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Barbados Players

Thursday, June 3

Today was the day for our van trip of the island, also $25 apiece. (There is also a more costly full day version, but we only did the four-hour tour.) The participants included Alex Moiseyev, the Millhones, Webster's, Lindsay's, Tuckers, Clayton Nash, Steve Jones, Anthony Bishop, Charles Freeman, Michael Holmes, Erin, Gerry, and myself. I started the day with mildly sunburn legs from the boat trip yesterday, but the sunburn wasn't too bad.

Barbados is divided into 11 'parishes' (like a county or township) with a population of 268,000 (90% black) as of 2000. Most of the parishes where the Barbados players live are named after saints, such as St. Peter, St. Thomas, etc. Barbados is a very religious place with around 300 churches, with Anglican predominant. There is one college on the island called the University of the West Indies.

As I had seen since my first night, the roads are very narrow, winding, and often unmarked. Frequent spots of either sewer construction or pedestrians blocking roadways further complicated this situation. Often cars would drive right down the center of the road until another car forced them to one side. Once we drove away from the coast, I saw that this island had highways and wide open areas for farms. Gas is relatively expensive (around $3 per gallon), and gas stations didn't even display prices on their signs. Health care is free in Barbados, but taxes are higher. Barbados is a coral island (as opposed to volcanic), so there are no mountains. The water is supposedly very pure here due to the coral structure.

Part of our day trip consisted of a tour, for an additional $6, of the Francia Plantation House, built in 1910. Guides took us through the ground floor of the house, much of which was roped off. The house is still currently lived in upstairs, and also the downstairs in the evening when the tours stop. In a large living room we saw a wooden game table with both a checkerboard and backgammon playing surface. That sure got the attention of the men in our group! The tour concluded with a glass of rum punch on the veranda. We were invited to walk through the grounds to see adjoining gardens. There were several acres of beautiful, colorful plants and flowers across from a manicured lawn.

Barbados Francia Plantation House

Barbados Francia Plantation House

Our next stop was the Harrison Caves at the center of the island. (The orchid gardens were another tour option, but this was dropped due to time constraints.) For those that wished to enter the cave, the cost was an additional $16 US or $30 Barbados. Gene Lindsay suggested paying in Barbados money by credit card, which would convert to a cheaper rate of $15 US on my statement. The adventure began with a ten-minute movie presentation on geological formations of islands and caves.
The cave was discovered in 1795 and opened in 1981. For the cave ride, we sat in a tram that was driven by a tour guide. We covered a mile within the cave. Everywhere we saw stalactites, stalagmites, waterfalls and running water. We were reminded of how many centuries passed to form these stalactite and stalagmites. There was minimal lighting in place throughout the cave, so visibility was adequate. Occasionally, one would feel a drop of water landing on you from above, but it wasn't that damp in there. There were a few spots where we were permitted to get out and walk around for pictures. Some of the specific views included a large open hall, a large pool of water with quicksand like mud on the bottom, and a large waterfall (maybe a 60-foot drop) coming out of a small hole in the ceiling. I certainly enjoyed the sights.

As we drove away from the Harrison Caves area, we came to the top of a high hill. Across a valley we could see the highest point on the island at 1100 ft above sea level. The east side of the island and the Atlantic Ocean could be seen in the background. On the return trip, we drove by the Sandy Lane villas, which run from $2100-20,000 a night. Our driver said rich investors and business people are the type of people that generally stay there. I believe someone said Tiger Woods had stayed there too. We also saw the Sandy Lane golf course nearby.

We drove through Bridgeport on the way back. Bridgeport is a 375-year-old city. Broad Street was bustling with lots of people and cars in this large shopping district. Broad Street, which I never got to visit in person, is the heart and soul of Barbados' duty free shopping. There are two nearby bridges over a river for which the city is named. We also saw a cricket stadium, horse racing track, Parliament building, prime minister's office, and a house (currently under restoration) where George Washington stayed.

Barbados Players Worry

The U.S. team was still concerned about if and when the make up round would be played. There seemed to be no good solution. The Barbados players work in the daytime. Our bus leaves after the play at 11:00 pm. Playing Saturday morning is not an option since many U.S. players have flights back home Saturday morning. The Barbados players suggested requiring 40 moves per hour on the time clock to speed up games in order to squeeze in three rounds on one day. This idea was not well received by many of the U.S. players since an international match should provide more than an hour per game, as needed. So far, there have always been a couple games in every round that have gone to the time limit, even under the 30 moves per hour rule.

Erskine Bayne opened the session with a few announcements and reminders for the Barbados players. He commented that each player is responsible for his own time clock (although it is courteous for the opponent to give warnings when forgetting to punch a clock). Secondly, bystanders should not get involved with any game rulings that are the job of the referee.

There were also two times during the week where the announced pairings repaired people who had just played, which should not be allowed. Erskine was quick to correct the situation once it was pointed out. Since Barbados checkers players are new at hosting such a match, I suppose a few bugs can be expected.

I opened the evening session against Tony Fergusson. After what appeared to be a standard Barbados-style Dyke game, my opponent made an inferior move in the mid-game and got into a weak position and endgame. (This surprised me since the Barbados team was normally well versed on this line of play.) He got into time trouble, despite several of my reminders to punch his clock. Even with Erskine's earlier announcement, his flag fell. Alan Millhone watched it fall as referee. My opponent was very unhappy with the we go again! Ron King came over to verify that fewer than 30 moves were made. After things settled down, Mr. Fergusson was very gracious and came over and shook my hand. I replied I was sorry to win it that way.

With the exception of King, Walcott, and Grosvenor, I suspect most of the Barbados players were unfamiliar with time clocks before this match. In this case, it appeared my opponent did not understand the time rules. While my two time forfeits are only a small subset of the 180 games played this week, losing in this manner was very costly to the Barbados team checkers players in such a tight match.

A reporter took a statement from me as I left the playing room for the day. She worked for the Internet site, which was providing daily coverage throughout the Barbados Festival of Draughts. At the end of Thursday's play, the U.S. picked up one more net win to put us ahead +6 wins (12 points).

1st International Checkers Match Checker Match Barbados Hotel First International Checker Game Match Clayton Nash
Checker Match John Walcott Checker Game Match Barbados Boat Trip First International Checkers Game Match
Barbados International Checkers Match Checker Game Match Barbados Players  


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Wonder Mugs Play checkers online, and enjoy drinking from this cool wonder mug.
When adding hot liquid, the colors of the mug will change, checkers cool.

Checkers is a two-player game, where one player is assigned white-chip checkers and the other red. The aim is to play checkers online, capture all of the other player's checkers or make them impossible to move.

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