Barbados champion is serious about checkers

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Sefton Ipock

Ron King plans his next move.


Anderson Independent-Mail

May 23, 2005

When a smile spreads across Ron "Suki" King’s face, a small dimple appears on his right cheek.

But when he talks about checkers, you rarely see that dimple because he doesn’t do a lot of smiling. He’s that serious about it.

The 49-year-old husband and father of three from Barbados is the world champion of GAYP Checkers and is in Anderson for the next two weeks to challenge Alex Moiseyev, 46, the world champion of Three-Move Checkers.

By day, Mr. King works for the government of Barbados, teaching checkers in schools and prisons and promoting the game of checkers to the world.

It would sound like a fairly unimportant job, but then this is Barbados. In his country, everyone loves to play checkers, Mr. King said.

"You can find someone playing checkers at all times of the day and night," he said. "You can always get someone to play checkers with you."

Yes, checkers.

"You have about 50 people here watching these games, but if this were Barbados, there would be hundreds," Charles Walker, president of the World Checker Draught Federation, told the audience at Monday’s games.

A gray, pin-striped suit swallowed Mr. King’s small frame as he prepared to take the stage to play Monday morning.

"I was sponsored by my government to come here," he says, his dimple spreading and his eyes nearly dancing. "Whenever I need sponsors, I have no problem getting them. Why would they do that if I were not a winner? I was named Sportsman of the Year in Barbados, and 275,000 people have to vote on that. I think I have brought the game of checkers to a new level."

And now he has brought it to Anderson.

The 2005 match is especially important to him. Mr. Moiseyev became the world champion, only after the American Checker Federation stripped Mr. King of the title in 2001.

Mr. King had held the title for about 10 years, but when Mr. Moiseyev challenged him to a match, the two could not agree on the terms of the match, so it never occurred. Mr. Moiseyev played the next man in line for the title, and the federation declared him the world champion.

Mr. Moiseyev and Mr. King finally played in 2003, and Mr. Moiseyev won by a large margin.

Even in that meeting, though, Mr. King says he was unfairly matched with Mr. Moiseyev because he had spent the weeks before the games promoting the event and was tired.

This time, Mr. King said he didn’t have to do any of the work to prepare for the match."So this is very serious to me," said Mr. King. "This is really a war."

He watched Mr. Moiseyev during Monday’s games, never smiling, and once complaining because the referee repeatedly reminded Mr. Moiseyev to stop his clock after his moves.

Players must make 24 moves before an hour runs out on their clocks. A referee’s friendly reminder to his opponent about his clock cost Mr. King a match before, he said.

It may be a few more days before we see that dimple again.

Samantha Epps can be reached at (864) 260-1259 or by e-mail at


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