Rx: Dominoes, every day
Kansas City group tourney regulars here since ‘78
Travis Newsome likes dominoes so much, he had his doctor write him a prescription.
“I told her I needed to play dominoes every day for my mental health,” he said. “So she wrote me a prescription that said I must play every day.
“Then I would tell my wife, ‘I’m going to pick up my medicine,’ ” he said.
The excuse didn’t work for long. Still, he plays almost every day.
Retired from the real estate business in Kansas City, Mo., Newsome has missed only three trips to the Andalusia Rotary Club’s World Championship Domino Tournament since his first trip in ’78.
In those pre-Internet days, someone from Andalusia read a newspaper article about him, tracked him down, and called and asked him to come south to play.
“We came down and brought six of us that year,” he said. “Five of us were brothers, and we brought one other guy.”
Newsome won the championship in singles in 1988 and 1993, and the doubles championship in 1999. He’s loved the game since he learned it from his mom in the summer of 1962. In the 1970s, he actually developed an extracurricular college course at the University of Oklahoma, domino theory and strategy.
Just as he did that first year, Newsome usually brings a crowd to Andalusia. This year, he is traveling with a group of seven from Kansas City. As soon as they got to town, they started playing. Newsome organized a pre-tournament tournament Thursday afternoon at Larry’s BBQ. There were 32 players, and they paid out $2,700 in prize money.
“It’s a whole different format from what we play here (at the tournament),” he said. “We’ve had them before, and people like them.”
Among those in his entourage is Ronald Toombs, who’s been visiting Andalusia every July for the past 15 years.
“I just like to play dominoes,” Toombs said. “I kinda think I can play. Then I come down here and they let me know I can’t.”
By lunchtime Friday, Toombs was already out of the double elimination singles tournament, but he planned to sign up for a separate afternoon round-robin tournament. In a better year, he won first place in the consolation division.
Most in Newsome’s group play dominoes regularly at a club called The Green Duck. Among those who play there is Jerome Wooten, who has won the singles division of the World Championship Tournament four of the past five years. Asked if Wooten ever loses at the club, Newsome said, “Yes. But not often. He’s almost impossible to beat.”
Toombs added, “He’s good!”
Wooten proved it again Friday. He made it to the semi-finals in the singles division, and will play Billy Welch for a fifth championship this afternoon.
Also in the Kansas City entourage is 85-year-old Leroy Robinson, a regular in Andalusia since 1982. He, too, was out of the tournament by lunch. He had bad draws in the second round, he explained.
“Just chance,” he said. “But life is a chance.”
Robinson plays dominoes at least three times a week.
“It keeps my elevator working,” he explained. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”