Wow, what a lucky day

Published 12:01 am Saturday, July 10, 2010

I’ve been an Andalusia Rotarian for more than four years now. And the whole time, it’s bugged me a little that I didn’t know much about dominos.

For many Rotarians world wide, that’s not an issue; but when your club hosts the World Championship Domino Tournament, well, you just ought to know a little about it.

It was the bicentennial year when local civic clubs were asked to host an event to celebrate the nation’s birthday. Jokingly, Dr. Charles Tomberlin suggested a domino tournament. No one had a better idea, and 35 years later, it’s still a big event.

“I had no idea this would last his long,” he mused during the tournament yesterday. “I used to play in the George Lindsey golf tournament, and that only lasted about 25 years.”

Dr. T. is a serious domino player. And I do mean se-ri-ous. When he was growing up on the farm, he said, there wasn’t much else to do except listen to the Grand Ol’ Opry. He had plenty of younger siblings with whom to sharpen his skills. Early in the day, I asked him if he’d teach me. When he finished tournament play, I had a fine lesson.

In the Rotary tournament, a player advances by winning two out of three 250-point games. That’s the lesson I got.

He stomped me in the first one, teaching me strategy all the way. The second one, I started to catch on; then I drew a lucky hand and beat him to 250 points.

“OK, I was playing you easy,” he smiled. “I’m not going to do that this time.”

Told you he was a serious player. He didn’t have to “ease up” too much to quickly win, but I appreciated the lesson, just the same.

In the midst of our lesson, Garland Ramsey approached our table. Ramsey runs a domino museum and is a fixture at the tournament. He had in his hands a box of antique bone and ebony dominos dating back to the 1800s, which he generously gave them to our club to auction.

Later in the evening, I found myself in competition with Dr. T. again in the club’s $15,000 sweepstakes. When we’re down to 10 tickets, ticket holders have the option of splitting the pot. I had a ticket left, and Dr. T.’s name was on a ticket with James Kelsoe. One holdout kept the competition going until there were five tickets, when all agreed to split.

In the past few hours, I’ve mentally spent the $3,000 I won dozens of times, with suggestions from friends.

“Vacation,” two people said.

I imagined a few travel possibilities; I thought about a new wardrobe. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s enough “play money” to have a little fun.

And I’ve come to the realization that there’s no way spending it could be as fun as thinking about spending it is.

And really? It was more fun winning a round of dominos against Dr. T., even if he was “playing easy.” Feels like I had one lucky day.