A Game of Dominoes to Celebrate Latin American Culture
Published: Thursday, October 13, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 13, 2011 21:10
A dominoes tournament was held Wednesday, October 5th, in the HUB's FirePlace Lounge. The event was part of the Hispanic Heritage Month and was hosted by Jose Gonzalez, the Director of Recreation Programs here at Plymouth State University. Gonzalez was born in Puerto Rico; he spent a semester studying at the University of New Hampshire and later moved to the United States in 1999, returned to Puerto Rico in 2003, and then came back to the U.S. in 2006 and has been working for PSU since. As the Director of Recreation Programs, he can be found hosting many campus events.
Dominoes are a great traditional leisure activity in many Hispanic countries. The type of dominoes played at the tournament originated from Cuba and had slightly different rules that the more well known Mexican dominoes game. Historically speaking, dominoes originated around 1120 A.D. They appear to be a Chinese invention, derived from cubic dice. Europeans were exposed to dominoes around the 18th century; they then became popular in the Americas as immigrants traveled across the Atlantic. Dominoes became popular in southern Christian regions because card games were considered a form of gambling while dominoes were not.
Gonzalez started the tournament with a process he calls, "Doing the Dishes," which is the shuffling of the dominoes. After Gonzalez shuffles, each player pulls seven dominoes and the game starts. The player with the "Guagua" or "the bus", the domino with six dots on both ends, goes first and drops their piece. Players then each take turns matching the ends of the dominoes up. The game is over when a player runs out of dominoes or completes a set, meaning that all seven of any numbers printed on the dominoes are on the board. After someone wins, players count up to points on their remaining dominoes, which points are then given to the winner of the round.
There were four competing players. Jen Ethridge dominated the first two rounds, scoring 45 points. The other competitors challenged Ethridge, however, it was not enough to bump her out of the lead or take the win.
Dominoes are an important part of Latin American culture and history. Gonzalez commented, "In the ‘plaza', or town square, all the people play dominoes in their leisure time. Most people play on Sundays, all day. It's a very common game in Latin America."
The game was casually competitive. The table was full of laughs and small bits of frustration after the game was over and won. PSU students are encouraged to stop by during events like these and participate. It's a guaranteed fun time!