Checkers takes spotlight
Tourney draws players from Midwest
by Ray Scherer
Monday, April 20, 2009


Alex Moiseyev came to St. Joseph this weekend to limber up for the defense of his world checkers title in the fall.

He’ll later head to Tennessee and Illinois to accomplish the same goal — fine-tune his skills. For the moment, though, the Missouri State Checkers 3-Move Tournament at East Hills Library had to suffice. Mr. Moiseyev pitted his abilities against nearly a dozen top checkers players from across the Midwest.

“I just need more practice,” he said Sunday. “I’m playing when I can. I love to travel across the country.”

The Russian — who now lives in Columbus, Ohio — wants to play in six to eight tournaments leading up to the world 3-Move championship. In the 3-Move variation, the first three moves (red-white-red) are chosen at random from a list of accepted three-move openings.

Missouri Checker Association President George Stallsworth said many top checkers players were unable to make the state championships, a first-time event for St. Joseph.

“That’s the hardest part: getting a place to play,” he added.

His wife, Darlene, said most of the weekend’s competitors hail from Missouri, although several traveled from across the Midwest to play.

“This has been going on since 1925,” Mr. Stallsworth said of the state checkers finals.

The popularity of computer checkers is siphoning interest from the traditional game, he said.

“A lot of our people are old,” Mr. Stallsworth said.

Despite the Internet-related downswing, the standard checkerboard is still favored in many areas. Taking time to learn all of the nuances supplies the intrigue.

“It’s much harder than chess,” Mr. Stallsworth said. “It’s a challenge to play the game. ... It’s a complicated game if you play it right.”

It engages the brain on different levels, according to Mr. Moiseyev, who was the tournament’s top non-Missourian.

“Checkers is a combination of art, sport and science,” he said. “I enjoy all of them.”

Mrs. Stallsworth edits a newsletter for the Missouri association that is mailed to 180 people in 32 states and several nations.

A Missouri “Go As You Please” checkers tournament will be held June 20 at the Joyce Raye Patterson Senior Citizens Center, 100 S. 10th St. Board moves are unrestricted in the “Go As You Please” variation.

For more information on the tournament, contact Mr. Stallsworth at 689-2859 or e-mail at

Ray Scherer can be reached