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Checkers Champion Alexander Baljakin

Checker Champion Alexander Baljakin on Game Day
Alexander Baljakin
Game Day
Alexander Baljakin Champion
Alexander Baljakin Champion

Alexander Baljakin Checker Board
Alexander Baljakin Checker Board

Alexander Baljakin Champion Player
Alexander Baljakin
Champion Player
In the International checkers arena of the 21st century, there are many notable Masters and Grandmasters of the checkerboard. For generations, the Netherlands and Russia have been competing against one another at the European and World Cup match competitions; more so than any other country.

Champion Alexander Baljakin is an experienced checkers Grandmaster, who was born in Arkhangelsk, Russia, on April 8, 1961. His checkers career, like many other checkerists, began at a relatively early age as he was introduced to the depth of the great mind sport and all its hidden secrets. Alexander Baljakin grew up in the northern town in the Soviet Union with only his mother as family. He had no siblings to enjoy and has commented that he never knew his father. He played street hockey with friends and enjoyed the deep snow and winter activities as well.

Alex first sat at the checkerboard and began to play checkers around the age of five, and then later, through a friend, he was introduced to more serious game play at a checkers club for youth. He was not the greatest player at first, but had the right mentality for the game. By the age of thirteen, Alex had acquired sufficient skill at the checkerboard to become champion of his region in the senior division. Then he began playing checkers more seriously as a member of the Soviet Union’s Youth checkers team.

He traveled to other republics within the Soviet Union to play in numerous tournaments and because of the great distances involved, he was often away from home for weeks at a time. School was not considered of great import, as this time in Russia the focus was all on sport. Achievement within the element of sport, even mind sport, was what held great significance, so no real effort was made in his early formal education. However, Alex received plenty of opportunity to develop both his checkers techniques as well as basic life skills that he would need later. As a result of his checkers training, Baljakin won the World Youth Championship in 1980 to become the Junior World Champion.

In this international match in Sneek, Netherlands, Alex met Rob Clerc, a coach with the Huissen checkers club. This meeting made an impact on Baljakin, who made another visit to the Netherlands a while later. After his initial achievement at the Youth Championship tournament, Baljakin continued to successfully defeat his various checkers opponents at the Soviet national championships in Kiev to become the Russian National champion in 1982.

Then in 1983, at the age of twenty-two, Baljakin faced Grandmaster checkerists Harm Wiersma, Anatoli Gantwarg and Vadim Virni in the Volmac Achtkamp to determine the playoff position in the World Championship match against defending checkers World Champion, Jannes van der Wal. Harm Wiersma won first place with the right to challenge van der Wal, followed by Virni, Gantwarg, and Baljakin. Champion Alexander Baljakin's game was maturing and he began making great strides towards the checkers role of Grandmaster.

Volmac Achtkamp 1983
Volmac Achtkamp
4th place
Archangelsk 1984
3rd place
Volmac Zeskamp 1985
Place Gold Medal

In 1984, Alexander Baljakin again participated in the Russian checkers championship in Arkhangelsk and won 3rd place and the Bronze Medal in the match. A year later in 1985, Alex won the Gold Medal in a checkers competition at the Summer Olympiad, as well as first place and the Gold Medal in the Volmac ‘Zeskamp’. After this success at the checkerboard, Alexander contested the World Championship match at Groningen, Netherlands, in 1986 and finished second with 26 points, just behind Champion Alexander Dibman of the Soviet Union. This was a major checkers accomplishment for the young Russian champion player.

Chekcers Champion Alex Baljakin

Alex Baljakin vs Jose Leandros, Brazil
World Championship

In the same year, Alexander Baljakin also placed second in the Russian Championships and received the Silver Medal during this national tournament. Around this time, Alex Baljakin then moved to Minsk and spent some time with checkers Grandmaster, Anatoli Gantwarg.
With the Soviet Union in transition at this point, champion Alexander Baljakin began to focus seriously on a career in the mind sport. Baljakin later became a citizen of Belarus once the regime of the Soviet Union began to crumble. From 1986 on for the next six consecutive years, Baljakin played checkers in the National Belarussian tournaments and successfully won first place and the Gold medal each year.

