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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Article... Darts fly around Savannah

DartsVoodoo Curse dart player Chris Kontos takes AimPhoto by Cameron Belk

It’s Tuesday night at 8 p.m., and bars throughout Savannah are crowded with teams huddled together, prepping for fierce competition among steel-tip dart aficionados.

“Shoot well. Shoot well,” Chris Kontos, 23, says as he shakes hands with each player on the opposing team before the game begins. “You only shake hands with the opposing team, not fist bump,” Kontos says. “You only fist bump with your teammates, usually after each throw.”

Kontos, an aviation technician for Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., plays for Voodoo Curse, a calm, collective team from Tommy’s Bar in Pooler. The dart league is divided into nine divisions, “A” through “I” with “A” being the best players in Savannah.

Voodoo Curse is among seven dart teams in division “G” that play weekly at different bars in or near the city. On this Tuesday night Voodoo Curse plays at Friendly’s Tavern, where steel-tip dartboards line every wall and a cloud of smoke seems to permanently hover near the ceiling. The blades on the fan move slowly, cutting through the haze but never moving it

“It is a way to see Savannah in a different light. I would have never gone to half of the places if it wasn’t for darts,” says Kontos.

Next to the boards are plaques with team names—Hitmen, Tip-N-Big, The Men of Steel and Our Night Out—carved into the wood. The light is dim in the center of the room, but spotlights illuminate every dartboard.

A wooden shelf running along the faded brick wall above the bar holds many years’ worth of dart trophies, ranging in size from two inches to two feet high. A poster advertises “Dart Tournament. Every Friday Night.” If a player competes in several tournaments and shoots well enough, he or she can qualify to play in tournaments around the world.

Voodoo Curse gathers around the team’s assigned table, directly behind their opponents, the Hitmen. Kontos pulls his flights, the tails, from his dart case and straightens them out. The straighter the tails, the more stable and faster the darts throw.

“They also show personality,” Kontos says. “Every flight tells a story of who the person is. Mine are black and conservative, but some flights are flashy with colors or sayings.”

The front door opens. Five beer cans clink behind the bar where they dangle from a piece of wood painted with “Redneck Wind Chime.” Red and white streamers hang from the ceiling and run diagonally across the room, twisted around steel posts.

A couple of players line up behind the board for practice throws before the first game of 301 begins. The goal of 301 is to be the first person to reach zero.

A player busts if the score goes less than zero. One player from each team competes, and each player shoots and subtracts their points from 301. Once the darts start flying, they don’t stop until the last game ends.

The smoke in the room grows thicker as the night grows darker. The owner of the bar also owns a laundromat next door, and a TV is hooked to the wall across from the bar. Four split screens show the washers and dryers and the people washing their clothes.

It’s Kontos’ turn to shoot. He plays Cricket, a game with the objective to close out every number before an opponent does. To close out a number, the player must score three of a particular number on the board.

Kontos wears headphones, concentrating on the board. The Voodoo Curse captain leans over and whispers in Kontos’ ear, then pats him on the back.

“Darts are about 80 percent mental,” a teammate tells Kontos before he shoots.

After a close back and forth , Kontos closes his numbers out first and wins his game.

“Darts are not about drinking and bars,” Kontos says. “It’s about the competition and the game. It just happens to be played in bars all over Savannah.”

Voodoo Curse overcomes Hitmen. Like players in every sport, each dart team shakes their opponents’ hands and says, “Good game.” Next week, Voodoo Curse will play at Tommy’s Bar again, and then it’s back on the road for an away game.

For more information about dart games around Savannah or how to join a league, log onto Savannah Area Darting Association (click this link).
Contact Cameron Belk.

Darts fly around Savannah

April 16, 2010
By Cameron Belk

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