Checkers, called Draughts in most countries, has been traced back to the 1300s, though it may indeed stretch further into history than that. Checkers is not a game of random chance, but rather a game of skill and strategy when played well.
My father was a rather good checker player back in the early 60s. He was an OK chess player, and he knew his way around a deck of cards, but his master game skill was checkers. You don’t see people playing checkers much these days. I’ve only seen it being played by old men in city parks. I recall seeing rows of regulars playing every morning in Honolulu, but elsewhere it is a game you just don’t see any more.
I don’t know where my father picked up his skill since he was never in places where people pick up the skill of playing checkers. I recall seeing him dethrone local champions that learned to play in the military or in fraternal organizations. He once told me that he could anticipate six moves ahead.
One day a guy came over to play him. His name was Charley. Charley was a tall wiry fell with a bald head with a band of hair that went around the back of his head from temple to temple. He also had one eye that was partially closed. I recall Charley sitting at our kitchen table calmly smoking Chesterfields. The first game Charley beat my father handsomely. The next game he beat him even faster. The third game was a brutal beating. It was after the brutal beating of the third game; I could see a look come over my father’s face. It was a look that one has when they figure something out.
My father set up his checkers for a fourth game and looked over at Charley and said, “You’ve done some hard time, haven’t you, Charley?” Charley didn’t even blink his good eye and he replied, “Attica.” With this my father said, “I guess I won’t be winning any games today.” Charley replied, “Probably not.”
I later asked my father what that was all about. He told me that people that people that learn to play checkers on the streets, or at clubs, or in the military could only get so good because they eventually had to get away from the board and do some work, but the guys serving hard time have nothing to do all day but play and play and play and get better and better. There was no beating an ex-con in checkers.