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Article: Some Darth Questions

Some Darth Questions

When you look at Darts history, John Part has a couple of firsts that no one can ever take away from him. The first Non-British World Champion, and the first player to win World Titles at three different venues. A legend of the game already, and highly thought of by many fans John Part is an unmistakable figure, often playing in all black, with the "Part Snarl", and his famous Star Wars themed entrance but also a player currently at risk of losing his high ranking in the coming months. I recently had the pleasure of asking "The Darth Maple" a few questions, focusing mainly on his status in the game, his goals for the future and his position in the Order of Merit.

1. You have a certain aura about you, and are definitely held in his esteem by British and North American Darts fans. Is this something that you are aware of and do realise whilst you are still playing at the highest level just how much you have achieved in the game?

I always feel as though I^m trying to go uphill. There is always more to do, and just trying to stay "current" is a tough job in itself. Having a fairly long history in top level darts creates some positive and negative expectations from the fans. I try to live up to the former and defy the latter. It^s hard, but enjoyable work.

2. You obviously won the BDO World Title before joining the PDC and winning the PDC version. What caused you to make the switch?

It was 1997 and there was only the Embassy tournament to play in on TV for the BDO. I felt it was stagnating and took the opportunity I had earned through the North American opens to make the switch and get to play at least four times a year on television.

3. Often we see what has been called "The Part Snarl" on your face. This seems to surface at big moments. Is this linked to added concentration, is it something you are aware of doing like for example a "come on" to motivate yourself?

It isn^t conscious at its most effective. Sometimes I can try it a bit but the effects aren^t as good as when it just happens. I think it is a reflection of intensity and aggression combined.

4. When you have dips in form, people often refer to your "Air Miles" as a cause. Do you think that this does have an effect, have you ever played in the UK for a sustained period of time and can you talk us through your decision to travel back and forth in preference to having a base in the U.K.?

People always seem to enjoy being able to give easy answers to hard questions. As soon as anything goes wrong with my darts, or the results at least, travel gets the blame. I believe I^ll play my best if I^m happy and enjoy what I do. It seems ridiculous to me to have to rationalise what I do to other people when I^m entirely satisfied with that as they are. If I wasn^t, I^d make a change.

5. North America isn^t exactly a hotbed for "Big Time Darts". With the US Open now downgraded and news that Sky will not be showing the Las Vegas Desert Classic any longer, how do you feel this will impact darts in North America? Can you give us your thoughts on Darts in North America? Do you feel that North American Organisations do enough, can you see US TV picking up any events, and do you think that the PDC has done enough to push the game forward on this region?

I think that the PDC can better spend their energies concentrating on their strengths. Build up the game in England and then hope for spill over creating more demand in North America. After all, the world is always getting smaller in terms of access to different media. Television and Internet are rapidly coming together and everything will operate different in ten years time. There is no point in squandering resources trying to crack a media delivery system which is probably almost dead.

6. What do you think of the new PacMania events? I personally think that the PDC should get involved and try to run a genuine PDC North America tour. Do you think that something like this could work?

I was unable to attend these events. I am unaware if they were successful from an organisation standpoint, or if it was more of a charitable situation. It is always encouraging to see new events and support coming in for the game. The PDC have tried to start a tour, with little real support from the players locally. In speaking to American tournament directors over the years, garnering local turnout is a very difficult task. Unlike Poker, it is very difficult, if not impossible for someone of a lesser talent to have any chance at all. Generating player numbers is always difficult in the game, and almost demands the aid of a handicapping system of some sort, as is done in soft tip in some instances.

7. Many have enjoyed your commentary at the Lakeside World Championships over the years, and a lot of fans would like to see you back in the commentary box when you aren^t playing. Is Darts commentary or punditry something that you would consider going into when your career ends, or indeed during coverage of Darts which doesn^t clash with your matches?

Commentary is always interesting work. I would do more of it, time allowing, at some point in the future. I^m more concerned with remaining a viable player right now.

8. You have spoken about your finishing, and your aim to be the best at it. Some would say right now that you are very close to being the best double hitter in the game. Is this something that you have concentrated on more than say your scoring, do you try to even out your game in a set routine or do you concentrate more on the areas where you may have struggled in a game?

I believe on building on strengths so I never neglect to practice my finishing. I find it more helpful to have practice matches against real players to work on my scoring.

9. Your high Order of Merit placing is under threat at this years World Championship. Just how much does the OOM play on the mind of Pro Players when the rewards for a top 6 and top 16 spot are there for all to see?

It^s good to know where you need to end up, but you never know how others are going to fare. Personally, I seem to enjoy the situation when I am at risk of losing out. I^m confident of staying in the top 16, or returning there quickly should I fall out of it.

10. What do you think of alcohol in the game? It^s a big talking point at the moment. Should there be a limit for example and penalties in place when players clearly step over the line?

Players already pay a price in performance when they cross any lines. If it comes down to it, punish the actions, not the "cause" of the actions. Limits are unfair because everyone is different, so just get rid of it altogether if you want to go down that path. It would make for a great shake up, and I think people would be surprised by who would benefit.

11. Can you talk us through your preparation and routine before a Match?

An hour of practice in the morning, then eat 3-5 hours before playing, arrive and warm-up for the two hours before the match. Did I leave out anything important?

12. Are there any North American players who you think that we should keep an eye out for?

I^m out of touch with the North American Darts scene now. I^d like to see Larry Butler continue to do well.

13. What are your aims for the rest of the year, 2010 and the future beyond that?
1. Stay in. I^ll be fighting hard to stay up the rankings, and to be included in as many events as possible.

2. Winning events. I^ve slumped in this respect. I^m normally good for 3 or 4 a year, but have not done so in 2009, so far. At least four wins for 2010.

3. Play as long as it^s viable, and try and be ready to win a fourth World Championship if I can.

14. Is there anyone that you would say was a big influence on you becoming one of the best Darts players around, and definitely someone who will be revered as a legend of the game in the future (if not already)?

There are always people around who support or inspire, but no one person above the rest. I just took the ball and ran with it, so to speak.

Favourite Things:

Do you have a favourite tournament and a favourite venue. If so, why?

Not really. I just enjoy playing any major tournament. The World Championships is the most thrilling because of what it represents. Venues are just that. It is the darts that are important.

Outside of Darts, do you follow sport? If so, which sports and teams do you follow?
I follow the New York Jets (NFL), the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) and the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB). I also enjoy watching golf from time to time.

What is your favourite holiday destination, or where does John Part like to get away from it all or go to enjoy himself?

I like to get anywhere near one of our many lakes here in Ontario during the Summer. It^s very relaxing and can^t be beat.
What would be your last meal and drink?

Steak and Red Wine. Don^t forget the hot sauce.

Who are your heroes, both in Darts and other sports, and any other aspects of life?
Bob Anderson always influenced me. I always liked his approach. I had plenty of sports heroes growing up:

Reggie Jackson (
Joe Namath (
Sandy Hawley (
Darryl Sittler (
Jack Nicklaus (

I always liked Batman because he had no powers but did strive for perfection of mind and body. Nowadays I would say Winston Churchill was a real hero. In the entertainment side of things, I think that Samuel Fuller ( was a hero in many ways.

That concludes what was a very enjoyable Q&A session with John Part who I can only thank for his time and answers.

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