Sunday, November 17, 2013

Béisbol no, pero sí Dominó

Cuban men playing Dominoes in the shade along the side of a street.

On our recent trip to Cuba, my boys were hoping to take part in the Cuban national sport by going to a baseball game. We weren't able to work that into our itinerary, but I was able to view the second national Cuban sport while there, Dominoes.

As a child I once received a Domino set for Christmas, and I don't remember ever playing the game.  Instead we would line up the dominoes in intricate patterns and tip the first one over so that all the dominoes would fall one after the other.  Then we would build yet another pattern and start all over again.

In the last few years though I have learned to play at least one game of Dominoes, Mexican Train.  I have cousins that enjoy this game, and whenever we visit them we usually have a game or two of Mexican Train.  So it was with great interest that I was able to observe Cubans playing Dominoes.

The game demands few resources and Dominoes pieces can be hand-made. Cuban Dominoes differs from Mexican Train that I have played. Two teams of two players acting as partners play Cuban Dominoes  Cuban Dominoes sets are double nines where regular Dominoes Sets are double sixes.  In Cuba, you frequently will see people  playing Cuban Dominoes in tables set up along the sidewalks, in parks, or in other public areas.
Painting by Jorge Arche

Among the few souvenirs I brought back from Cuba were two handmade Dominoes Sets (one for my cousins and one for Dan and me). Now I'll just have to learn the rules of Cuban Dominoes and find folks who will be willing to play the game. 
My Cuban Dominoes Sets: A Double Six and A Double Nine.
Here's a video from the BBC showing a game being played in Cuba.

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