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The Story Behind “Shanghai” in Darts: Origins and Gameplay

For dart enthusiasts and those new to the sport, the term “Shanghai” often raises eyebrows. While it is also the name of a bustling Chinese city, “Shanghai” has a specific meaning in the world of darts that has nothing to do with geography. This blog post aims to demystify the term “Shanghai” in darts by exploring its history, rules, and how to play it effectively.

What Does “Shanghai” Mean in Darts?

In the context of darts, a “Shanghai” is a specific scoring achievement that involves hitting three different sections of a single number: the single, the double, and the triple. For instance, if you’re targeting the number 20, a Shanghai would involve hitting the single 20, the double 20 (40), and the triple 20 (60) in one turn, achieving a total score of 120 points.

The Origins of the Term “Shanghai”

The term “Shanghai” is believed to have originated from the sailors and soldiers who played darts in pubs during their time off. The exact reason for calling it “Shanghai” is a subject of speculation. Some believe it refers to the element of surprise and skill involved, much like the 19th-century practice of “Shanghaiing” sailors into service. Others consider it a reference to the exotic and varied nature of the Chinese port city of Shanghai, similar to the need for a varied skill set to hit the three different parts of a single number in darts.

How to Play Shanghai in Darts

Shanghai can be played as a standalone game or as a part of other traditional games like 501 or 301. Here’s a basic outline of the rules:

  1. Each player takes turns to throw three darts.
  2. The aim is to hit the single, double, and triple of the same number in one turn.
  3. If a player achieves a Shanghai, they automatically win the game, or earn significant points if part of another game.

Strategies for Scoring a Shanghai

Scoring a Shanghai is a challenging feat. Here are some tips to increase your chances:

  1. Focus on High Numbers: A Shanghai on a higher number like 20 will yield more points, making it particularly valuable in traditional darts games.
  2. Aim for Consistency: Consistent throws will help you hit all three sections of a number more effectively.
  3. Perfect Your Grip and Stance: A stable grip and stance can significantly improve your accuracy, making it easier to score a Shanghai.


The term “Shanghai” adds a layer of complexity and challenge to the game of darts, requiring a player to hit a variety of scoring areas on the board. While the origins of the term may remain a subject of debate, its place in darting lingo is firmly established. Whether you’re a seasoned darts player or a newcomer, trying to score a Shanghai can be an exciting and rewarding challenge. So, grab your darts, aim carefully, and you might just score yourself a Shanghai!

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