A Little Checker History: There is good evidence of the game's ancient origin, both factual and circumstantial.  Checkers were played in the days of the earlier Pharaohs and is well authenticated by Egyptian history and the British museum contains specimens of primitive boards quite similar to the modern ones. The roots of checkers are intertwined with those of chess, a sister game, and there is some conjecture over priority. With Checkers being simpler in form, it is reasonable to presume it was devised first, and that chess followed as an elaboration. Plato and Homer mention checkers in their works and the Romans are believed to have imported it from Greece. Comparison of these games of antiquity with the modern pastime may be speculative; nevertheless, the earliest publications on record show the 12 men on each side and the conventional board.  Antonio Torquemada of Valencia, Spain published the first book on checkers in 1547. Other Spanish issues followed and in 1650 Juan Garsia Canalejas published a notable volume containing games and traps that are still dependable. The Spaniards may have received their knowledge from older sources in Arabia through the Moors.   William Payne, a mathematician, was the pioneer of English draughts literature and his book, "Guide to the Game of Draughts", appeared in 1756. A striking feature of Payne's book is the dedication by Samuel Johnson, who was exceedingly fond of the game.  In 1800, Joshua Sturges brought out a treatise that served as a textbook for nearly half a century until the advent of Andrew Anderson's elaborate compilation in 1848. Thereafter the literature grew at a rapid pace and by 1900 the books counted up in the hundreds.  After 1900 the growth of scientific play was stepped up by the advancement of U.S. players, who made rapid progress, spurred on by their first team match with a representative British group in 1905.  Checkers continued to grow and become a popular and favorite family and social past-time game.  During WWII to the early 50’s the popularity of checkers peaked.  There seems to be a resurgence of interest in the late 90’s with the current growth of Internet checkers, better computer checker programs, and checker game rooms that bring in new and younger players.
 

  North Carolina Checker Association

History

North Carolina Checkers as a game has been around as far back as the first settlers who brought the "Grand Ole Game" with them. Various communities and townships organized their own local checker "get-to-gathers / checker parties" and were later called checker groups, associations, and today called checker clubs.  These group leaders were responsible for organizing and promoting the State's earliest tournaments, matches, and playing events, thus we have recorded matches between top North Carolina checker contenders as far back as the late 1800s.  You can view a continuous record of our NC State Tournament Winners. The early years of this record was obtained from Harry A. Anderson who was a nine time State Champion and checker historian of Winston-Salem.  He compiled a NC Championship list from his past records and research and sent a copy to Elbert Lowder in a letter.  I obtained a partial copy of it from our past NCCA Treasurer, Clint Pickard.  I quote from that letter: "The NC Tournament began in 1918 or 1919.   I am enclosing the record as I have it.  I also note in 6th A.T. that Mr. McNair played a Mr. Bowen from Raleigh for the State Championship in 1890 and won. Then he lost to Mr. Murdock from Asheville in Asheville in 1894 but regained the title in 1895 and held it for 12 years. Best Regards, Harry Anderson."  It is obvious Harry Anderson was referring to the records of NCCA which was organized in late 1917 and established in 1918. The American Tourney (AT) printed as journals go further back and these were sponsored and published by the early national checker groups like the American Checker Association (ACA) officially formed in 1906. It later joined together with the National Checker Association (NCA) on Sept 1st, 1947, this merger forms the present ACF.  Officially the ACF was formed the following year by changing their name to the American Checker Federation which was chosen by full vote on May 1st, 1948. By researching the July 1896 issue of The North American Checker Board as listing John A. Murdoch as the state champion of North Carolina, so we supplement Harry's chart to reflect the title change and the note about Murdock resigning his title in 1897 with a Note.

Mr. H.C. McNair of Maxton in Robinson and Scotland county has the distinction of winning the first NC State Championship by playing Mr. A.F. Bowen of Raleigh at Raleigh, NC in 1890, and after two brief losses in 1894 and 1896, held it for a total of 21 consecutive years from 1897-1917.  This worthy State Champion was significant in organizing and supporting checkers back then, and gets the credit for being the major principal in setting up the North Carolina Checker Association in 1918. You can read about these historical events from a NCCA Booklet published in 1952. It is from this establishment that we get the majority of our records of the early North Carolina State Champions, who won State Tournaments sponsored and sanctioned by this organization. Harry and Ed Scheidt played in this 1st NCCA organized tournament held at Lowell in 1918.  Harry was 18 and Ed was 15 year old.  The players were required to recorded their tournament games which was also the first year players' moves were recorded for posterity.  No doubt that Harry Anderson authored the history for this booklet, and our state championship list.  Harry was an active player, officer, and director in NCCA and the Winston-Salem Chess & Checker Association. 

