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Grace friends gather for weekly domino battle

NATCHEZ — “You think long, you think wrong. You’d better play.”

Malva McCalip’s words ring all too true when she and her friends get together for Mexican train dominoes at Grace United Methodist Church on Friday and Sunday nights. The camaraderie is enjoyable, but the games are intense.

When The Dart landed at 2 Fatherland Road Friday, a group of four women and two men were beginning to filter into the church’s fellowship hall to prepare for a night of food, fun and fellowship.

“I’ve been coming to this church for six years, and we started doing this about when I started attending,” group member Evelyn Tracy said.

“Each of us brings snacks for us to eat before we start playing,” Bobbie Sanders said. “Anyone is welcome to come in off the streets. We start at 5 p.m. in the winter and 6 p.m. in the summer.”

Sanders said the group is an extension of a different program the church started a number of years ago.

“The 50 and over crowd would meet on the fourth Tuesday of every month at noon to eat lunch and visit,” Sanders said. “This is more or less an offshoot of that.

“We just needed something to do. We get together to eat, laugh and have a good time. We don’t talk politics or church. We’re strictly a family.”

But that doesn’t mean Sanders doesn’t want to win when the games start.

“If I win, I say, ‘It’s my birthday,’” she said. “And I don’t win often.”

Allegedly, the one that wins the most in the group is Elmer Carby, but Carby doesn’t have any complex strategies for Mexican train dominoes.

“I just hope for the best,” Carby said.

But Tracy said Carby has a lot of luck on his side.

“He can draw luckier than anyone,” Tracy said.

Bob and Anne Gray were the only couple on-hand Friday, and Bob Gray said he likes to help his wife out during the games.

“I live with her, so I have to help her as much as I can,” Bob Gray said.

But Anne Gray called him out on that.

“You blocked me last time,” she said.

Despite the intensity of the games, Sanders said no one in the current group has gotten into any serious arguments.

“There used to be, but not now — the ones that (got upset) are upstairs looking down on us,” Sanders said. “They’re probably still playing up there arguing.”

Bob Gray said tempers are pretty mellow during Mexican train dominoes, even when he can’t seem to get rid of his last domino.

“You want to call it frustration, or me being just plain mad?” he asked, jokingly.

“It’s just a game, it’s not worth getting mad over. The table over there (with the food) is the main event, and what we all look forward to.”

And Sanders said the “Methodist” title of their church accurately portrays the formula of food and games for fellowship nights.

“There’s a method to our madness,” Sanders said.

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