'Fats' Tappin was a master draughts player
Richard Bryan, STAR Writer
The late former national draughts champion Norman 'Fats' Tappin (left) in a championship game against rival Wayne 'Shine' Reid at a tournament held at Caymanas Park in 2006. - Contributed
The entire draughts fraternity continues to mourn the passing of perhaps its most prominent exponent, Norman 'Fats' Tappin.
Tappin passed on at his Crescent Road home off Waltham Park Road at the age of 80 late last year. Though the sport of draughts is largely not formalised in terms of the keeping of scores, as in other popular sports in Jamaica, the important players in the industry openly recognised Fats as the number one player until the emergence in the last 10 years of young prodigy, Wayne 'Shine' Reid.
In 1997, the newly formed Jamaica Draughts Association, under leader Johnny Buckland, featured Tappin in a November 29 Star article as a "local champion for almost 40 years". At the time of his death, he was still informally regarded as the national No. 2. He featured competitively last year, finishing second to Reid in the annual birthday tournament at Caymanas Park.
Buckland told STAR Sports that Fats would be forever remembered in the sport.
"He is our legend," Buckland stated. "A lot of what we know now in terms of who played the sport in the past, we know from Fats. He was well respected and even last year, nobody but Shine could beat him. His mind remained clear and it's just a pity we could not have him on the circuit this year."
Buckland, who had the pleasure of playing a few games against Fats, remembers him as someone who perfected the eight-check opening in pool checkers.
No one enjoyed more battles with Fats than the present acclaimed No. I Shine Reid and he feels he now has life much easier in terms of competition.
"Fats was the ultimate. He is the hardest man to 'sap' (a score of 6-0). I was his student until I learned to beat him consistently. At first, it was all about drawing games, then winning the occasional one. You never had a chance to beat him until you were sure he had a beer or two. His style never changed, but it was tough to handle."
President of the Montego Bay Draughts Association, Micoyan 'Sir Mix' Robinson summed up the style of Fats beautifully.
"He played on the safe side but was a clinical finisher. He used a disciplined pattern and you had to be better than him to beat him. He played nothing new and seemed to know the end of every game from countless years of playing."
According to Buckland, Fats' contribution to the game will not go unrecognised. A future national championship will definitely bear his name and the upcoming New Year's tournament which is set to take place at the Caymanas Park, on January 18, will be played in his honour.