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Checkers Game Champion
Robert Martins

Checkers champion Robert Martins enjoyed playing checkers and lived from 1822 to 1904.

Robert Martins was not a Scot by birth, but spent most of his life in Douglas, Lanarkshire, where he, too, was employed in the weaving and cloth industry. Robert Martins was born in Perryn, near Falmouth, Cornwall, on the February 26, 1822.

By the time Martins was thirteen years old, he had moved to London and had acquired a keen interest in the sport of checkers. Robert Martins started to play the game with the aid from English and World chess champion Howard Staunton. After some success in various games, Martins ventured north to Scotland and first played John McKerrow for £100 in 1858, but the game ended in a draw.

In 1859, Robert Martins defeated James Wyllie in a tough checkers game match, establishing his claim to the World Championship and making him the checkers world champion. Over the years, checkers champion Robert Martins faced James Wyllie seven times in challenging checkers matches. In each situation, champion Martins showed himself to be a gentleman who was genial and kind, well read, and a thinker of some depth. Robert Martins was also noted to be a considerable violinist in his prime.

For thirty years, champion Robert Martins developed his checkers game skill and finesse, as exhibited in the many games he played throughout his checker career. However, by 1889, his powers in long matches began to wane. His concentration and focus was not as sharp as it had once been. That year, checkers game champion Robert Martins played his last big match against Charles F. Berker of Boston. This checkers match was played in Glasgow and during its course, it became painfully evident to Martins' supporters that his checker playing days appeared to be over, for both his memory and power of concentration appeared to be impaired. James Moir, originally from Tillicoultry and also an excellent player, was Martins' principal backer and he found that old champion Robert Martins had "dizzy fits and was unable to see the position or think clearly."

None the less, during the 1890's, Robert continued to tour the checkers clubs, where he offered excellent and successful exhibitions. In 1893, Robert Martins was at the ‘Old Black Bull Inn’ in Cambuslang still showing his game skill, and a year later, in 1894, an item from the Glasgow Weekly Echo read as "Mr. R. Martins, ex-champion of the World, will play all comers from the 31st inst. for a week, at 34 Ingram Street. He is perhaps the neatest player who ever moved a draughts piece."

Unfortunately, Robert Martins was forced to devote his later years to the invalidity of his wife, which caused him to spend a lot of his time and effort in caring for her. This was duty that, although he considered it a privilege, brought on hard financial times. The last checkers battle between Martins and Wyllie was a subscription match to raise money for the unfortunate master, and he received about £36.

Robert Martins lived in Douglas from 1864 until his death in 1904. He is buried in the Old St. Brides Cemetery, where one will find situated a commemorative tombstone which states "In memory of Robert Martins, noted draughts player, died July 27, 1904, aged 84”. This would make his birth year 1820, not 1822. Either way, he left a great checkers game legacy behind for others to follow.








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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