Sunday, August 1, 2010 - State Journal-Register, Springfield, IL  - "Checkers tournament honors one of the greats"
SJ-R.COM            (article about 2010 ACF National - The 47th 3-Move Tournament - “Richard L. Fortman Memorial”)
State Journal-Register, Springfield, IL - The Oldest Newspaper in Illinois   

Checkers tournament honors one of the greats
Posted Aug 01, 2010 @ 11:47 PM
Last update Aug 01, 2010 @ 11:48 PM

Checkers enthusiasts the world over had a special opportunity as the 2010 National 3-Move Checkers Tournament opened on Sunday: a chance to meet the family of the man they were honoring.

The tournament, held at the Days Inn, 3000 Stevenson Drive, this year pays homage to Springfield checkers legend Richard L. Fortman, who died in 2008 at the age of 93, ending a nearly 75-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.

“It’s a great honor to have people that recognize my father from all over the world,” said Cindy Ponder, sitting at a table in the hotel across from her brother, Mark Fortman.

The two siblings shared memories of their father from the pages of three photograph albums spanning Richard Fortman’s life. In some photographs from the 1940s, he sports a full head of hair, something Ponder says she never remembers her father having.

In other photographs, Richard Fortman is playing in tournaments, many of his opponents also well known within the checkers community.

“Within Springfield I didn’t think a lot of people recognized who Richard Fortman was, but now I realize he had admirers from all over the world who really respected him and thought a lot of him,” Ponder said. “It’s a really great honor for this to be held in his hometown.”

Richard Fortman was a champion who continued playing online until the day he died, according to Mark Fortman.

“He had something in him that clicked,” he said. “For 75 years he played.”

The tournament is checkers’ first national event held in the Midwest since 2006. The American Checker Federation says it hopes to attract many players as well as visitors who knew Mr. Fortman, or those who simply are interested in the game.

The tournament also will decide the U.S. champion in the game of checkers, according to Roger Dall, a referee at the tournament. The tournament is divided into three divisions: masters, major and minor.

The champion of the masters division will become the U.S. champion.

“We group them by rating, that way people are playing players that have similar skills or the same range of skills,” Dall said.

The tournament continues daily through Thursday as is open to the public for viewing.

Game play typically begins about 9 a.m. and ends about 10 p.m.

And as for the tournament, Ponder says she believes her father would have approved.

“He would have loved it,” she said. “It’s just amazing how many people’s lives have been touched by him… it’s weird to me because we grew up with a checker board in the house, we didn’t realize what was going on with all of this.”

Rhys Saunders can be reached at 788-1521.


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7/26/2010 State Journal-Register -"National checkers tournament here will honor memory of local grandmaster"