Champion Alexander Baljakin

While residing in Belarus, Alex also participated in the World Team Championship competition in 1987 representing Russia and yet again was successful in a first place win. Then in 1988, Baljakin participated in the Soviet Union championships once more and won the Gold medal by placing first in a tie with Alexei Tsjizjov in this checkers competition. That same year, he also journeyed to Paramaribo, Suriname, to contest in the World Checkers Championship against many notable masters from around the globe. In this world tournament, Alex faced familiar faces as opponents across the checkerboard. Though Baljakin displayed his skill and expertise in the checkers game, he was not able to place ahead of Alexei Tsjizjov, Anatoli Gantwarg or Ton Sijbrands. Alexei won the World Championship and title as World Champion with 30 points, whereas Anatoli and Ton tied for 2nd place with a total of 27 points each and Baljakin and Valneris tied for 3rd with a total of 25 points and won the bronze medal in this match, despite the fact that Guntis scored a final result of 7-1-11, while Baljakin’s final score was 6-0-13.

The following year, in 1989, Baljakin decided to enter the Russian checkers arena again in the National checkers tournament held in Kiev. Alex Baljakin and Alexei Tsjizjov both finished in first place and tied for the Gold medal in this championship match. Over the next few years, they would continue to face off across the checkerboard numerous times in the World Championship and other tournaments. At this point, however, his interest in the Dutch checkers clubs had not waned and in that year, Alex decided that he wanted to play as a professional ‘dammer’ or checkers master for the D.V. Heiting Huissen Checkers Club in the Netherlands and subsequently made a move to become a member of the club.

The next significant tournament in the International checkers circuit was the World Championship competition in Toulon, France, in 1992. The same roster of master checkers players were on the scene as opponents across the checkerboards yet again. By now, the challenge was becoming more intense because these Grandmaster players had been faced with numerous opportunities to learn much about each other’s checkers games, strategies and cross board techniques. The winner of the World Championship that year was Alexei Tsjizjov with a final score of 37 points, while Rob Clerc, Alex Baljakin and Harm Wiersma tied for 2nd place with 31 points. In this tournament, each of these checkerists held the same record of 9 wins, 1 loss and 13 draws. Ton Sijbrands came right behind this group with 8 wins and 15 draws.

Baljakin continued to hone his checkers skills by participating in various different tournaments and championship matches over the next few years. As there were numerous strong checkers clubs throughout the Netherlands, a competition based on class for the club members was played to determine the best player in Holland.

In the top class or ‘Ereklasse’, twelve teams representing the checkers clubs across the Netherlands came together and played off for the coveted title of ‘best Dutch checkers player’. In June 1993, Alexander Baljakin was one of the players from his club, D.V. Heijting Huissen, on the scene playing a strong checkers game against other Dutch masters of the checkerboard in a dual with other checkers clubs to see who would become the champion player. Alex succeeded in defeating his opponents to win the title of the best player and Dutch champion of the Huissen checkers club. Checkers Champion Alex Baljakin won the Dutch best player title in 1998 and 2004 as well.

In these tournament matches, champion champion Alexander Baljakin played against such notable masters as Harm Wiersma, Ton Sijbrands, Guntis Valneris, Alexei Tsjizjov, Alexander Schwarzman, Kees Thijssen, Rob Clerc, Bassirou Ba, Leopold Sekongo, Jean-Marc Ndjofang, N’Diaga Samb, Vadim Virny, Hans Jansen, Anatoli Gantwarg, Alexander Getmanski, and a host of other checkerists who regularly show up in the checkers circuit as strong opposition across the checkerboard.

Alex Baljakin contemplating Checkers

Alex Baljakin contemplating his next checkers move in the Maars Tournament Harderwijk.

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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