Marion Tinsley (1927 -1995) - A Checkers Champ
Marion Tinsley is by most accounts, the greatest checkers player that the world has ever known. From 1954–when he was recognized as the World Champion–he has lost only 9 games. In honor of his excellence and numerous contributions to the game, he became known as Dr. Marion Tinsley, following the awarding of the title of World Champion Emeritus.
Marion Tinsley was born on February 3, 1927 in Irontown, Ohio, and had developed an early interest in checkers at a young age. It was said that he discovered the game when he was actually in search of a book on mathematics in his local public library. It was there that he chanced upon two checkers books which were written by Millard Hopper and James Lee. Lee’s book, the now famous Guide to the Game of Checkers, was particularly inspirational to Tinsley, and led to an active checkers career for the young boy.
Much of Tinsley's excellence in the game is attributed to his excellent memory and superior analytical skills. These skills no doubt helped him win virtually every tournament that he played in during his early years. He won the United States Junior Championship in 1947, a victory he secured by beating Maurice Chamblee. The match ended with Tinsley scoring three wins, 25 drawn games, and two losses. Tinsley then went on to win the Tourney Championship of America, which was held at Brownwood, Texas, a victory that was made all the more impressive by the fact that he did not lose a single game.
Marion Tinsley began his world domination of checkers with a World Championship match played against Newell Banks. This tournament ended in a three game win for Tinsley, with one loss, and the rest of the games drawn. Tinsley was recognized as the World Champion in 1954 by the American Checker Federation. He later defended his title by winning a match against Walter Hellman of Gary, Indiana. Tinsley again bested the competition in this event, which was held in 1956 at Lakeside, Ohio, and at Peoria, Illinois. The match ended with Tinsley scoring three wins, no losses and 35 drawn games. After later defeating Derek Oldbury with a wide margin of nine wins to one and had 24 drawn games, Tinsley decided to retire from checkers temporarily.
Upon his reentry into the world of checkers, Tinsley played a match against Elbert Lowder, which he won with 15 wins, no losses, and 10 drawn games. This victory cemented Tinsley's domination of the game and assured him a place among the ranks of the best checker players in the world.
Marion Tinsley died on April 3, 1995.