Fun group activities: darts and pétanque

Games are a great way to liven up family gatherings or a party with your friends. Here are the basics for darts and pétanque – two fun activities that can be played casually by players of different ages and skill levels.

Fun group activities: darts and pétanque

Fun with darts

There are many games that you can play on a standard dartboard. The most common game is called 501, which is played as follows:

  • Two players take turns ("legs") to throw three darts each. The score from each set of three darts is subtracted from 501, and the winner is the player who first reduces their tally to exactly zero.
  • Players must end on a "double" – a dart landed in the double ring, for which the score is twice the number shown in that segment.
  • If your dart lands in the triple ring, your score for that throw is three times the number shown. Therefore, the highest, most valuable score that a player can achieve with three darts is 180 (a triple 20 scored with each of your three throws).
  • If you score more points in a leg than you require, you are considered to have "bust" and so your score remains at the total you had at the end of your previous leg.

Playing pétanque

The French term boules refers to a number of related games that involve two teams trying to place a ball or balls closest to a target; the English version is lawn bowling. One popular form of boules is the Provençal version called pétanque. It can be a contest between two players or between teams of two or three. Pétanque is usually played on a hard gravel surface.

  • The game begins when a player from one side, standing inside a throwing circle, throws the small jack (or cochonnet) some distance away.
  • A player from the same team then tries to throw one of their steel balls (underarm) so that it lands close to the cochonnet. A player from the opposing team then tries to place a ball closer still.
  • The team that has the closest ball is said to be "holding the point." The team that is not "holding" continues to throw until they are closest to the cochonnet. Then it's the turn of the other team again.
  • Once all balls have been thrown, the round ends. The team holding at the end wins one point for each ball closer to the cochonnet than the opponents' nearest.
  • More rounds ensue and the first team to reach 13 points wins.

Whether you have a backyard full of kids or a basement full of buddies, darts and pétanque are two activities that almost anyone can have fun playing.

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