Moiseyev looks for inspiration in checkers matches

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Sefton Ipock

Alexander Moiseyev studies the board.


Anderson Independent-Mail
May 23, 2005

Alexander Moiseyev was very active Monday, for a checker player.

Mr. Moiseyev, a 46-year-old Russian immigrant, husband and father of three, is playing in the Three-Move Checkers world championship match in Anderson for the next nine days.

During the first four games of the match, which kicked off Monday morning, Mr. Moiseyev nervously knocked his knees together throughout much of the competition.

When the time came for him to make a move, he often held his head in his hands.

But the thing that fascinated the spectators the most was the smoke breaks.

Several times while his opponent, Ron "Suki" King of Barbados was contemplating his next move, Mr. Moiseyev walked outside to smoke.

Because the games at this level of checkers require so much thought before each move, he knew there was enough time to get back inside before his opponent had completed his turn.

During the smoke break, Mr. Moiseyev took deep breaths and walked around in circles.

Then it happened.

"Itís like a light goes on in his head," a police officer standing by said. "Heís just puffing and puffing and the next thing you know, he lights up and heís barreling back into to room to make his next move."

One woman said: "Itís like he just gets inspired, and he has to go and play that move right then."

Like clockwork, Mr. Moiseyev would return from a smoke break and make a sudden move. It was a strong contrast to Mr. King, who sat still in his chair most of the day, sometimes closing his eyes and yawning while Mr. Moiseyev made his moves.

Late Monday afternoon, during the third game of the day, Mr. Moiseyev ran his hands through his straight, graying hair and shook his head.

"Heís a dangerous player," he said of Mr. King. "But heís good. Heís really good."

He started playing Russian draughts, the Russian equivalent of checkers, when he was 7 years old and reached a Master level before he was 15.

He won the Moscow Championship in international draughts in 1979.

He immigrated to the United States in 1991 with his family to work as a computer programmer.

After switching to the Anglo-American game of checkers/draughts, he began to excel in America.

He continued to challenge champions until he earned the top U.S. titles in Go-As-You-Please Checkers and Three-Move Checkers.

He says his mission is to erase the concept of checkers as a childrenís game.

"Checkers is a combination of sport, art and strength," Mr. Moiseyev said. "It makes my life much more interesting."

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


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