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Pool Checkers
Player Carl Buster Smith

Carl “Buster” Smith

Checker Champion Carl “Buster” Smith
Pool checkers player Carl Smith was a champion checkers player.
1920 - 1992

One of the most notable checkers players in the history of this American mind sport was Carl “Buster” Smith.

Checkers player Carl Buster Smith began his career in American Pool Checkers early in his childhood in the streets of his hometown, Chicago. By the time Carl Smith was seventeen, the young checkers player had become the Champion of Chicago in Pool Checkers. Throughout his career and until his death in 1992, Carl Buster Smith remained the strongest and best checkers player in Chicago.

From the time that the American Pool Checkers Association began promoting National tournaments in 1965, Carl Buster Smith contested the competitions across the U.S. Buster participated in Pool Checkers matches between 1965 and 1992. He competed in a total of twenty-two National A.P.A.C. tournament matches because he loved the checkers game. He rarely played for money, but for the sheer enjoyment he derived in the challenge inherent in the checkers game.

Pool checkers player Carl Buster Smith won the championship title of Top Master in the highest division eleven times:
  • 1967; Detroit, Michigan

  • 1970; Cleveland, Ohio

  • 1972; Detroit

  • 1973; New York, New York

  • 1974; St. Louis, Missouri

  • 1975; Chicago, Illinois

  • 1976; Memphis, Tennessee

  • 1982; Akron, Ohio

  • 1983; Chicago

  • 1991; Los Angeles, California

  • 1992; Nassau, Bahamas

Player Carl Buster Smith also finished in 2nd and 3rd place at least eight times during the course of his checkers domination in the American Pool Checkers arena.

Russian Grandmaster, Iser Koeperman, (see the previous Champions section for his life checkers story) dominated the field of Pool Checkers from 1984 until 1990, and in all likelihood, Carl Smith would have had an opportunity to play as an opponent across the checkerboard from Koeperman during that time. The checkers games between two such masters would indeed have created an exciting atmosphere within the checkers club and would have been a great spectacle to watch.
Excerpt from The Legend of Carl Buster Smith by Charles ‘Pecan’ Thompson.

From the outside, the green and white house on Warren Boulevard near Ashland doesn't look much different from any of the other buildings in the neighborhood. The paint has started to peel and the windows are gray and sooty. The only thing a little unusual about it is the dusty checkerboard propped in one of the downstairs windows.

You go down the cement stairs at the front and open the creaky wooden door that leads into the basement. Orange flames rumble in an electric fireplace. A faded American flag hangs on the wall. In the center of the room checkerboards lie atop six tables. Two men sit across from each other at one of them, looking silently down at their board. The only sounds are the rain outside, the O’Jays on the radio, and the occasional clacking of checker game pieces.

On the wall a bathroom rug hangs with its underside facing out. On the rug in Magic Marker someone has written "Buster's Place."

Checkers player Buster Smith used to come here in the afternoons, before his shift at the post office. He would sit down at one of the tables and wait for someone to challenge him to a game. He didn't like to play for money; he played because he loved the game. And when newcomers sat across the table from the quiet, unassuming Buster, they were dumb enough to think they could beat him. The old timers knew better; they knew that Buster Smith was without a doubt the greatest checker player in Chicago.

When not at the checkerboard in friendly combat with checkers associates and buddies, Carl Buster Smith worked for the post office. He rarely played for money, so all of his expenses were born by him, and over the years that could easily have added to a decent sum. For him, it was worth it, as he shared such a deep love of the game.

The notable characteristic about Carl Smith’s checkers background was the fact that he was the first American checkers master to represent his country during International tournaments. For this reason, his checkers expertise was not limited to the rules of Pool Checkers, but he would have been knowledgeable in the rule set of International 10 x 10 draughts/checkers as well.

Buster Smith competed in the International World Championships in Bolzano, Italy, in 1968, in Hengelo, Netherlands in 1972, and in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1976. In each of these international checkers competitions, Carl witnessed the masterly plays of many European and African Grandmaster players, and the exposure would have helped the American checkers player to hone his own skills and develop some new techniques.

The roster in this International competition listed master players such as Iser Koeperman and Vladimir Kaplan from Russia, Harm Wiersma, Ton Sijbrands and Hans Jansen of the Netherlands, and African Grandmasters Baba Sy from Senegal, Mamina N’Diaye of Mali, Fidele Nimbi from the Congo and Bassirou Ba, Senegal.
Checkers player Carl Smith played as an opponent across the checkerboard with Baba Sy in 10 official International checkers games, and defeated his friend, Baba, 2-0 in a game during the Suikertoernooi tournament in Amsterdam in 1974. The Senegalese Grandmaster took his revenge two years later in the same tournament in 1976.

