Francis’ lead slipping away
Jack Francis’ chances of a title shot are slowly slipping away.
Francis, Barbados’ national draughts champion, has now slipped to second position after the end of round five in the Ronald “Suki” King International Checkers and Draughts Festival, currently being played at Divi Southwinds Resort.
Earlier, Francis and Sergio Scarpetta had shared the lead at the end of three rounds with ten points each.
However, the Italian has now taken firm control of the men’s division, having opened up a three point lead with just three rounds remaining.
At the end of the fifth round, Scarpetta was in first position on 16 points, followed by Francis and American Michael Holmes with 13 points each, and Jim Morrison on 12 points.
Colin Price, who sits in seventh position on ten points, is the next highest placed Barbadian.
Scarpetta grabbed the lead after defeating Francis in Wednesday evening’s fourth round top-of-the-table clash.
After their first game, which was played out in a Single Corner opening petered out into a draw, an error by Francis in the second game allowed his opponent to press for victory.
Unlike the opening game, this one saw a Wagham opening being used. But with the game headed for a draw, Francis decided to push for a victory instead, a decision which proved costly.
And then to make matters worse, he was then held to two draws by Morrison in the ensuing round.
“I could have settled for the draw, but I decided to go for a line which would have put Scarpetta on the defensive,” a disappointed Francis explained to WEEKENDSPORT yesterday, just before the start of round six.
“It has now left me in a position where I have to unleash all of my attacking powers now if I am to get back in contention to win this competition.”
Francis was scheduled to play Holmes with results unavailable up to press time.
Scarpetta meanwhile, having already played all of the top seeds, will be the favourite to win the competition and earn yet another shot at the World-Go-As-You-Please title against Ronald “Suki” King next year.
After defeating Francis, he defeated Price in round five to move three points clear.
In the women’s division, national champion Wilma Branch also slipped off the pace into second position, two points behind Three-Move-Restriction champion, Nadiya Chyzhevska, of the Ukraine.
With the two players having been tied after two rounds on seven points, Chyzhevska picked up the maximum eight points in the next two rounds, courtesy of a bye and win over Barbadian Monica Hinkson by default to move to 15 points.
Despite defeating compatriot Samantha Holder 2-0 in the fourth round, Branch was then held to two draws by American Luba Turiy.
Up to press time, Branch and Chyzhevska were locked in a crucial matchup, with the winner of that contest almost sure to be crowned the new women’s champion.
Turiy currently sits in third position on 11 points, while another Barbadian Wynell Neverson is in fourth on nine points.