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Harm Wiersma
Checkers Champion from Netherlands

Harm Wiersma 1 Harm Wiersma 2 Harm Wiersma 3 Harm Wiersma 4 Harm Wiersma 5
1953 ~ present – The Netherlands has been the home of many strong and talented Dutch checkers players who became part of the checkers arena for many years, especially during the 20th century.

Harm Wiersma was born in 1953, at Leeuwarden, in the province of Friesland, Netherlands. His father, Chris Wiersma, was a checkers player, who introduced his son to the world of the checkerboard when Harm was in 1961 when Harm was nine years old by taking him to play with the youth in the Leeuwarden Checkers Club during 1963-64. Then in 1964, when the Leeuwarden Club joined with Gezellig Samenzijn to form a new club, De Oldehove Checkers Club, the Wiersmas moved to the Huizum Checkers Club.

The young Wiersma contested the checkers youth championship of Friesland in 1963 when he was 10 years old and concluded the tournament with an excellent placement for his inexperience and age, which was 4th place behind Sjoerd Visser, Henk Bos and Gerrit Ybema. Then in 1965, Harm placed 1st and 2nd in 1966. It quickly became obvious that the young checker player had an innate sense and intuition when playing at the checkerboard. Wiersma also won the Netherlands Youth Championship in checkers around the same time.

In 1965, 1966 and 1968, Chris Wiersma and Anton Schotanus organized the International Turkstra tournaments in the Tivoli Hall. Harm placed first in the youth division in 1965, but in 1966, Anton Schotanus won the youth and Ton Sijbrands placed 2nd in the seniors division; however, Harm did not finish well and was disappointed in his 8th place.

The young Dutch checkers novice was developing skills and individual techniques in the game and soon began to display a greater mastery at the checkerboard. In 1967, Harm participated in the Netherlands National Championship in the Seniors Division, along with experienced checkerists like Piet Roozenburg and another young developing checker player, Ton Sijbrands, who was only seventeen at the time. At thirteen, Wiersma displayed his inherent talent at the checkerboard against his opponents and where he lacked experience, Harm made up for it in tenacity and concentration. 1967 Netherlands National Checkers Championship ~ Utrecht/Apeldoorn
Checkers ChampionsWim de Jong vs Harm Wiersma
Checkers Champions
Wim de Jong
Harm Wiersma
Checkers Champions Harm & Ton Sijbrands
Ton Sijbrands
Checkers Champions Concentration
Checkers Champions Harm vs D van der Staay
Harm Wiersma
vs D van der Staay
The final result for the Seniors Championship of the Netherlands in 1967 listed Ton Sijbrands in 1st place, Piet Roozenburg ranked 2nd and Harm Wiersma took 3rd. This was quite an achievement for a thirteen year old checkers player contesting against mature masters at the checkerboard. The contender closest to his age was Ton Sijbrands, with whom Harm would later develop a kinship in the mind sport as well as a friendship through the years.

During the same year, Harm and Ton participated in the International Match between the Russian and Netherlands checkers teams, wherein the Soviets defeated the Dutch team with a final score of 40 to 20. As well, the young Wiersma also won the title for the Friesland Seniors Championship in 1967 and would win this checkers tournament and place 1st through to 1974.

In 1968, Harm was not allowed to participate in the National Championship of the Netherlands because he had broken some rules during the World Championship in Bolzano, Italy, earlier on and exclusion from the checkers national tournament was his father’s ‘punishment’ for his actions. The newspaper reports stated that Chris Wiersma’s actions or decision to keep his son out of the checkers play was perhaps a little ‘rash’ or even presumptuous on his part. Harm was not yet 15 at the time. He did, however, contest in the Turkstra competition and placed first.

Checkers Champion Iser K & Harm USSR vs Netherlands
Checkers Champion
Iser K. Harm
Checkers Champion ‘Slawa’ Sjtzjogolev vs Harm WiersmaTurkstra Tournament Amstelveen 1968
Checkers Champion
‘Slawa’ Sjtzjogolev
Harm Wiersma
Turkstra Tournament
Amstelveen, 1968
Checkers Champion Willy Heeringa vs Harm Wiersma Friesland-Groningen Championship 1969
Checkers Champion
Willy Heeringa
vs Harm Wiersma
Championship, 1969
That same year in 1968, Wiersma earned the title of International master or MI and then in 1970 Harm Wiersma became the youngest in the world to achieve the title of national Grandmaster in checkers, GMN and later, GMI, International Grandmaster.

The following year, the Dutch Grandmaster participated in the 1971 National checkers tournament, but placed fifth based on point accumulation. Ton Sijbrands won first place and the Netherlands Championship title; however, in 1972 Harm Wiersma won the national checkers tournament and became Champion of the Netherlands in International draughts. He would repeat his winning performance in 1974 through to 1977 and then again in 1992, 1998 and 2001. Wiersma also held the title of Student Champion in the Netherlands in 1972.

