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Checkers Game Women
Joan Caws

Women Can Play Checkers Games Too!
Families have enjoyed the game of checkers and draughts throughout the ages, but it was more the men who developed long term interests in the mind sport, and it was not until the latter part of the 20th century that the FMJD actually acknowledged the contribution checkers game women players.

Since the 19th century, women have become more involved in the play at the checkerboard and have grown in stature through a development of game skills and techniques. The FMJD gradually widened its scope of checkers/draughts activities and finally introduced championships for checkers game women players in 1973 and for younger girls in 1989. The hosting of a separate World Women’s Checkers Game Championship in recent decades has certainly become a statement of the presence of women within the mind sport today.

Since there also exist two distinct forms of checkers and draughts by way of the 64-square checkerboard and the International 100 square game board, there are championship tournaments for both factions in the sport. Players in the checkers game primarily originate from the US and Great Britain, whereas the International draughts/checkers players come mainly from the European and Pan-American federations.

Many famous checkers game women players like Joan Caws have left their mark on the history of draughts, but little is actually known about their role on the checkers stage. Laird and Lady Cather of Cambusnethan, Scotland, were patrons of the game towards the end of the 18th century and their fondness for the opening sequence 11-15, 22-17, 8-11, 23-19, 9-13, 17-14 gave this position its name, the “Laird & Lady”. Another opening formation of 11-15, 22-17, 8-11, 17-13, 15-18, derived its name as the “Maid Of the Mill,” from a miller’s daughter who was extremely adept at playing this checkers game opening and enjoyed the sequence it allowed her to follow.

Towards the latter part of the 19th century, checkers game women who were expert players of checkers and English draughts began to appear in the earliest publications on the game. The following women made contributions to checkers in its early history:
  • Miss Barton in Tonar’s Draughts Board, England 1869.

  • Checkers problems by Annie Lyons in Draughts World, Scotland 1897.

  • A problem study and excellent skilled solution by Ms Donnan of Rostrevor, County Down, Ireland appeared in the publication of Gould’s Book of Problems, Critical Positions and Games of 1894.

  • Stearn’s Book of Portraits of 1895 listed Mrs. O’Kay as the finest lady checkers game player in the United States.

  • In New Zealand and Australia, checkers women were also accomplishing feats in the checkers realm by defeating male opponents in 1894 during a team match.

  • D. A. Brodie, NZ Champion, lost a game to Jessie Hannah while entertained by Otautau female players.
Of course, there were undoubtedly numerous other situations where skilled female checkers players defeated their male opponents across the checkerboard, but these accounts were simply never recorded other than in the family journals and diaries. Checkers women have enjoyed the challenge of a good cross board checkers game and English draughts for a long time, but not as many have had the interest in actually the mind sport, though they've enjoyed being spectators.

Early in the 20th century during the 1920’s, Mrs. Lucy Smith of Salt Lake City was recognized as the American Women’s Champion after she won a 10 game match against Junius Smith with a final score of one win, no losses and nine draws.

Then a decade later in the 1930’s, Miss Mervina Rae of Waynesboro, North Carolina won the Women’s World Checkers Title. Gertrude Huntley from Minnesota held the checkers title from 1939 onwards. She became the first woman player to enter an American National Championship when she played at Paxton in 1950. During the same year, Mrs. Curran Gadsden, Southend Pier Draughts Club in Essex, won a game against English Champion Checkers Player, Samuel Cohen.

Early in the 1980’s, female checkers players in Britain displayed their game techniques in a series of matches. Prominent players at the checkerboard were Joan Caws from the Isle of Wight, Sally Jones from Wales, Scottish native Ita Napier, Brenda Davis and Anita Dore from Ireland. Soon the idea of a separate and distinct Women’s World Championship in checkers was formed, so that these female checkerists could challenge opponents of equal caliber and thus have an opportunity to develop their own board skills.

In partnership with the American Checker Federation, the British Draughts Federation, which was in part both the English Draughts Association and the Northwest Draughts Federation, endorsed the idea. Together the checkers federations organized the first Women’s World Championship Checkers Games tournament in 1986, which was held in Aberdeen, Scotland. Checkers game women Joan Caws from the Isle of Wight played against several checkers opponents in a series of games and won the championship competition without losing a single game and became the first official Women’s World Champion in checkers and English draughts.

Caws first World Championship checkers game title challenge was made by American women checkers player, Faye Clardy, in 1987, but Joan successfully defended the title in the match with a score of six wins, five losses and eight draws. Then in 1989, Joan Caws once again defended her World checkers title against Patricia Breen of Carlow, the newly crowned 13 year old Irish Women’s Champion.

The stage of this checkers challenge produced one of the games’ greatest matches and ended in a tie score of 6-6-8, with the World Champion having to return from five wins down to retain her title by virtue of being undefeated.

In 1993, Joan Caws and Patricia Breen played in a checkers World title rematch that took place at Weston-Super-Mare, England. This time, Patricia won the coveted women's checkers game title in a very convincing fashion by the score of 8-1-5. The young checkers champion displayed her keen sense of the game and checkerboard technical skill during this match against a seasoned and experienced checkers master.

However, Joan Caws continued to play her particular style of checkers games in various local and national checker competitions, and was rated as an Intermediate ‘A’ player in Great Britain. In 1998, Joan Caws was the first woman to be selected for the English draughts/checkers team.

In 2002, she played in the Sam Cohen Memorial checkers championship in Birmingham and tied for 5th place with Angelo Goss. The following year, Joan won 1st place in the Intermediate division in the Scottish Open 3-Move Championship in Stonehaven, Scotland.

Joan Caws and Patricia Breen were the only female checkers players to be part of the Britain-Ireland team to play against the US team in the 8th International Match for the checkers World Championship in 2005, which was hosted by Las Vegas, Nevada. Though both teams played strong games, the U.S. team defeated the British team in the final score.

Great Britain ~ Ireland International Checkers Team with Joan Caws

Great Britain ~ Ireland International Checkers Team 2005
with Joan Caws (back row) & Patricia Breen (front row).

Joan Caws vs Clayton Nash

Joan Caws vs Clayton Nash

In 2007, Joan participated in the Intermediate “A” division of the All-Ireland Championship tournament held in Buncrana, County Donegal and placed 4th with 20 points. She was also the only female checkers participant in the 2nd Danish Open checkers game tournament held in Copenhagen and she finished with 9 points.

When not facing opponents over the checkerboard, Joan Caws also plays scrabble and placed 3rd in the 4th Mind Sports Olympiad. Also, Joan carries the responsibility of treasurer for the English Draughts Association, while her husband, Ian, holds the position of Chairman. Joan Caws has certainly become an inspiration for many novice female players in the women's checkers game arena in the British Isles.








Checkers Game Women Joan Caws Women Checkers Player Patricia Breen
Checkers Player Jan Mortimer Checkers Player Terry Thomas

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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