Arrow Heads

Beyond just a bar game, darts offers a platform for different cultures to connect and share a common interest…

In the smoky interior of ice Blue bar on Dong khoi, Jesse Gold squares himself in front of the board. By day he’s an english teacher, but at night the assembled crowd sees him in a different light – the reigning darts champion of Saigon. Though the music grooves in the background, onlookers remain silent and still as Jesse lines himself up and stares at the tiny red sliver underneath the number 20 at the top of the board. Standing perpendicular to his target, he sharply inhales before releasing the dart with a smooth, swift movement below the elbow, his body otherwise motionless. The dart arcs toward the board before landing squarely in the center of the sliver, denoting a score of 60 – the highest score you can achieve with a single dart. He confidently proceeds to throw his remaining two darts into the same tiny space, as the previously breathless crowd erupts into cheers.

In 1995, Vietnam opened its borders to foreigners, forever changing its cultural landscape. As the social scene began to blossom, expats congregated in a handful of bars which served as central meeting places for the newcomers. Seeking common ground, they turned to a traditional bar game that is accessible, yet involves skill and competition.

“We had a little group of expats back then and we’d get together and say ‘tonight we’ll play at Ice Blue [one of the first darts venues], and next week we’ll play at Gecko.’ it wasn’t a darts league yet, we were just a bunch of friends who liked to drink and play darts,” explains lee Duntan, chairman of the Saigon international Darts league (SiDl).

“You’re in Vietnam. You’re an expat. You speak a different language, the food is different, and the weather is different. It makes sense that you would join a group of people and do something that you all like doing,” he adds.

As the city began to expand and welcome more foreigners, the darts scene gained traction with increasing participation from expats and locals, and in 2002 the league was formed with six teams and eight locations. A lot has changed in the last decade – the league has grown to include corporate sponsorships, charities, and plans for major future expansion.

Diddle for the Middle

Darts is a deceptively simple categories. 501 is all about points – opponents race each other to score 501 points, but they have to end the round by hitting a double – a tiny space on the outer rim of the board. These games can be rather competitive amongst serious players, but the rules can be adjusted to give handicaps to beginners. in order to become proficient in darts, a player must be able to place three consecutive darts in a tiny space – a task that is harder than it sounds.

“I’m sure many people think of darts as just another bar game,” says Zach Moody, the treasurer of SiDl. “But for many of our darters, it’s a decidedly more serious endeavor. It’s a little bit like golf: you’re always pushing yourself to get better, but you never feel that you’ve mastered the game. even the world’s most skilled darters know that they have room to improve.”

SIDl has turned tuesday night into a weekly event in ho Chi Minh City. now with over 300 members, 28 teams, and 20 bars serving as darts venues, SIDl has become the largest regular gathering of expats in the city.

“Right now we have over 30 countries represented in the league,” explains lee. “We have players from Russia, United Arab emirates, Canada, india, pakistan, Chile, America, and the United Kingdom. You name a country and we have a darts player for you.”

The league is not only international in its composition; SIDl sends its top players to compete in international tournaments in Thailand, Singapore, and China. There are even tournaments where players form teams to represent their home country and pit their skills against an array of international opponents. Although the league is comprised of expats from around the world, they are eager to promote darts amongst the Vietnamese as well.

“Vietnam has the second highest number of people of any country in the league, just behind the philippines,” says lee. “Last year we began hosting the first ever Vietnam National Darts tournament with divisions for both men and women. We really want to bring darts to this country, it’s important that we get the Vietnamese involved.”

Triple In, Triple Out

The SIDL has even ventured out of the bar in order to engage in charity work. They work directly with Sister trish Franklin, the wellknown Australian nun who drinks beer and loves Australian football, who runs loreto Schools in Ho Chi Minh City for disabled and disadvantaged youth.

“We host a fundraising event two times a year and get local businesses and bars to donate products for an auction. We have a lot of support for these events and all the money goes to Loreto Schools,” says Bob Wittenbach, secretary of the league.

They are serious about charity work, but game. The two most popular iterations of darts are Cricket and 501. in Cricket, players strive to eliminate the numbers 15-20 by placing three darts in each number, as well as hitting several other their primary objective is to have fun. Both Bob and lee play for a team called Alayah, which stands for “As Long As You Are Happy.” There are other unique team names, like The African Spear Chuckers, Mad House, Those Guys, and a group of Vietnamese women who call themselves ACDC (Asian Crazy Darts Chicks). Although the atmosphere is competitive, it’s always fun and welcoming to newcomers.

Bob explains: “All you need to do to get involved is to go to darts night on tuesday nights at any of the locations we play at. Also, feel free to check out our website [] for information about news, teams, locations, and events.”

This space is dedicated to featuring various special interest groups around the city, some traditional and others not as much so. Would your club like to be featured in Oi? Email us at

Image by NAM QUAN

Share this story, choose your platform!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on tumblr
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on vk
Share on email
About the author:

Leave a Comment

How Carpet Cleaning Enhances Carpet’s life and Value?

Carpet cleaning can be painstaking when you have a large house and many carpets. With that in mind, it is easy to understand why people require the services of professional carpet cleaning companies that can quickly clean up your messes. However, carpets are not the only things you might need to clean up. When it

Read More »

The States That Have Legalized Marijuana So Far 2021

Are you interested in the legalization status of marijuana, especially in the United States, and want to learn more? Do you want to know where in the United States you could visit and still be able to smoke a joint legally? The legalization of marijuana has been a hot topic in the United States for

Read More »

Understanding A Hoarder: Why Can’t They Throw Anything Away?

To provide an understanding and the process of hoarding, we must first understand its definition. Hoarding is defined as a single-minded urge of collecting and safekeeping unwanted items in great numbers. Most of the people afflicted with hoarding disorder find it hard to throw away items. A hoarder desires to save items that they know

Read More »

Vietnam War Student Protests

Where did the student movement begin? The US airplanes started bombing North Vietnam in February 1965 after North Vietnamese submarines invaded 2 US ships at the Gulf of Tonkin. President Lyndon B Johnson commanded the revenge attacks blasting armed targets in North Vietnam. There were some criticisms about how the government was battling the self-governing

Read More »

Instagram: different ways to post

Have you been away from Instagram for a while now and have come back to practically a whole new platform but have no idea what’s going on? Do you want to know what all of the various different features are the Instagram has to offer now and how to use them? Instagram is by far

Read More »

In Season: A List Of Colorful Plants To Plant in Your Garden

Planting flowers can directly benefit the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen to humans and animals. Thus, improving the air quality. Moreover, there are different types of flowers you can choose from depending on your preferences. You may choose based on its colors or based on its symbolism. The wide variety of plants

Read More »