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Checkers Champion James Ferrie

Checkers Champion
James Ferrie vs. Richard Jordan

(Richard Jordan won the world checkers champion title in this match.)

James Ferrie (1857-1929) was born in Greenock, Scotland to parents of Irish extraction. In James Ferrie's early years, he was apprenticed as a joiner with Messrs. Caird & Co, which was then a well-known firm of shipbuilders on the lower Clyde.

According to James Ferrie himself, his earliest acquaintance with checkers games was somewhere around his eighteenth year. Like many of his fellow Scotsman, he quickly developed an interest in the checkers game because it was a popular mind sport that was played in many community clubs, pubs, and social gatherings for entertainment or for prize money.

Ferrie, like the checkers masters of his time, spent a lot of time practicing and playing, all the while studying moves and analyzing checkers game strategies. By 1875, Ferrie was the champion of checkers in the Greenock Draughts Club. Champion James Ferrie then won the Glasgow Central Draughts Club handicap tournament, wherein he defeated many top players in various matches.

However, despite his finesse in the checkers game, James had a minor setback in 1883 in a match with W. Campbell of Glasgow. Champion Ferrie lost this match with no wins, one loss, and seven draws. The defeat did not discourage the checker master and in 1884 he met and defeated Beattie of Liverpool, the brilliant editor of the Liverpool Mercury, with a score of two wins, one loss, and three draws.

It was then that champion James Ferrie decided to spend some time in London and was again caught up in the checkers intrigue. Here he played against and defeated all comers and in fact, won the London Checkers Game Championship. He held this checker title for eighteen months, all the while beating everyone who played against him.

During this phase, champion Ferrie played and defeated G. Smith for a purse of £40. He also trounced well-known American Champion, J. P. Reed, in a short match, with champion James Ferrie winning with four games, one loss, and one draw. After his return to Greenock, James Ferrie won the Renfrewshire Checkers Game Cup, and then arranged to meet W. Campbell in another match. This time Ferrie was more successful in his games and won the match with three wins, no losses, and one draw. Later, in 1884, in the first International Scotland-England match, champion James Ferrie also performed very well with three wins, one loss, and thirteen draws.

A few years later, Ferrie met William Bryden of Glasgow in May 1891 for the checkers championship of Scotland. James Ferrie won the match with six wins, two losses, and nineteen draws. He collected the purse of £100 as well.

At the time of this win, Ferrie was also Lanarkshire checker Champion, a title he had acquired in a strongly contested tournament. For this reason, James very generously resigned his rights to the Scottish title to promote the first Scottish Draughts Championship Tournament of 1893. However, champion James Ferrie suffered defeat in this checkers game tournament at the hands of Robert Stewart and afterwards seemed to have second thoughts about relinquishing the title so he issued a challenge to anyone in Scotland for a match to reclaim the Scottish checkers title with a purse of £50 for thirty games, but unfortunately, there was no interest in this at all.

The greatest achievement in the checker career of James Ferrie came in 1894 during a match that took place in Glasgow when he claimed the checkers game World Championship and a purse of £200 by defeating James Wyllie in a phenomenal match of ninety games, wherein champion Ferrie won thirteen games, lost six, and drew 69. Two years later, Ferrie lost the checker championship title in a match again held in Glasgow to the great checker master, Richard Jordan, in a close match 3-4-33. The photograph shown above was taken at this match with Jordan sitting on the left and Ferrie seated on the right.

After Greenock, Ferrie resided in Coatdyke near Coatbridge for a short period, but spent most of his life in Glasgow, as a businessman. James Ferrie lived a long life for that era, and at the ripe age of seventy was still playing top class checkers games at the Second International Match against the USA in 1927. Ferrie also played top board for the Govanhill Liberals Draughts Club, which also included checker masters like W. Bryden, J. Moir, J. Seabright, and T. Ballentyne.

James Ferrie spent his declining years at 203 Onslow Drive, Dennistoun, Glasgow and died in his home on the December 17, 1929 aged 72. He was buried without tombstone in St. Peters cemetery in Dalbeth, Glasgow. The cemetery overlooks the River Clyde and the community in which checkers game champion James Ferrie was born.

Ferrie also leaves behind a checker legacy. He played in two checkers World Title matches, and was World champion from 1894-1896, winning the title from the great checker master and champion, James Wyllie. Although Ferrie lost the title two years later to Richard Jordan in 1896, he was not easily vanquished nor defeated emotionally and continued to play checkers against many formidable opponents. James Ferrie played on the British Team against the U.S. in the first Internal games in 1905 and also in the second IM games in 1927.

James Ferrie was without doubt a player of phenomenal ability, a skill he continued to use to the very highest standard until his death. He was considered a retiring and unassuming man, reserved in manners, but one who was a pleasant conversationalist when engaged in social affairs. In play James Ferrie appeared nervous, making his moves rapidly, but seldom did his game suffer by this style of play.








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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