Oware at the 12th International Games Festival
For the very First time an Awele Tournament was being held on the main continent of Europe. This Tournament featured mainly French players of Cape Verdean extraction, and they certainly dominated except for one brave young French lady Cécile Pirat, who did exceptionally well to place 3rd overall.
The Palais des Festivals (Cannes), venue for the 12th International Games Festival, was exciting, adventurous warm and just by the Mediterranean Sea in the South of France were they have the world famous Cannes Film Festival, the least place where you would expect to see a fraternity of Oware players, (or as they call it in their language Ouri) youth from Cape Verde, an Island state just of the coast of West Africa next to Senegal. I think they were more surprised to see us than we were to see them.
Saturday, 21st of February was the first day of the Games Festival and the day we set off for Cannes. In all there were four of us myself (Seth Bonti), Glenda Trew, Tar Quinn Low Ten-Que (Junior International Champion) and Karl Dwyer (The Bao Master). It was a quick flight from Heathrow to Nice then a helicopter ride fro the other three to Cannes and I got stuck in a taxi with the luggage to Cannes.
The Venue for this event was the Palais des Festivals the same building in which they host the Cannes Film Festival. We were fortunate to be positioned very close to a window that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea. Our accommodation was a self-catering apartment, walking distance from the Palace of Festivals. The French have a habit of calling buildings that host institutions, palaces.
For the first few days we occupied ourselves teaching the people of Cannes how to play Oware, through sign language, as none the four of us could speak a word French. The Cape Verdean crew, were a blessing in this sense. The competition did not get underway until Wednesday. In total there were 22 entrants who played a 6 round Swiss system, a final 8 were then selected for the knockout stage. After the quarterfinals the 4 players left were Miguel Sorres, Antonio Varela, Danildo da Cunha and Cécile Pirat.
For the semi-final Miguel Sorres was drawn against Antonio Varela and lost. Danildo da Cunha played Cecile Pirat in a match that was a delight to see, with both players letting each other know how many seeds were in each others houses when the need arose. Danildo da Cunha prevailed and won with three straight games to his credit. The match for 3rd place was between Cécile Pirat and Miguel Sorres and what a match it turned out to be.
This was the last day of the festival and prior to their match the two players in question had played several games against each other in which Miguel Sorres had won. So he was pretty confident of repeating his past performance against Cecile. As it turned out in a 3 games to 1 thriller, in which Miguel Sorres sweated and fought for his life, giving out expletives one could not understand, Cecile beat him to the amazement of all. In the end Miguel was a true sportsman and shook Cecile’s hand to congratulate her.
Finally the last game of the tournament between Antonio Valera the favourite and Danildo da Cunha finished with Antonio being toppled by the flamboyant Danildo in a 3 –2 nail biting finish. The Cape Verdeans have certainly put themselves on the Oware map of the World, and these were only the youth, what about their adult players?