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International Awale Tournament
Palais des Festival, 21st - 25th March 2001
4th International Awale Tournament held in Cannes (South of France). First tournament in France to feature Alric Philips a Junior player from Antigua.

This year’s Cannes International Games Festival in its 15th year of running featured the first ever, International Awale Tournament, held from the 21st –25th March 01. Competitors from the UK, France, Cape Verde, Antigua, and for the first time in an International Tournament the USA flew into Cannes to take part in this tournament. We were fortunate this year to have the presence of the World Champion Trevor Simon from Antigua. Although the World Champion was present he did not take part in the tournament, as all the players were in the initiate and intermediate world-ranking category.

We arrived in Nice in the afternoon on Tuesday the 20th of March and met the World Champion Trevor Simon and the Junior World Champion Alric Philips who had flown in from Antigua via Guadeloupe and Paris after a two-day journey. Also at Nice airport was Oba Cullins who had flown in from the US via London. It was a pleasant treat to step off the plane into the warm climate of the South of France. Just before we left London one of the flight attendants had commented that it was forecast to snow, and low and behold as I looked out of the window there it was snow! After the greetings were exchanged and finding out that the car that was supposed to meet us was not coming. It was a 30-minute, bus ride from Nice to Cannes and then a 5-minute taxi ride to our hotel Croisette Marbourg. Clarissa Caroe had already arrived ahead of us and had already checked in. After the journey to Cannes everybody tired and crashed out. We did not have enough energy to set-up for the Festival.

All day on Wednesday after setting up we wondered if this year the European Champion Danildo de Cunha, would turn up the fourth time for competition. We waited in suspense and late afternoon are worries were put to rest there he was hair plaited and raring to have some games. He played a few friendly games with the Junior World Champion. Alric Philips and drama quickly ensued in the very first game. The problem was his style of play the flamboyancy and rapidity and the biggest problem of all the physical touching of seeds before a move is made, something that has been banned for tournaments. Alric’s body language soon changed, it said it all. He raised his head and glanced bemused at Trevor Simon as if to say what’s going on. At times Danildo would begin to move the seeds even before the opponent had finished sowing their seeds which could lead to confusion. Sometimes he would pick up the seeds to sow drop them back and sow from another house, which infuriated Alric even more. The air was getting hotter and the tension higher. This was quickly dispelled, by Alric’s understanding that it was only a friendly game, and the style of play would not be allowed in the tournament.

The games between the World Champion Trevor Simon and the European Champion Danildo de Cunha was a one sided affair. With Danildo at first trying his best to get the better of the Trevor Simon and then being amazed at the skills displayed by World Champion. Although I introduced them in English and what little French I was able to muster, he did not understand what I had said. After the match upon him realising who Trevor Simon was, he acknowledged in sign language that no wonder, he was a mere beginner compared to him. Danildo promised to come the next day, Thursday for the tournament but was no where to be seen on Thursday & Friday. We all believed he had been put of by the presence of the World Champion.

This tournament was not devoid of drama and lived up to those of the past. In the evening on Thursday without the European Champion anywhere in sight the proceedings began. There was ample time to finish one match, but some players couldn’t manage that and they have now been duly christened ‘SLOW PLAY’, you know who you are. Eight players in total registered to take part and the round robin system was used (where everybody plays each other). A good bulk of the matches took place on Friday and we had now lost all hope that Mr Danildo de Cunha would ever turn up.

At this point in time Alric Philips was the clear leader having won all his matches. The great surprise was a player who was also taking part in the junior competition Wayne Bonti who was beating higher ranked players. George Doughty, an inspiration to us all being the oldest player in the tournament was also slaying giants amongst the junior world ranked players.

Saturday was the final day of the tournament and no Danildo in sight. Round mid-day the came strolling in and raring to go. As usual he played all his matches at a sitting in quick succession, a first in the history of Awele tournaments in Cannes. He lost three matches but like a true champion it did not change his demeanour, he just carried on playing like a seasoned Oware player. By 7pm all the games had been completed and it was time to announce the positions.

It was no surprise that first prize went to Alric Philips, second Wayne Bonti and third Xavier Blanvillian. The European Champion Danildo De Cunha came in fourth position.
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