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The Central Tampa News & Tribune

He's Master Pool Checkers Champion
 Arthur "Moochie" McCarr of East Tampa, recently     won the title at a tournament in Chicago. Next year,  McCarr could take on this year's five-time top master  champion, Calvin "Iron Claw" Monroe.


The Tampa Tribune

Published: August 13, 2008

EAST TAMPA - Pool checkers is a winner for Arthur "Moochie" McCarr.

The 65-year-old is national master's champion after besting a 10-player field in Chicago at the 42nd annual American Pool Checkers Association tournament in July.

He did it with nine wins, eight draws and one loss.

McCarr will take his bragging rights to the 2009 tournament in Washington to play at the highest level - top master.

"They've got to play me now," he said. "I feel good about where I am. I wanted to win my way up."

In 2000, he won junior master. Other categories are blue ribbon and gold bar.

Next year, McCarr could take on this year's five-time top master champion, Calvin "Iron Claw" Monroe. And even a few of the players who come to McCarr's birthday parties.

The gatherings at Hope Community Center, 4902 N. 22nd St., are a five-year tradition. In March, nearly 70 players from across the country came to celebrate with barbecue ribs and all-day checkers.

Some say pool checkers came from Spanish influences on slaves in New Orleans and the Caribbean; others say it has Russian origins. Rules differ from straight checkers, allowing kings to jump several squares in a single move. Uncrowned pieces move backward and forward.

Unlike chess, quiet concentration isn't required. "Trash talk" in a friendly way is not only allowed but encouraged.

In Chicago, Fred Shurn - a birthday party regular - handed McCarr his only loss, although he finished fourth overall in the master's group.

"He was the only one I didn't beat at my birthday party," McCarr said.

One of the competitors who played him to a draw in Chicago was Texas high school basketball coaching legend Jackie Carr.

Locally, Sam Kinsey tests McCarr's skills.

"I push him hard," said Kinsey, a relative newcomer who credits McCarr as his mentor.

"He just loves checkers," he said. "He'll help other folk. He'll share with anybody."

McCarr teaches younger players in the College Hill Chess and Checkers Club, which meets at the community center. Recently, he coached players and held a tournament at First Baptist Church of College Hill.

Next year he could face one of his own mentors, Clorius "Mongoose" Lay, who finished seventh in the top master group in Chicago.

Though they have played only one game, McCarr has bragging rights.

"He's never beaten me," he said.

Reporter Kathy Steele can be reached at (813) 259-7652 or ksteele@tampatrib.com.