What would you think about watching some videos to help improve your checker play? Wouldn't it be great to have someone talk you through a game played by the masters, or describe how to win a difficult ending? It'd be the next best thing to having a personal tutor.
We're happy to report that checker video instruction is alive and well on the internet! The YouTube media site contains a substantial and growing collection of instructional material, but one name stands out: Checkercycle, the creator of dozens of video tutorials of unquestionably high quality.
Now, we know who this gentleman is, and with the serious checkers crowd in America being a relatively small fraternity, you might know too. But we note that in his videos, Mr. Checkercycle's face is seldom shown, so we're not telling, even though the info he gave us in an email interview will surely give away this not so well-kept secret. Here's the discussion we had with this extraordinary man of checkers.
CM: You are clearly a knowledgeable player. Do you play tournaments? Have you won any titles or the like?
CC: I played in the NYC 2005 3-move and won 1st place in the minors. I was also in the 2007 Yonkers Open GAYP, taking 2nd place, and in the Jim Morrison Nationals in 2009, taking 3rd place in the majors.
CM: You must have a good checker library. Tell us about it, and how you obtained it--- a difficult thing these days.
CC: My first book was The Wonderful World of Checkers and Draughts by Tom Wiswell, which I got the from the library. I then got Straight Checkers Gold from Al Lyman, which had about eight books in the teaching program. I then started going to Checker Maven and Jim Loy's site, and as I found out more information thanks to these great sites, I started buying books from Amazon and ABE.com. My friends bought me books at the tournaments and I bought them also; we helped build each other's collections. I liked all the Tom Wiswell and William Ryan books. I like the Richard Pask and Robert Pike's books too. It is hard to get books and that is something I would like to change. I am happy that I will be able to buy the Basic Checkers at the National Tournament. The fact that it also supports the youth is such a beautiful thing and I would like to thank you for your hard work.
CM: What got you interested in making tutorial videos?
CC: One day I was showing my friend a game I played on the internet on a small magnetic board and he made a video of it. I thought how nice it would be on a big board, and because books are so hard to get, I could encourage others people to play this fine game. I kept on trying to come up with new ideas as I went along.
CM: How many videos have you made?
CC: So far I've made about 50 videos.
CM: How's the response been--- lots of viewers, feedback, etc.?
CC: At first I got very few comments but the ones I did get were positive. Then I got some more feedback, and I listened to what the players were telling me and asking me to do. I have to give them a lot of credit for their ideas.
CM: What's in store for the future for Checkercycle?
CC: I am looking forward to playing in the National Checker tournament on August 1st in Springfield, Illinois. The people I have met have been great. I had the pleasure of playing a 96 year old gentleman last year and meeting many great people. It was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to more tournaments. I'd like to continue doing video and I'd like to improve my game along the way. I always want to help people play checkers and see the beauty of the game. I feel that exercise, checkers or chess and socializing is a good way to stay young and I have that 96 old gentleman who is still playing in tournaments as a fine example. (He did beat me in our contest that day.) He must have some great stories to tell and I hope I get to hear them.
CM: What do you think is in store for the future of the game itself?
CC: The game should continue to grow because of the internet, and the many devoted people from the ACF, and the people who help tell the stories and make the game so enjoyable like the Checker Maven. I know that it not easy with so many different games and with the popularity of chess. However I think checkers and chess are very good games and a lot of fun.
CM: Any advice to the up-and-coming generation of checker players?
CC: The next generation of checker players could really be outstanding, and with the help of computers, videos, checker sites and the support of the checker clubs, we could see the next masters be younger and be equal to the great players of the past. Only time will tell. The tools of learning the art of checkers are being happily shared with the young and not so young players . The beauty of the game, the fun of the game has always been there to enjoy for everyone.
CM: Anything you'd like to add, say, recommend, etc.?
CC: I started playing checkers when I was about 7 years old with my Dad, and we played for hours at a time. When I came out of the Army I continued to play checker games with him. I will always have that memory and will cherish it. The internet came along and gave me the chance again to play the game that I grew up to love.
Checkercyle's home page on YouTube can be found here, and we highly recommend that you go there and take the time to view the material he presents so effectively in his video presentations.
And now let's try a problem, taken from Checkercycle's video on the classic Payne's Draw. The position is shown below.
Try it out and click on Read More to see the solution. Then be sure to check out Checkercycle's other great checker lessons. You'll be glad you did and we'll guarantee that you'll learn something.
Watch the video below to see how it's done!
The Checker Maven thanks Checkercycle not only for his great work on behalf of our game, but for his courtesy in granting us our exclusive, in-depth interview.