The silliness that is highest checkout (and the difference between a 131 and a 132)

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December 19, 2015 by bsd987

“Highest checkout”, tis a silly thing. So far through three sessions at Alexandra Palace, David Pallett 132 finish on the bull to move within one leg of shocking Kim Huybrechts is the highest of them all, one point better than Peter Wright’s 131 on D16 to end Keegan Brown’s tournament. But highest checkout—if it means anything at all—does not mean toughest or least likely checkout.

Although the difference between a 131 and 132 as the highest checkout is significant if you have a stake with William Hill on highest checkout, it otherwise is just a checkout, worth the same as a lonely tops or a 170. But which is actually the more difficult checkout: 131 or 132?

If you use the bull on 132, you can go single-treble-bull or bull-bull-D16, or bull-T18-D14 if you are Mensur Suljovic (or me) [aside: If I’m on 132, I’m lucky to hit the outer bull]. But you have options, and it cannot be said that you require more than one treble and one double to take out 132. Conversely, 131 requires two trebles and a double or a double and two trebles: There is no way to take out 131 with a single involved.

Conversely, it should be easier to hit a double other than bull than the bull since, well, they’re bigger [aside: Even I can hit a double, assuming I’m lucky enough to get down to a double and there is no pressure on me whatsoever]. Just how much easier it is in practice, however, I’m not sure. So far at the World Championships, players are 5/26 at double bull when checking out, or 19.23%. This is slightly better than half the double hit rate on the other 20 doubles (37.63%), and less than half as good as the double hit rate last dart in hand on all the other doubles (40.48%). But if these numbers hold out, they would tell us that as long as a player is more than twice as likely to hit one treble and an outer bull from two darts than two trebles from two darts, then 132 should be an easier checkout than 131.

And so far, that is playing out. Through 12 matches, there have been 72 possible outshots that required two trebles and a double, and Peter Wright’s 131 is the only successful one. There have been a further 41 attempts at 161, 164, 167, or 170, none of which has been converted. By comparison, there have been 40 possible outshots that required one treble, one single, and the bull, and 7 of them have been converted. Granted, a 126 and a 132 are not equal: a 122 gives you two chances at T19, while a 132 gives you only one chance at T19. But they are similar enough to be grouped together, as both, if taken out, will more likely than not end on the bull. Which all means that so far, a 132 is 12.6 times more likely than a 131.

Of course, it’s early days, and we’ve had shockingly few big finishes. The treble-treble-double conversation rate can’t help but come up somewhat, and I have a hunch that the treble-single-bull rate will go down. But I want to introduce the question now with the hope that by the time Peter Wright defeats Jelle Klaasen (or, if I have my dream final, Mensur Suljovic and Kyle Anderson agree to share the title after the electricity goes out at 6-6, 5-5 with both players having hit 13 consecutive bulls to determine who is to throw first in the deciding leg) I’ll have an answer: Which checkout is more difficult, 131 or 132?

And also with the hope that by the time I have an answer, the highest checkout has progressed to something more substantial, like at least a 135.

[Please note that I am not asking the question which was a more difficult finish: Peter Wright’s 131 or David Pallett’s 132. The question of which is more difficult in the particular match situation they were both in is an entirely different question. And a much easier one: David Pallett’s 132.]

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