DUBAI // The UAE's growing number of darts fans are showing off their skills this month for a chance to take on the game's most successful international players.
Players in Dubai have been stepping up to the oche for an open knock-out tournament to secure one of eight places in the final qualifier for the Darts Masters 2013, to be held on January 23.
The winners will face professionals such Martin Adams, winner of three British Darts Organisation (BDO) world championships, at the grand final on January 31.
The Darts Masters final will also feature an appearance by legendary player Eric Bristow, winner of five BDO world championships and five world masters.
The first qualifiers were on January 15 at the Byblos Hotel, at the Nell Gwynne and Crown and Lion.
David Glennon, manager of Nell Gwynne, said they had seen an increase in the number of people taking up the sport in the emirate.
"We are introducing it first and getting people used the idea of darts," he said.
One regular player at the Nell Gwynne, Ken Halliday, 40, a production director from the UK, has won the venue's weekly tournament numerous times. He said the sport was easy to pick up.
"The trick to darts is playing the same reaction time and time again," he said. "It's easier to have a bad game than a good one. Anybody can throw darts but the key is to throw consistently and hit what you're aiming for.
"I've spent lots of time teaching guys how to play. They pick it up easily enough and really enjoy it.
"You can show a few techniques to others and after a few throws, they've improved."
Darts is also gaining popularity in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Delaney, manager of Harvesters at the Sands Hotel, said the venue now has four professional dartboards to cater for fans.
The sport is hugely popular in Britain and in parts of Europe. Traditionally, two players face off, throwing darts from a distance of 2.37 metres at a board 2.72 metres off the ground.
Each player takes a turn to throw three darts at the board with the goal of reducing a fixed score, usually 501 or 301, to zero. The final dart has to land in either the bullseye or one of the double segments on the outside of the board.
A darts exhibition is also planned for Abu Dhabi and Muscat.
"The ultimate goal is to get champions from the three cities to play against each other and find a champion next year," Mr Glennon said.
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