One would see this State Checker Tournament is one of the oldest competitive events held in the State.  North Carolina has crowned a checker champion ever year since 1890, excluding '43-45 WWII years.  We might not be as popular or famous as the PGA, ACC, NCAA, or NASCAR, but we have surely been around as long if not longer.  The same things about checkers that fascinated and entertained our forefathers still exist today.  The grand old game is a hobby, a mind sport, so simple a child can play and yet no one has mastered it.  The game is void of gambling, luck, or cheating which makes it a wholesome family pastime for friendly competition with little or no cost.  Shoot, I can remember Grandpa making his board and sawing a broom handle into checkers, then smutting the dark ones from the fireplace.  Now, I would say that's being thrifty, frugal, and creative.

The beauty and complexity of checkers is sometimes missed by today's general public because of the relative simplicity of the rules of checkers as compared to chess. It is probably the reason for this common misconception that checkers is a "children's game" and not worthy of serious attention.  The news media and movies occasionally perpetuate this myth.  I would certainly agree that checkers is a great game for children to play; however, the game has a deceptively deep complexity and beauty that is rarely discovered in casual play.  It only takes a few games with a skilled player to convince one that it takes knowledge and visualization to play on a serious level.

Over time different sections of the State produced strong checker groups from close knit communities and townships. Often this would be a regular group of players who met on rainy days, weekends, and their regular hang-out day at the local feed mill, grocery, gas station, barber shop, hardware store, YMCA, or courthouse. It was common to see checkers played during break time and lunch among railroaders, fireman, farmers, and factory workers.  These players organized and formed clubs and associations.  The Winston-Salem Y.M.C.A. Chess & Checker Association is a fine example.  They boasted a 300+ membership in their hay-day back in the mid 50's.  They had strong master players like Ed Scheidt, Gene Self, Harry Anderson, and a number of others who raised the playing bar and helped bring many other checker players along, improving their knowledge and skill.  It was that organization that sponsored the July 4th, 1952 State Championship Checker Classic and published the above booklet.  This was the time when local checker enthusiasts would invite and sponsor Checker Grandmasters like Tommy Wiswell, Willie Ryan, and Newell Banks.  They would open their homes to these "Checker Celebrities" when they scheduled their special checker attractions and exhibition tours into the area, usually several days or a week long event.  There would always be checkerboards & checker sets for sale, checker books and naturally they would be promoting their newest checker publications since Grandmasters/World Checker Champion Title holders usually authored their own checker books.

There were six such club-groups in the 50-70's (Eastern NC Checkers - Sanford Checker Club - NC Checker Assn. - Sanford, Coastal - Piedmont (Winston YMCA) & Mountain with separate and independent leadership.  I recall older checker players talking about the numerous one day tournaments that were held all over the state.  There was the Franklin to Ahoskie, and Murfreesboro Tys, basically all over the state in addition to the State Ty.

Sanford has hosted the NC Open State Tournament venue ten different years, and the Southeastern many times.  Mr. Clinton C. Pickard, a Sanford and Lee County auctioneer,  businessman, and checker promoter, organized these state checker tournaments with the help of other key individuals including: Mr. Ray Brooks, Mr. Sion Kelly, Attorney H.M. Jackson, and Mr. Elbert Lowder, all of Sanford and Lee Co. 

They also hosted four US National Checker Tournaments in Sanford, NC.  These National Checker Tournaments drew international players, US, and local players, in 1976, 1977, 1979, and 1981.  All these tournaments were The American Checker Federation sanctioned.  The ACF is the main governing body for checkers in the United States.  The North Carolina Checker Association is affiliated with ACF.  The purpose of both organizations is to organize, promote, and sponsor checker tournaments. 

