Ronald "Suki" King
Ronald Suki King Art ~ from 1956 to Present
Perhaps the most renowned checkers player from Barbados is GM Ronald King,
who has been nicknamed ‘Suki’ by many of his friends and admirers.
He is a native of St. George, Barbados, and has been playing across the
checkerboard since he was about six years old. He says that he first learned the
great game amongst the back street clubs and rum shops of Barbados as a young boy
looking for things to do.
Ron is married to Hazelin, and they have two daughters and one son. His daughter,
Ronelle, is already also involved in the checkers game and has attended an
international tournament with her father.
As with many checkers enthusiasts, King has traveled extensively within the
West Indies, the United States, and across the Atlantic to Great Britain to play
in the various styles of the checkers game. The Bajan King has traveled widely in
promoting checkers and draughts, participating in contested matches within the
USA, Barbados, Ireland, and England, and undertaking promotional tours in the
Caribbean Islands, South Africa, and Ireland.
Early in his checkers career in Barbados,
Ronald Suki King began playing the preferred
freestyle game or Go-As-You-Please or GAYP
format that is popular in the island. He
quickly realized that the 8 x 8 checkers
game he so enjoyed was the type of game that
was prevalent in the United States, both
in the GAYP tradition and the 3-Move Restriction
style becoming more popular on the International
Ronald Suki King
King first traveled to the United States in 1986 to compete in his first major
tournament where he shocked established American checkers masters with his easy,
flamboyant style. The Bajan checkerist entered the National 3-Move Championship
tournament in Tupelo, Mississippi, and surprised the spectators and gamers by
placing fourth after Don Lafferty, Jim Morrison, and Asa Long. These Grandmasters
were well established in their game and King was a
‘novice’ player on this circuit, only
30 years old, and totally unfamiliar to the regular faces within the checkers
In 1988, Ron traveled to Danville, Virginia, to play in the 36th 3-Move National
Championship tournament, and tied for 6th, 7th, and 8th places. The following
year, the GM was back in the US in Tupelo, Mississippi, for the National GAYP
Championship, wherein he defeated GM Elbert Lowder and won the tournament, though
Lowder became the U.S. GAYP Champion.
The Bajan GM was back in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1990 to participate in the 37th
3-Move National Championships, but this time he faced a tough field of checkers
contenders including seasoned player, Marion Tinsley, and only ranked 18th. In
the next checkers season, ‘Suki’
was the challenger in the World GAYP Title match and played against the U.S.
National GAYP champion, Jim Morrison. Ron defeated the Grand-master with a score
of four wins, one loss, and eighteen draws to take the Championship title and
become World GAYP champion for the first time. It was not to be his last time
coveting that title.
That same year, Ron King traveled to Britain and participated in the 1991 English
Draughts Open tournament, and defeated all his checkers opponents to become the
English Champion. Over the next decade,
‘Suki’ King crossed many miles
between Barbados, the U.S. and Europe playing the game he loved in GAYP and 3-Move
national tournaments and championship matches.
GM Ron King was honored by the Barbados Draughts Association and awarded Sportsman
of the Year in both 1991 and 1992. As well, in 1992, the Bajan government awarded
the checkers master the Barbados Service Star, which is the highest national honor
that can be bestowed upon a citizen for outstanding service and achievement.
Also in 1992, King came back into the national checkers arena in the U.S. and
played against a solid field of checkers experts in the 3-Move Championship,
held in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In this tournament play, Suki defeat Elbert Lowder
Checkers 3.0, Hallett, Lafferty and Chinook to take first place; however, over the
years, sources have since commented on Suki’s style of sportsmanship in this
mind sport match. Richard Fortman was the referee who later wrote:
“1992 National 3-Move; Hot Springs, AR Aug 10-15th (Ronald
Suki King, Lowder, Checkers 3.0, Hallett, Lafferty, Chinook, Laverty, Davis) Elbert
should have won. He had the tourney in the bag with only Ron King in the last round
with a game up and all he needed was a draw heat with Ron King in 8th Round. It was a
3 on 3 position, 2 singles and a king apiece. Elbert said, "agreed
draw, but Ron replied, " let’s
play." The Position was a draw. They proceeded and Ron slow moved Elbert
to death, causing him to step into a silly endgame trap. Elbert got really upset over
Ron’s method of play, slapped the checkers off the board, and threatened to quit checkers!
What a heart break for Elbert!”
Richard also commented that if Elbert had only referred the decision of the play
to the referee, then the ref would also have called it a
‘draw’. The game position at the time
was a draw and it was certainly an unfortunate way to end the game. No win is
worth bitter feelings and poor sportsmanship.
Back in paradise, Ron King defended his GAYP checkers title in a match against
the great British GM, Derek Oldbury, in Barbados. The final score was a draw of
five wins, five losses, and fourteen draws apiece. The game result of the draw
position allowed King to retain his title of World Checkers GAYP Champion.
