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
Festival des Jeux
Checkers Game Championships
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
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
- 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
- Trainer/coach of DV Heijting Huissen,
including youth within this checkers
“I play a lot smarter now than 30 years
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.
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.
Currently, Alexander Baljakin ranks 6th in
the world with a GMI
- 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
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
(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
Where will the Checkers road take
the Dutch next? Perhaps back to
des Jeux and Checkers.
Where will the Checkers road take the
Belarussian next? Perhaps to another
checkers game match at des Jeux Checkers.