International checkers competition coming to Vidor

Published 5:45 pm Friday, June 28, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

There’s an international competition coming to Southeast Texas. While the Olympics didn’t move here from Paris, Vidor will still be in the spotlight next week as it hosts two national teams for a checkers match.

Vidor City Hall will serve as the venue for the second team competition between Italy and the United States, July 1-5.

The international contest is a joint effort between the American Checkers Federation and the Federazione Italiana Dama. Each nation will be represented by 12 players, and the rosters are star-studded with some of the best talents in their game. Among them, there will be six world champions as well as six international grandmasters.

Watson Franks, District Eight Director for the ACF, helped organize the event and will serve as a referee and alternate player for the United States.

“I’ve been playing checkers since I was five years old,” Franks said. “It’s an honor to play for the U.S.”

This match is an opportunity for the U.S. team to exact revenge on a familiar opponent. Four years ago, they traveled to Italy for a competition but lost by just one point. Franks expects it to again be a close match, but hopes for a different result this time around.

The matches are intense, but players are friendly outside of competition. Spectators can come watch during games, which will begin around 8:30-9 a.m. each day. Franks added that when players are finished, they would be happy to talk and take photos with fans.

Vidor may be a small town, but it’s in the midst of an emergence as a hub for checkers competition. The city has hosted major tournaments since 2017 and was even the site of the 2023 World Championships. Franks said city officials have been extremely supportive and are excited to have grown such a partnership with the checkers world.

After all, it is a chance to show visiting teams the charm of Southeast Texas. Once the Italian team flies in, they’ll be shown southern hospitality during dinner with locals and have the chance to watch Fourth of July fireworks in Beaumont.