The Houston Chronicle


Nine-year-old Colton Cardie holds the world youth title in checkers. He plans to defend his title in the age 12 and under championship later this year.


Feb. 2, 2008, 11:25PM
In checkers, it's good to be the king

Colton Cardie carefully eyes the field of play. He squints. He sits on his hands. He flexes, stretches.

He then flicks a whippet of an arm and executes a perfect triple jump, thoroughly demoralizing his stunned opponent.

At age 9, Colton is the reigning world youth champion of a game that's far more complex than most people ever imagine including the growing number of those who keep losing to him.

The national and world checkers tournaments are relatively small affairs, whose limited attendance is balanced by the intensity of the organizers and players. Hopefuls gather for days at a time, with early-round victories scoring points that send the leaders into the finals. A referee sits at the players' elbows.

Back home in suburban Arvada, Colo., Colton pulverizes his PlayStation peers, the teen wannabes, the 30-something pretenders and his septuagenarian superiors.

At a family Christmas party in December, an acquaintance noticed Colton's checker board and asked to play. Colton was not aware this man possessed a Ph.D. in chemistry. The distinguished doctor of science was not aware that Colton possessed a world trophy and a wicked pyramid defense.

Two games two defeats. The Ph.D. took it well.

Colton hones his game with a higher class of competition, namely his grandfather and personal trainer, John Cardie. Cardie is a lifelong checkers teacher and competitor, offering strategy seminars at local libraries and on cruise ships, and self-publishing a book called How to Beat Granddad at Checkers.