Hugh Burton, by Anthony Bishop (ACF Historian)
One summer afternoon in 1964, I got off the school bus in Hickory Valley, Tennessee. My small town
was know for its checker playing, and I thought the men who gathered around the country store were as good
as anyone in the world. I was surprised when I stopped to watch a few games and saw a stranger winning
almost every game. When it was time for him to leave, I asked him how he played so well, and he told me
he studied checker books. That day I bought a book from him, and this began a friendship that has lasted for
48 years! That stranger was Hugh Burton.
Hugh Burton, the internationalist, the grandmaster, and the champion of the Southern United States was
born on November 18, 1924 in Gates, Tennessee. Hugh started to play checkers at age 15, and by the age
of 20 he was on his way to becoming a grandmaster. During his playing career, he was unbeatable in the
strong Tennessee State Tournament. At a time when Tennessee had more checker players than any other
state, Hugh Burton set a record that probably will never be broken. He won first place 39 times. To illustrate
the magnitude of this feat, it should be noted that Edwin Hunt never won the Tennessee State Tournament.
In 1967, Hugh Burton was crowned the checker champion of the Southern United States. From 1959 until
the end of his playing career, Mr. Burton finished consistently in the top five. He also finished second in the
Florida Open in 1961, as he did in 1963, 1964, and 1967.
Hugh holds the record for the most wins in the annual Fifth District Tournament. But his greatest
tournament achievement occurred in the 1978 National. This tournament was the largest ever held in the
history of the game, and Burton finished third behind Dr. Marion Tinsley and Elbert Lowder. While Mr.
Burton was an active checker player, he held a position on every international match. In 1973 he proved
himself one of the greatest players in the world. Competing on a team that included such greats as Hellman,
Long, Levitt, Scheidt, Cravens, Lowder, Fuller, and Albrecht, Mr. Burton scored more wins against his
British opponents than any of his teammates.
The 2012 National Tournament will be held in Lebanon, Tennessee, and in honor of his distinguished
playing career, it will be named the Hugh Burton National Tournament.
copied from the June 2012 ACFB #357
2012 ACF - 48th 3-Move National Tournament, Lebanon, TN