It’s the luck of the roll, the socialization and the food. For the 12 women who unofficially call themselves the Bunco Babes, their monthly gatherings have kept them friends for more than a decade.
The Bunco group met as band moms when their kids attended Corona del Sol High School in Tempe.
Ginger Dude had the first dice-rolling party at her house in February 1991. The Tempe 66-year-old is one of four women in the club who are testing their luck this weekend against more than 1,000 other women at the first Bunco World Championship in Las Vegas.
Also going is Judy Sawitzke, 58, of Tempe, a computer analyst; Barb Chamberlin, 54, of Phoenix, a payroll technician for the Kyrene Elementary School District; and Christy Lee, 49, of Chandler, who is retired from Intel.
While the women are competing this weekend for a chance to win $50,000 and to have a good time in Vegas, they are also going to raise money for breast cancer, a personal matter for Dude.
Her 36-year-old daughter, Susan Coffey, was diagnosed last year and is doing well in Chicago after chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
The club has become a support group for Dude, as well as the other women in the club who have had loved ones fall into bad times. The group even lost a Bunco member to cancer.
“We are like family,” said Dude, an office manager with the Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We met because of our kids, but most of our kids have moved away.”
The group rotates meeting once a month at each other’s houses, with the hostess providing dinner and prizes.
“It’s a no-brainer game, so we eat and socialize while playing,” Chamberlin said.
The game has four players sitting at a table with three dice. The game is played in rounds, and points are given as the person rolls the key number of the round. Most Bunco games consist of three or four sets of games with the player or team that wins the most games declared the winner of the overall game.
The group meets for about three hours. As the years have gone by, the games have become more lax.
“We do have a rule. If you want dessert, you have to finish the first round,” Dude said.
Sometimes they play with their Barbie Bunco kit, which has hot pink dice, a silver bell and cards with Barbie shoes on the back, housed together in a cute little hat box.