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Checkers Champion Derek Oldbury Book

The following is an excerpt taken from the introduction of the book and it clearly demonstrates the wonderful personality of checkers champion and writer Derek Oldbury's book.


By Derek Oldbury Book


What do you think this is?

“Every time you lose at draughts and ask what in blazes it is all about, not a soul tells you where you can go to find out even though William Payne wrote the first English book 'Introduction to the Game of Draughts' in 1756. Since then the checkers game has been 'introduced' many times over, but never explained.

Ask your friend who plays to lend you a good guide to the game (is it 'You Too Can Win' or 'Never in a Huff'?). He will show you a book and it looks like a 'bus timetable or perhaps a losing system of betting on horses. You point at the columns of symbols on page after page, and your friend says that these are the best moves to play, neatly tabulated to make happy reading. You ask, then, if all the best moves have been found, and your friend says, No. So you ask him how you will know when the book tells the best move, or when there is really some other move that is better. Your friend says you won't know (until you've lost a few games, keeping to the book - that's experience), but that the author is a leading oracle on the game. You ask how many titles this genius has won and your friend says that actually none - but he often tells the Champions where they should have moved, so he must know a lot.

You take one more look at the book, and you ask if there is no other way, perhaps a few general principles - strategy and all that? You are repaid by a blighting glance of scorn from your one time friend. Principles! Don't you know that draughts is so deep, so profound, so - there are no principles; nobody has dared! What do you think it is - chess?

He goes on, but you don't listen. Not even when he quotes the beautiful prose of Edgar Allen Poe, which says that chess is kids' stuff compared to draughts; nor when he tells you that Lady Hamilton used to show Lord Nelson some good moves, 'twixt battles. You do not faint, even, when he divulges that Rameses III played with Cleopatra, while the slaves built the Pyramids around them, which is possibly not strictly true.

You are thinking it would perhaps be droll if you could know the idea behind the game, the master scheme - for of course there must be one; anybody can see that. If you knew, then you could give back the beatings handed out to you by your club mates. In your mind's eye you see them burying their books in rage while you explain that it is just a matter of applying the theory. But what theory? You could be Champion if you knew.

If only you knew.

After reading Derek Oldbury's work, it readily becomes apparent that his writing is full of life and humor as much as was the checker player himself. As an author, he sought to entertain and once said, “In looking over a compilation, first look for the wins: if there are none or few, throw it out.” However, Derek Oldbury was still very serious about the checkers game and believed that it should be studied carefully, but at the same time, should also be practiced and played as often as possible, utilizing techniques and strategies learned through study and analysis of the checkers game. Any serious student of the game will certainly include those of Derek Oldbury as well as others on the checkers mind sport.

A myth that still exists today is that the proper reply to every move can be found in a book, and it’s really only a matter of having good resources in one’s library. However, books have a limited value in offering the basic groundwork to great board play. To this, Derek Oldbury said “What a waste of time it is to memorize large chunks of “book” learning, as this is never going to be used because, unbeknown to you, it is either obsolete or blatantly unsound. Did you realize that 90% of published analysis is one or the other?

In reality, there has never existed a player or publication that has not been corrected at some time.

There are also people who disregard published play and actually do not find much value in the use of books, and they make these comments while describing themselves as cross board players. However, on this Derek noted,“ I often wonder how any player can hope to be original unless he has at least a rough idea of what has been done already.” He believed in a balance between the use of both methods to get the best out of a game of checkers. Of course, according to DEO, a person would need a lifetime to study and master each board game.

Derek Oldbury was an inspiration to all who knew him, but he appeared to have a special, easy rapport with the younger players in the game, and this may have been because he always seemed so young at heart and could relate to a time when he, too, held that place in the checkers arena.
Derek Oldbury, reigning World Checkers Champion, died at the age of 70 in 1994, and in the obituary, Dr. Martin Bryant wrote:

“On Thursday 14th July 1994 a group of mourners attended the funeral of a man virtually unheard of by the general public, but who was a giant in his own field...Those who knew Oldbury have lost a friend, but British Draughts has lost its heart and soul. He will be sorely missed.”

Don Lafferty wrote on October 26, 1996:
“In my first match ever against Derek Oldbury for the World's GAYP Title, Deo treated me like I was the champion and was extremely nice in every way. This perhaps helped me gain confidence and I barely managed to eke out a win by the very close score of 1-0-23. I liked Deo in all respects and he was a very fine checker player. I really do not know, but somehow I got the idea he was glad I won.”

On August 16, 2004, Richard Pask expressed his feelings of friendship to Derek Oldbury in the following website commentary:
“Derek Oldbury book writer, (1924 - 1994) was one of the game's great players and authors, and it was my privilege to have known him well. Indeed, between 1983 and 1994 I made over 30 visits to his charming home, and never ceased to be amazed by the breadth and depth of his understanding.

When he died, Derek left his library to me. Among the many fine volumes was a small, and rather nondescript, exercise book containing a number of carefully pasted newspaper columns. From 1956 - 1957 Derek had been the Draughts Editor of the obscure Rotherham Advertiser. This exercise book contained all 62 weekly columns.

Now, 10 years after his death, seems an appropriate time to publish these columns, verbatim and in their entirety. Although some of the material will be familiar, having featured in books such as Move Over and Derek's Complete Encyclopedia, the vast majority of it will be new; highlights including 35 of Derek's problems and 36 games featuring his play and analysis.

Note: There was no space for diagrams in the original columns, but I have added them to make the book more attractive. Moreover, for convenience, all of the games are listed under the 3-move ballot; clearly many of them were GAYP or played under the 2-move restriction.

So sit back and enjoy a new Derek Oldbury book by one of the all time greats. The unknown DEO!”

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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