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Dominoes Tournament In Nashua Celebrates Dominican Father’s Day

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Gabriela Lozada
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NHPR
Fourteen people played in the Dominican Dominoes tournament this Sunday at Greely Park

If you were watching the dominoes tournament in Nashua this weekend, it was hard to take your eyes off the board. This year's tournament was particularly exciting, as the participants teased each other amid the sound of clacking tiles against the board.

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Organized by the Greater Nashua Smart Start Coalition for Early Childhood Success and held in celebration of Dominican Father’s Day, merengue, salsa, bachata, and reggaeton pounded over the speakers during the four hours of the tournament, held for the first time last Sunday at Greeley Park.

While dominoes is a popular game in the living rooms of many Latin American homes, Dominicans take particular pride in playing this 28-tile national pastime. It creates bonds between families, friends, or neighbors.

Will Dominguez, a truck driver and Nashua resident, assisted at the tournament. In the Dominican Republic, he said, there is always someone playing dominoes in the afternoon.

“Anywhere there is a corner or a bar there are people playing dominoes. It reminds me of my country. I miss it,” he said.

Dominoes are normally played between four people. The goal is to run out of chips while blocking your opponent from doing the same. You can learn the rules in a few minutes but it requires mastery to know how to win it.

In Nashua, the concentration on the faces of the participants was obvious. And it’s vital to maintain that concentration if you want to win. Participants thought carefully about each movement and they kept track of the count of the chips that had already come out.

Dominguez has played since he was four. He said nobody really teaches you how to play. You watch the game and then you start learning how to do it.

In Spanish, dominos have a language of their own. Some colloquial terms belong only to the game: Capicúa, trancao, and paso redondo.

José Vasquez, a maintenance supervisor in Merrimack, said the basic ingredients of this game are wisdom, strategy, and knowing how to play the traps.

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Gaby Lozada
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Jose Vasquez plays the game finals.

Some games can last up to an hour. During that time, you can get to know the people next to you, even if you have not met them before.

Player Jorge Capillán went to the finals. He said this is a social game that means a lot to him. “You ask for their names, phone numbers, that way they become friends," he said.

The tournament’s winners received a championship belt and the bragging rights of being the best at this pastime that binds Latin American immigrant communities together around the language of dominoes.

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.

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