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Sunday, May 30

With the exception of this first motel night, the Barbados Association provided our accommodations and meals for the next 7 days. We ventured to the Dover Beach Hotel restaurant for breakfast mid-morning. We ordered from a one-page menu of good breakfast selections every morning. We were fortunate that our meals were covered, as we found the prices quite high for all the meals in this restaurant, with most items running $10 and higher. In contrast, Clayton and Gerry said they had a good flying fish lunch at a nearby restaurant for $7.50 apiece yesterday.

This restaurant was small with fewer than ten tables. Most of the time we did not see any non-checker players eating here. The door and window areas were always open to the outside, since it never gets cold. Birds often came in and out. The view from inside the restaurant was beautiful, as it was a stone's throw from the ocean. The Dover Beach hotel swimming pool was located on the other side of the restaurant wall. Beach furniture, grass, and a few palm trees surrounded the pool. (Grass seemed scarce in this neighborhood otherwise.) On the other side of the pool were a sidewalk and a wall at the edge of the island. The hotel had an outdoor bar. To the south was a large beach of white-sand. The water had sections of either light blue-green or dark blue color with waves coming toward us. Gerry and I took some pictures of this area after breakfast.

By now, more members of the American team were around, including Gene Lindsay of Tennessee and John Webster from North Carolina. Both men have played in several international matches, and came to Barbados with their wives. We, along with Alex and Clayton, got together on a table outside a Meridian hotel room to go over some openings that we thought the Barbados players might play. Alex also shared knowledge about who he had played over the internet, noting that we were up against solid players. There was also news circulating that two of Barbados best players, Ron King and Jack Francis, may not play in the match. Ron was rumored to be 'undecided.' Finally our rooms at the Dover Beach hotel were ready. Gerry Lopez and I were interested in rooming together for the week, and we found out that the hotel had put us together anyway. Our Dover Beach room was located in a separate building between the Meridian hotel and the main Dover Beach Hotel building. Our second story hotel room was very nice and 'American-like.' The bed was huge! There was also a microwave, a refrigerator, balcony, and a remote control for the air conditioner. Our view was not so great, as there was another hotel in close proximity.

I came back to my room in the afternoon to find Gerry playing checkers with a soccer player, whose team was staying at the hotel. Gerry and I asked many of the locals all week long if they knew of Ron King, the local World champion. The response was typically a blank look. But as soon as we called Ron by his nickname, 'Suki', the recognition was always immediate. If only our champion, Mr. Alex, could be as well known in our country by the general public!

My old roommate from the 2001 England match, Charles Freeman, came by for a few practice games. Chuck's room was located in the main Dover Beach Hotel building, but he said he also had to endure the noise of a roaring ocean during the night.

By late evening I was getting ready for bed. Gerry gave a knock on the bathroom door and said to me, 'Suki's here!' After a brief visit, Suki played a practice game with Gerry using one of his offbeat 26-17 Single Corner variations. I first met Suki at the 1986 National in Tupelo, MS. It was the first U.S. National tournament for both of us and also for U.S. Team member Michael Holmes. Back then, Suki was the sensation of the tournament and contended for the Masters division while Michael and I were struggling in the lower-skill minors division as teenagers.

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