Hundreds compete in state domino tourney (Video)

Jan. 27, 2013 at 9:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 26, 2013 at 7:27 p.m.

Wayne Hargrove looks at his dominoes during a match at the Texas State Championship at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Hallettsville.

Wayne Hargrove looks at his dominoes during a match at the Texas State Championship at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Hallettsville.

HALLETTSVILLE - It had been a long time since C.W. Bruns had heard the unique cacophony found only in his old stomping grounds, the Knights of Columbus Hall.

On Sunday, he was among the 90 two-person teams shuffling ivory keys on crowded game tables in the 60th annual State Domino Tournament.

"I've wanted to play for a while. I just needed that extra push," Bruns said.

The 63-year-old had traveled from Wimberly to play with Lavaca County attorney John Stuart Fryer.

The pair was admittedly a little out of sorts, estimating their last match together had to have been 40 years ago at Texas A&M University. That was back when they practiced about 30 hours a week.

"Now, we may not even play 30 hours a year," Bruns said, chuckling.

Like most participants, the two were there for fellowship, not fame.

Having tied for fourth place decades ago, they knew that the game of dominoes is just as much about luck as it is skill. In fact, it's a lot like life that way, Fryer said.

"It's an endurance thing. ... The very best players maximize the good hands they get and minimize the bad hands they get," he said of the seven tiles dealt and the chance to accumulate a winning 250 points.

Gene Migura, who won the tournament three years ago with the same number of participants, agreed.

"I just take it as it comes and hope the good Lord smiles on me," he said, while admiring the past years' score cards.

Robert Pesek, the only living founding member of the tournament, judged the close calls. He said most partners are so in tune they can pick up alternative meanings and strategies in the slightest of movements, such as slamming a bone down versus placing it gently.

With rule sheet in hand, he said he never imagined the event would grow to be so popular. He's working now on getting younger people just as enthused.

"The wonderful part about dominoes is that any age group can play it," he said, recalling how, as a 4-year-old, he honed his arithmetic without the distractions of gadgets like TVs and iPods.

He worried about the violence and sex kids are exposed to in video games today.

The game of dominoes "is an honest, clean game," Pesek said. "Kids learn a lot. ... They learn to learn from their mistakes."

R.L. Orsak said he's a lot more serious about dominoes than he used to be as a child, when he'd watch the pros play while seeking shelter from the cold at an area country store. He said another version of the game, called 42, popular with college students, isn't as mentally challenging.

Orsak, a 76-year-old lifetime Hallettsville resident, was named a 2013 Domino Hall of Famer.

"This is a very old game," he said, smiling. "I think it will live on."



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