ON THE DOTS
Congratulations on being the first major magazine to raise the game of dominoes to its rightful position in the world of sport (More Fun than the Watusi, March 29). It is plain that, with a working knowledge of dominoes, backgammon, chess, bridge and poker, a man can get by in any port.
I agree with the officials of the San Francisco tournament that Carnegie, Okla. players have no right to claim the world championship, for they do not play the true game of five-up. But I object as well to the claim of San Francisco's winners to the title of world champions.
We here in Barneveld, N.Y. have had a World Championship Domino Tournament for the last four summers. We claim that title today. However, since this is no time for the free world or the U.S. to be bickering within its own boundaries, we make this formal offer to San Francisco: to downgrade ourselves to the title of domino champions of the East Coast, if they will agree to claim only the West Coast championship.
If San Francisco is unwilling to meet us halfway, we will bide our time and (when my partner finishes college) go out there and take their collective shirts—the ones with the ruffles and the domino decorations. After all, I have taken, and been taken by, some of the best in the Peu and the Bohemian Clubs, during the last 30 years.
WILLIAM C. WHITE
April 12, 1965
In mentioning our esteemed gentlemen's club, Robert Cantwell referred to it as "something called the Bombay Bicycle Riding Club." May I, as its president, assure you that this is not a whimsical organization but rather a meeting place of the world's greatest domino players. The Bombay Bicycle Riding Club, which consists of 175 men (no women allowed) has its quarters on the peninsula some 18 miles south of San Francisco. It is available to members at all hours and frequented particularly for men's luncheons and in the late afternoon hours. We include in our membership many domino champions, among them two former world champions, as well as the present champion of the Peninsula Golf & Country Club, whom modesty forbids my naming.
We invite Mr. Cantwell to be our guest any day for luncheon.
T. C. MORONEY
Admittedly, the San Francisco Tournament was pretty ritzy. However, for Mr. Cantwell to call the winners world domino champions is somewhat like proclaiming the Mets to be world baseball champions after an intrasquad game.
Wichita Falls, Texas
With my Texas background, naturally I found the Cantwell article on dominoes quite interesting.
Perhaps Mr. Cantwell and some of the losers in the Frisco tourneys might be interested to know that some years ago an engineer friend of mine, the late R. I. Caughey, set out to determine whether or not there really was any skill involved in the game.
On a rainy vacation Mr. Caughey played 500 games of dominoes (muggins variety) with his 10-year-old daughter. The little girl could match up the dominoes (i.e. play a 1 on a 1, a 2 on a 2, etc.) but didn't know whether her plays made a count (i.e. a multiple of five). Her father, who, as is the case with most players, considered himself "one of the best players in the world," swore that the results of this 500-game marathon were 251 games won by the daughter and 249 won by Caughey.
It's hard for me, probably the best domino player in St. Louis, to accept the authenticity of the Caughey research—but there it is.
J. R. PETERSON
Six pages of dominoes! You've got to be kidding.
HOCKEY: OLD AND NEW
Mark Kram's story on the Red Wings (Detroit Flies High, March 29) gives the impression that Detroit's "old men" have carried the club all by themselves. True enough, the Red Wing elder statesmen have played wonderfully well. But younger players like Ron Murphy and Bruce MacGregor have scored 20 or more goals this year.
Anyone who follows hockey will tell you that there are two other factors in the Red Wing success story. The coming of age of youngsters like Forwards Floyd Smith, Pit Martin, Paul Henderson, Eddie Joyal and Larry Jeffrey is one reason why Sid Abel has been able to use four lines. Detroit's defense-men are not all veterans either. Young Doug Barkley is as rugged and effective a defense-man as you'll find. The other factor has to be the genius of Coach Sid Abel, who took a big chance in going with the 23-year-old Roger Crozier and allowing veteran Terry Sawchuk to be drafted by Toronto.
Your article and subsequent remarks from your readers on the subject of the N.Y. Rangers were well worth reading. But I don't think they were talking about the same team or even the same game that I knew in the '20s and early '30s.
You talk about fans pro and con with the Rangers. Do you recall the famous line of Bill and Bun Cook and their canny center, Frankie Boucher? Remember the old "Chink," Ching Johnson? And what about Lorne Chabot and Lester Patrick, who donned the pads in the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Montreal Maroons when Chabot suffered a severe eye injury?
