RATTLING BONES: Players say skill, luck involved

Published 12:17 am Saturday, July 11, 2015

Players enjoy the mini-doubles tournament Friday night.

Players enjoy the mini-doubles tournament Friday night.

Jerome Wooten is a little upset.

The Kansas City, Mo., resident and five-time World Championship Domino Tournament winner in four singles and one doubles championship, didn’t have a good day in singles play on Friday, but he said he’s definitely going to win today in the doubles round.

“I got beat badly,” Wooten said.

Pleas Parker of Texas defeated Wooten.

This is Wooten’s 16th appearance at the annual tournament. This is the first time that he’s not won his bracket.

“This is the first time I ever lost before the playoffs,” he said. “I guess it was just his time. Luck wasn’t going my way. The bones weren’t going my way.”

Luck was, however, going Scott Henke’s way. The Halletsville, Texas, resident defeated Michael Lambert of Jacksonville to win the 2015 World Championship Singles Tournament Friday night.

Ten years ago, Henke was playing the Andalusia tournament when something told him to call his dad. When he called home, he learned that his father had died. That year, Henke’s travelling partner, Jim Foster, forfeited the championship game to drive him home.

Last year, Foster won the doubles championship; this year was Henke’s time. And he was surprised. The format of the Andalusia tournament is his least favorite domino game, he said.

Domino players agree that winning is a combination of skill and luck.

Wooten, who has been playing for about 20 years, said it took a lot to win his five tournaments.

“Obviously, it takes some skills, but it definitely takes you pulling some good dominoes, and a little bit of luck pulling out of the bone yard,” Wooten said.

Wooten’s loss on Friday was the push he needed for today’s action, which picks up this morning at 8:30.

Even though he may have lost, Wooten said it happens.

“You can’t win them all,” he said.

Wooten wasn’t the only competitor who traveled far to get to the domino tournament.

Lenvel Stanaland hails from Nacogdoches, Texas, the oldest town in the Lone Star State, and is in Andalusia playing in the 40th annual World Championship Domino Tournament.

Stanaland said the town was founded in the 1700s, and his family has lived on the same land since 1856.

“We bought the land for 50 cents an acre — in gold,” Stanaland said. “We’re still there.”

Stanaland has been playing dominoes for 65 years, and has competed in the annual tournament for 25. He plays in singles and doubles.

Stanaland said he likes to play with Robert Holman, who lives more than 400 miles away from Nacogdoches in Childress, Texas.

Holman won the Texas doubles title in 2009.

For Tim Brown of Toledo, Ohio, getting to play in the tournament is something he cherishes.

“It’s the competition and tradition of it,” Brown said. “It’s been going on a long time.”

Brown’s best finish in his 13 years playing in the tournament came in 2002, when he finished in seventh place.

It was in 2002 when he realized that he could play the game of dominoes.

“It takes strategy,” Brown said. “You’ve got to think.”

While Stanaland has been playing dominoes for many years, Jonathan Clenney has been playing for almost five.

Clenney, 11, who lives between Paxton, Fla., and DeFuniak Springs, won his first consolation championship on Friday. He’s been playing dominoes approximately five years.

“Next year will be my last in the children’s tournament,” Clenney said. “Then after that, I will go to the youth tournament. It’s going to be tougher.”

To win the consolation championship, Clenney said it came down to the last hour of play.

What helped his game was practicing with Darnell Benton of Kansas City, Mo.

“We practiced before we played this morning, and we did well,” he said.

Benton came out as the children’s champion in his second appearance at the tournament.

“I’m having fun playing in this tournament,” Benton said.