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Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 12:26 UK
Playing darts at the Log-End

A log-end dart board
Counting up and finishing with a bull is the way to win at Manchester Log-End

Ask anyone with an interest in darts what the maximum score from each player's turn is and they'll answer with a resounding '180'… unless they're aficionados of the Manchester game, that is.

That's because, in Manchester Log-End Darts, the idea is not to count down from 501 to a grandstand finish, but to count up to a gripping finale.

The game has been around for about 70 years, coming out of the period between the wars when several regional variations of the game existed and a standardised version had yet to be decided upon.

It bears only a vague resemblance to what the game has since become - and nowhere is the difference more obvious than on the board itself.

Cut from a cross section of an elm tree, Log-End boards are simple, stark affairs, dyed black with wires marking out the playing area. And there are no trebles on a Manchester board.

They're renowned as being the toughest challenge to any darts player, in part because the actual playing area is a mere 10 inches across with a significantly different numbering system, but mostly because of the difficulty of the actual game itself.

One, two, double three…

Did darts start in Bury?
There has long been a claim that the traditional dart board was invented by Bury carpenter Brian Gamlin in 1896.
Experts are unsure of this, as the first record of the numbering sequence it uses is from 1916 and the idea that it took the board 20 years to be noticed is a dubious one.
The son of the other man credited with creating the standard board, Thomas William Buckle, said in 1992 that while Gamlin may not have created the standard board, but he probably did create the Manchester board.
That said, there are some who say Brian Gamlin never even existed, so mystery remains around the origins of both versions of the game.

While there is no standard set of rules (various local leagues play various versions), the general idea is to hit in order the numbers 1 to 20 followed by at least one double and then the bull to win.

Hitting a double from one to 10 jumps you onto that number - for example, you can go one, two, double three, then seven, double eight, 17 on two throws of three darts.

So the game counts up towards a winning bull shot, instead of the more well-known countdown to a winning double shot that is played nationwide.

Drip-dry darts?

Possibly the oddest thing about them though is that unlike the average board which hangs on the wall whether being played with or not, a Log-End board has to be taken down at the end of every game and stored in water to stop the wood drying out and cracking.

That means when it is time to play, the board has to be dried out for half an hour before having the numbers written on in chalk.

In recent years, the game has become harder to find, as the boards don't last very long and there are very few manufacturers making them, due to the price of the raw materials and the diminishing demand for them.

As a result, Manchester Log-End Darts isn't widely played anymore, but there are still pubs around the area, in places like Moston and Blackley, where you can still hear the sound of metal hitting soggy elm and the call of 'One, Two, Three'.




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