Stakes get higher at washer tourney

By Brandon Evans | Published Saturday, July 20, 2013

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“What we do in life echoes in eternity.”
– Maximus in “Gladiator”

It’s about pride. It’s about reputation. It’s about throwing a washer into a hole.

The fourth annual “Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is” washer tournament kicks off at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Joe Wheeler Park in Decatur. Sign-ups begin at 6 p.m. at the pavilion.

Eye On the Prize

EYE ON THE PRIZE – Kyle Parker hopes to reclaim the gold in the fourth installment of the ever-growing washer tournament. It kicks off 7 p.m. Tuesday at Reunion grounds. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The game of washers has always been a staple at Wise County Old Settlers Reunion, but the Decatur Chamber of Commerce upped the ante several years ago, turning it into a competition that also serves as a chamber fundraiser.

The transformation from a backyard game to an annual tournament has elevated the level of play – and the level of trash-talking.

Kyle Parker, who won first place in the second annual washer tournament, was out in the heat and humidity Tuesday afternoon, tossing washer after washer at the board, honing his skills.

“I play year-round to beat one person: Chase Chapman,” Parker said. “He just can’t rise to the occasion for the big game.”

Parker won two years ago by knocking Chapman out of the finals. Chapman and his partner, Kyle Jenkins, reached the finals the first two years of the tournament, the only team to do so.

Parker hopes to recapture the gold washer and knock out some of the regular heavyweights in the process.

“Kyle (Parker) is a one-hit wonder,” Chapman replied. “He threw a couple good washers and got into the championship. Me and my partner had just came off a tough game, and (Parker) came up lucky. But there’s only one team that has made it to the big game twice.”

The game of washers, also called Texas Horseshoes, was allegedly created by oilfield workers looking for a way to pass the time. They originally tossed large washers into a hole dug into the ground.

But washers is now played on a wooden board with a single hole cut into it. Players take turns tossing on a board 21 feet away. Points are scored by sinking the washer in the hole or getting closer to the hole than the opponent. The first team to reach 21 points wins.

“The contest has grown to include more and more teams every year,” Parker said. “The first year there were between 50 and 60, last year there were about 85 teams and there should be more than 100 this year.”

Entry fee for the double elimination event is $25 per person or $50 per team. First place earns $200, second place $100 and third $50.

But while the money comes and goes, the pride of victory – and the trash-talk – goes on forever.

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