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Annual domino tournament begins this Friday

Beginning Friday, domino players from around the world will have the opportunity to show off their skills at the 34th annual Andalusia Rotary Club’s World Championship Domino Tournament.

Frank Miles of Tallahassee, Fla., was already in town Tuesday to play a few games at the Adult Activity Center. He said he has competed in more than 10 Andalusia tournaments and loves to make the trek to Covington County for the event.

“I just love everything about the game,” he said. “Around the middle of the 1980s, someone in Graceville (Fla.) told me about the tournament and I’ve tried to play ever since.”

Rayford Davis of Andalusia was joining Miles for the game, and said he also looks forward to participating in the tournament. Davis estimates that he has played in “all of them except for the first one and two or three others.”

“It’s a great game; it gives you something to do,” he said, before adding with a smile, “The best part is when (the opponent) gives you a chance to play your double-five (domino). That’s when you get a real thrill out of it.”

Dr. Charles Tomberlin — or “Dr. Domino” as he’s known around Andalusia — will be one of the first to throw down the bones at the local Rotary Club’s largest annual fund-raiser.

Tomberlin said playing dominos is an acquired skill, but it’s also one he’s enjoyed since growing up on the “farm.”

“Back then, there wasn’t a lot to do,” Tomberlin said. “You could listen to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday and play Rook or dominoes. For me, it was dominoes. Then when I went to New Orleans to medical school, I had a roommate I needed to make money off of and he had plenty. We’d play for a quarter or 50 cents a night and I’d usually win. Back then, I could eat the 52-cent student special in the cafeteria. I guess you could say dominoes got me through medical school.”

In 2009, the stakes in the local tournament are a little higher than 50 cents, and Tomberlin said he hopes people come out to try their hand at winning it.

“We give away $15,000 in cash right off the top,” he said. “Plus the trophies. We end up making about $30,000 a year that we turn right around and give out to local charities and scholarships.”

In order to have a shot at the $15,000 cash prize Friday night, dinner attendees must purchase a $100 drawdown ticket. Each year, 500 tickets are sold and currently, of those, only an estimated 20 are still available for purchase. In addition to a chance for the cash prize, ticket holders also enjoy two seafood dinners at the tournament.

Players and spectators can expect to see some familiar faces and many not-so-familiar faces at the tournament, Tomberlin said.

“(Congressman) Bobby Bright promised us Willie Nelson if he won the election,” Tomberlin said. “I guess that didn’t work out, but we’ll work on that for next year.”

As of Tuesday, 126 adults were registered for play, but organizers said that number usually doubles at registration, which is set for Friday morning between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Currently, there are two people registered from Michigan and another from Chattanooga, Tenn.

On Friday, the day starts at 8 a.m. with the welcome and drawing of partners. Play begins at 8:30 a.m. with a lunch break at 11:30 a.m. Play will resume at 1 p.m. with the round robin singles tournament. Dinner is at 5:30 p.m. with the mini-doubles tournament set to begin at 6 p.m. The cash drawing is at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, the schedule remains much the same. with play beginning at 8:30 a.m., lunch at 11:30 a.m. and play resuming at 1 p.m. The finals competition will be at 6 p.m.

For more information on the tournament, visit the Web site at http://www.worlddomino.com or call Dr. Tomberlin’s office at 222-5673.