Checkers Games
Winners Chest Winners Chest  CHECKERS CHEST 


Custom Search

Checkers Chest Logo

Contact

Weekly Letter


Current Checkers Tournaments in the USA.


Games
Checkers Online
Play Chess Online
Two Players
Christmas
Chest Games
Checkers Strategy
How to Win
Play Checkers
First Move
For Kids
Pool Checkers
Chinese Checkers
Federations
Photo Album
Players
Ron King
Asa Long
Wiersma
Tinsley
Sijbrands

Champion Bill Edwards
at the British Open

Checkers Champion from 1915 to 1998.

Looking across the Atlantic to the distant shores of South Wales brings to mind another great British draughts/checkers player by the name of William Edwards. This Welsh gamer was born January 28, 1915, in Penrhiwceiber, which was a small coal mining village in South Wales.

William Edwards was soon nicknamed ‘Bill’, and as was the case of a number of the checker greats in history, Bill Edwards was introduced to the game of checkers by his father, John. Bill Edwards was initially encouraged by his father to learn the rudimentary elements of checkers by offering the boy a penny for every simple problem he could solve. So by the age of twelve, Bill began to develop his checkerboard skills in a very positive and lucrative checkers game environment. It didn't take Bill Edwards very long to accumulate a nice little stash of pennies as he continued to work through elementary checkers game situations and developed a solid interest in game fundamentals that would gradually improve his playing strength in the checkers game.

Three years later, John Edwards introduced the teenager to other checkers players at a local checker club, and here Bill met numerous different gamers who had acquired an expert or masters level within the checkers milieu. One such checkerist was William Morgan, a talented cross board checker game player. Morgan was willing to take the precocious youngster under his wing for several years.

Bill Edwards early checkers career certainly gave evidence to the great tutelage of William Morgan as one of Bill’s first major rewards was to win the Glamorgan Open Championship in 1934, at the age of just nineteen. This feat was a tremendous achievement for the lad because he did not score a single loss in any game in a tournament, which had attracted some of the top Welsh players of that period.
Unfortunately, Fate stepped into the mix a few weeks later this impressive checker performance as Bill Edwards was involved in a serious coal-mining accident that crushed his left foot and necessitated that he spend several months in the hospital. This unexpected medical sojourn removed Bill Edwards from the checker playing scene for the next three years.

Undoubtedly, he spent time during his hiatus continuing to develop and hone his game skills in checkers until he finally decided that it was time to get back into the checker circle, and so he entered his first Welsh British Open Checkers Championship, but had only a month to prepare for the tournament. Still, the young checkerist managed to win this prestigious event ahead of such renowned checker masters as Graham Davies, who was later to become the British Open Champion, and Alf Huggins, who was also later to win the British Open Championship and become the World Correspondence Champion. He also defeated Ivor Edwards, who was no relation to Bill Edwards, and Ernie Rees, all of whom were players of grandmaster strength.

Bill Edwards pursued the checkers game with a passion and gained several major victories in the mind sport, but then there was another period of checker inactivity at the national level when Bill joined the service and spent six years in another kind of strategy game.

After his discharge, Edwards was back in the checkers arena again. With little preparation for the game, he entered the English Open Championship in 1948. It was at this tourney that Bill met and befriended the legendary checker grand-master, Derek Oldbury.

Bill Edwards had maintained his checkerboard techniques and did well in the tournament, for it was only in the final match of the competition that Bill Edwards was defeated by an extremely strong cross board player, Percy Crabbe. However, there were also unusual circumstances to be considered at this point in the championship, and Bill Edwards may have had a better chance had the timekeeper not been incompetent. He announced that Bill Edwards had to make eighteen moves in the remaining two minutes when, in reality, he had only to make two moves in the time allotment! So, of course, this placed a lot of unnecessary pressure upon the checker champion and while attempting to play the required number of moves in such a short time caused Edwards to make an error in his checker game. This blunder proved fatal for Bill as Crabbe capitalized upon it and subsequently won the match.