In those days Ranger fans were fanatics. An opposing team never had a chance. The crowd would boo such greats as the Montreal Canadiens' immortal Howie Morenz and the Maroons' famous "S" line, Hooley Smith, Nels Stewart and Babe Siebert. Boston's Eddie Shore (one of the greatest defensemen in the game) was no better than the "devil" to the partisan New York fans. Yes, in those days hockey was real hockey. A good body check would catapult a player five rows up in the stands. They didn't have the blue lines. Whistles were mostly for an attractive girl walking down the aisle. Injuries were so numerous the doctors or trainers wouldn't hardly bother, unless a player's leg was practically severed. Sure the game was rough, but it was a spectator's sport, the players played for keeps. The average salary for the average player was approximately $3,550 per season. Players didn't fly from city to city. They rode the rails, and the beds were rough. Yet the Ranger fans were the loudest and the most loyal of all the teams. And, yes, you are so right: they did have winners.
In response to your editorial concerning "the flaw in basketball" (SCORECARD, March 29), I find that there is also a flaw in your reasoning. While telling us what a star Bill Bradley of Princeton is, you also state that the danger of the fifth personal foul "sometimes makes him so cautious that he commits the very foul he is trying to avoid."
Now I am not denying that Bill Bradley is one of the finest basketball players, if not the finest, since Oscar Robertson, for I have seen him play several times and was quite impressed, to say the least. I was also dismayed to see him foul out of more than one of these games. But it is not the fault of basketball that Bradley and other "stars" are lost to fouls. It is the fault of the players themselves. If they are unable to avoid foul trouble to the point that they are either benched or forced to play at less than full efficiency, then they do not really deserve the title of star. The true stars are the Robertsons, the Jerry Lucases and the Bill Russells, who are able to perform to their utmost through the whole game without being bothered by foul trouble.
Of course, I would like to see men like Bradley stay in the whole game—they put on a very good show. However, changing the rules to help deficient players is not the answer.
New Brunswick, N.J.
The fifth-foul rule is as fundamental to basketball as the double dribble or walk. Sure, Princeton would have won the Holiday Festival semifinal against Michigan had not Bill Bradley fouled out. But if Bradley had been properly used and rested by his coach, or if he had budgeted his fouls, Princeton might still have won.
Let's leave a little strategy in a game dominated by brawn.
Highland Park, N.J.
"The strongest penalty that exists in any other sport is the penalty box, and even that does not eliminate a player permanently..." I disagree. There is one sporting penalty stiffer than the penalty box, and that is the "permanent elimination" of a trackman for two false starts in a sprint.
A correction, if you please—I don't know about all sports but you don't either, because sailboat racing definitely has a "stronger" penalty. In any infraction of the rules the whole boat is fouled out—not just one of the crew. And, in some cases, the foul isn't even involved with a competitor. However, national publicity is a big help and you are to be congratulated in championing these cases, where outdated and outmoded rules are nonsensical.
Incidentally, the history of the "total" penalty in sailing is wrapped up in the problem of large yachts, where collisions would be damaging to life and property. Most racing now is in small boats, at such close quarters that it often is pretty hard to say who was wrong.
R. O. GILBERT
It was with particular interest that we read Jack Olsen's presentation of the sport of jai alai (Fury at the Fronton, March 29). We were distressed, however, when he spoke slightingly of stick-ball, comparing the "stick-ball king of The Bronx" with the "downhill skiing champ of western Kansas."
The New York metropolitan area, Stick-ball Capital of the World, has alone more stickball players than the rest of the world has jai alai players and fans put together. We are certain that many major league ball-players can remember back to the day when they were playing with a length of broomstick and knocking them over Mrs. Morano's wash line.
Being stickball champion, especially of The Bronx, is a position of honor, and we of the stickball fraternity will not stand for being slighted by Mr. Olsen or anyone else. We hope that in the future our sport is given the recognition it justly deserves.
Glen Head, N.Y.
In regard to Frank Deford's fine story on Hall of Famer Johnny Wooden and UCLA (Power of the Press, March 29), I would like to add a few comments that are not to be construed as any reflection upon our excellent national champions in any way.
This may surprise many, but another Hall of Famer, Frank Keaney of the University of Rhode Island, was years ahead of Wooden and fellow coaches. Back in the early '30s Keaney used the press from the opening whistle right to the very end of the game-regardless of what the score was. And when any of his Rams forced the opposition into making a mistake, which was often, it led to their famous fast break, which also included court-length passes.
Many of the spectators, unaccustomed to this unorthodox style of play, insisted that it wasn't basketball, but they still came out whenever Rhode Island next appeared in their area. Rival coaches insisted that Keaney's players would die of heart attacks. Numerous mentors and fans likewise declared that Rhode Island had no defense whatsoever, but, strange to say, they packed more defense than the orthodox clubs that merely lobbed the ball back and forth while waiting for an opening.
Now that Keaney's press and high scoring style of play is generally used throughout the country, it's surprising to learn how many coaches "invented" that type of game. At my latest count the number was 34.
Promotion Director, Boston Celtics Boston