What is the oche in darts?

In darts, the oche – pronounced ‘ockey’, as in ‘hockey’ – is a line, or raised ridge, on the floor, behind which a player must stand to complete a valid throw. In official tournament play, with steel darts, the furthest point of the oche is positioned 7 feet and 9.25 inches, or 2.37 metres, from the face of the dartboard, measured horizontally. The maximum permitted dimensions of a raised oche are 50cm x 4cm x 2cm and, while a player may stand either side, if necessary, his or her toes must remain behind an imaginary line parallel to the raised edge.

The origin of the word ‘oche’ is unknown, although it may be derived from the Old French word ‘ocher’, meaning ‘to cut a notch in’. In fact, the earliest written examples of the term, such as those found in the tournament rules for the News of the World Individual Darts Championship, which was founded in 1927, are spelt ‘hockey’ rather than ‘oche’. The Championship originally adopted a 9 feet throw-line, but the hockey length was shortened to 8 feet when play resumed following World War II.

The now-defunct British Darts Organisation (BDO) was founded in 1973 and popularised the term ‘oche’.Originally, the oche length was still 7 feet and 6 inches, as defined by the National Darts Association of Great Britain (NDAGB) in 1954. However, in 1977, the newly-founded World Darts Federation (WDF) agreed a ‘world’ standard of 7 feet and 9.25 inches, as a compromise between the NDAGB and News of the World rules, with a concession to metric measurement of oche length.

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