George Silberzhan RIP
By Patrick Chaplin 15/02/2021
TO darts players in the UK, George Silberzahn may not be well known but in the USA he carved out a reputation as the man whose mission in life was to teach everyone to play darts.
Born in Gibbstown, New Jersey in September 1938, George (pictured below in 1975) joined his first local darts league in 1962. It was an American-style league of which he became President in 1965. (Image: PC Darts Archive.)
The following year he joined the Mount Royal American darts team and later, in 1972, became the first President of the South Jersey English Darts League. Between 1971 and 1980 George’s employment changed to “field work” during which time he travelled extensively to many cities and states which provided him with the opportunity to play darts all over.
When I interviewed George in the early 2000s I asked him “What were you greatest achievements?” and he replied:
" Winning the International Darts Match tournament - U.S.A. versus Great Britain.
The team from Great Britain consisted of forty County and Country winners. These included the likes of Alan Evans, Willy Etherington, Paul Gosling, Doug Priestner, Cliff Inglis, and Chic Love.
Then there was the ADO vs. BDO match held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach California where I out-scored Eric Bristow with just under 50% of scores being 100 or more. "
By the time George ‘retired’ from darts in 1982 he had built up a reputation Stateside for championship darts shooting and in “retirement” found that he had the ability to articulate what it takes to attain the skills necessary for success in our sport. To this end, during the 1980s, George wrote two darts instruction manuals, “Beginning the Game of Darts” and “Mastering the Game of Darts”. Two decades later these formed the foundation of his publication, in 2004 of “How to Master the Sport of Darts”; a Second Edition being published in 2008.
Up until the publication of ‘How to Master the Sport of Darts’ there had been numerous darts books which claimed to be tutorials. Some achieved their aim whilst others appeared to hinder rather than help. In my view George Silberzahn went beyond them all. Over and above the “mastering” of darts, more than half the book was devoted to mini-biographies of a number of US darting legends (both male and female); a great help to me as a darts researcher trying to learn about darts players ‘across the pond.’ After publication of ‘Mastering…’ George produced an excellent darts tuition website and subsequently created his famous ‘Flight School’ from which new and experienced darts players could learn the skills, tactics and techniques of our sport. www.howtodarts.com
George reached his 70 th birthday in September 2008. The photograph, reproduced here ( courtesy of his ‘personal publicity manager, critic, number one fan and surprise birthday party giver’; his loving wife Sandie), shows George with a special cake (the design of which is based on the cover of ‘How to Master…’) produced especially for the occasion by – Who else? – but his personal publicity manager, cake maker, etc. etc., - Sandie.
For his contribution to darts George was inducted into the USA National Darts Hall of Fame (Player/Behind the Scenes category) in 2011.
George passed away peacefully on 14 th January 2021 aged 82. He will be remembered for those matches against ‘The Brits’ in the early 1970s and laterally for his ‘Flight School’ tutorial which helped many budding and experienced darts players improve their game.
Additional text (c) 2021 Patrick Chaplin.
More from Patrick at: patrickchaplin.com
Photo credits: PC Darts Archive