Getting ‘Clipped’ in Dominoes

Posted June 20, 2008 @ 8:15 pm - Filed under: Dominoes News

Domino players in Haiti have a unique way of punishing the loser of a game of dominoes — clothespins:

There was pain in Jean Francois’ eyes, real suffering, an awful look of woe.

It might have been that he had had little to eat that day, or his lack of a job or any real hope of securing one. Perhaps it stemmed from the squalor in his neighborhood, a sprawling and rather depressing slum of tin-roofed houses.

But it turns out that Francois’ life was not the immediate source of his desperation. It was his losing streak — and the dozens of clothespins clipped onto his face, arms and belly.

In marked contrast to Francois’ glum look, the other men crowding around a raucous domino game under way in Port-au-Prince’s Cite Soleil neighborhood on a recent afternoon were smiling with glee. They doubled over in laughter every time they looked at Francois. A chorus of roars rang out each time he lost another game and more of the clips were attached to his ears, cheeks, chin, forearms and midriff.

The ears, everyone agreed, are particularly painful when clipped. Eventually, after losing and then losing some more, Francois could take no more. “It hurts so bad,” he said, rising from the rickety table and pulling off the clips one by one. Another player quickly moved in, nudging Francois aside and taking a turn.

The story, Dominoes ‘helps you forget’, from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, says that “the beauty of dominoes is that it requires not even a single gourde, Haiti’s currency, to compete. That is not to say, however, that there is no price to pay. Clothespins are merely one of many techniques Haitians employ to punish those who lose four games in a row.”

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