Hays is King of Marbles
Courtesy Jerry Piquette
Spencer Hays, a 13-year-old from Gunnison, proved himself to be the current dominant male player in his sport, beating his opponent in the 2019 national marbles championship head-to-head match on Thursday, June 20, in Wildwood, N.J. He crushed Koby Wright of Cumberland, Md. by a score of eight wins and one loss in the best of a 15-game series. This was the 96th year for this tournament, making it the longest running youth competition in the country for youth ages eight to 14.
In order to be eligible for the national tournament a “Mibster” must win a state or regional competition and be invited by the national marbles tournament committee. Players compete in the game of “Ringer,” in which 13 marbles are placed in the center of a 10-foot diameter ring, three inches apart, in the form of a plus sign. Two persons play head to head trying to hit the most marbles out of the ring in six innings (one miss per inning.) If one player hits seven marbles out before six innings are completed, the game is over.
Spencer competed among 28 boys from around the country. He won the three-day preliminary round with a score of 46 wins, eight losses, and had 12 sticks. (A stick is accomplished by hitting seven target marbles out of the ring in the first inning without missing, utilizing the skill of backspin to keep the shooter in the ring.) He then won his division of the semi-final round with a score of nine wins and three losses to earn the right to play for the championship.
His rewards for winning the championship included a $2,000 college scholarship, the championship trophy, the King of Marbles crown, a national champion wristwatch and shirt and a championship plaque from the tournament sponsor. He also received trophies for the most wins in the preliminary round and the most “sticks” in the competition.
His first duty as the new “King of Marbles” was to bestow the traditional kiss on the cheek of the “Queen of Marbles” (the dominant female player in her sport). He will have continuing obligations between now and the 2020 national tournament to promote the game of marbles. At the close of the 2020 tournament he will crown the new King of Marbles, and will present a gift and be inducted into the National Marbles Hall of Fame.