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Walter Hellman

Walter Hellman lived from 1916 to 1975.

The world of checkers welcomed another great board player when Walter F. Hellman was born June 15, 1916, in Gamla Nordsjö, Nordmaling, Sweden.

When Walter Hellman was ten years old, his family moved to Gary, Indiana, and the young boy was exposed to this unique board game of checkers. However, in 1931, at the age of fifteen, Walter Hellman first entered and won a Gary City chess tournament, but later, it was here that Walter actually began his checkers game career. As with numerous chess players, checkers was often a game of choice as well because it offered a different playing field from chess. Hellman’s interest in checkers was quickly piqued and soon he began studying the plays. It would certainly appear that he possessed a natural ability for the simple complexities inherent within a checkers game because he displayed a knack for the strategies of board play and won his first Indiana State Tournament in 1933 at the age of seventeen.

Walter Hellman continued to develop his checkers game wins loss and draw skills and intuition as is evidenced by his amazing checkers record during his later youth and early adulthood. In the 8th American tournament in 1934 held at Jamestown, New York, Hellman placed 10th in the masters’ level at a young age of 18. Three years later, in the 9th American tournament of 1937 held at Martins Ferry, Ohio, Walter Hellman placed third in the checkers match behind Asa Long and Willie Ryan.

During the next couple of years, Walter Hellman proceeded to play checkers locally, continually developing his board techniques, and as a result was successful in the second NCA American tournament played at Tacoma, Washington, by taking second place, next to Willie Ryan.

In 1946, Hellman entered and won the eleventh ACA American tournament held at Nashville, Tennessee, and also the third NCA American tournament played in Indianapolis, Indiana. Two years later, in 1948, Walter defeated Asa Long with a wins loss draws score of two wins, one loss, and forty-seven draws to become the new World Checkers Champion.

During the 1949 World Title Match, Walter Hellman was winning this 40-game match with three wins, no losses, and twenty-three draws at one point in the game, and then later with four winds, one loss, and twenty-five draws, but Willie Ryan was able to pull from his bag of checkers magic tricks to make a magnificent comeback with two games to go. In the last game, with the strong side of a weak opening, Hellman slipped into a difficult position, but with the World Championship at stake, he turned it around and played his best game of the match, which was truly a defensive masterpiece. After this game, the match went into an overtime of ten more games, thus turning it into a 50-game match. All ten games were draws, although Ryan played into a published loss (perhaps with an improvement in mind), which Hellman failed to punish. The tournament book has the names backward, although labeling them "White" and "Black" correctly. It also has the diagram labeled incorrectly, but this didn't change the outcome wins loss draws of the checkers tournament match between W. F. Ryan and Walter Hellman. Hellman tied Willie Ryan with an equal score of four wins, four losses, and forty-two draws to successfully retain his World Checkers Championship title.

Then, in 1951, Walter Hellman was again successful in maintaining his World title status by defeating Maurice Chamblee in the checkers World Championship Match by a score of six wins, one loss, and twenty-nine draws.

Later, in the 18th ACF American tournament at Ocean City, Maryland, after winning a round over Asa Long, Walter withdrew after eight rounds undefeated to accept third place behind Basil Case and Asa Long. This move assured that Walter Hellman would be a clear contender for the 1953 World Championship Title match in checkers. During this tournament, Walter defeated Basil Case with a wins loss draws score of 4-1-33 to retain the coveted World Checkers Title.

In the 1955 World Checkers Championship match, Walter Hellman lost to the great master, Marion Tinsley, with an end score of no wins, three losses, and thirty-five draws. The following year, Hellman played in the 1956 Galveston, Texas, American tournament and finished second to Tinsley; he was successful in defeating Newell Banks, Harold Freyer, and other checkers notables at the 21st American tournament held at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

It was only after Marion Tinsley’s retirement from checkers that Walter Hellman returned to play in World title matches in the checkers games arena. In 1962, Hellman tied Asa Long with an ending score of two wins, two losses, and thirty-six draws, and then in the 1963 checkers championship match, Hellman again won over Basil Case with a victory score of two wins, one loss, and thirty-seven draws to retain the checkers World Championship title.

During the following year, Walter Hellman was still going strong and played a decisive checkers game using great board techniques as he defeated Don Lafferty in the 1964 Rockford, Illinois American tournament. Then he proceeded to defeat the British Champion, Derek Oldbury, with a wins loss draws score of seven wins, one loss, and twenty-seven draws in the 1965 checkers World Championship match to attain the title once more.

In 1967, Walter Hellman played a wonderful checkers match against Eugene Frazier, which ended with a resounding score of five wins, no losses, and thirty-one draws, in what would be his final World Championship title match.

Walter Hellman continued to play in the checkers circuit over the next few years and still possessed a winning streak as he defeated Everett Fuller in the 1972 American tournament held at Memphis, Tennessee. His final appearance in the checkers arena was when Hellman played on the U.S. checkers team in the third International Match between the U.S. and Great Britain at Bouremouth, England. During this tournament match he retired undefeated after 3 rounds so that he could visit his sister in their family home in Sweden.

Walter Hellman, a great checkers master, passed away on July 28, 1975 in Panama City, Florida, at the young age of 59. However, like many champions before him, he left behind a remarkable legacy to the world of checkers.

Walter Hellman a great checkers master

Hellman played a great board game of checkers in ten American, U.S. Open, tournaments between 1934 and 1972, of which he was successful in winning five of them through solid, strategic play. More importantly, however, Walter Hellman was a challenger/contender in nine checkers World Championship Title Matches between the years of 1948 and 1967. Walter Hellman was the longest reigning world checkers champion ever. He held the title from 1948 until 1955, and then again, from 1955 until 1975. During these nine matches, Walter Hellman won the title six times, tied for the title in two matches, and only lost one world title match in 1955 to Marion Tinsley. This, indeed, is a wonderful achievement and legacy to leave behind as one of the world’s leading wins loss draws checkers masters.










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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