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Irish Checkers Champion In Action

High Devlin, the Irish Checkers/Draughts Champion in action.
Saturday, May 19, 2001 saw South Africa play its first test match in checkers and draughts, although test matches have been common in Europe and America for the past 130 years.
The test match was played at the Old Edwardian Society, 11 Ninth Avenue, Lower Houghton in Johannesburg from 13H30 through to 17H30. The test consisted of two games where each player started once.

The entire draughts community in South Africa, as well as the South African War games Union as a whole, were most apprehensive about the South African Champion's (Lubabalo Kondlo's) chances as he was totally untried by international standards.

Irish Checkers Champion

Hugh Devlin, the Irish checkers champion, who is representing Ireland, is currently the Irish Champion, and a former winner of the Scottish Championship, British Open Championship, and British & Irish GAYP Championship.

The first match began with Lubabalo putting out a strong, but standard opening. His first game did not allow Hugh any opportunities to feed off any form of weakness.

After 52 moves, champion checkers player Hugh Devlin resigned giving Lubabalo the first game. The second game saw Irish checkers champion Hugh try a determined attack. Lubabalo held his ground and resisted any opportunity to allow Hugh to take any 'shots'. The game ended quickly in a draw.

Thus the first test match that South Africa has ever played has been won by South Africa.

The large spectator turnout was indeed most pleased with the result.
ONE of South Africa’s top draughts players, Lubabalo Kondlo of New Brighton, has been invited to take part in the prestigious American Checker Federation world championship tournament at Medina, Ohio, next month.

Kondlo, 35, who started playing draughts at the age of 13, said yesterday: “I am delighted that I will be representing my country. I feel great. This is a dream.”
Kondlo, four times South African champion, was previously invited to overseas tournaments, but financial constraints prevented him from going. He now also badly needs R20000 in sponsorship.

In a letter to Kondlo, federation president Alan Millhone said there had never been a player from South Africa at the international tournament.
Kondlo said: “I dearly hope this time some good samaritan will come forward to make my dream come true.”

He said he would approach Eastern Cape Arts, Recreation and Culture MEC Noxolo Abrahams-Ntantiso or Minister Pallo Jordan for assistance.
“I am confident of bringing back glory, which I will dedicate to all South Africans,” he said.

Kondlo has an impressive record already and among his international victims are Barbados’s current world champion, Ronald King, who he defeated in 1999, and Ireland’s champion and world No 2 Hugh Devland, who he beat in 2001. Ireland checkers champions are sure to make another run for the trophy.
“King was astounded by my skill and ability to read the game,” he said.
In 2003, Kondlo won against a computer game known as Chinook – programmed by grandmasters of the game at the University of Alberta – and gained himself a place in the hall of honor at that university.

Kondlo, who claims to have won all his matches in South Africa, was the only South African invited to a tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2004, but could not go because of financial difficulties.

He said he had already been approached by two high schools in Port Elizabeth, Ithembelihle and Lwandlekazi, to teach the game. “The interest shown by pupils who come to my club is really overwhelming,” he said.
“Draughts is a psychological game and it assists in the mental development of children. It also equips participants with analytical focus in real life situations.”
Kondlo said such a project introduced in the municipality could have a positive influence in youth development and combating crime.
His coach from childhood, Jimmy Boy Mqotsi, said Kondlo had the potential to become a world champion if he could get a sponsor.

New Brighton man walks off as world checkers champion,
by Hendrick Mphande.
A NEW Brighton man has become the first South African to win the annual American Open Checkers Federation championship held in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the weekend.
Lubabalo Kondlo, also the first South African to take part in the competition, pocketed $10000 (R77000) in winnings.

Checkers is played on a 10×10 board and is the American version of the English game of draughts, also played on an 8×8 board, but there are many other variants.
Mind Sports SA (MSSA) president Colin Webster said Kondlo was overjoyed at winning the prize money. MSSA is affiliated to the SA Confederation of Sport and the SA Olympic Committee. It is responsible for the good governance and promotion of historical figure games, board games such as diplomacy, checkers, draughts, morabaraba and computer games.

