Some years back we had the pleasure of meeting International Master Anthony Bishop, when he visited Hawai`i to take part in our one-time only, very small Hawai`i State Checkers Championship Tournament. Mr. Bishop won easily, of course, and landed the first prize of a $100 gift certificate from a local merchant. Gentleman that he is, Mr. Bishop turned around and gave his prize to a single mom who had taken part in the tournament. High principles and high quality of play are Mr. Bishop's hallmarks.
You can read all about Anthony Bishop in his own words here. In a Saturday column we can only give a brief summary of the checker career of a remarkable man.
The town of Hickory Valley, Tennessee, where Mr. Bishop was born, may be small but it had an active and skilled checker playing community. Soon after he started playing, he made the acquaintance of a Tennessee grandmaster, Hugh Burton, a 38-time Tennessee State Champion. Mr. Burton became a lifelong friend and mentor.
Mr. Bishop started play towards the end of the Golden Age, and over the years made the acquaintance of all the greats: Tinsley, Long, Hellman, Lowder, Case, Banks, and many more. Mr. Bishop even worked for a while at Mr. Lowder's piano store as a piano salesman, remarking that with Elbert Lowder, there was never a dull moment.
Along with Mr. Lowder, one of the more interesting players Mr. Bishop ever met was Newell Banks, finding his skill and analysis abilities to be amazing.
Over the years, Mr. Bishop built up an outstanding checker library, eventually obtaining the collections of Arthur Reisman, Richard Fortman, Karl Albrecht, Hugh Burton, and Robert Shuffett.
Mr. Bishop views the 1978 publication of his extensive book The Encyclopedia of Checkers, to be his greatest contribution to the game. It's a book of photos and biographies of the checker greats.
He considers his highest playing achievements be consecutive wins in the 5th District Tournament over Hugh Burton and Lloyd Taylor in 1977, and over Lloyd Taylor in 1978. He has also competed in three international matches, obtaining excellent scores.
We asked Mr. Bishop for a favorite checker problem, and he offered this one by G. Slocum.
Match wits with Mr. Bishop and Mr. Slocum and see if you can solve this amazing problem. You can check your work, as always, by clicking on Read More.
6-1---A 8-11---B 3-7 11-15 7-10 15-19---C1-5 9-13 12-16 19-23 5-9! 13x15 16-19! 15x24 28x17 and White wins on the move.
A---6-2 only draws: 6-2 8-11 3-7 11-15 7-10 15-19---D 10-6 9-14---E etc. to a draw.
B---To avoid losing a piece by 3-7.
C---Here the KingRow computer engine gives 15-18 to make for a longer loss, with similar play given on subsequent moves. However a human player would hardly capitulate in such a manner.
D---The crucial difference: White cannot set up the win with 1-5 as in the main line.
E---On 12-16, 22-18 secures the draw.
Detailed analysis, commentary, and bibliographical references about this fine problem are given in Bill Salot's book Slocum Strokes, where the problem appears as #25.
Our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Bishop for taking the time to send us his checker autobiography and for selecting today's excellent checker problem. We wish him all the best.
Le Checker Maven remercie également l'épouse de M. Bishop, Mme. Chantal Falavel, pour toutes les infos et photos qu'elle nous a envoyé et pour son aide gracieuse avec cet article.