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Champion Derek Oldbury
World Championship Match

Derek Oldbury

Checkers champion Derek Oldbury lived an amazing life from 1924 to 1994.

Throughout history there are countless amazing stories about unique personalities and their achievements, but none exist quite like the tale of the great British draughts master, Derek Oldbury. His story was indeed quite remarkable.
Crippled at birth, born as a paraplegic, baby Derek was not expected to live very long ~ a few weeks at most; however, a greater force had other plans and Oldbury must also have been born with an extra strong will to live because he did survive his unfortunate beginning, and although he would spend his lifetime in a wheelchair, this did not deter him from achieving his goals. Derek Oldbury accepted his physical limitations and concentrated instead on his mental endeavors, such as the great game of checkers.

His early years were plagued with many difficulties, other than those he suffered in adapting to his own physical handicap. For many years Derek Oldbury fought against social prejudices, but as his birth had shown, Derek possessed a tenacity and will that would outlast these negative views and would indeed even fuel a fire to succeed. He would not become a social outcast and devoted many years to the study of the checkerboard. His time was spent analyzing checker plays, developing strategies, and learning how to manipulate the game pieces to his advantage.

Finally, his years of game study paid off. In 1950, at the age of 26, he entered the Scottish Open and defeated his opponents to successfully win his first major checkers game tournament. However, this win did not change his game perspective. Derek Oldbury continued to practice and study his game, likely playing against local competitors. Then in 1953, Derek entered the English Tournament Championship and astounded the checkers world with a significant win that included a massive score of seventeen wins, six draws and no losses!

Two years later, Derek Oldbury neatly defeated Sam Cohen in the English Match play Championship and took the title from the great London checkers master. Checkers game champion Derek Oldbury followed this achievement by winning the British Matchplay Championship and taking the title from the four times winner, James Marshall.

Over the years, the British draughts champion from Devon became known to some by the nickname of ‘DEO’, and people were intrigued by his personality and his inner tenacity. From 1956 to 1957, DEO displayed his talents as the Draughts/checkers editor for the Rotherham Advertiser, wherein he would contribute weekly columns about checkers games. These were later left to Richard Pask in the form of an old exercise book and have been rekindled by Pask on a website for other checkers enthusiasts to enjoy.

Champion Derek Oldbury enjoyed every level of a checkers game, but was indeed fascinated by the GAYP or Go-As-You-Please style of play. He was not merely content with the championship matches in Great Britain but became a formidable force in the world arena of checkers GAYP play. In 1976, champion Derek Oldbury competed against Leo Levitt in the GAYP World Championship Match, and tied his opponent with a score of one win, one loss, and twenty-two draws, but Oldbury retained the title.

Champion checkers player Derek Oldbury also journeyed to Sanford, North Carolina, in 1976 for the U.S. 3 Move National Checkers Tournament that attracted 114 checkers players, of three levels including Masters, Majors, and Minors. The following article featured in the July 17th, 1976, edition of the Sanford Herald shows champion Derek Oldbury deep in thought during his game against Ed Scheidt.

Derek Oldbury Wins

Champion Derek Oldbury won the U.S. National Tournament at the end of the 8th round and was declared the winner of the Masters Division and eligible for the $1000 cash award for first place.

Three years later, champion Derek Oldbury faced Elbert Lowder in the World Championship Match of the GAYP style of checkers and won the title again with a resounding score of seven wins, two losses, and ten draws.

During his illustrious checkers game career, Derek Oldbury had also played against Grandmaster, Don Lafferty, where the two checkers greats had tangled many times across the board. This included their World's Championship Match for the GAYP title in 1982, which was won by Don Lafferty with a close score of one win, no losses, and nineteen draws.

Derek Oldbury never tired of the world of checkers and played two stake matches against Richard Hallett. The first was in 1985 where the two opposing Masters challenged each other in a 20-game 3 Move match that ended in a draw with two wins, two losses, and sixteen draws each. Then, the following year, Derek and Richard played a 20-game 11-man ballot match, which ended with a close score of four wins, three losses, and thirteen draws for Hallett.

In his sixties, champion Derek Oldbury decided to purchase a computer. This was not simply a tool to practice his checkers game against, but with time, he learned to program it as well and actually wrote his own checkers program. This was not unusual for Oldbury because he never thought he was ‘too old’ or indeed, ‘too anything’, to do exactly what he wanted, and this trait certainly made champion Derek Oldbury a unique individual.

In 1991, at the age of 67, champion Oldbury played against the American Grandmaster, Richard Hallett, again but this time for the World 3-Move Checkers Championship title. The match was held at Weston Super-Mare, England, in October. Derek easily displayed that though aging, he had not lost his checkers touch nor techniques, and won the match with a score of seven wins, four losses, and twenty-seven draws. As a result of this win, champion Derek Oldbury remained the World Champion in the 3-Move style.

Checkers enthusiasts readily found Oldbury’s style of play to be exciting. He was definitely seen as a tactical fighter like Kasparov, trying to win every game. Although some experts considered his games perhaps as objectively ‘less perfect’ than other Grandmasters’, they were certainly entertaining for the spectators.

Oldbury played his last GAYP World Championship Match against world champion Ron King in 1992. The match ended in a tie between the two master checkers players with a score of five wins, five losses, and fourteen wins each, but as King was the defending champion in this style of play, he still retained his title.

Only ten players competed for the GAYP World Title since 1976 and Derek Oldbury’s record stands as second to that of Ron King. In four matches, Oldbury played a total of ninety-one games, wherein his score was comprised of thirteen wins, nine losses, and sixty-nine draws.

During his checkers career, Derek E. Oldbury challenged opponents in international matches, while at the same time retaining the championship title to the British Matchplay Championship tournaments for nearly four decades until 1993, when he decided to retire undefeated due to failing health.

Throughout his checkers career, Oldbury was not merely content to simply play the checkers game, but used his game expertise as a prolific writer. He authored various magazines and several books, including his six-volume masterpiece entitled,
“The Complete Encyclopedia of Draughts”.

His other notable written work entitled,
“Move Over or How to Win at Draughts”,
was published in 1957, and is still considered by checkers experts and Grandmasters to be one of the landmarks in the literature of checkers and draughts. In the beginning, this book was controversially received by the public, and with time, its merits have been discussed and disputed, with Derek Oldbury's space force time system equally applauded and championed, while at the same time, derided and questioned.

Although many years have passed since this remarkable checkers resource was first published and numerous developments have occurred within the checkers game, this material and Derek’s commentary is still relevant in today’s checkers world.

The following is an excerpt taken from the introduction of the book and it clearly demonstrates the wonderful personality of Derek E. Oldbury.

To Continue reading about Derek Oldbury, Click Here

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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