CARNEGIE, Okla. - In a room full of bone yards and broken dreams, 56 teams of two filled the tables inside an old barn at the fairgrounds in Carnegie to decide the 75th World Champion in a venerable table game.
"It's still a serious game," said past participant and current organizer Orval Williams.
Back in 1945, 'Doc' Jolly started the little tournament in the local VFW Hall. He timed the contest to coincide with local farmers' winter quiet time.
These days, the Carnegie Chamber and its president, Orval, preside.
"It's a pretty good event for our Chamber," he said. "We love it. We get to see a lot of people. They come back every year."
At its height, there might have been 100 teams playing the best two out of three games into the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Lately, said veteran players, modern conveniences have cut into domino popularity.
"It's going away," Orval said. "Computer games and cellphones are getting rid of it."
The tournament was up a dozen teams from last year.
Last year's champs, C.B. Cox and Oliver Kern of Cache, were on hand to defend.
On how to win, C.B. said "It's just playing where you don't give up a lot of counts and then, when you get a chance to count, you take advantage of it."
But, such is the luck of the draw.
No team has ever repeated as champion.
"They sent us home early," Cox said. "They beat us pretty good."
In 1994, we were here for the 50th World Championships.
Past winners like Clarence Cline and Henry Pit were players who'd been in on the tournament's beginnings.
"Yeah, you bet," said Cline in 1994.
For some modern players, dominoes is still serious business. For most of the rest, it's just fun on a cold Saturday, a chance to get together with friends, play for bragging rights and, in Carnegie, a title no one can ever take away.
The 2019 champions were a father and son team from Purcell, Oklahoma, Gary and Tim Andrews.
The first team eliminated in the World Championships also gets a prize, a big homemade chocolate cake. Billy Star and his daughter, Ashley Noland, took home that prize.