Although North Carolina Checker Association was established in 1918, several dedicated checker players  representing  the leadership of the various group/clubs recognized a need to reorganize NC Checkers to better promote checkers,  improve tournament participation, and financially support checkers in North Carolina.  These dedicated checker players decided at the July 3, 1987 North Carolina State Checker Tournament in Raleigh that they should contribute capital to a trust fund and rejuvenate the State Checker Organization. It was difficult to get out and raise prize money and find private or business sponsors to finance yearly tournaments. The same thing took time and effort on the tournament organizers, who had to repeat this annually. The task fell on the same key individuals.  No one knows this better than Clint Pickard who sponsored and organized recent State, Southeastern, and 4 National tournaments. The idea was to get individual and business contributions so a stronger financial and administrative checker headquarters could function within the established NCCA.   The key individuals were Clinton Pickard, Cecil Lowe, Raleigh Johnson, John Webster, Elbert Lowder, and BT Jones who recognized the need to combine, update, and centralize.  They discussed the areas that needed to be addressed and who could best oversee that particular task of organizing checkers. By-laws were written up and submitted to NCCA officers September, 1987 by BT Jones, an attorney and the past NCCA President who just finished serving 15 years.  Jones also left NCCA as an un-registered, un-incorporated association, but filled for an EIN tax number. The name North Carolina Checker Association was already intact so the association is now a non profit un-incorporated entity. New officers were elected a couple of years prior to this time as: Cecil Lowe - President, John Webster -Vice President, Elbert Lowder - Secretary, and Clinton Pickard - Treasurer.  New NCCA literature and letterhead was printed, giving the PO Box 134 Sanford, NC with Phone as 919-775-5519 as the location of NCCA. It appears that Mr. Clinton C. Pickard was a significant principal in organizing and promoting all these changes which took place over several years.  He also ordered the lapel pin from a Sanford business that had them made and imported as well as the other NCCA things were printed in Sanford.  To start a fund to finance tournaments Clint Pickard, Cecil Lowe, and Raleigh Johnson put up $1,500.00 each to initially establish the Prize Fund Account. Life-Time Memberships would be sold to individuals and businesses. The incentive to persuade member participation would allow: any player or business who becomes a Life-Member to have the privilege of playing in future State Checker Tournaments with the exemption of a tournament player entry fee, a nice NCCA lapel pin, Life-Membership card, and an official certificate bestowing all rights and privileges to a NCCA Lifetime Membership. A permanent Lifetime Membership roster would be displayed at all future State & District Checker Tournaments advertising who has contributed to NC Checkers as "Individuals" and "Businesses."  This would be advertised in Tournament announcements and acknowledged throughout the tournament year. This information is also displayed on the NCCA Website, which was launched January, 2004. Our website is linked throughout the checker community nationwide and our members recognize and appreciate business gifts and sponsorships, and therefore patronize these businesses.  NCCA is thus funded by event revenues, interest/dividend income from our trust fund, and corporate & individual sponsors contributions / donations.  The Lifetime Membership Fund has proven successful since 77 members have participated over the years and continue to join.

It should also be noted around 1973, ACF District 4 Manager James Truitt from Marietta, GA started bring the Southeastern tournaments to Sanford.  Jim and Clint Pickard were working closely and Truitt relied on Clint to help organize and finance the Southeastern which become known as our District 4 Tournament.  Clint was an enthusiastic booster and fund raiser which brought many Southeastern and State Tournaments to Sanford as will as several Nationals.  This activity no doubt brought together the efforts to build and strengthen NCCA.  Les Balderson's supervision and guidance was helpful along with the others mentioned above, and certainly, Elbert Lowder from Sanford was in his hay day as a championship player. Truitt took over from Melvin Lindley in 69 and served as District 4 manager until his age began to hinder his performance so he convinced Pickard he should run for ACF D4 manager, and was elected in 1977. Clint encouraged Larry Michael to run for District 4 manager in 1998 to replace himself, so Larry was elected District Manager in 1999. Clint worked with ACF President Homer Calkins who replaced Dale Heath in 67 and Les Balderson replaced Homer in 1986, and Alan Millhone replaced Les in 2003. During Clint's 20 years of service as a D4 manager he build and promoting checkers in North Carolina and the ACF.

Later JR Smith and Bill McClintock were elected as Secretary and Treasurer in 2005, approved by the Executive Committee. The last NCCA address Clint Pickard use was: 204 Chariot Drive • Sanford, NC 27330 • Phone (919) 775-7628 • FAX 919-775-5519 which was switch to McClintock's address: as  3741 Williams Dairy Road, Greensboro, NC 27406.  Tax laws changed in 2006 requiring all non profit organizations except churches to file an annual tax form to keep their status.  When we started filing our 990 Tax Form, Smith also filed as NCCA Register of Agent with NC Secretary of State as a non profit association.  This entity was cancelled and upgraded again in September 19, 2011 by JR Smith as Incorporator of NCCA as a 501(c)(3) and applying for tax exemption by filing Form 1023 with the IRS for our "determination letter," a letter of approval from the IRS as a tax exempt organization, which would allow us to function as a charitable, social, and recreational organization with tax exempt preference.  This is important because it allows checker donors to receive a tax benefit through the organization's tax status allowing their donations and contributions to NCCA as a (tax write off) a deductible expense from their federal income, thus reducing their taxes.  Teal Stanley was elected President to replace deceased Cecil Lowe, as well as discussion and approval concerning our incorporation of NCCA at the May, 2011 annual meeting. Mike Ross was elected Treasurer in May 2013 at our annual business meeting to replace deceased Treasurer, Bill McClintock.  The NCCA address was changed to: NORTH CAROLINA CHECKER ASSOCIATION, PO Box 39594, Greensboro, NC 27438

