April 8, 1995 The New York Times - Obituaries - "Marion Tinsley, 68, Unmatched As Checkers Champion, Is Dead"

Obituaries  Monday, 4/3/1995

Marion F. Tinsley, 68, Unmatched As Checkers Champion, Is Dead

Published: April 8, 1995


Marion F. Tinsley, the perennial world checkers champion who was widely regarded as the game's best player ever, died in Humble, Tex., on Monday, five years after he ran out of worthy human opponents and began winning his last titles by beating ever more powerful computers. He was 68 and lived in Conyers, Ga.

The cause was cancer, relatives said. He was visiting his twin sister, Mary Clark, in Humble when he died.

Dr. Marion Tinsley, a retired Florida State University mathematics professor, who had lost only nine checkers games since first winning the world championship in 1955, abandoned his world title last August at the world championship final in Boston sponsored by the American Checkers Federation and the British Draughts Federation.

Illness forced him to withdraw from the championship match after playing six games against an enhanced version of the Chinook computer program that he had beaten in three previous title matches. Although Chinook eventually won the 1994 title by beating a stand-in, the victory was a hollow one for the program's developer, Jonathan Schaeffer, a Canadian computer scientist.

"Tinsley was the Mount Everest we wanted to scale," Mr. Schaeffer said, noting that the latest Chinook, which has a repertory of 250 billion moves and can make 3 million calculations a minute, was five times as powerful as the version Mr. Tinsley defeated in 1992.

Before his forced withdrawal, Mr. Tinsley provided evidence that the souped-up Chinook still needed more soup. He had fought the computer to six straight draws.

Mr. Tinsley once attributed his awesome mental development to a childhood belief that his parents favored his twin.

A mediocre checkers player as a child, he began his ascent at the age of 14 when he stumbled on a book on checkers while researching a math problem at the Ohio State University library.

A fierce competitor who acknowledged that he hated to lose more than he loved to win, Mr. Tinsley developed a virtual obsession for a game whose appeal never ceased to captivate him.

"Checkers can get quite a hold on you," he once said. "Its beauty is just overwhelming -- the mathematics, the elegance, the precision. It's capable of wrapping you all up." Marion Franklin Tinsley, Ph.D.JPG (26256 bytes)

A Christian who worked for years making an outline of the Old Testament from the New Testament perspective, Mr. Tinsley scoffed at repeated suggestions that his mastery of the Chinook computer proved that his intelligence was somehow other worldly.

"I'm human," he said. "It's just that I have a better programmer than Chinook. God gave me a logical mind."

Mr. Tinsley was a native of Ironton, Ohio. In addition to his sister, he is survived by two brothers, Ed, of Sarasota, Fla., and Joe, of Thornville, Ohio.

Ed Bucker wrote:   I have been searching for the burial location of Dr. Marion Franklin Tinsley for some time now and today I found the information. I called the cemetery office and M Tinsley grave marker.jpg (151395 bytes)they gave me the exact location in the cemetery and faxed me an obituary they had on file. Dr. Tinsley is buried along side his father, Edw. H. who was buried Nov. 19, 1948 and his mother, Viola Mae who was buried June 1, 1987 and a brother, Harold Edw. who was buried July 6, 2007. He told me there is a family monument on the plot, that be believes has all four names engraved upon it, and that he would attempt to get someone from the office to take a picture of the stone and e-mail it to me.

MARION F. TINSLEY, Ph.D., age 68 passed away Monday, April 3, 1995 in Humble, Tex. He was the greatest checker player that ever lived, holding the World Champion Checker Player title since 1955. With an IQ of a genius, he entered The Ohio Sate University at age 14. In college, he paid his way with earnings from checker exhibitions and tournaments. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1950, a Master’s degree in 1953 and a doctorate in 1957. He taught mathematics a Florida State University 10 years and Florida A&M University 26 years. An evangelical Christian, he served as an elder and part-time minister at Tallahassee Christian Church for many years. Upon retirement , he moved to Conyers, Ga. To fulfill the most important element of his life, the study and teaching of the bible to his Christian brothers and sisters at Victory Tabernacle. He is survived by twin sister, Mary F. Clark of Humble, Tex.; 2 brothers, Ed Tinsley of Sarasota, Fla. And Joe Tinsley of Thornville, Oh.; nephew, Walter Clark of Bellingham, Mass.; niece Carol Huber and husband, John of Humble, Tex.; niece, Lisa Maddox and husband, Fred of Thornville, Oh.; and many cousins in Ky. And Oh. Funeral service will be held 1 p.m. Thursday April 6, at Victory Tabernacle, 1151 Flat Shoals Rd.; Conyers, Ga. Interment Green Lawn cemetery, Columbus, Oh. Arrangements by RUTHERFORD FUNERAL HOME, 2383 N. High St., Columbus, Oh.    Marion Tinsley's Gravesite   

