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Rocky Mountain News

Young checkers champ gets jump on guv
By Alan Gathright, Rocky Mountain News (Contact)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Brian Lehmann / Special To The Rocky Gov. Bill Ritter congratulates Colton Cardie, 10, of Arvada, after their checkers game Friday, as Colton's brother Conrad watches. Colton is a World Youth Checkers Champion.

This was one time that Gov. Bill Ritter had fun getting whipped on his own turf.

Colorado's top elected leader took on a World Youth Checkers Champion, 10-year- old Colton Cardie, of Arvada, in a match of wits Friday.

"He's beat some very prominent people, so we thought we'd give him one more prominent person to beat today," Ritter said.

Colton, who sported a buzz-cut, red Polo shirt and khaki pants, moved first, calmly deploying his red checkers as cameras rolled.

"I have a bad feeling here," Ritter joked.

Soon, Colton had whittled the governor's 12 white checkers to six. But Ritter battled back, jumping four red foes.

"It's bad when I'm the one sweating," Ritter said.

Colton just smiled like the Cheshire Cat. Within moments, he had Ritter's last two kinged white checkers surrounded with his red kinged forces. A few jumps later, and the 12-minute game was over.

It was a moral victory for the governor, whose staff had bet he would last only 10 minutes with the chess prodigy.

Not a sore loser, Ritter gave Colton the Governor's Award of Excellence and a State of Colorado lapel pin, asking him to wear the latter proudly at future tournaments so everyone will know he represents "the great state of Colorado."

"It really is an honor to have you as a Coloradan and a champion," Ritter said.

What's the secret to the young checkers king's success?

"Practice, because my grandpa says practice makes perfect and perfect wins," Colton said.

"I like (checkers) because it's fun and challenging," he added. "It teaches you forethought and to be responsible for your actions."

Colton said he has learned to think 32 moves ahead.

He'd better keep improving. His 8-year-old brother, Conrad, placed second at the national competition last year, and his 6-year-old brother, Calvin, is already vowing to take the king. or 303-954-5486