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21st International
Festival des Jeux
Checkers Game Championships

In February, Alex joined Guntis Valneris and Jean-Marc Ndjofang in Cannes for the 21st International Festival des Jeux and Checkers Game Championships. Jean-Marc finished the des Jeux checkers tournament in first place with 15 points and 95 Honor Points, while Guntis placed 2nd with 15 points and 92 Honor Points. Baljakin followed very closely to rank 3rd with 14 points and 91 Honor Points. Guntis and Alex have appeared to play checkers game tag for several years at the checkers winners’ circle. The international festival des Jeux and checkers championships games will be played for years to come.

Alex Baljakin vs Thomy Lucien Mbongo Picture

des Jeux and Checkers

Alex Baljakin vs Thomy Lucien Mbongo.
Jean-Marc Ndjofang vs Guntis Valneris beside Alex.

A 2nd and 3rd place win so early in 2008 checkers game competition has opened the door to other golden opportunities in the International checkers arena for the Grandmaster.

Aside from having played hundreds of games across the checkerboard and facing a variety of checker styles and skills, Alex Baljakin has also put serious effort into writing numerous articles on the mind sport as well as five books on the topic of checkers, where Alex was co-author with Harm Wiersma in three literary works in Dutch. He also co-authored a checkers source in English with Anatoli Gantwarg as well as wrote one on his own in Dutch.
  • 1992 ~ De national top training 1992
    (The National Top Training) ~ Baljakin/Wiersma in Dutch

  • 1993 ~ De nationale top training 1993
    (The National Top Training) ~ Baljakin/Wiersma in Dutch
  • 1994 ~ De national top training 1994/95
    Baljakin/Wiersma in Dutch

  • 1995 ~ Twelve Systems
    Alex Baljakin/Anatoli Gantwarg in English

  • 1997 ~ Schwarzmanie
    A book about World Champion Checkers Game Alexander Schwarzman
    by Alexander Baljakin in Dutch

Since settling in the Netherlands, Baljakin has been involved with coaching and training at the club level and has worked with many different students at both the novice and intermediate levels. However, Alex has also performed as a trainer, coach and secondant in the International checkers game arena for professional checkerists.
  • Coach/secondant of Anatoli Gantwarg in the World Championship Checkers Game matches:
    • 1985, vs Rob Clerc.
    • 1987, vs Alexander Dibman.
    • 1989, vs Ton Sijbrands as challenger to World checkers title.
    • Assistant coach to Harm Wiersma with the national top training of 1992 & 1995.
    • Training with Jeroen van den Akker, Sven Winkel, Marino Barkel, Alexander Mathijssen, J. Kloosterziel, J. Lemmen, J. Verplak, J. Groeneveld and many other checkerists.
    • Trainer/coach of DV Heijting Huissen, including youth within this checkers club association.

play a lot smarter now

“I play a lot smarter now than 30 years ago.”

Alex Baljakin has certainly established himself as one of Netherlands’s strong Grandmasters in the field of checkers games. Once asked which sport was harder to play ~ checkers or chess ~ Alex responded that neither mind sport was better or harder, but that they were simply different board games, each with its own inherent rules, tactics and strategies.

In checkers games, Baljakin is clear on one premise ~ the checkers player must visualize the checkerboard and make sure to always look ahead at least ten to twenty moves. Of his own game, Alex states that as he gets older, he doesn't think or analyze the checkers game as quickly, but his understanding of the mind sport and intricacies within the game at the checkerboard has definitely increased greatly, as has the depth of his own game play in checkers.

Alex has admitted that sometimes there are checker games he has played where his play across the checkerboard was not the best, yet he was still able to outplay his opponent by using the skills and techniques that he teaches the youth and novice club players. Like most Grandmasters of checkers, Baljakin has devised his own system of play across the checkerboard. This defensive style of play works better against some opponents than others, but now his knowledge of the different game personalities and also individual approaches to the checkers game has helped Baljakin tremendously over the years to gage his own level of play and board tactics.

What is the Essence of ‘Dams’ or Checkers?

  • Combinations favored by the checker player and expertly developed, “as I hammer into the youth that I train”.

  • A drive, another drive and then the checkerist can attack with the capture of these set up checkers pieces.

  • We set up positions on the checkerboard and then try to find the best continuation of the checker game play.

“No theoretical propositions, but working from practice, from knowledge of the board."

Do you have to be intellectually smart to play Checkers?

  • Good or bad has nothing to do with intelligence, but memory is important and also one’s mentality towards the checkers game.

  • Ton Sijbrands, in terms of memory and checker game construction, is probably the best in the world, but that does not mean that he wins any games because of these traits and precisely because he sees so many moves, he may not always settle for the advantage.

  • Sometimes you have to dare to take risks and that is not how Sijbrands plays.

  • At the club I have a boy whose checker game is strategic and analytical but he lacks the drive or desire to win, and he won’t continue to develop that way.

What is your style of Checkers play?

Generally speaking in sport terms you could say that I play a defensive checker game with cautious maneuvers and then strike against the opponent if an opportunity arises.
  • Routine is also an important part of my play. If you have already played for so long, there are often positions on the board that are comparable to those in previous games, then I frequently choose a standard move; that is, standard for my way of playing.

  • Sometimes I also make an uncommon or innovative move to see how it impacts on the checker game, but frankly, I usually regret it.
Currently, Alexander Baljakin ranks 6th in the world with a GMI
Grandmaster title and a rating of 2409 according to the FMJD statistics.
Just ahead of the Dutch~ Belarussian are the following familiar opponents at the checkerboard:
(5) Alexei Tsjizjov, Russia, GMI 2414

(4) Mark Podolskij, Germany, GMI 2421

(3) Alexander Schwarzman, Russia, GMI 2426

(2) Alexander Georgiev, Russia, GMI 2435

(1) Ton Sijbrands, Netherlands, GMI 2469
will the Checkers road take the Dutch
Where will the Checkers road take the Dutch next? Perhaps back to des Jeux and Checkers.
Checkers road Belarussian to des Jeux Checkers
Where will the Checkers road take the Belarussian next? Perhaps to another checkers game match at des Jeux Checkers.

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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