While this question has crossed the mind of many a frustrated dart player, very few people know the name Brian Gamlin. Mr. Gamlin was a carpenter in Lancashire County, England in 1896. There has long been a claim that the traditional dart board was invented by Bury carpenter Brian Gamlin in 1896. Experts are unsure of this, as the first record of the numbering sequence it uses is from 1916 and the idea that it took the board 20 years to be noticed is a dubious one.

The son of the other man credited with creating the standard board, Thomas William Buckle, said in 1992 that while Gamlin may not have created the standard board, he probably did create the Manchester board.

That said, there are some who say Brian Gamlin never even existed, so mystery remains around the origins of both versions of the game. According to Patrick Chaplin, legend says, that Gamlin died in 1903 however records on Lancashire have no record of this in 1903 or any listings plus or minus 3 yrs. The current number system has remained in place for over a hundred years, but is it the most optimum arrangement?

Enter Science and Math to make the sport better.

A few years ago, a revolutionary new dartboard arrived at the BDO World Professional Darts Championships at Lakeside in Surrey.

The “optimal” dartboard rearranges the traditional positions of the numbers 1 to 20 to make them as mathematically perfect as possible.

In a standard dartboard, low numbers are placed next to high ones, so as to penalize players who miss their targets. That’s why the 20, for example, is next to the 1 and the 5.

Mathematicians have long come up with improved arrangements that maximize the differences between adjacent numbers, in order to penalize mistakes as much as possible.

Now David Percy, Professor of Mathematics at Salford University, has added to the debate by designing a dartboard that adds two more constraints:

1) The numbers go odd-even-odd-even all the way round the board
2) Similar clusters are spread around the board as evenly as possible.

David says the new dartboard will make most difference at the end of a game, when the rules are that a player must finish on a double.

Currently if a player is on an odd number, and therefore needs an odd number to leave himself with an even, he can chose from the southwest sector of the board where four odds are adjacent: 7, 19, 3, and 17

Even a bad player can expect to get an odd number. But if the odds and evens alternate it becomes much more difficult.

Also, the most common finishing double to aim for is double 16, since if you miss the double and get 16, you require double 8. (And if you miss the double and get 8 you require double 4, then double 2, and then double 1.)

On a traditional board 8 is right next to 16, which makes the game easier, since you are already aiming for that section of the board.

The new board is also pleasing to the eye since all the evens are black and the odds all white.

Dartboard manufacturer Winmau has produced prototypes of the optimal dartboard and road tested it with contestants at the world championship.

“It would be lovely if this challenging dartboard were to become the new gold standard,” said David.

Ian Flack of Winmau added: “I think it will be too big a change for the sport, but the whole point of making the prototype is to see the reaction.”