Checkers champion from 1857 to 1885.
Robert D. Yates was born in Brooklyn, New
York, in 1857. Robert Yates was a spectacular
checkers player, but his playing career was
From an early age, Yates found an interest in the
sport of checkers and studied the game well. In 1873,
at age fifteen, he met the World checkers champion,
James Wyllie, who at that time was beginning his
first tour of America. Through their initial association,
Robert Yates was able to impress the "Herd
his checker play; in fact, he left an impression
on Wyllie so that a fifty game match for the World
title was arranged between champions Wyllie and
Yates. Again three years later in 1876 when James
Wyllie passed through New York on his return home
during the latter part of his tour.
This turned out to be one of the toughest matches
in 18th century checker history between two opponents
of equal caliber. Everything hinged on the last game
because each checkers player had reached an impasse
with the score being one win each and forty-seven
draws between them after the forty-ninth game was
concluded. It was also one of the most famous games
in the history of checkers.
During the game, champion Robert Yates got
into trouble, but at the same time, Wyllie
missed his opportunity at a forced win, which
then gave Yates a chance to turn the tables.
Robert Yates did just that and won the game,
which also resulted in winning the match
by the score of two wins to one. Yates became
the checkers World Champion at the age of 18.
He was one of the first great American
checkers players and the only player to hold
the World Championship title during the 19th
century. Robert Yates was considered a ‘wonder
boy’ in the checker arena.
The following year, in 1877, he successfully
defended the title in a fifty game match
with Robert Martins.
On a winning streak, checkers champion Robert
Yates also defeated American champion
W. R. Barker in a short match of 10 games.
Although negotiations had been begun for
a return match with James Wyllie, Yates decided
to relinquish the title in 1878 so that he
could pursue his medical studies.
Champion Robert Yates graduated as a qualified
physician in 1883, and then began his career
at the Flatbush Hospital in New York. After
a sojourn of two years at the hospital, he
accepted a post as ship's physician on the
steamship, Scheidam, but on his first voyage
in 1885 he succumbed to typhus fever, and later
died tragically from the disease. Robert Yates,
an aspiring young checker champion, was buried
at sea; however, his memory was honored in
the following obituary that appeared in the Draughts
World Magazine, September of 1885.
Read About - Death of Robert Yates