Bob is a victim of the domino effect By Bob Karolevitz I used to think dominoes was a sissy game � but not any more.
Each set should come with a SWAT team or a NATO combat squad to settle disputes. Or maybe a Congressional investigating committee.
You should also have a Ph.DD. (Doctor of Dominoes) to understand the various versions you can play.
Among them are Muggins, Sniff, Matador, Tiddle-a-Wink, Four-Hand Texas, Sebastopol and Bingo.
There's also one called Bergen, which must be a Norwegian game � but I'm not sure.
The instructions for each of them are so complicated that only an Albert Einstein could figure them out � and he's dead. Frankly, I think they should all be written in Greek, because they are all Greek to me.
You can even play solitaire if you don't have anything else to do. Cardinal Industries, Inc., of Long Island City, NY � which has been making dominoes for more than 50 years � has copyrighted one-person games called Big Clock, Good Neighbors, Traffic and Squeeze.
These, too, require a NASA delegation to explain them.
I got curious as to where the word "domino" came from. A domino, I learned, was a long, loose, hooded cloak worn by clergymen of French ladies going to a masquerade. These cloaks were usually black.
Since the original game pieces were made of ebony with white dots, supposedly they resembled the garment, so that's what they were called. It seems a little far-fetched to me, but we're stuck with that so-called historical fact.
The Chinese � who seem to have invented lots of things � had domino cards centuries ago, which may or may not have been the forerunners of the European tiles which showed up in Italy and France during the 1700s.
They say that French prisoners brought the game to England, and somehow the Innuit Eskimos picked it up and made their bones of walrus ivory. Dominoes, incidentally, are called bones, stones, pieces, men or dirty words when an irrate participant gets blocked and can't make a play.
We were introduced to a game called Mexican Train (with a Cardinal trade mark) which has great social values for up to eight afficianados. The spots or pips on these dominoes are colored, giving the manufacturers another chance to make a buck selling plastic sets to gullible folks like us.
Actually it's a fun game at which our 8-year-old grandson Sam excels. We accuse him of making up the rules as he goes along, but then he springs the instruction sheet � which only he can understand � on us. "When it comes to games, I show no mercy," he says.
I go to the boneyard quite often, which is the pile of extra tiles for those who can't make a play. That means I end up with lots of dominoes to count when somebody else goes out.
To figure who wins the game, losers tally up the spots on the bones they're stuck with. That's when I have trouble again.
Counting dots when you have a whole lot of them is a mathematical challenge for me, and I usually have to have help. Thank goodness we only have double 12s and not double 15s like the real professionals do.
I won't try to explain the double 12s and double 15s to you because I'm not too sure myself.
All I know is that we're hooked on dominoes. I might even go out and buy a black cloak so I can dress the part.
© 2001 Robert F. Karolevitz