Checkers Learning Hub.

Best Checkers Players of All Time

Checkers, also known as draughts, is a game that has been played for centuries. This strategy and skill game has attracted top minds of their generation including mathematicians and chess prodigies, and there have been many legendary players who have made their mark on the game.

Marion Tinsley (1927- 1995)

Marion Tinsley is widely thought of as the greatest checkers player of all time. He won the World Checkers Championship six times and remained unbeaten for over 40 years. Graduating high school at age fifteen, Tinsley had a unique ability to stay a step ahead and a remarkable memory. His skill wasn’t all innate though, as he claimed to have studied checkers for approximately 10,000 hours while in graduate school. He was also a professor of mathematics, and he used his knowledge of the subject to develop new strategies and tactics in the game. Tinsley is also known for his matches with the computer program, Chinook.

Andrew Anderson (1799- 1861)

Andrew Anderson, both a writer and world class checker player, practically put the modern game on the map. Anderson spent his early life challenging and defeating the best competitors in his native Scotland and internationally before his five legendary match ups against the younger, equally legendary, James Wyllie. Anderson proved his status as the greatest checker player in the world at the time by defeating Wyllie during their first three matches. While Wyllie did win their fourth encounter, Anderson avenged his loss by winning the fifth and final match between the two. With nothing left to prove, Andrew Anderson promptly retired from competitive play after that final match and passed the torch to Wyllie he subsequently dominated the game for the next 20 plus years.

James Wyllie (1818- 1899)

James Wyllie's status as best in the world was virtually uncontested from the time of Anderson's retirement to late in Wyllie's life. Wyllie dedicated his life to the game and would challenge anyone, anywhere in the world. His play took him on tours to the United States, Australia and New Zealand to play the countries' best. His first trip to the US lasted 2 years and according to Wyllie's own records, he played 21,500 games during that time with 20,694 wins and 206 losses. This trip was the source of his famous match against 19 year old phenom Robert Yates whom he lost to in a huge upset down a single game (final match score, 2 wins, 1 loss, 47 draws).

Derek Oldbury (1924- 1994)

Derek Oldbury was a British checkers player who was known for his analytical approach to the game. He won the World Checkers Championship three times and was considered one of the best players of his generation. Oldbury was a master at setting traps for his opponents and was known for his ability to play multiple moves ahead. He was a contemporary and rival to Marion Tinsley. Oldbury was born paraplegic and also authored a six-volume series called The Complete Encyclopaedia of Draughts.

Asa Long (1904- 1999)

Asa Long was a checkers player from the United States who dominated the game in the 1930s and 1940s. He won the World Checkers Championship three times and was known for his creativity and ability to come up with new strategies on the fly. At age 18, he was the youngest person to ever win the US national championship, and then in 1984 he became the oldest person to win the US national championship. Allegedly, Long spent 55,000 hours in total studying checkers. Long was a grandmaster for 70 years and also mentored Marion Tinsley. Richard Jordan (1872-1911) Richard Jordan, another legendary checkers player, won the World Checkers Championship twice. Jordan was a master at trapping his opponents' pieces and forcing them into making mistakes. He also had a keen eye for spotting weaknesses in his opponents' defenses, which he would then exploit to his advantage.

Alex Moiseyev (1959-)

Alex Moiseyev, the only living player on this list, is a modern-day checkers player who has won the World Checkers Championship six times. Known for his aggressive style of play, Moiseyev has a keen ability to turn games around from seemingly impossible situations. This soviet-born American checkers player is a Grandmaster in International, Russian, and English draughts. He is known as an expert in the endgame and is a master of the strategies needed to win in the later stages of the game. These are just some of the best checkers players of all time. Each legend had a unique spin and approach to checkers, but they all shared an understanding of the strategies and abilities needed to win. Interestingly, it also seems that many had very keen memory skills. If you want to take your game to the next level, study the games of these legendary players to improve your checkers skills.