Dominoes in Key West

The Origin of Dominoes and its Introduction in Cuba

street-gambling-cuba_10839_600x450 domino-players
This is a very old game, known by Chinese, Arabs and Egyptians long time ago. At mid 18th century, Italians introduced the game in Spain and France, that is why it is deduced that the Spaniards were the ones that introduced it in its colonies. This old universal game has thousand fans, irrespective of age, race or sex.

When one hears that someone got two `pollonas,` it means that this player was beaten two consecutive times during a round of dominoes. Though the traditional rules establish that talking is not permitted while playing, this is not the case of Cuba where the activity turns noisy, boisterous and exciting in tune with the natural joy of Cubans. Every piece placed on the table stirs a comment among players or the people that approach the table, the `sapos` (slang used for people who are not directly involved and become watchers Trans).
In most quarters, players sit around the same table, usually located outdoors, thus becoming a fixed spot for the enjoyment of this game; the schedule depends on the players` free time.

The game is played with a set of usually 28 or 55 dominoes and different combinations from 1 to 6 or from 6 to 9 can be made. Rounds can be played with 2, 3 and 4 players, the latter is the most common practice in Cuba. The game requires intelligence, concentration and fast thinking, though luck and chance may interfere.

Dominoes, a game regarded by some as `the second national sport,` is a wholesome entertainment and demands few resources. Pieces can be hand-made. In times of economic hardships, this game was a resort used for entertainment to compensate for hard work and a way to forget economical problems. The preference for dominoes could have been influenced by the mild climate of the island and the open personality of Cubans.

If you have time, try to play one round and make all the possible combinations with the pieces. Combinations in this game are endless.


by Rita de Zayas, from Excellences Magazine

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