North Carolina Checker Association is affiliated with The American Checker Federation (ACF) and the central governing body for checkers in the United States.   As they are, so are we dedicated to promoting and preserving the great game of "Checkers" although our emphasis is focused throughout North Carolina by sponsoring various checker events and tournaments.  Our goal is to produce stronger players through educating youth, sharing knowledge and practice, holding scheduled tournaments that qualifies players so we can nominate them to world championship qualifying events.  All our tournaments follow ACF regulations and guidelines on setup, conduct, play, scoring, and reporting.  Standardizing allows ACF to sanction our tournaments and the results are accepted for player membership ranking and rating.  This permits players to advance in tournament class, qualify, compete in District, Nationals, and challenge for USA and World Match Titles.  The ACF is an affiliate of WCDF (World Checkers Draughts Federation).

Although our core base of tournament checker players’ average age is 57, we accept our mature adults and senior citizens as a natural phenomenon of the checker game; however, we are currently striving to attract our youth.  We have implemented several programs to encourage children and young people to play more checkers.  We are working with Schools, Church Socials, YMCA, Recreation Facilities, and the Boys & Girls Clubs.  We sponsor and promote youth checker tournaments just for this age group.  A "Juniors" division was added to the Masters, Majors, and Minors just for this age group.  What better way can we share this beautiful and intriguing game than help a young active mind develop through thinking, problem solving, and visual concentration?  Our young people advance with enhanced mental skills and also hopefully acquire a love for the game of Checkers. We continue to think that our best opportunities lie in the Elementary and Middle Schools where students who get involved in playing (and maybe even studying Checkers & Chess) will, by virtue of all the Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Strategizing and Perseverance Skills that are developed by our great game, do better on their Math and Reading Comprehension Tests than they otherwise might, to the delight of their Educators and Parents. Please read Greensboro News & Record article "Strategic Measures"

Bob Murr and John Cardie both do a tremendous job at getting invited into elementary schools and teach an introductory course on checkers.  They illustrate checkers as a fun way to develop your thought process, problem solving, concentration, and visualization while playing checkers.  Bob has a power point presentation and John uses charts and a large illustrated checkerboard.  They often get invited back

Our website was activated in November 2004, providing our members online access to information and communication.

New Officers have replaced various offices over time, where noticeable change took place in elected officers for 2005 after prior officers had served nearly 20 years, with the exception of Cecil Lowe who continued to be President until his death in November, 2010.  Over a span of 8 decades our NCCA Presidents have been: William Eubank of Wilmington, NC serving in the 40's, Harry Anderson, of Winston-Salem and B.R. Ward of Goldsboro in the 50's, Angus Simpson of Charlotte in the 60's, B.T. Jones of Forest City in the 70's and Cecil Lowe of Colerain was elected to the President's chair in the mid 80's and continued to perform an outstanding service until his death in 2010 when Clint Pickard was appointed as an interim president, until our State Tournament in May of 2011.  Teal Stanley of Greensboro was elected as our President at the May 13th business meeting before our 2011 State Tournament in Greensboro, NC.

The tax laws changed in 2006 on reporting as a 501(c)(3) or any charitable entities except religious, so the Secretary of NCCA filed a form 8822 "change of address" to 3007 Robin Hood Drive, Greensboro, NC 27408, and Form 990-N (ez-form / e-Postcard) were filed yearly since 2005, thus easily meeting the May 15, 2008 IRS final dead line revoking charitable status for non-reporting.  This ruling also started our quest to register with the county and NC Secretary of State.

NCCA Life-Time memberships continue to grow, and the trust fund provides yearly interest to help finance our State Tournaments. 

NC Checkers continue to benefit from the foresight, effort of those individuals who founded our organization, improved it, and setup permanent and perpetual funding. We indeed, inherit a proud and rich checker legacy, something few other States have.


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