With the absence of the Antiguans the Cape Verdeans dominance of Oware / Awele in the South of France came to the fore again at this years International Awale Tournament. Held as usual in Cannes at the International Games Festival from the 13th to 16th of March 2003. This year’s tournament did not fail to excite. With the appearance of Victoria Mendes last year’s runner up, all present concluded that the first position was a foregone conclusion but was it to be so?
This years tournaments featured the Open International Awale Championship and an Awele Beginners Championship (Featuring junior players and adult novices). This year we were blessed with the help of Guy Sephai and his family, Maxim Kavena, Faith Wagaine, Oliver Oguntunde, Erin & Toby Thwaites. These individuals helped enormously to make years tournaments enjoyable and fun to be at, we cannot praise them enough. A larger than ever area was apportioned to Awale but at times it still wasn’t enough, with some people having to wait until someone got up to have their turn to play.
With a manageable number of players a round robin mini league was used for the tournament (where every one plays the each other). The winner of each match was decided on a best of five basis. The players from Catalunya also strongly favored to place well stated that they only came to learn and not to try and win anything. Toby Thwaites from the U.K. was convinced to join the seniors’ as there was no junior tournament, just a beginners and he is certainly no beginner. The joker in the pack was Martin Baudry a French man new to Awele tournaments but caused a few upsets.
So as predicted the Cape Verdeans overcame everyone in their path. The question was who was going to win out of the two who were taking part, Victoriano Mendes or the new comer Fernando Tavares? In the match between Viktor I Roca Bautista from Catalunya (Spain) and Martin Baudry a big upset was witnessed as Viktor Bautista suffered a crushing three nil defeat in a match that he was predicted to win. Martin Baudry has shown he is a force not to be taken lightly amongst European players. In another upset that was to decide the overall winner of the tournament between the two Cape Verdeans. Last years Silver Medallist Victoriano Mendes also suffered a three nil defeat by the new comer Fernando Tavares (alias One Arm Bandit given this name because he could only play with one arm since the other was in a cast held by a sling).
Once again Victoriano Mendes had to settle for second place, another Silver Medal to his collection. The One Arm Bandit certainly entertained all with his antics. When a bad move was made on his part he would rise up from his chair hand on his head and muttering under his breath, what, only he knew. From the stable of the Cape Verdeans another champion has emerged with a flamboyant style of playing similar to Danildo da Cunha the former Cape Verdean Awale champion. The question is will they be able to produce a player who can take on the mighty Antiguans or the best of the Oware Assassins from Ghana.