Bill Edwards

Between 1953 and 1955, Bill Edwards challenged checker masters in their games, and succeeded in winning three more Welsh Championships. At this point, however, champion Bill Edwards decided that it was time to permanently retire from the checkers game and he withdrew from the checker arena to get married.

After this time, champion Edwards spent time raising a family and concentrating on other interests. However, some sixteen years after his last checker victory, Bill’s interest in checkers was rekindled by his son, Lindus. The following is a brief account of that moment in time by Lindus:

During the winter of 1971, I discovered some old documents in the attic, which revealed the illustrious checker playing career of my father, which, hitherto, he had only briefly talked about. Intrigued by his past, I asked whether his interest might be rekindled to the extent of playing in another tournament, at which point he seemed dubious. Within a day or so, I bought a checkerboard and pieces, as I was desirous of seeing how skillful he was! To my astonishment, I was shown an entirely different game to the one I knew as a small child and wanted, quite naturally, to learn more. Having a checkerboard and pieces before him for the first time in sixteen years must have served as the catalyst in his comeback, for it was only a few days later that my father and I visited Cardiff YMCA ~ the scene of many Welsh Championships ~ in pursuit of meeting the players whose skills had graced that wonderful Victorian building.

After an hour's wait, two gentlemen in their late eighties walked into the room. My father strode up to them and extended his hand as if the many years, which separated their last meeting meant nothing. “Bill Edwards!” exclaimed the older of the two. “And you are my old friends Steve James and Stan Bassett,” replied my father. I looked on stupefied and said, “Now I see why checker players have to have such great memories!”

It didn't take long for the checkers bug to touch Bill Edwards’ heart and soul again, and within a few months of that memorable meeting with old friends in a very familiar checkers environment, he began to study anew checkers literature such as the Ryan/Wiswell book, ‘World Championship Checkers’, as well as numerous others that contained as many of the games of his idol, Marion Tinsley, as possible.
With the checkers spirit and desire strong again, Bill Edwards decided to enter the British Open Championship in North Wales in May of 1971. As chance would have it, another checker master from South Wales, Graham Davies, was also making a comeback to the checker arena after an almost equally long period.

The tournament produced eleven grueling checkers sessions and countless checker games. After twenty-two games, Graham Davies emerged the winner of the match with a score of fifteen wins and no losses. This record was just slightly ahead of Bill Edwards, who scored twelve wins and no losses. This was indeed a remarkable achievement for two ‘retired’ checker masters in their comeback performance.
During the course of the next year, Bill Edwards at the British Open studied and became familiar with the new style of 3 Move Restriction checkers and now armed with a solid knowledge of the 3 Move play, Bill entered the Scottish Open Championship in 1972. It was apparent that despite all those years of checkers inactivity, Edwards had not forgotten game board strategies. Bill won the championship match, taking first place ahead of checker masters John McGill, Tom Watson, James Marshall, and Jimmy Grant.

Bill Edwards had indeed made an amazing comeback into the championship world of checkers, and his golden years at the checkerboard were between 1979 and 1987, which was a time period wherein he won five consecutive English Open Championships as well as several major freestyle tournaments. His mind was keen, his eyes were alert, and his fingers were nimble as they moved the checker pieces from one winning position to another. These results certainly indicate that this checker champion Bill Edwards could easily absorb new plays and techniques in a style that he has never played before and master them with a finesse that led to checker success.

Bill Edwards winner of the Irish Open

Bill Edwards Winner of the 1987 Irish Open

Edwards also entered in the 1987 Irish Open Checker Championship, and once again displayed his checkers prowess by winning that tournament as well.

In 1989, Bill Edwards played as a member on the British checkers team in the 5th International Match between the United States and Great Britain. Bill’s record of successful checkers games for the tournament was seven wins out of the eleven that were scored by the entire U.K. & Ireland team. These checker game statistics truly indicate the strength of skill that Bill Edwards had acquired and the quality player he had developed into during his checkers career. Only four wins were scored by the other nine British team members in a total of one hundred and eighty games played in the tournament. In this competition, champion Bill Edwards scored two draws with master checkerist, Asa Long, and defeated Paul Davies. This period in Edwards’ checker career clearly indicated his game was at a time when he was almost at the peak of his ability.

