves you with 32, which is double 16 for the win). If at any time on your turn you score more than you have left or leave yourself with one point, you "bust" and it's your opponent's turn. When you bust, your score is reset to the original number. For example, if you have 35 points left and hit triple 19 (57), you bust and start at 35 on your next turn. Similarly, if you hit the 19, single 7, single 8  (34 points), you also bust and have to start again with 35 on your next turn.

Each player starts with 301 points; the objective is to get down to zero before your opponent does. The rules are the same as 501, except in addition to hitting a double to win the game, you also have to hit a double to start scoring. You only start scoring after you hit a double. For example, if you hit a single 20 with your first dart, hit a double 18 with your second dart, and a single 20 with your third, your score is 56 (double 18 is 36 points plus single 20).

Chicago Format (CF)
CF simply means that you play all three of the above games to determine the winner in a best of 3 game. Whichever player wins the right to go first calls the first game: DC, 501, or 301. The loser of that game calls the second game (must be one of the remaining two games). If you have to play the third game, the last remaining game is the one you play.

Those are the standard games for all league matches. However, if you are in Cricket league, there are two variations on cricket that you play instead of 501 or 301.

Straight Cricket (SC)
The objective of SC is to close 20-15 and Bulls in order before your opponent does. Numbers must be closed in order, and slop does count. To close a number, you have to get three marks on it; in other words, you have to hit it three times. If you hit the double or triple rings, they count as two or three marks, respectively. Once you get three marks, any additional marks are ignored, and you get to move to the next number.

Drop Ten
Drop Ten is played exactly the same way as Dirty Cricket, but instead of playing 20-15 and Bulls, you play 10-5 and Bulls. Bulls are worth 15 points for a single and 30 points for a double.

What to expect at a match (and some etiquette)

This section isn't meant to over complicate things. The whole point is to have fun! However, there are some general norms and etiquette that have been followed in league play for longer than most of us have even been playing.

A match generally looks like this:

  • Both teams show up to play. Start when the minimum number of players have arrived.
  • Play each designated game in order; some are singles games and some are doubles games.
  • Teams alternate keeping score. The scorer is called the "chalker".
  • Keep track of wins and losses.
  • Shake hands and go home.

Here are some of the basic norms and etiquette:

  • The home team usually has their favorite table, but they must give you an equally good place to set up and sit. If you got there first and it's important to the home team to have their spot, they should politely ask you to move to the designated visitor spot.
  • Show up on time. There's a 15 minute window at which point the opposing team can call a forfeit. Make an effort to contact the team to let them know you are running late. Most teams are willing to wait for you as long as it's not too long. After all, most of us would rather play than call a forfeit and go home.
  • Take some warm up throws, but don't take too long.
  • The home team starts by throwing the first diddle. The diddle is when you throw a dart at the bullseye to see who is closer. Closest to the bullseye gets to go first in the game.
  • Be ready when it's your turn to play.
  • It's ok to play the jukebox (encouraged even!).
  • It's generally good form to wish your opponent well by saying something like "Shoot well." Win or lose, it's also good form to shake hands after each game and to say something like "Good game."
  • Keep loud talking to a minimum when you aren't playing. It's considered poor form to try to intentionally distract the opposing team. It's also poor form to talk to the player while they are throwing.
  • It's ok to use electronic scoreboards, as long as they are working properly.
  • If you are the chalker, write neatly and face the board at all times unless the current player asks you a question.
  • If you are the chalker, do not volunteer any information to either team. You may, however, answer any question. (What's my score? What do I have left? Is that in? Etc.) If you are asked what's left, you should provide the total score NOT the shot needed. For example, you should answer, "32" NOT "double 16".
We'll add to this list as we think of things! Shoot well!