I am sure it will be noted that Dr. Tinsley did not hold the World Championship Title continuously from 1955 until his death but I copied his obituary just as it appeared in the news paper.

Palomino wrote:  I'll let others post the years Dr. Tinsley held the title..."Pal" Bucker

He held title in 1955-1962, and 1979-1991. See Sixth, Pg. 173 for details. :lol:

M. Tinsley retired first time right after his match with D. Oldbury in 1958, but the fraternity continued to recognized him as a World Champion until next World Title Match in 1962. In 1975 W. Hellman passed away, but next 3-move World Title Match was held only in 1979.

Regards, Alex

Marion Tinsley: (1927-1995)

Marion Tinsley is the greatest checkers player in the history of the game. He was recognized as the World Champion in 1954 and since that time has lost only 9 games. Dr. Tinsley has been awarded the title of World Champion Emeritus in honor of his decisive domination of and contribution to the game. Marion Tinsley was born in Irontown, Ohio, on February 3, 1927 and became interested in checkers early in life. While looking for a book on mathematics in his local public library, he saw two books on checkers, one by Millard Hopper, and the other by James Lee, his famous Guide to the Game of Checkers. These books fascinated him and spawned an active career in the game.

Dr. Tinsley's phenomenal memory and analytical skills enabled him to win virtually every Ohio State and Cedar Point tournament in which he participated at an early age. He became United States Junior Champion by defeating Maurice Chamblee in 1947. The match was played at Cedar Point, Ohio, with Dr. Tinsley scoring three wins, with 25 games drawn, and two lost. Dr Tinsley then won the Tourney Championship of America at Brownwood, Texas, without losing a game. Dr. Tinsley competed with Professor Fraser of Montreal in a mixed match of 10 games of go-as-you-please, 10 games of two-move restriction, 10 games of three-move restriction, and 10 games of eleven-man ballot. Dr. Tinsley won the match easily with 14 wins, no losses, and 26 drawn games. M Tinsley.jpg (19951 bytes)

Dr. Tinsley played in a World Championship match against Newell Banks in Detroit, Michigan. This tournament, played at two-move restriction, ended with three games for Dr. Tinsley, one lost, and the remaining games drawn. In 1954 Dr. Tinsley was recognized as World Champion by the American Checker Federation and confirmed his title by accepting a challenge from the formidable Walter Hellman of Gary, Indiana. The match was played at Lakeside, Ohio, and at Peoria, Illinois, in 1956. It was won convincingly by Dr. Tinsley, who scored three wins, with no losses and 35 games drawn. He also defeated aspirant Derek Oldbury of Torquay by the overwhelming score of nine wins to one, with 24 games drawn. In the same year Dr. Tinsley decided to temporarily retire from active play.

When Dr. Tinsley reentered the arena, he beat Elbert Lowder by 15 wins, no losses, and with 10 games drawn. Since then Dr. Tinsley's domination of the game has been unquestioned. His achievements in checkers assure him of a place among the giants of the game.

It is with deep regret we announce the passing of Marion Tinsley on April 3, 1995. As a man, Dr. Tinsley was exceedingly kind and loved by everyone. He was a great friend of the Chinook team. Tinsley vs Chinook, Chinook died being 2 points ahead of this beast!   (above comments from Chess Champ-Kibtzer's Cafe)


Marion Tinsley on "To tell the TRUTH" (1959), also Charles Walker

Marion Tinsley by “Chinook” Jonathan Schaeffer

April 19, 1979 - Greensburg Record Herald - "Champs take to the board"

1987 People Magazine - "Winners - Checker King "Two-Ton" Tinsley Jumps for Joy - and Victory"

1975 - The St. Petersburg Times - “A checkered career takes another jump”

Grandmasters, Masters, & Players Obituaries