About The Tournament

The Beach House:

The “Beach House” is located in Anna Maria Island, Florida USA.

Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island

I started dating my wife Shelly in 1978 and every summer her maternal family would go out to Anna Maria Island for vacation. This tradition started with Shelly’s grandmother Emma Tyler Whisenant (Nanamae) and great aunt Marcella Tyler Dumas dating back to the early 1910’s. Back at that time they would stay for the whole summer and had to get to the Island via boat.

The “Beach House” is what they call their summer vacation. Prior to when I started attending the entire family (Emma had 5 children and Marcella had 3) would all stay in one house thus the name “Beach House.” Today there are so many in the family several homes are rented in the city of Anna Maria.

The Beach House is always the first two weeks in July. Everyone is very faithful not to schedule anything during that time. Main headquarters is 107 Palmetto Avenue aka “The Big House” which happens to be Dick and Phyllis White’s rental home. They are Shelly’s uncle and aunt.

The routine is simple. Morning swim at the end of Palmetto Avenue is around 9:30 AM. Stay out until lunch. A late afternoon swim followed by the sunset ends the day. Every Sunday there is a big lunch at the Big House. The biggest day is July 4th where the evening meal attendance has hovered near the 100 mark.


One of the many activities that takes place at the Beach House is Rook. I had never heard of it and to this day I am constantly reminded how awful of a player I am. As the years passed I would always hear of the stories of these wild Rook games and who was the best team. It can easily compared to the Florida-FSU rivalry except there were at least 8 established teams that developed over the years. The problem was no format to determine a champion. I may be a bad Rook player but I can organize
most anything. But how would the family respond to something like that?

The First Tournament

In 1988, I decided to give it a try. From what I can remember of it I tried to much to quick. Although the family responded very positive towards it, you never should be to specific on game time. This is still our vacation time and some like to fish, or swim, or go into town and the Tournament may have to wait. The family also had to learn how to read a winner and loser’s bracket.


Over the years we have tweaked the Tournament to where it pretty much runs itself. The family knows what to do. We try to start around July 4th but I have to find out everyone’s schedule to try to accommodate the players with the best start date. One year Drew Eason who at the time was marketing the 10-K sports drink donated several
gallons and we made them an official sponsor for one year. In 1991 we started the Children’s Tournament to jump start the Tournament. In 1993 I wrote a letter to Parker Brothers to try to sanction the Tournament and make it officially recognized. They sent me a press kit. In 1996 we had T-Shirts and in 2000 we had information published to the internet as www.geocities.com/beachhouserooktournament.

In 2003 the current domain name www.rooktournament.com was purchased..

Ken Burton, Jr.
Rook Tournament Director


In 1998 the Children’s Tournament was renamed the Marcella Dumas Memorial Children’s Rook Tournament in honor of the 1991 champ upon her death. At the same time the Rook Tournament was renamed to the Emma Whisenant Memorial Rook Tournament in honor of Marcella’s sister.

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