Checkers and Ronald King
The next year, King was busy within the International checkers circuit as he
entered both the National GAYP Championship tournament in Danville, Virginia, and
the English Open Draughts Tournament. He placed second behind Elbert Lowder in the
GAYP competition but defeated his opponents once again in the English Open to
retain the Championship title.
Between 1994 and 2000, Suki King continued to trek back and forth between his
Caribbean homeland, the States, and Europe joining many checkers masters at the
checkerboard for numerous challenging games, each player testing skill against
skill, technique against technique, and checkers strategy against checkers
- In January 1994, Ronald Suki King challenged
World 3-Move Champion, Derek Oldbury, but
upon Oldbury’s death in July, Suki
played British Open Champion, William Edwards
from Wales, for the World 3-Move Match
Title, and succeeded in winning the match
with a score of 14-1-13.
- Later that year, he placed 6th behind Lafferty, Chinook, Tinsley, Bruch, and
Cooper in the 3-Move National Checkers Tournament in Garland, Texas.
- All-Irish Open Draughts (checkers) Championship winner in 1994.
- In 1995, King won the English Open Tournament yet again to retain his
title; in May Suki King officially challenged the Canadian computer program,
Chinook, to a match for the Man vs Machine World Championship Title, and the
match could possibly take place some time in 1997.
- He also played in the 1995 GAYP National Checkers Tournament in Gilbertville, Kentucky,
and placed second behind Champion Jim Morrison, just ahead of Elbert Lowder and Bajan compatriot,
Jack Francis; then King defended his GAYP Championship Title in August by defeating
challenger, Elbert Lowder, in a tournament match also held in Gilbertville, with a
final score of eight wins, two losses, and nine draws.
- Apart from his time at the checkerboard, Ron has distinguished himself in
other ways such as being the recipient of the Kiwanis Club National Award in
- In March 1996, challenger, Don Lafferty, traveled to Bridgetown, Barbados,
along with referees, Charles Walker and Jim Morrison, to play against the Bajan
GM in a 40-game match for the 3-Move World Championship Title, but the
competition ended with a draw of five wins, five losses, and thirty draws,
so Ron retained his checkers title.
- Later that year, he defended his World GAYP Title and defeated GM Jim
Morrison in a 24-game match by a score of two wins, no losses, and twenty-one
draws; this match was held at ICHF in Petal, Mississippi.
- At the 1996 U.S. and Southern Championships, the Chinook program finished
in first place by embarrassingly large margins, leaving the human world champion,
Ron King, far behind and defeating him three times; Chinook scored thirty points
against Ron’s twenty-two points; however, King was still awarded first
place (human) in the tournament ahead of Richard Hallett, Jim Morrison, and Jack
Francis, who ended in a 3-way tie for 2nd/3rd place.
- In 1997, Ron joined his Bajan checkers comrades, Jack Francis and Malcolm
Grimes, in the National GAYP tournament hosted in Greensboro, North Carolina,
but he couldn't quite pull off a win this time; Ron ranked 3rd in the
competition, though he tied with John Webster at 24 points but John beat Suki
in Honor Points by six; Jack Francis tied with GM Elbert Lowder for 3rd /4th place
with a score of 22 points and 176 Honor Points each.
- The Bajan GM also traveled to Great Britain in ’97 to participate in
the English Open Draughts tournament for the fourth time, and he played the
checkers just right at the checkerboard because he came away as English Champion
once again with a successful victory of the Championship.
- During this year, Ron also defended his World Championship 3-Move title
against a seasoned checkers player from Ireland, Pat McCarthy, but the Irishman
could not unseat the King from his throne and walked away with only the memories
of the checkers match as his reward.
- There was also a Man vs Machine exhibition
match held in Providence, Rhode Island
as part of the 14th National Conference
on Artificial Intelligence, and this competition
featured Ron ‘Suki’ King against
Chinook; they played a brief two-game
match wherein each game had a 30 minute
time limit for each side, and although
both sides played skilful checkers, both
games ended in a draw.
- In 1998, the same year that Alex Moiseyev defeated Elbert Lowder for World
Title, Ron King set a new Guinness World Record for simultaneous play at an
exhibition match in Houston, Texas, where he played 385 opponents at the same
time, and succeeded in winning every single game.
- U.S. 3-Move Champion, Richard Hallett, challenged the King to a match for
the U.S. GAYP World Title during 1998, but again Ron played a strong checkers
competition to retain his title.
- Another achievement in 1998 for the checkers Grandmaster was that he was also
honored at the Caricom Heads of Government meeting at St. Lucia as one of the top
twenty-five sports personalities from the Caribbean region as a result of his
successful endeavors on the checkers stage.
Unfortunately, the checkers King did not fare as well in the 1999 U.S. National GAYP
Championship match, held in Niagara Falls, New York as he had previously done in other
more recent tournaments, for Ronald Suki King was beaten by Alex Moiseyev, who placed
1st as Champion, Richard Hallett, Jack Francis, and Malcolm Grimes, who ended in a 3-way
tie for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places, and Elbert Lowder, who ranked fifth. Ron tied with John
Webster and Michael Barker also in a 3-way checkers tie with twenty points to
rank in sixth place in the competition.