Harm was a member of the Huizum Checkers Club and played the mind sport through this club for nine years. After the National Championship in Apeldoorn in 1974 where he placed 1st, Harm Wiersma moved to a checkers club in Tilburg (DAVO).

During his early checkers career, Harm Wiersma participated in numerous checkers competitions at the local, National, and International levels.

Vignettes from 1972 to 1978

Harm 1
Harm 2
Harm 3
Harm 4
Harm 5
Harm 6
Harm 7
Harm 8

    • (1) 1972, Netherlands Championship in Amsterdam/Apeldoorn, Harm Wiersma took 1st place.

    • (2) 1973, National competition, deep in thought on the next checkers move.

    • (3)1973, Harm & Ton Sijbrands at Schizpol Airport, leaving for Russian competition.

    • (4) 1975, the humorous side of checkerboard play ~ “What magic can I create?”

    • (5) 1977, Netherlands Championship, Zevenaar, Harm Wiersma was the checkers tourney winner.

    • (6) 1976, European checkers tournament ~ “Will my opponent like to lose?”

    • (7) 1978, Zevenaar, Harm vs Rob Clerc in Netherlands Checkers Championship game.

    • (8) 1977, Suikertoernooi, Hans Jansen vs Harm Wiersma, Amsterdam.

    European Checkers Tournament

    Harm Wiersma participated in the Suikertoernooi in Amsterdam and joined the checkers arena and field of experienced masters of the checkerboard, but displayed his strategies to his advantage and tied for first place with Ton Sijbrands.

    Checkers Champion Harm Wiersma 1970Checkers Champions Anatoli Gantwarg vs Harm Wiersma
    Anatoli Gantwarg vs Harm Wiersma
    Suikertoernooi Amsterdam in 1970.

    Ton Sijbrands looks on. During this checkers competition, Harm Wiersma had an opportunity to meet with and play against Senegalese Grandmaster, Baba Sy, after ten years had passed since Harm faced Baba Sy as a checkers opponent in 1963.

    There was also time for a cultural exchange as Baba Sy displayed and sold African necklaces from his home country. From 1970 through to 1977, Harm faced the Senegalese master across the checkerboard several times, as well as Mamina N’Diaye, the first African checkers player from Mali to enter the checkers circuit in 1975.
    1963 ~ Harm Wiersma vs Baba Sy
    Harm & Baba looking at B’s wares
    Ton Sijbrands vs Harm Wiersma
    Harm vs Carl ‘Buster’ Smith
    Baba Sy vs Harm Wiersma
    Harm vs Baba
    Harm checkers game picture
    Harm vs Jan de Ruiter
    Wiersma vs Baba Sy
    Harm Wiersma vs Mamina N’Diaye Apart from a regular game
    Harm Wiersma also favored playing simultaneous games
    (A) From left to right, 1963 ~ Harm Wiersma vs Baba Sy; 197 ~ 0 Harm & Baba looking at B’s wares; 1972 ~ Ton Sijbrands vs Harm Wiersma, Suikertoernooi.
    (B) 1972 ~ Harm vs Carl ‘Buster’ Smith, USA; 1973 ~ Baba Sy vs Harm Wiersma; 1975 ~ Harm vs Baba .
    (C) 1975 ~ Harm vs Vladimir Agafonov; 1975 ~ Harm vs Jan de Ruiter; 1977 ~ Wiersma vs Baba Sy; 1977.
    (D1) & (D2) ~ Harm Wiersma vs Mamina N’Diaye Apart from a regular game of checkers facing an opponent’s strategies on a one-on-one basis, Harm Wiersma also favored playing simultaneous games in much the same way as Jannes van der Wal and Ton Sijbrands. He enjoyed playing this style of competitive checkers as often as possible and was always seeking new competitors in order to obtain the highest possible result. Harm was challenged to improve his score with each simultaneous checkers match that was played. In 1975, Wiersma improved on Ton Sijbrand’s record by playing against 187 opponents in one sitting.

    Checkers Champion Harm Wiersma improves on Sijbrand’s simultaneous record at Hierden 1975hampion Harm Wiersma improves on Sijbrand’s simultaneous record at Hierden 1975hampion Harm Wiersma improves on Sijbrand’s simultaneous record at Hierden 1975

    Harm Wiersma improves on Sijbrand’s simultaneous record at Hierden in 1975.

Continued Checkers Information, Harm Wiersma

Harm Wiersma Harm Wiersma 2 Harm Wiersma 3
Harm Wiersma 4 Harm Wiersma 5  


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