Losers Disconsolate After Marbles Finals
WILDWOOD, N.J. (AP) _ The agony of defeat was eased for 11-year-old Shellie Jamison with a good cry and a fruit-flavored ice on a stick.
Three times the girl from Reading, Pa., had made it to the finals of the National Marbles Tournament and three times she came in second. She fell victim Thursday to Darlene Schwartz, 12, of Berks County, Pa., the niece of Shellie’s former coach.
Meanwhile, Shawn Jackson of Drexel Hill, Pa., sat glumly on the sidelines while his Vietnamese refugee friend Giang Duong, 11, of Upper Darby, Pa., who defeated him, was crowned king of the mibsters in the 63rd annual tournament.
Shawn, 12, promised to return next year, adding, ″And I’ll win.″
Thirty-four champion youngsters from eight states began competition Monday in the Ringer Bowl, a set of cement rings designed for marbles play and set in the wide, sandy beach of Wildwood.
The sharpshooters, with their scraped knuckles, represented the best of about a million youngsters who competed in school, city and county tournaments, said C. Eugene Mason of Cumberland, Md., national tournament director.
After three days of preliminary competition, the top eight boys and four girls qualified for Thursday’s semifinals. About 1,000 games of marbles were played in the tournament.
The game is played with 13 marbles, or mibs, arranged in a cross in the middle of a ring 10 feet in diameter. Players, known as mibsters or commies, kneel outside the circle and use a larger marble, called a shooter or a taw, to try to knock seven marbles out of the ring before their opponents.
Giang took a 6-0 lead in his best-of-21 match with Shawn before his opponent fought back to within two games, 9-7.
″I came back. No way was he going to beat me,″ said Giang, who won the next two games and the last one with a ″stick,″ the term for sending out seven marbles in a row.
″I knew I could beat him. I don’t give up,″ said Giang, whose family of seven escaped from Vietnam in a cramped boat five years ago. His younger sister, Tu, 8, placed seventh in the girls’ division.
Darlene, whose family now boasts three national marbles champions, and Shellie, whose brother, Jon, won the boys’ title last year, split their first four games.
Then Darlene, wearing reflector-lens sunglasses, coolly won the next four games, three with sticks, to take the title.
″We practiced every day since Christmas,″ said the winner’s coach and grandmother, Stephanie Stanley, 62.
Darlene’s sister, Brenda, was the 1980 national marbles champion, and her aunt, Debra Stanley, was the 1973 winner.
Debra Stanley said she coached runner-up Shellie Jamison for three years until about two months ago.
Interest in the sport, which dropped sharply for some years, seems to be picking up, said Mason.
Marble King Inc., a marbles company in Paden, W.Va., donated one of the $500 scholarships awarded to the top boy and girl. Mason said the tournament committee supplied the second scholarship.
Winners also take home trophies and plaques, and are guests of the tournament the following year.
The six other boys who made it to the semifinals were: Tom Humma, 14, Reading, Pa.; Robert Niedermeyer, 11, Allegheny County, Pa.; George Ernst, 12, Reading, Pa.; Jose Hernandez, 12, Alexandria, Va.; Nicky Piatek, 6, Allegheny County, Pa.; and Ryan Collins, 11, Cumberland, Md.
The other two girl semifinalists were: Lori Dickel, 13, Ridgeley, W.Va., and Shelly Niedermeyer, 14, Allegheny County, Pa.