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United Kingdom’s First Electronic Scoring Steel Dart Tournament- A Big Success.

Date: 11/12/2004

Bridlington, UK — In its 28th year, BAPTO (British Association of Pool Table Operators) added a darting event to its Grand Finals weekend, November 12-14th, 2004 at The Spa, Bridlington, UK. Not only was the addition of darting a welcome compliment to the pool competition, players competed on the new Wild Bull® dart game, manufactured by Merlin Technologies of the United States.. A unique electronic dart game, the Wild Bull® automatically scores steel darts using a traditional bristle dart board. The United Kingdom experienced its first exposure to this equipment at the event.

Steve Pope, VP of Marketing for Merlin states, “We didn’t know quite what to expect from these players, because electronic darts were never successful in the UK, because these traditionalists (I say that fondly) were unwilling to use plastic darts (the convenience of electronic darting previously was only available in plastic games). On one hand, we knew these players would be unaccustomed to pay-to-play each game by feeding the machines with coins, but on the other hand, we hoped they would be open minded about our game, as we are catering to their preference for steel darts. The great news is that after a few games, players were conditioned at paying and they said the loved the game!”

With over 500 competitors for the various Pool events, numerous invitees from the Licensed Trade and roughly 100 darts players, the Wild Bull had an attentive and sizable audience to witness the Wild Bull’s benefits. Pool players and darters were allowed to sample the games on Friday evening as they were set up in an open format.

During the remainder of the weekend, approximately a hundred players competed for cash prizes in cricket, 501 and several other games. Ken Tryon, of Merlin’s UK Office said, “this was the first time I have ever seen UK players paying-to-play darts in a tournament setting.”

The pool event was even halted so the entire venue could turn its attention towards the Wild Bull Championship matches. These Championships of 501 took place on the main stage and were announced by Martin Fitzmaurice, voice of the British Darts Organization, who was joined on stage by Martin Adams, England darts' team captain and a BDO British Open Champion. “Fitzmaurice and I had a good laugh after the event, as it was half way through the women’s match before Martin realized he didn’t need to get a proper sight line in order to call each dart. All he had to do was look at the electronic scoreboard. I think his commentating was brilliant, as he could concentrate on the action rather than doing all the math in his head,” says Pope, laughing.

Christine Readhead, of Pontefract, UK was the winner of the Wild Bull ladies' darts contest , winning £200 by beating Jean Thomas (Winterton UK) who won £100. In the men’s championship, Graham Harrison (Leeds,UK) defeated his mate and rival, Tony Richardson. Harrison won £1000. The runner-up for the men’s 501 division, Richardson, won £300.

“We want to thank all of the players,” Pope concluded, “the entire BAPTO staff, our new friends from Bridlington and Bob Blakeborough. I’d also like to personally thank Alan Marshal and ‘the ladies’ for all their wonderful support. We look forward to seeing these players, and others at our next UK event.”

For more photos or information on this and future events, or details about Merlin’s products, you may visit them on the web at www. merlindarts.com or call them at (001) 847-570-4731, sales@merlindarts.com

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