Published 12:00 am Friday, July 7, 2017

Henderson has been playing dominoes 79 years

The World Championship Domino Tournament returns to Andalusia today, and with it comes 79-year veteran domino player and local resident Dallas Henderson.

Henderson said he’s been playing dominoes since he was just 6 years old and has won both the singles and doubles World Championship title in the past.

Henderson said that he loves dominoes, and even more, he loves to win at dominoes.

“I love to win,” Henderson said as a smile stretched across his face. “I love the fellowship with the people that I play with, too, but when you get old, it’s also one of the few games you can play and sit down.”

Henderson said that dominoes are also a great way to keep the mind sharp as a person ages.

“It does keep the mind sharp,” he said. “I don’t play near as well as I did when I was younger. I’ll soon be 86, but I still win every once in awhile.”

The World Championship Domino Tournament has been played in Andalusia since 1976 and has attracted famous players like legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and Southern comedian Jerry Clower.

Henderson, himself, has been playing in the tournament since 1977.

“My wife was in the hospital the first year and I didn’t get to come,” Henderson said. “I’ve been in it every year since, though.”

Henderson has won the singles championship once and the doubles twice, including last year with his partner Alton Mitchell of Ozark.

“I’ve drawn some really good partners,” Henderson said.

Henderson said that while skill is certainly involved with the game, luck is almost as important.

“I’d say it’s about 60 percent skill and 40 percent luck,” he said. “If you draw a good hand and play them, you have a good chance at winning, but if you draw a band hand you’re liable to get beat, too.”

While Henderson loves playing, he would also love to see more young people getting involved in the game.

“I would love to see more younger people getting involved,” he said. “We have some kids and teenagers that play but if they didn’t grow up playing or their parents didn’t grow up playing, it’s hard to get them involved. A lot of times the ones that play as children get out of their teens and stop playing.”

Henderson said that while he has enjoyed the championships, one of his most memorable tournaments was one he didn’t win.

“One of the times I was luckiest is when I drew (as a partner) a lady that didn’t know much at all about dominoes,” Henderson said. “We lost the first round but turned around and won the consolation round. That was the best dominoes I’ve ever played.

“She and her husband were really nice people, and I made sure not to say anything negative to her when she played wrong, and she wrote a note down here saying how much of a pleasure it was to play with me. That meant a lot.”

The singles tournament begins at 8:30 today, and the doubles tournament is set for Saturday. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. at the Kiwanis Community Center each day.