His greatest competitive success was during the Suikertoernooi tournament in Hoogezand-Sappemeer, Netherlands, in 1977. Carl Buster Smith finished third in a field of expert players attaining 16 points in 11 games, with a result that Buster was just one point behind the winning checkers duo of Harm Wiersma and Rob Clerc from the Netherlands.

As a result of his competitive play in the International draughts/checkers circuit challenging master players in the Netherlands, Italy, and Russia, Carl Smith earned his GMI ~ Grandmaster International status and world-wide recognition for his participation and game play at the checkerboard.

Checkers Champion Andris Andreiko vs Carl Buster Smith
Andris Andreiko vs Carl Buster Smith
Suikertoernooi ~ Sugar Tournament
Checkers Champion Ton Sijbrands looking on
Ton Sijbrands looking on
Andris Andreiko vs Carl Buster Smith
Andris Andreiko vs Carl Buster Smith
Hengelo, Netherlands
Checkers in the Netherlands
Andris Andreiko vs Carl Buster Smith
Hengelo, Netherlands
Harm Wiersma vs Carl Buster Smith
Harm Wiersma vs Carl Buster Smith Hengelo World Championship 1972
Ton Sijbrands & Jan Metz observing game
Anatoli Gantwarg vs Carl Buster Smith
Anatoli Gantwarg vs Carl ‘Buster’ Smith Suikertoernooi, Amsterdam
Fidele Nimbi (Congo) vs Carl Smith (US)
Fidele Nimbi (Congo) vs Carl Smith (U.S.) World Checkers Championship Amsterdam
Rob Clerc & Harm Wiersma
Rob Clerc & Harm Wiersma
1st place, Suikertoernooi, Amsterdam, 1977 Carl finished 2nd only one point behind.

"Buster" is Back

The dominant checkers force from 1984 until 1990 had been Russian Grandmaster Iser Kuperman, who had last defeated Carl Smith. The time for checkers ‘revenge’ was here. The year was 1991. The scene was Los Angeles, California. The event was the APCA National Pool Checkers tournament.

For the key participant checkers player Carl Buster Smith to defeat was Iser Kuperman, the seven times APCA champion, and probably one of the greatest Pool Checkers players in the US. Kuperman was poised to win his 8th straight Pool Checkers tournament. Sources say that Iser had all but destroyed the field of American Pool Checkers players during his 7 year reign. It was believed that Kuperman had only lost two tournament games in all that time.

Though some of the American Pool Checkers players weren't happy about the Russian invasion in the checkers arena, Carl Buster Smith believed that it was good to have new blood and fresh ideas, so that the level of play at the checkerboard could be raised a notch or two.

Iser Kuperman was indeed a force to be reckoned with as he was literally destroying all his opponents across the checkerboard both in National tournaments and private matches as well.

Even during his reign as National champion of the Pool Checkers circuit,Carl Buster Smith had been challenged by a couple of young checker ‘upstarts’. Momodou Faals and Elton Williams had both contested the tournament play from 1980 until 1983, and now facing the Russian Grandmaster, the former champion had his work cut out for him. He knew that he had to play hard with innovative strategies in order to win back the Championship title. During the tournament games spectators noted that he seemed to be playing like a man possessed.

At 64, checkers player Buster Smith wasn't quite ready to ’pack it in’ and hand over the checkers to the younger masters. In the competition, Carl Buster Smith and Iser Kuperman played the two games to a draw, and all the while Buster amassed more points than any other Top Master player, which was enough to outdistance even the great Russian master, Kuperman. The end result led to Carl Smith to recapture the National Pool Checkers title, leaving checkers player Iser Kuperman in 2nd place.

The accounts that exist from that time stated that Kuperman was so shocked and disgruntled by the fact that Carl Smith had taken the title from him that he refused to shake Carl Buster Smith’s hand once. Pool checkers player Carl Smith was officially declared the new National Champion in Pool Checkers. Kuperman exited the stage of the APCA tournaments and did not play in that style again. Only Iser Kuperman knew his rationale for not returning to the Pool Checkers arena, and the rest is hearsay.

However, Carl Buster Smith had returned, and this Pool Checkers championship tournament was to be his last memory of grand play at the checkerboard. Carl Buster Smith died in his residence in Chicago in 1992.

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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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