Barbados International Checkers Match
on Monday, May 31
The first day of the Barbados International
Checkers match is in the evening. Gerry turned
on our hotel room TV to catch some news, but
the only ongoing newscast we found was from
a local, central Tennessee news station! We
met in the restaurant as a team now that everyone
had arrived. The rest of our contingent consisted
of Jim Morrison (KY) and Anthony Bishop (TN).
American Checker Federation (ACF) president
Alan Millhone arrived with his wife and grandson.
Alan will serve as referee and came to Barbados
armed with numerous time clocks and related
supplies. (Thanks Alan for your efforts on
this!) Charles Walker, founder of the International
Checker Hall of Fame in Petal, MS, was unable
to make the trip due to a personal conflict.
Kentucky led the way as the state with the
most participants (3) -- Morrison, Holmes,
and Freeman. Ohio had two players, Alex and
myself, plus Millhone, our referee. Tennessee
also had two participants in Gene Lindsay and
Anthony Bishop. Alex, as team captain, drew
up a team line-up (ten players plus two alternates)
for our review. I will be #5, behind Alex and
veterans Morrison, Webster, and Lindsay.
I accompanied Gerry and Alan to an Internet
store that was a few blocks from the hotel.
They wanted to send messages home and check
e-mail. A survey of the neighborhood revealed
that space is at a premium near the shore.
All buildings are very close together.
Also, one might find a nice hotel next
to a so-so looking house. Many yards have
walls up by the sidewalk so that the front
yard resembles a small courtyard. This
feature was something I also saw in England.
The vegetation is tropical and colorful
everywhere. Gerry and I walked to a mini
mart that was near the Internet store.
We found prices of most items to be very
high ~ 2-3 times what is typical and a
large American grocery store. I bought
some bananas, which seemed reasonable ($1
for a bundle), but the apples were more
Barbados has its own currency. The Barbados
dollar is worth 51 cents; a 2:1 ratio is a
common estimate. Our hotel offered currency
exchange, but the rate was not as good as a
local bank. It turned out that I never had
to exchange money, since most vendors readily
accept either Barbados or American money. If
you pay with American dollars, then you receive
change in Barbados money. (Next time I come back,
I need to bring lots of small bills.) Barbados
paper bills, typically in denominations of 2, 5,
and 10 Barbados dollars, are colorful bills. A
Barbados dollar is a coin similar to a quarter,
but seven sided and with a picture of a flying fish.
A Barbados five-cent piece is similar in size to a
nickel, but gold-brown in color with a lighthouse
depicted. The ten-cent and one-cent pieces are similar
in appearance to an American dime and penny, except for
After a late lunch, a bus came to the hotel
to take us to the Barbados International
Checkers Match playing facility. This was
my first trip to the Barbados capital,
Bridgetown. A 15-minute bus ride took us
down a side street (past a few shacks for
houses) and up to the ten-story Central
Bank building. The building stood next
to a very large church. Our playing room
was located in the ground floor ballroom
known as the Grand Salle Center. It was
a beautiful international checkers match
playing room. There were two long rows
of tables with large glass windows on opposite
sides. Another set of tables was positioned
at the back of the room for use by the
Barbados checkers match referees.
Originally, we expected to play two evening
rounds (two games each) per day from Monday
through Friday to achieve ten rounds. The
decision to play in the evening was made
to accommodate the Barbados players who
worked in the daytime. On this first day,
Barbados elected to play only one round since
time would be consumed for opening ceremonies.
This raised the question of when to make up
this lost round. (In retrospect, perhaps today's
activities should have started earlier to avoid
this make-up situation, as today was a Pentecostal
holiday anyway for the Barbados players.)
We had a one hour opening ceremony filled
with speeches from various dignitaries
to open the Barbados checkers festival
of draughts and checkers, a three-week
event. The first week is the inaugural
international match between U.S. and Barbados.
The second week is the Barbados international
checkers open. The third week is the World
Qualifier (WCDF) tournament, where all
international checker federations could
send two players to play for challenging
rights to the world title. Separate youth
and women's events were also scheduled.
Most of the American team was here for
the International match only, but Clayton
Nash, Michael Holmes, and Alan Millhone
are planning to stay for additional events.
Erskine Bayne (my airport driver) emceed
the opening ceremony. Remarks were made
by Ron King (President of Barbados Draughts & Checkers
Federation.), Mr. Owen Weeks (President
of Barbados Draughts Association), Sandy
Fields-Kellman (daughter of Randoph Fields,
whom event was named for), Erskine King
(Dir. of National Sports Council), Alan
Millhone (ACF President), Reginald Farley
(Minister of Education, Youth Affairs & Sports),
and Mr. David Clarke (P.R.O. Barbados Draughts & Checkers
Federation). Erskine Bayne noted that we
had three presidents and two Kings at the
head table! They also recognized checkers
(draughts) as a minor sport in Barbados,
with the two most popular sports being
cricket and football (soccer). We were
impressed with the number of sponsors that
backed this checkers match festival. They
clearly have a model in place that is desirable
to follow. Following a reception, it was
time to begin play.
Each round of play consists of two games
so that both players have a chance to play
with the red and white checkers, with red
always moving first. Time clocks were used.
Each player was required to make at least
30 of his own moves in an hour. If the
minimum number of moves is not made, and
if the hour is up (signaled by a falling
time clock flag), then the player must
forfeit the game. In the 2001 England match,
we began by having the #1 player of one
team play the #1 player of the other team,
#2 plays #2, and so on. Then the visiting
team would rotate to the next station until
all ten rounds were played. However, this
format was not used here. They made blind,
random drawings for our opponents in each
All week long, a dozen or so of the locals
closely watched the games. (I wish U.S.
checker tournaments consistently had this
many interested spectators.) I started
play against veteran player Michael Barker.
I barely drew the second checkers match
game, but managed two draws with Barker.
My roommate Gerry Lopez played Ron King,
but 'Suki' was full of endgame tricks and
lured Gerry into a double corner block
loss. At the end of the first day of play,
the U.S. led 4 wins to 3, with the remainder
of checkers match games drawn. Moiseyev,
Holmes, and Nash all won their games using
a new Michael Holmes attack on the 11-15,
22-17, 9-13 opening. Anthony Bishop won
the fourth game. Unfortunately, this was
the only round of play for the day, so
that gave the Barbados checkers players
time to regroup to prevent the Holmes attack
in the future. The American team returned
to the hotel happy with a narrow victory,
but we were wondering what to do next once
they adjust to the Holmes cook.