Webster said Kondlo made it clear that had it not been for the hard work of MSSA in promoting the game of draughts at all levels, he would not have been able to enter the event. Kondlo was awarded Protea colors in 2001. He acknowledged that there were many South Africans who played at the same level, and that he had not won a provincial or national championship in SA since 2003.
“We are all happy and absolutely delighted for Kondlo and see sport as a vehicle to create a better South Africa,” Webster said.
He said the win was vital to his organization in its attempt to bring the 2009 World Championships to South Africa.

“By bringing the 2009 World Checkers Championship to SA, the MSSA will be able to demonstrate to the world the number of high level of checkers players in South Africa,” he said.
As part of development, three top checkers players have been awarded bursaries by the University of Johannesburg. Kondlo could not be contacted. It is not clear when he will be back in South Africa.

Las Vegas Sun reported on Kondlo’s win against Ron King July 28, 07:
The rising challenger always sleeps with his son, Odwa, and two other relatives in the same bed. More than 20 family members cram into the small home in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Some of those aunts and uncles sleep on the concrete kitchen floor. They share an outhouse with neighbors.

When his richer pupils can afford it, Lubabalo Kondlo earns the equivalent of $3 per checkers lesson. Kondlo, 35, writes four postcards during a Thursday break.
Two are addressed to siblings, one to his girlfriend and a big one, with the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign on the front, will go to Victor Niederhoffer in New York. Niederhoffer, son of the late philanthropist Arthur Niederhoffer, sponsored Kondlo's first trip outside South Africa. ACF President Alan Millhone's letters to the South African government were instrumental in allowing Kondlo to receive a visa to play in his first major international checkers tournament.
"The government couldn't believe someone wanted to leave to play checkers", Millhone says. "I explained it, and I think they saw that our Web site was legitimate."

Kondlo honed his game in grade school, by spending his lunch money on a pack of cigarettes , which he exchanged for lessons from teacher Lulama Gweshu.
Jimboys Mqotsi, the president of the Vulindlela Draughts Club draughts is the British version of checkers took over when Kondlo was 9 by bringing the lad to the club.
"He saw something," Kondlo says. Kondlo displays patience, discipline and foresight in earning a victory and draw in his two games against Dr. Richard Beckwith, who says, "Oh, no!" the moment after making a mistake in the defeat.
"God is on my side today," Kondlo says.
"I had him, too, and he slipped right out of it!" says 20-year-old Paul Bryan, a victim of Kondlo's earlier Thursday. "I had the most brilliant win."
Kondlo often wipes his brow with a dark handkerchief. He can tell many opponents, such as Beckwith, are computer savvy, able to store and replay infinite games, at various speeds, on systems at home. Kondlo relies on a library of books. He says he used a strategy from 1847 to defeat Beckwith.
A 60 year old man with a Southern drawl happens to hear Kondlo describe his living conditions in Port Elizabeth.

Kondlo doesn't react.
He savors all the exotic dishes at the Plaza buffet, where he dines nightly. Ice cream, available to him and his family in Port Elizabeth only on Christmas, is a delicacy.
He can't believe he can leave dirty towels in his room in the morning, then find clean ones on his return.
"And there's a TV in there ...total luxury," Kondlo says, laughing. "I wish I could take that room back home with me. 'Hey, where's Room 20? That guy must have taken it home with him!' "

The Checkers Match

Kondlo seethes as he walks around the Plaza, looking for King. Kondlo returns to his board, vowing to get up and walk around if King follows his usual pattern.
"I don't like that," Kondlo says of King's penchant for standing up and wandering.
King never leaves his seat. After drawing both games in the round, King does not shake Kondlo's hand. Kondlo says he wasn't about to offer his hand to King.








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DeerLake Online Store Items

Wonder Mugs Play checkers online, and enjoy drinking from this cool wonder mug.
When adding hot liquid, the colors of the mug will change, checkers cool.

Checkers is a two-player game, where one player is assigned white-chip checkers and the other red. The aim is to play checkers online, capture all of the other player's checkers or make them impossible to move.

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