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Domino tournament opens big

With the final round still

to go Saturday morning, the 28th annual World Championship Domino Tournament has been a great success, according to Rotarian David Darby.

"We've had a good turnout,"

said Darby. "Attendance is up substantially. We've had 25 more adults and 10 to 25 more children."

Perseverance has paid off for many players, and many non-players. For 25 years, Dr.

Lowell Herwitz of New Orleans, a radiologist and friend of Dr. Charles Tomberlin, has been buying tickets to the sweepstakes dinner. This year, his was one of the last four tickets to be drawn, and with Tomberlin as his proxy, split the winnings with the three other ticket holders. The winners opted for the cash prize, each receiving $3,730. The other winners were Ferrell Walton, Riley Taylor Jr., and Greg Palmer, who doesn't play dominos, but certainly enjoyed his sweepstakes meal result.

While everyone will have a good time at the Andalusia Rotary Club's World Championship Domino Tournament, not all will get to go home with the prize money. Mark Jackson, one of four players who came all the way from Fort Worth, Texas, to play may finish in the money today, but he's already got some winnings to take home. The 61-year-old Texan won the round-robin tournament hosted by the Kansas City "Show Me" Domino Club the day before.

"I got lucky," Jackson said.

Jackson has been attending the tournament for about 20 years now and enjoys his visits to Andalusia.

"I think it's great," he said. "If I didn't live in a metroplex, this is where I would want to live. The people are friendly."

Like a lot of the players, Jackson has been playing dominos since childhood, in his case, a family tradition.

"My grandpa, my uncles, my dad …" he said. "Ever since I can remember, everyone in the family played."

He is passing the tradition along as well, with two sons and a daughter who play, and even a grandson.

"He was supposed to come with me, but he's 15, got a girlfriend …" Jackson laughed. "He decided not to come at the last minute."

If he had come, he would not have been the only teenager by a long shot. There were many teen and youth competitors this year, more than a dozen more than last year, according to

Darby. One of those, Jeff Lane, is also hoping to carry on a family tradition.

"My grampa (Heskew Lane) was the champion last year," said the 17-year-old from Houston. Already out of tournament play, Lane was enjoying the round robin held Friday afternoon, competing against all comers, not just his own age division. He's a veteran of the World Championship Domino Tournament and has been coming since he was 8, taking home championships more than once.

"It's nice here," he said of Andalusia. "Everybody knows everybody else."

Besides his parents, Jeff's sister, and cousin came in for the event, and everyone but his mother is competing.