Nov

15

 A Game for All Ages, by Marion Tinsley (about 1980)

I think that checkers must be somewhat unique in its ability to boast grand masters at advanced ages. What a wonderful hobby it is in which people can practice, enjoy and even excel during an entire lifetime!

Although Asa Long at 76 is a truly unusual phenomenon, he is by no means exceptional in the history of checkers. James Wyllie was actively competing in his eighties and Newell Banks played the best tournament checkers of his career at Bethlehem, PA in 1958 at the age of 71. Another grand old man, T. J. O'Grady emerged from a 20 year retirement in 1946 and played actively for years. In his seventies he told me that he was playing the best checkers of his life. Harry Lieberman at 83 competed against a strong field in the 1974 Eleven-man Ballot tourney and placed 5th in spite of a retirement of nearly 50 years. One could also cite George W. Bass who at 90 was playing 500 mail games and affirmed that checkers gave him a reason for getting up each morning. And then one could mention a host of accomplished analysts and problemists (Boland, Mantell, Wiswell, etc.) who, without competing, have found a special niche in checkers literature.

It is true that there is much strain in competitive checkers and many masters are forced to give up this side of their favorite hobby because of stress related problems. However it appears true also that if a player can gain certain victories over himself, then checkers can become a therapeutic hobby greatly enriching his later years. When I was young, I thought of checkers as a young man's game, but now with the passing of years, I think a bit differently.


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