The cause was cancer, relatives said. He was visiting his twin sister, Mary Clark, in Humble when he died.
Dr. Marion Tinsley, a retired Florida State University mathematics professor, who had lost only nine checkers games since first winning the world championship in 1955, abandoned his world title last August at the world championship final in Boston sponsored by the American Checkers Federation and the British Draughts Federation.
Illness forced him to withdraw from the championship match after playing six games against an enhanced version of the Chinook computer program that he had beaten in three previous title matches. Although Chinook eventually won the 1994 title by beating a stand-in, the victory was a hollow one for the program's developer, Jonathan Schaeffer, a Canadian computer scientist.
"Tinsley was the Mount Everest we wanted to scale," Mr. Schaeffer said, noting that the latest Chinook, which has a repertory of 250 billion moves and can make 3 million calculations a minute, was five times as powerful as the version Mr. Tinsley defeated in 1992.
Before his forced withdrawal, Mr. Tinsley provided evidence that the souped-up Chinook still needed more soup. He had fought the computer to six straight draws.
Mr. Tinsley once attributed his awesome mental development to a childhood belief that his parents favored his twin.
A mediocre checkers player as a child, he began his ascent at the age of 14 when he stumbled on a book on checkers while researching a math problem at the Ohio State University library.
A fierce competitor who acknowledged that he hated to lose more than he loved to win, Mr. Tinsley developed a virtual obsession for a game whose appeal never ceased to captivate him.
A Christian who worked for years making an outline of the Old Testament from the New Testament perspective, Mr. Tinsley scoffed at repeated suggestions that his mastery of the Chinook computer proved that his intelligence was somehow other worldly.
"I'm human," he said. "It's just that I have a better programmer than Chinook. God gave me a logical mind."
Mr. Tinsley was a native of Ironton, Ohio. In addition to his sister, he is survived by two brothers, Ed, of Sarasota, Fla., and Joe, of Thornville, Ohio.
Ed Bucker wrote: I have been searching for the burial location of Dr. Marion Franklin Tinsley for some time now and today I found the information. I called the cemetery office and they gave me the exact location in the cemetery and faxed me an obituary they had on file. Dr. Tinsley is buried along side his father, Edw. H. who was buried Nov. 19, 1948 and his mother, Viola Mae who was buried June 1, 1987 and a brother, Harold Edw. who was buried July 6, 2007. He told me there is a family monument on the plot, that be believes has all four names engraved upon it, and that he would attempt to get someone from the office to take a picture of the stone and e-mail it to me.
MARION F. TINSLEY, Ph.D.,
age 68 passed away Monday, April 3,
1995 in Humble, Tex. He was the greatest checker player that ever lived,
holding the World Champion Checker Player title since 1955. With an IQ of a
genius, he entered The Ohio Sate University at age 14. In college, he paid his
way with earnings from checker exhibitions and tournaments. He received a
bachelor’s degree in 1950, a Master’s degree in 1953 and a doctorate in 1957.
He taught mathematics a Florida State University 10 years and Florida A&M
University 26 years. An evangelical Christian, he served as an elder and
part-time minister at Tallahassee Christian Church for many years. Upon
retirement , he moved to Conyers, Ga. To fulfill the most important element of
his life, the study and teaching of the bible to his Christian brothers and
sisters at Victory Tabernacle. He is survived by twin sister, Mary F. Clark of
Humble, Tex.; 2 brothers, Ed Tinsley of Sarasota, Fla. And Joe Tinsley of
Thornville, Oh.; nephew, Walter Clark of Bellingham, Mass.; niece Carol Huber
and husband, John of Humble, Tex.; niece, Lisa Maddox and husband, Fred of
Thornville, Oh.; and many cousins in Ky. And Oh. Funeral service will be held
1 p.m. Thursday April 6, at Victory Tabernacle, 1151 Flat Shoals Rd.; Conyers,
Ga. Interment Green Lawn cemetery, Columbus, Oh. Arrangements by RUTHERFORD
FUNERAL HOME, 2383 N. High St., Columbus, Oh.
Marion Tinsley's Gravesite
I am sure it will be noted that Dr. Tinsley did not hold the World Championship Title continuously from 1955 until his death but I copied his obituary just as it appeared in the news paper.
Palomino wrote: I'll let others post the years Dr. Tinsley held the title..."Pal" Bucker
He held title in 1955-1962, and 1979-1991. See Sixth, Pg. 173 for details.
M. Tinsley retired first time right after his match with D. Oldbury in 1958, but the fraternity continued to recognized him as a World Champion until next World Title Match in 1962. In 1975 W. Hellman passed away, but next 3-move World Title Match was held only in 1979.