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Stratego-ing for gold

REMEMBER Richard Ratcliffe? He’s the Upperthorpe bus driver who just happens to be one of the planet’s best players at the French board game Stratego.

He’s won five British titles, five Olympiad golds and a world championships at the mind sport - a fiendishly difficult cross between chess, poker and risk played by 40 million people world wide.

And this weekend he’ll try and conquer all-comers once more at the 2013 World Championships in Berlin. He’ll be one of 150 players from countries as far flung as the US and China competing to be crowned the globe’s best. And he’s taking it seriously.

“Am I looking forward to it?” pondered the 41-year-old dad-of-four. “It’s not a case of looking forward. I’m in it to win it. I won the title in Newcastle in 2011 and then came second to a Dutch lad in Haastrecht in the Netherlands last year so I’m out for revenge.”

The tournament - an annual event - takes place at the city’s Holiday Inn hotel.

“The way I see it is, on my day, I’m the best in the world at Stratego,” says Richard, modestly. “I just need to make sure this weekend, I have my days. I’ve been practising hard to get into peak condition.”

A historic day out

ROTHERHAM: it’s a great place to visit, and no arguing.

Hey, stop laughing. It’s got Magna (Europe’s biggest science adventure centre), the New York Stadium (England’s finest little football ground), and the 750-acre Rother Valley Country Park.

But a reader - and Rotherham-ite - gets in touch to wonder if the Welcome To Yorkshire tourist board isn’t stretching things a little on its new website.

Stan Brookes says he’s not entirely convinced, no matter what yorkshire.com says, that Rotherham really is “the best day out in history”.

You can’t fault the optimism, though.

A great leveller

HE also congratulates this column on the Castle Market joke featured earlier this week.

“It worked on so many levels,” he says. “Like Castle Market itself.”