THE ESSENCE OF DOMINOES

When first I learned there was a real Dominoes world championship and it was planned for Jamaica, I badly wanted to play.

Then I read the rules.  No talking.  Dominoes to be picked up between thumb and forefinger and put down quietly.  No slamming of the table.  That’s when I realized that this was more likely to resemble a ladies knitting contest than a dominoes tournament.   

Come on guys.  Every serious domino player knows noise is the essence of dominoes. Dominoes can’t be structured and will never be played quietly.  Chaos is essential.  If you can’t take “mouthing” don’t try dominoes.  Three-quarters of the fun involves teasing your opponents mercilessly.  Boasting is dominoes’ pièce de résistance .

A domino game, like a round of golf, is a microcosm of life.  Bouts of mild showing off become more intense with ladies present.  It can get complicated.  Ask Glenroy Anthony Michael Archangelo Smith:

                   “De domino game get hot                                                                                    when she walk through de door.                                                          She was a real key card                                                                                         fit ‘pon any end a de board.                                                                                  I man want her ‘pon my end but (watch ya now!)                                                  de baby father is I man fr’en’ (study dis)                                                             Him a me partner inna dis ya game (check it out)                                                Him no even want fi hear me call her name.” 

When victory is in sight, your triumph must be complemented by a noisy crescendo including banging the table with your winning dominoes.  Scrabble aficionados live to play a seven letter word.  Domino players want to “bow” (no, Tony Rebel, not that type of “bowing”) and the more dominoes you can “bow” the better.

Players need to have a catchy accompaniment handy for “bowing”.  A popular one is “Heineken! Heineken!! Heineken!!! Heineken!!!! Heineken!!!!!” from an old advertisement involving a staged domino game.  If you can summon the required timing, attitude and phrasing, as Sinatra did for singing, you won’t need to “bow” five dominoes to use this victory chant.

So, fellas, you can’t hold a world dominoes championship without noise.  Pretending to pick up teacups instead of dominoes just won’t cut it.  I know organisers are trying to prevent coding.  Give that up.  Cheats will find a way no matter what rules are dreamt up.  Experienced domino players know when opponents are coding and the “society” has its own way of ostracizing those characters not totally dissimilar to how poker cheats were banished in the Wild West.  Win one domino game cheating, shame on you. Win two, shame on me.

Coders are easy to spot.  They’re always pausing when it’s their turn.  Every domino player occasionally stops to read the game but usually closer to game’s end.  Then it can become excruciating when you know your partner can play the right domino for you to win but seems to be taking forever to decide. You begin to wonder if he really wants you to win or if he’s still upset about that $40 you borrowed and haven’t yet repaid.  Or something else.  Keeping quiet just isn’t an option.

                    “Him have de key card; I man key card;                                              fi me key card; inna fi him yard.                                                                        Me say fi free up de key card, Baby Father.                                                          Me sey fi ’member sey I man                                                                                and dat man a partner.                                                                                Don’t block de game sar                                                                                   for yu mus’ get count out.                                                                                      Look inna yu hand sar                                                                                        no bodda run up yu long mouth.”

When one player pauses for every play while his partner acts like Larry Craig in a public toilet, you guessed it, they’re coding.  The best way to deal with coders is to ignore them while you work out their code.  Then, you play Churchill in World War II by knowing what they don’t know you know.

No serious domino player stays quiet for long.  Some dominoisms are so creative one often wonders why players aren’t wealthy working the comedy circuit.  “How many you have?” I once asked Dessie “Wheng!” was his way of saying “one” if he thought it was a good one.  Johnny “Beverage” would say “only these two that’ve passed through so many tribulations!”  If Dessie had two, he’d christen them “Miss Matty and Drummond.” 

Finally, loud music is a must at any domino game.  Don’t bother telling a domino player that your speakers aren’t working because he’ll be ready with a sharp retort like “Dat only ‘appen in Parliament.” Wait a minute.  Noise; chaos; incessant cross-talk; childish banter; ritualistic ribbing; banging on tables.  Hmmmm.  Good grief, IT IS Parliament! 

Peace and Love

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