In 1994, at the age of 79, Bill Edwards traveled to Scotland to play in the Centenary Scottish Open Championship, and once again, his checker prowess succeeded in giving him another tournament win. His success in this event actually persuaded Bill to continue playing checkers in spite of his declining health and in 1995, at the tender age of eighty, he won the British Open Championship without any game losses. In this championship round of checkers, champion Edwards defeated Pat McCarthy, Tom Watson, and several other notable grandmasters.

Levy 1997 English open Championship
1997 English Open Championship

In the winter of his life, champion Bill Edwards was racking up win after win on the checkerboard, and following his astonishing success in the British Open tournament match, he decided to issue a challenge for 3 Move championship title of the world.
In rapidly deteriorating health at the age of eighty-one, Edwards journeyed unaccompanied to Ireland in an ill advised attempt to capture the checkers championship title from Ron ‘Suki’ King of Barbados. Unfortunately, Bill Edwards had been provided with an inadequately heated room in a sub-standard hotel, in comparison to the more luxurious comfort of a five-star hotel across the road that Ron King enjoyed, did nothing to enhance Bill’s chances of winning the match; in fact, the stay took an appalling toll on his health. Fortunately, the kind manager of King’s hotel, seeing Edwards’ deterioration in health, took pity upon the octogenarian and insisted that Bill stay at his hotel free of charge.

Checkers game champion Bill Edwards should never have made the trip to Ireland, and now his thoughts were more of returning home as quickly as possible. As a result, the checker master, who had won almost thirty major championships throughout his great checkers game career, not surprisingly played the poorest checker games of his life.

At this point in his life, checkers was still a dominant force for Bill Edwards, and still, with only a short time to live because of his chronically poor health and suffering great pain, Bill attempted to win the Droitwich Open. This open tournament was a twelve round freestyle checker event that took place over a weekend, but Bill Edwards was forced to withdraw after only a few sessions; however, not before winning his last game with a magnificent touch so typical of his wonderful cross board ability.

Bill Edwards did not survive long after that checkers game tournament, but still lives in the memories and hearts of those who knew him well. Lindus writes further in his account on his father:

As a player my father was blessed with a phenomenal memory, often memorizing dozens of games daily and retaining them for use in tournaments years later! It was not by memory alone however that he was able to defeat the finest players of Great Britain and Ireland over almost thirty years. His cross board skills were of the highest order, often visualizing twenty-five moves in the most complicated positions. I tested this ability on countless occasions, often presenting him with the most convoluted positions imaginable. The outcome was always the same.

After a couple of minutes he would say, “Yes, I can see it now. The piece on square twenty-seven will be lost in twenty-four moves!”

As a person, checkers champion Bill Edwards was liked instantly by all who met him. He exuded a calm at the checkerboard such as I have never seen and was a quality which undoubtedly assisted him to win a unique number of major tournaments. Moving a piece on a checkerboard was something he did with an elegant style and was sheer poetry in motion to behold. Always modest in success and congratulatory to the few who beat him, Bill will be remembered not only as the greatest Welsh player to date, but as a person with a big heart who loved everyone.

William “Bill” Edwards died peacefully at Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, during the early hours of Thursday the 23rd July 1998, aged eighty-four years. Only hours before his passing, he asked me how the British Open Championship was progressing, an indisputable testimony to his deep love of checkers.

Pat McCarthy was to later write to me saying, “Your father’s play had a touch of genius about it.” Coming from a player my father regarded as a phenomenal cross board player, this was a fine eulogy indeed.








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.

Checkers Chest Logo Checkers Chest Home | Contact Customer Service | Privacy Statement
FAQ | Copyrights | Terms of Service | About Us
Checkers Chest DeerLake Designs L L C