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James Searles
Pool Checkers Champion

James Searles

from 1912 to 2002
  • James Searles was a member of the American Pool Checkers arena and Master of Lightning Fast Checkers.

  • James Searles' checkers play elevated the lightning fast form of checkers that had been played mainly by black men in barbershops, parks and sidewalks to the province of an exclusive if distinctly clamorous society the Brooklyn Elite Pool Checker Club, wherein the checkers game was of ultimate importance so when Searles first drafted the club’s constitution back in 1972, he set high standards and objectives because he pledged “to elevate checkers to a level of respect equal to or greater than that of any other national or international pastime”.
  • During pool checker champion James Searles' working career, Searles was a warehouse worker by profession but a serious Pool checkers player in his leisure time.

  • Searles lived in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, was known by the nickname of ‘Step’ and had friends who bore nicknames of ‘Ghost’, ‘Tijuana’ and the ‘Mighty Claw’.

  • ‘Step’ and his friends were serious Pool Checkers players who frequented the club on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights because the atmosphere surrounding a good checkers game warmed their blood.

  • They thrived on the ‘clack, clack’ and ‘tap, tap’ of checkers moving around the checkerboard and reveled in the cheerful, yet resounding exclamations and cheers of victory and smiled at the woes of defeat.

  • Occasionally there was also the temptation of a small side bet to cheer the soul, but most importantly, ‘Step’ said that they mainly lived for one another.

  • According to James Searles, pool checker champion players were a brotherhood so that if one of the ‘guys’ had sickness in the family, then the rest would raise money to offset the expenses such as hospital bills, or if unemployment hit one of them, then the rest would chip in and pay the checkers dues, the bottom line was that they looked out for each other and in this day and age, this prevalent attitude is a rarity.

  • For James Searles there was no other game like Pool checkers and once he became engrossed in a resounding game, he would lose track of all time so much so that he missed going on a Jamaican honeymoon cruise with his bride 50 years ago because he was so caught up in a checkers game.

  • In an interview with The New York Times in 1991, James Searles had commented that “They had a cash prize. That calmed her down a little bit.”

  • James Searles believed that the majority of African Americans play Pool checkers at some point in their life, and many continue with the game as a serious leisure activity.

  • He also knew that there were Russian and Eastern Europe countries that played a checkers variant of the game much closer to his style than the Straight form of checkers, and when the reputation of Russian checkers champion, Vladimir Kaplan, preceded his immigration from the Soviet Union, Step and other members of his club, one of whom spoke some Russian, met Kaplan at the airport, spirited him to their clubhouse and offered to pay his way to the National Championships in Atlanta the following month, and not surprisingly, Vladimir Kaplan won.

  • James Searles, a great and innovative American Pool Checkers player passed away in the fall of 2002 at the young age of 90, but his spirit still lives behind in the memories of many novice and master checkerists.

Of course, there are and have been countless Pool Checkers champions across the United States, and it is through the legacy of those who have gone before to encourage new blood into the hundreds of checkers clubs around the country. It is no longer simply men who play checkers, but the field is wide open for youth and women to share in the delights of this variant of the mind sport game known as Pool Checkers.

Pool Checkers American Pool Checkers Leisurely Checkers Pastime
Pool Checkers Player Carl Buster Smith Pool Checkers Champions Pool Checkers Champion Momodou
Checkers Champion Barnett Pool Checkers Champion Vladimir Kaplan James Searles Pool Checkers Champion


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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