The 70th National Marbles Tournament 1993
Welcome - to the Rio Motel
Arriving at the Rio Motel, Wildwood, New Jersey on the afternoon of Sunday June 20th 1993 we were greeted by what sounded like hundreds of children shouting and laughing as they played table tennis and jumped in and out of the swimming pool. In reality the noise was being made by the eighty to ninety children gathering for the 1993 National Marbles Tournament. With their chaperones and coaches the competitors had been arriving throughout the day to register, collect their welcome and information packs and settle into their rooms in good time for dinner.
The welcome dinner was held at the Season’s restaurant in the town and was attended by Edmund J. Grant, Jr the mayor of Wildwood as well as some of the tournament sponsors. As this was the 70th anniversary tournament each of the competitors was presented with a commemorative medal, these were handed out by Jean Howdeyshell of Marble King and Terry Hall of Mid Atlantic Glass. The tournament director, Gene Mason gave a brief speech, and Beri Fox also spoke to the children, introducing guests etc to them before everyone dispersed to the marble rings for practise games before going to bed.
Terry Hall & Jean Howdeyshell present commemorative medals
Play was scheduled to begin at 7.30 on Monday morning, and by 6.00 am the hotel restaurant was full of hungry marble players eager for breakfast to be over and the contest to begin. The preliminary rounds are played for three days, between 7.30 and 1.00, with each girl playing every other girl and each boy playing every other boy. A printed schedule showing the order of play is supplied each day and a league table compiled each evening showing the position of every child. The Statisticians were Bob and Harriet Yakich and they must be congratulated on their fine and detailed work. The games are started early and finished by lunchtime, as the weather is very hot, particularly on the beach where the marble rings are situated. On the first day the boys played first, on the second day the girls, and so on.
By 7.30 on Monday everyone had arrived at the rings and play commenced. There are 10 rings on the beach, raised above the sand and over looked by the boardwalk. The sea is a long, long way down the beach and in the distance is a funfair on the pier. Seating is provided alongside the rings and a stage is set up for the use of the organisers. The children have to listen at all times and be ready to play when they are called and at the end of each game they are responsible for taking the result card to the desk (if they win) or reracking the marbles (if they lose). Results are announced on the public address system throughout the day. A favourite award is the ice-cream given each day to the first boy and girl to win with a stick i.e. Knocking out seven marbles out in one break.
Ringer Stadium – 10 rings on the beach
At eleven o’clock on the first day the traditional opening ceremony is performed by the previous year’s winners who are at the tournament as guests (part of their prize). The national anthem is played and the ‘stars and stripes’ is solemnly unfurled by the two champions. As the music plays all passers by on the boardwalk stand to attention, all hat are removed and there is silence everywhere – this is quite an experience and considered a great honour for the children participating.
Raising the ‘Stars and Strips’
At this time the tournament photograph is also taken of all the children, chaperones, coaches and officials and the children are all given a copy of this to keep as a souvenir
1993 Group photo
When all the day’s scheduled games have been played everyone returns to the hotel for lunch and the afternoon is spent swimming sunbathing and exploring. Dinner, at the Anchor Inn, was followed for most of the children by some marbles practise and many of them visit the funfair for a short time before the curfew hour of 10 o’clock.
The format for Tuesday and Wednesday was very similar to Monday – the weather was hot and the children had a lot of matches to play and we were very impressed by the sportsmanship displayed at all times, particularly as some of the participants were under a lot of pressure to do well. As either state or town champions, which enabled them to enter, they were all already winners but some had obviously beaten greater competition than other and the standard of play varied from good to superb. The children all played very fairly and were always willing to help one another practise shots before and after matches.
Jean Smedly, Gene Mason and Debra Stanley-Lapic
Following the preliminary matches on Wednesday there was a past champions tournament, which was eventually won by Debar Stanley-Lapic, the 1973 champion. She beat the first ever girl champion, Jean Smedly winner in 1949. The contestants for this ranged from Hank Altyn, winner of the 1935 tournament to 1992 champion Trish Tressler and Wesley Thompson.
At the end of the preliminary rounds all the results are recorded and the final league produced – the top eight boys and girls will play in the semi-finals on Thursday.
The first game on Thursday was a play off for the last semi-final position for the girl’s tournament as two players Alease Gardler and Amy Gain were equally placed, Alease won and following this the semi-final contest was played.
In the semi-finals each player played the other three players in their league four times (i.e. the first placed player played the third, fifth and seventh and the second played the fourth, sixth and eighth) the top player in each league then qualified for a place in the finals.
Before the final matches are played there is a short presentation ceremony where the awards for ‘most sticks’ and sportsmanship are awarded.
The boy’s final was played first, starting at 11 am it was refereed by the tournament director, Gene Mason, and commentated live from the side of the ring. The match is played over fifteen games with the champion being the first player to win eight times. The winner of the final was David McGee of Pennsylvania who beat Brett Johnson, eight games to two. David was immediately swept off his feet by his coach and fellow players as he was proclaimed 1993 champion.
The Boys Final, with Brett Johnson shooting
The Girls Final, Kim Shuttleworth shooting
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The final in the girl’s tournament was between Amanda Burns and Kim Shuttleworth who had each won 33 of their 37 preliminary games and 11 and 10 respectively of their 12 semi-final games. Richard Kaufmann gave a commentary on the girls final, Amanda won the first game and Kim took the second. Amanda took the next four. Kim came back to win the next Amanda took the next two and Kim took the tenth with a stick. In the eleventh game Amanda began shooting knocking the blue marbles out of the ring one at a time, the announcer counted them five and still shooting, Amanda moved round the ring ‘six, seven and the championship’ he said.
Both were excellent players and when Amanda won, eight games to three, Kim was one of the first to congratulate her. At this point she was surrounded by the other players and was heard to mutter ‘I ain’t kissin anybody!’
During the presentation and crowning ceremony both David and Amanda were presented with medals, trophies, Tee shirts, scholarships and crowns. Following the crowning they were paraded back to the hotel and thrown into the swimming pool fully clothed! This was the prize from their fellow marble players!
The Traditional ‘Kiss’
Amanda’s prize from the other players
Thursday evening there was a special ceremony at the Wildwood town museum, which houses the National Marbles Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was officially opened in the presence of the players, new champions, the mayor, many distinguished guests and a number of past champions. Many of the past champions have loaned their crowns, press cuttings and other items for display and all those present received a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion. The ceremony was followed by a reception in one of the restaurants and most of the children finished the evening with a final visit to the funfair before retiring to bed exhausted.
Amanda Burns going home with her trophies
By Friday lunchtime the children had all disappeared having thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Wildwood not only for the marble playing but also for the experience of having been part of the historic celebrations for the 70th anniversary tournament – we felt the same!
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Sam Referees a game
National Marbles Committee 1993