April 2, 2007 - thesouthern Southern Illinois - "Checker players compete in annual tournament"

thesouthern Southern Illinois Homepage.com

Donald West of Mayfield, Ky., right, begins to make his move just after his opponent John Grisley, director of the Illinois Checker Association, finishes his during the 102nd Annual Illinois State Checker Tournament at the Illinois Centre Mall in Marion Sunday. (STEVE JAHNKE/THE SOUTHERN)

 Checkers players compete in annual tournament

 by ashley wiehle, the southern

  MARION - Few if any people passing through Illinois Centre Mall this weekend probably realized they were walking by a world champion at work on his craft.   There is little surprise: The world of checkers is much a mystery to the uninitiated, said Gary Ellison, president of the Illinois Checkers Association.   "It's not a spectator sport so a lot of people don't know that much about it," Ellison said.

  Alex Moiseyev, the world champion of three-move checkers, participated in the Illinois State Checkers        Association's state tournament along with 32 other competitive checkers players who were eager to practice their skills against their peers. 
Moiseyev says checkers is a wildly popular game at all levels.  "In every American family, there's a checkers board and pieces," Moiseyev said. 

  That may be true, but the average family is not playing like the professionals. Competitive checkers players read books on strategy and take pride in their skill.  They'll also travel long distances to play with some of the best the country has to offer. A roster of participants at Saturday's event read like a map of the United States: A dozen states were represented. 

  Albert Tucker and his wife drove from Minden, La., to be in Marion for the tournament. It's a trek they've made not once but twice before.  "We drove 1,000 miles to get here," Tucker said. "That shows how crazy checkers players are."

  Probably not crazy, but they are a dedicated bunch. Mount Vernon resident Jennifer Kelton may have had a short drive, but it was a courageous one: She was the only woman signed up in the weekend's tournament.  "I'm losing but I'm hanging in there," Kelton said Saturday.  Losing is still part of learning for checkers players. Kelton was able to learn from her opponents' moves so she'll be all the more prepared in her 11th tournament.

  The tournament was "three-move checkers," which means the first three moves each player must make are decided by a randomly drawn card.  Having three pre-selected moves requires the players not to rely on just tried-and-true technique but to be able to adapt and exhibit genuine skill, Ellison said. 
"It's unbelievable how much skill is really involved in checkers," Ellison said. "There are so many different moves."

For more information about the Illinois State Checker Association, write to Ellison at Illinois Checker Association, 261 Country Road 500 East, Norris City, IL 62869 or ellison@clearwave.com


997-3356 ext. 5807        Published on: Monday, April 2, 2007 7:31 AM CDT

2007 Illinois Results

April 2, 2007 - Heartland News - "Checker tournament draws talent from the Heartland and beyond"