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Champion Clarence Freeman
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Clarence Freeman

Although the sport of checkers was in its infancy in the US during the 19th century, prominent checker game players quickly emerged with skill and an equal love of the game that patrons of checkers exhibited in Britain.

Clarence Herbert Freeman was a full-blooded Pequot Indian, who was born in Plainfield, Connecticut. As many other checker players and masters, Clarence Freeman developed an interest in checkers as a young boy and learned to play the game in a most unique way. Instead of using standard checker pieces of red and black, he used yellow and white pieces of maize or corn as his checker men. Freeman, too, would spend hours practicing checkers game moves and techniques until such a time that he had acquired skill to face real checkers opponents, both in America and from across the Atlantic.

Champion Clarence Freeman

Clarence Freeman played against various local New England opponents of talent and other great checkers game players of this era, and then he was offered the chance of a lifetime when he was matched against the checkers World Champion, James Wyllie, on one of Wyllie’s American tours. A friendly match consisting of twenty games was arranged to be played between the Champion and Freeman at Providence, Rhode Island, in 1884. To the amazement of many checkers enthusiasts, Clarence Freeman won the match with four wins against Wyllie’s one win, and 15 draws. The match clearly established Freeman as World Class champion checker player.

Around this time, there was a team match between New York and Providence. Champion Freeman played with the Providence checkers team and beat his opponent, Dr. August Schaefer, with one win, no losses, and three draws. Champion Clarence Freeman's game was gaining strength and Freeman now thought that this was a good time to challenge the current American Champion, Charles Francis Barker for his American Championship title. The match was organized between Freeman and Barker with a winning purse of $400.00. In 1885, exactly a year after his defeat of World Champion, James Wyllie, C. H. Freeman also defeated C. F. Barker in a display of skill and took the American Championship title by the score of six wins, three losses and sixty-nine draws.

The result of champion Clarence Freeman’s successes gave him a new name as well as his titles in checkers. Champion Freeman became the "champion beater" and "peerless player of Providence". However, the championship title changed hands again soon afterwards when champion Clarence Freeman played against A. J. Heffner. In a restricted match with a purse of $200.00 and the checker game Championship title of America. Freeman faced Barker at Providence, Rhode Island on May 25, 1885. A. J. Heffner succeeded in defeating the current checker champion, Clarence Freeman, by the score of four wins, three losses and thirty-seven draws.

Shortly thereafter, C.F. Barker challenged the checker champion, Heffner, for the championship title, and their match was played in Providence in 1886. The result was a win for Barker with two wins against Heffner’s one win and forty-seven draws.
Four years later, in 1890, Freeman challenged C. F. Barker for the American Checker Championship and a purse for $500.00. Clarence Freeman beat Charles Barker again by the score of two wins to one and 27 draws. The twist in these series of matches was that Barker seemingly would beat Heffner, and then Heffner, in turn, would beat Freeman; then Freeman would play Barker and beat his game. This was indeed a ‘coup de grace’ for champion Freeman because Charles Francis Barker was said to be one of the strongest and greatest Grand Master checkers analysts and end-game players in checker game history.

So indeed, this win against Barker was a statement about Champion Clarence Freeman’s skill in checkers. He became the checker "Champion of America" in the early 1880's, and was universally known as the "Champion Beater" because he won numerous checker matches against masters such as J. Wyllie, C. Barker, and A. J. Heffner. However, Clarence Freeman never played a world champion match for the world championship title, as he seemed content to play against checker greats in non-title play. This was his domain, for here champion Freeman excelled, as he was able to beat them all in these checker games.

At the age of 46, Clarence Freeman became seriously ill with a bladder disorder, and on May 20, 1909, died in hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, after a long six weeks of ill health. As a result of his great prowess in checkers, however, his name still holds a place in the literature of this fine mind sport.

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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