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Pa. youth going to National Marbles Championship

June 20, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Doug Watson has a new shooter and he's ready.

Watson, 12, a Greencastle Middle Schooler, leaves Sunday for Wildwood, N.J., where he will get down on his knees, train his eye, line up his thumb and compete against 200 other youngsters in the week-long National Marbles Tournament.

"I've been practicing and I'm ready," said Watson of 31 South Ridge St., Greencastle.

He said he's been working on his backspin.

Watson practices on his cellar floor. "It's not very even," he said.

He'll play on clay in New Jersey and compete for a $2,000 scholarship.

Watson said he's only been playing marbles since November, but he feels he has a natural talent for the game. He won the right to represent Franklin County at the nationals by winning five of six local tournaments in Greencastle this spring.

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He had been using a glass shooter until a few weeks ago when he learned they weren't legal in national tournament play.

"I've got a stone shooter now, but I had to relearn how to shoot with it. It was really hard," Watson sad.

The game of marbles is similar to pool. The shooter replaces the cue ball in marbles. Players kneel outside a 10-foot diameter ring and try to knock 13 other marbles lined up in a cross formation out of the ring while keeping the shooter inside. Shooter marbles can be only slightly larger than those in the ring.

The skill comes from a player's ability to hit a marble, knock it out of the ring and line up his shooter for a good second shot, all with a quick flip of the thumb.

Watson formed his right fingers into a gun, set a marble between his thumb and forefinger and showed off his shooting style.

"Sometimes I lick my thumb to keep it from sticking," he said.

Watson said he became interested in marbles last November when a buddy suggested they start playing. He went to Tozer's Toys and Treats at 5 S. Carlisle St. in Greencastle, bought marbles and an instruction booklet.

Tozer runs monthly marble tournaments in Franklin County. About 50 kids usually play. The tournaments are played on the basement floor of the Macedonia United Brethren Church, Tozer said.

Marbles share important shelf space in Tozer's store.

"This is going to be a big thing for Doug and the kids in Greencastle," Tozer said. "This is a sports-oriented town and if a kid is not interested in sports, he has nothing to do. For a dollar a kid can buy a dozen marbles and play all day."

Tozer said she hopes to line up more sponsors so the tournaments can be expanded and more youngsters can play.

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