Saturday, September 30, 2006


So Friday, I went to Hallettsville, TX with Jeff, Mike, and Jordan. We met up with Aaron and Terry. It was Aaron's bachelor party, and I must say it, was the oddest bachelor party I've ever been to. Actually, I think this is the only bachelor party I've ever been a part of. That's sad. Oh well... I guess it means that relatively few of my friends are hitched, which, in my current situation, is pretty cool. Not that wives aren't cool, but they do tend to hamper the fun-factor of their husbands. (Don't take this as an indictment of women, but rather as an indictment of the whole married couple mentality, i.e. "no, I don't think I'll come with y'all on (insert random act of fun here)... I think I'll go home and hang out with my wife...")

Anyway, back to the bachelor party. We drank ourselves silly on $1.50 lonestars and played dominoes until all hours of the morning. Oddly enough, the only sober man was the bachelor. I found this out when I offered to buy him a beer. He declined politely, saying he'd given it up. Once during the night, I asked him if he was having fun, and with a big grin, he replied he was having the time of his life. He wasn't kidding either. Whoop for him.

Anyway, we woke up at 7 on saturday and stumbled across the street to the Knights of Columbus Hall in bustling Hallettsville, Texas. We paid our $40 entry fee and immediately jumped into the round robin. We ended up with a 3-2 record in the round robin, which was almost but not quite good enough to get us into the championship bracket. So, instead, we were in the consolation bracket, which dampened our spirits a little bit. However, we won our next two matches before getting eliminated in the final 8. Of all the teams the Austin 42 club sent to the team, we lasted the longest, which was heartening.

Anyway, there were two incidents of note during the tournament. If you're not domino literate, you may not understand everything in the next few paragraphs, but I encourage you to try. If all else fails, ask me, I'd love to teach you how to play.

The first happened during the round robin. We were playing some frat boys who, according to Jeff, were completely trashed during the last tournament. They were real class acts this time, let me tell you.

The incident involved a 2 mark hand, which I called because we were down and running out of time. We played the first three tricks normally, stacking the third trick on top of the first. I was just about to play my fourth domino on top of the second trick when, out of no where, I'll be damned if frat tool #1 didn't reach over and pick up the third trick to look at the dominoes it was covering. I don't care where you learned how to play dominoes, or even if you're just playing for fun. You cannot ever under any circumstances look under the stack. (Stacking the dominoes makes it more difficult b/c you've gotta remember what's been played by who). It's supposed to be more difficult because the hand is worth 2 marks.

Anyway, Jeff and I look at each other incredulously and then Jeff calls him out, awarding us the hand by default. For some reason, he can't believe it and then turns into a real asshole. Jeff shakes the dominoes for the next hand, and once he finishes shaking, both I and frat tool #2 draw our dominoes. Frat tool #1 doesn't draw, and immediately calls me on drawing bones out of turn, demanding Jeff to give his team a mark. To be fair, the rules for the tournament do state that players will draw their dominoes clockwise from the dealer, and he was sitting on Jeff's left. However, this is total bullshit for two reasons: A) In the previous hands, we did not follow this particular rule. (Usually, the only rule on drawing dominoes is the shaker must draw last... this was the rule we were adhering to for the previous hands) B) His partner drew before I did, so I could just as easily have called that on him.

Luckily, the tournament judge saw it our way, and we played the hand out. Frat tool #1 was fuming though. I was too. I wanted to play him again later so Jeff and I could stomp them.

If you're skimming, I'd suggest reading the next section a little more carefully. There's some tricky moral/ethical/gamesmanship issues here...

The second incident occured after our second win in the consolation bracket. The old guys we were playing caught onto our bidding scheme. I won't bore you with the semantics, but basically, during the bidding portion of the game, we had a little pre-arranged system worked out so we could provide information to the other partner as to what dominoes we're holding in our hand.

For example, a bid of 30 meant "I have doubles" A bid of 32-33 meant "I have a 10 point piece and help". This last bid was particularly helpful, because there are only two 10 count dominoes in the game. Knowing that your partner has one of them can be a huge help in deciding if/what/how much to bid.

The way it would work, I would look at my hand, see that I have the 5-5 and maybe another double. I don't necessarily have a strong trump suit, but I bid 33. My partner, who bids after me, looks at his/her hand, and if it contains the 6-4 (the other 10 count), knows that I've got the 5-5. (S)he no longer has to worry about any 5 offs, making the bidding process much simpler, usually allowing my partner to bid quite high.

One of the rules of the game is that there can be no physical indications of what is in your hand. In tournament play, you can't move your dominoes around, you can't tap your finger on the table, you can't do anything which might possibly be used as a signal to your partner. You CAN, however, indicate which dominoes you have remaining in your hand by the order you play. For example, playing a 5-4 on your partner's trump to let him/her know that you have the 5-5 is perfectly legitimate.

So, on one hand, it appears to be table talk, because you are communicating information about your hand to your partner. On the other hand, it seems a perfectly valid strategy within the confines of the game.

What do y'all think?

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