This Russian Grandmaster Iser Kuperman also
displayed his prowess in a session of simultaneous
games at the ‘Just
Play’ street festival where the
participation of the former checkers World
Champion and Grandmaster. The checkers game
was advertised well in advance of the championship
to draw as many spectators to the event as
possible. At the age of 82, grandmaster Iser
Kuperman demonstrated his years at the checkerboard
by placing 2nd in the memorial tournament and
finishing only three points behind first place
winner, Grandmaster Shang Wong Louiceus.
The following year, Russian Grandmaster Iser
Kuperman was back in Montreal as a special
tournament guest and checkers player in the
13th Pan-American International Championship,
which was dedicated to the Grandmaster and
former checkers World Champion as the guest
of honor because he was the championship’s
most illustrious champion ~ Iser had participated
in 10 out of 13 competitions and won four of
those championships. Kuperman joined the
field of sixteen experienced checker players
from Canada, the West Indies, and South America.
After having played numerous opponents across
the checkerboard for about 70 years, the Russian
American checkers player was closing out his
checkers career with a 4th place win in his
last Pan-American Championship.
& Willem Blyheid
Even though Russian Grandmaster Iser Kuperman
spent a lot of time involved with the American
Pool Checkers Association and the Pan-American
International Championship tournaments, he
still found time to remain closely affiliated
with friends across the Atlantic Ocean in the
checkers arena and still participated in various
World Championship matches.
The former Russian World Champion played in the European World
Checkers championship in 1986 against Aleksander Dibman, a former
opponent, but was defeated.
During the 1990’s, though an aging checkers Grandmaster,
Iser Kuperman played in a Dutch league for the WSDV
in Wageningen and it was through these years that his
friendship with Geert van Dijk and Pierre Ghestem,
both former World Championship opponents, deepened.
Unfortunately, in later years, these relationships
were limited to email contact.
Between 1992 and 1998, Iser Kuperman contested at
least ten matches in the second division of the KNDB
in the Netherlands, wherein he won seven with two draws.
In the 1995-6 season, he played in four checkers matches
and won them all.
Russian Grandmaster Iser Josifovitsj Koeperman (Kuperman)
was indeed a legendary figure in the International
World of Draughts/Checkers. During the course of his
lifetime and a checkers career than spanned close to
70 years, Kuperman would have played in 3000 tournaments
or so. He was a checkers enigma ~ an energetic man
who loved the game of checkers whether he was facing
an opponent across the 100 square checkerboard or the
64 square game board. Friends and acquaintances stated
that Iser Kuperman was a charming, outgoing grandmaster
player, full of vim and vigor, and a great sense of
humor, which was also often quite endearing because
of his wonderful broken German/Russian accent.
He was a social person who usually displayed his amiable
personality, and over the years it was apparent that
he had become a respected and loved checkers Grandmaster
and friend to many in the checkers arena. To this day,
Koeperman/Kuperman has held a special place in the
hearts of Dutch and Russian Grandmasters such as Ton
Sijbrands as seen by the numerous exposes on his checkers
career as Grandmaster and also in the various discussions
of Iser’s games on the Internet and in books.
A book called “Fate
of A Champion” was published in the United
States in both English and Russian; it discussed the
life of the great Russian American Grandmaster, though
now this book is listed as a rare edition.
He was once asked if he would ever give up playing checkers and his response was typical of his sense of humor ~ “if I die!”
Kuperman was also noted to be an excellent storyteller
and he would entertain friends and checker associates
alike with his version of the wildest stories, as they
emerged in a mixture of seven different languages.
In an interview with I. Van Wijngaarden for the Zabugorie
newspaper in 2005, Russian Grandmaster Iser Kuperman
told the reporter, “I
am a very happy man for I have no enemies. I have outlived
Throughout his phenomenal checkers career,
Grandmaster Kuperman became known for his unique
style of play, which was usually set in the
offensive mode at the checkerboard. He had
no ‘blueprint’ for
his game play, but would rather use pure a
road of pure improvisation, which oddly enough
always seemed to lead him along the right path.
There was clarity and consistency in his checkers
games and opponents would often praise him
for his streamlined and clear positional method
of play. Kuperman was more of a strategist
than a tactician and as a result of his thousands
of games at the checkerboard developed many
sharp combinations and techniques.
During his checkers career, Iser Kuperman strategized,
analyzed and wrote his observations and theories
on countless matches in more than 42 books
that were published in many different languages
including Braille: English, French, Dutch,
Russian, Spanish and Portuguese. Over the years,
more than a million copies have been sold.
In an interview, Kuperman once lamented that
since he had published many of his combinations,
he had greater difficulty defeating his checkers
opponents because they had now had a chance
to study his games and their inherent strategies.
Iser in theatrical production “Volendam”
Kuperman and Grandmaster Players World
Iser Kuperman vs Aleksander Dibman
Vitalia Doumesh vs Iser Kuperman
Den Haag (The Hague)
Iser Kuperman, special presentation by Gerard
ORAP ~ Den Haag Checkers Championship 2002
At the closing ceremony of the ORAP Checkers
Championship, Iser surprised everyone present
by giving a charming speech, truly depicting
his heart for the checkers game.
Iser and Ton Sijbrands
ORAP ~ Den Haag
Geert van Dijk & Iser Kuperman enjoying
a friendly meal,
and later, friendly emails. On March 3, 2006,
the Checkers and International Draughts arena
lost one of the best checkerists in the world.
Iser Kuperman passed away while undergoing
major hip replacement surgery. However, this
great checkers player who was the first to
be called ‘Grandmaster’ left
behind an amazing legacy from his remarkable
performance marked by extraordinary adaptability
to his natural insight and improvisation on
the checkerboard. He played the game with foresight
and intuition, but this was backed by his checkers
skill and techniques as well as his own progressive
and sometimes unusual strategies, a style that
once created a culture shock for the traditionalists
in the International checkers arena.
Iser Kuperman touched many lives during the
70 or so years his play graced the checkerboard
and his warm, humorous personality and great
checkers game will never be forgotten.
Thumbs up to you, too, Iser!