America has a new king and queen of Marbles. The 2011 national marbles tournament has just concluded in Wildwood New Jersey. A boy and a girl from the Pittsburg area have extended their region’s winning streak to five years in a row, ascending to the top of the marbles world.
Brandon Matchett and Bailey Narr were crowned the King and Queen of marbles on Thursday.
Bailey, 11, of Laurenceville PA beat Katie Carozza, 11, of Mesa, Colo., for the girls’ title at the National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, N.J.
Brandon, 12, of the South Side beat Jordan Narr, 13, of Lawrenceville — Bailey’s cousin — for the boys’ title.
“We’ve had a nice run of champs,” said Ed Ricci, marbles instructor for the Allegheny County Parks Department.
Allegheny County has boasted a national champion for five straight years, and he noted that his daughter, Amber Ricci of Glenshaw, and John Leffakis of Lawrenceville — a cousin of the Narrs’ — won the girls’ and boys’ titles in 2008.
The winners each get a trophy, a medal and a $2,000 scholarship.
“The secret is just to have fun and do your best,” Bailey said. “It’s all in your thumb strength. Every practice, your thumb gets a little bit stronger.”
She has been a mibster — or marbles shooter — since she was 7. She practices about an hour and a half a day.
Brandon, who has been playing since he was 9, spends about five hours a day practicing.
“It helps you build up your focus and get distractions out of your head,” he said.
Ricci said the county recruits marbles players by sending champions to shopping malls, schools and parks to show children how the game is played.
“We had a lot of help working with these kids to get their abilities where they need to be,” he said.