Monday, July 26, 2010 - State Journal-Register, Springfield, IL - "National checkers tournament here will honor memory of local grandmaster"
Checkers fanatics from around the world will compete in Springfield for five days in August to honor the memory of one of the game’s most revered players.
The American Checker Federation’s 2010 National 3-Move Checkers Tournament will be at the Days Inn, 3000 Stevenson Drive, Sunday through Aug. 5.
Because of Springfield native Richard L. Fortman. Fortman, who died in 2008 at the age of 93, had a more-than-70-year career as one of the world’s most renowned checkers players, a grandmaster analyzer, author of the seven-volume opening encyclopedia “Basic Checkers” and a former world champion in correspondence checkers.
Fortman, a 1933 graduate of Springfield High School, worked as a warehouse foreman for the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co.
The tournament’s organizer, John Acker, said he started planning about a year ago, asking around to see if people would be interested in playing.
“We have a tradition in the (American Checker Federation) of honoring either current players who contribute a lot or recently deceased players,” he said. “Mr. Fortman is probably the only man in checkers I knew who didn’t have any enemies. I didn’t know him personally very well, but what impressed me about him is he was willing to help anyone with checkers.”
Acker knew firsthand how Fortman would mentor younger players.
“This is a grandmaster world champion player,” he said. “It would be like if I e-mailed Garry Kasparov and asked him about a chess (move). When I did the same thing with Mr. Fortman, he said, ‘Let’s play a couple games, and I’ll give you some tips.’”
Though he kept a low profile in Springfield, Fortman was known worldwide for his checkers ability. When he died, the New York Times and The Times of London both wrote about his passing. Players on the USA Checkers website posted mournful messages.
“He just seemed to have a personality that helped him get along with most people,” Acker said. “He played a lot of mail checkers and had a lot of friends who never met him in person.”
Next week’s tournament will be the first national checkers event held in the Midwest since 2006. The American Checker Federation says it hopes to attract many players as well as visitors who knew Fortman, or those who are interested in the game.
The public is invited to watch the tournaments — quietly. There’s no cheering during checkers.
Rhys Saunders can be reached at 788-1521.
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Saturday, November 29, 2008 - The NY Times - "Richard L. Fortman, a Champion at Checkers, Dies at 93"