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Article: The oche is the home of the true maths greats

The oche is the home of the true maths greats

As the British Darts Organisation’s (BDO) Lakeside World Professional Darts Championships gets into full swing this week, new research from the University of Bath shows that the secret of true darts skills is all in the maths.

Visiting fellow Dr Ken Bray’s calculations for the Get On campaign shows how darts stars taking to the oche this week will have to master geometry, physics and algebra to win their place in the sport’s hall of fame.

To achieve the perfect darts throw, players like 2007 World Champion Martin "Wolfie" Adams must keep their head and upper body completely still, whilst controlling the speed, the angle and the spin of the dart.

And unlike rugby or football, there is no margin for error. A player moving their head or upper body slightly will miss their shot completely - a dart aimed at a treble will miss its target if it’s one tenth of a degree off. The player that can keep repeating this level of accuracy will go on to be crowned the World Professional Darts Champion this Sunday.

As Dr Bray states, "The amount of complicated maths that is involved in darts is incredibly impressive. Whether the players know it or not, they are working out complicated geometry and physics whilst choosing from hundreds of possible shot combinations."

The nation has gone darts mad in recent years and it is the maths involved in the game that makes it perfect for helping people to brush up their basic skills. In 2005, the Get On campaign began its partnership with the BDO. Since then, 70,000 darts-themed calculators and maths scratch cards have been used by hundreds of colleges across the country to help learners to improve their maths skills. At this year’s tournament a further 6,000 will be given out to spectators to encourage them to improve their skills.

The Minister for Further Education Sion Simon will be visiting Lakeside on Wednesday 7 January, during the BDO’s World Professional Darts Championship. During his visit, the Minister will be renewing the Get On campaign’s successful partnership with the BDO and joining Bobby George and maths whizz Johnny Ball on stage.

Sion Simon, Minister for Further Education said, "Since 2001 over a million adults have improved their maths skills and gained qualifications on one of our free courses. In 2009 we hope that our partnership with the BDO will inspire even more adults across the country to improve their maths skills. As well as improving your darts score, brushing up your maths skills can help you get on in work, earn more money and help your kids with their homework.

"Around 6.8 million adults struggle with their maths skills, which is why partnerships like the one with the BDO are so important. We appreciate their continued support in highlighting skills issues, so I^m here to say thank you and encourage adults to take advantage of the free courses available by ringing 0800 66 0800."

Olly Croft, Managing Director of BDO Enterprises, said, "From mental arithmetic to geometry, darts is all about maths. As our previous partnership was such a success, we are delighted to be supporting the Get On campaign once again."

The partnership is also being supported by the TV presenter and maths whizz, Johnny Ball who said, "I think that the partnership is a great idea. So often people don’t realise how much maths is part of their day to day life but as the research shows, by brushing up on your maths skills, like mental arithmetic, you are far more likely to hit the magic 180!"

In difficult economic times, good English and maths skills are more important than ever. Research shows that people who lack level 1* maths and English will struggle to get half of the jobs available, whereas those with good skills can earn an additional £50,000 over their lifetime.

*Level 1 is equivalent to the standard required to pass a GCSE in maths or English at grades D to G.

Story By: University Of Bath

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