September 18, 2021

By Fred Liggett

Many people make plans to enjoy the summer months in a number of ways. Some take short trips, others have long vacations while a few stay close to home to enjoy local events.

For Shannon Johnson of Lee’s Summit his plan was to win a world championship. With the goal in sight Shannon and his father Herman Johnson left Kansas City in July for the state of Alabama.

A World Championship Domino Tournament is held each year on the second weekend in July in Andalusia, Alabama. This year the 45th Annual event was held July 9 and 10 where a $5,000 first place prize was on the line. There was added excitement for the event this summer since last year the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. People all over the country attend the event and is the only tournament to recognize a world champion. The tournament is organized by the Andalusia Rotary Club each year with club President George Patterson overseeing the 2021 event.

Shannon Johnson admits I “never heard of it.” Shannon and his father flew from Kansas City to Atlanta then took a charter to Montgomery, Alabama before renting a car to Andalusia. Once the two were finally in Andalusia the Johnson’s saw a smaller turnout than normal with about 130 players signed up. Typically there are more than 400 players participating.

The cost to register was $100. Shannon says, “It felt like this is going to be my day” when he drew #58 for his number. Much like the NBA lottery ping pong balls were placed in a rolling bin and balls were pulled out one by one. Shannon is a big Kansas City Chiefs fan who quickly admits his favorite Chiefs player is Derrick Thomas who once wore the #58 jersey. Another popular football figure in the state is longtime Alabama head football coach Bear Bryant. During Bryant’s time as coach he was known to attend the tournament and even participate. Shannon says now “I was nervous the entire tournament.” Adding to the nervousness Shannon states, “You don’t know what you are up against.”

The tournament is set up like March Madness where players go to a table to sit at and then start the match. The bracket is very much like the NCAA tournament is each year. Shannon was not the only one sitting at a table from the Kansas City metro area as a total of six made the trip to Alabama. One of the six was Shannon’s cousin who eventually won $2,500. Shannon was paired with a partner, Macky Barnes of Booneville, Mississippi. Shannon feels the “Whole experience was totally awesome.”

The success Shannon had at the tournament he feels is due to “playing dominoes almost every day.” Now that he holds the championship belt Shannon says “the focus now is to go back and repeat.” Now back home Shannon admits after winning the championship “seeing the joy” in his dad’s face was “a moment that was very special.” Shannon’s father, Herman, has watched his son’s game grow and grow over the years to reach the point he is talented enough to win a world championship.

Lee’s Summit has been known for many things and now the city can add a World Dominos champion to the list. For Herman and Shannon Johnson it’s the culmination of a lot of training followed by a lengthy road trip in the effort to reach a goal that was accomplished over the summer.