Darts – the original numbers game – is finally getting its stats revolution | Jonathan Liew

Something strange is happening in darts, its followers bearing not pitchers of beer but laptops and masses of dataIt’s a rowdy Sunday at Alexandra Palace, and Andy Boulton has one dart at bullseye to win a leg at the world championship. His opponent, Daniel Baggish, is back on 135: a difficult outshot, but not impossible. So Boulton now has a decision. Does he aim his last dart at bull, the most difficult double on the board? Or does he instead throw a single 18 or single 10 to set up a much easier finish on his next visit, and gamble on Baggish missing?More than 3,000 miles away, in wintry small-town Massachusetts, a 27-year-old postal worker called Christopher Kempf knows the precise answer. Based on his exhaustive analysis of millions of darts thrown on the Professional Darts Corporation tour, he knows that a player on 50 with a single dart remaining should throw for the bull only if their opponent has a better than 10% chance of checking out. He knows, too, that the success rate of attempts at 135 is only 4.4%. Continue reading…