ike walkers twitching on a tightrope
SEYCHELL SCRAPES PAST SALIBA THROUGH TO KNOCK-OUT PHASE.
No sooner had Mario Saliba finished thanking his lucky stars for the narrowest of qualifications to Phase 2 of the Auburn Autumn League than the 3-time National Champion’s prospects of progressing to the final stage hung ominously in the balance.
Seeded second in Group A, Saliba was able to garner only a win and a draw from his three games against surprise qualifier Maria Scicluna, but he managed to dent Theresa Brousson’s unblemished winning record thus far in the competition by snatching a draw out of his encounter with the reigning national champion. However, Scicluna failed to make any inroads into Mario Seychell’s superiority (see photo), allowing the octogenarian player to pip Saliba to a place in the semi-finals by a ridiculous two spread points.
There was no shortage of straits and surprises in Group B. Kevin Pirotta and Mario Camilleri registered the third drawn game in this phase of the league with both players recording wins against David Delicata but none against Moira Fenech to invert the pecking order in this group.
As a result, the stage is set for a semi-final encounter between the top two seeds Brousson and Delicata, and possibly a very close and uncertain one at that. Fenech and Seychell face off in the second semi-final, the final outcome of which also defies easy prediction.
There were fewer upheavals in the first round of playoffs, where the surprise Phase 1 casualty Josephine Mayo topped the group to qualify for Section B together with Alfred Xuereb.
In the parallel Burnt Orange Autumn League, things are looking up for Rosanne Farrugia and Margaret Meli, the two newest players and members of Malta Scrabble Club who scored wins against many of their more seasoned opponents.
(penned & published by Nicky Vella Laurenti, photo credit: John Chew)