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Prague and the 2005 World Qualifier


By

Richard Beckwith


The following is a report of my trip to Prague, Czech Republic for the GAYP World Qualifying Tournament held in October 2005. After a good showing at the 2005 U.S. Nationals in Dublin, Ohio, I was invited to represent the American Checker Federation (ACF) along with Jim Morrison of Kentucky. Two other Americans were also scheduled to participate on behalf of the International Checker Hall of Fame. These players were Michael Holmes (Kentucky) and Clayton Nash (Mississippi), although Clayton later withdrew his name from consideration due to college, and his intent to compete in the week-long U.S. vs. Great Britain-Ireland match held just two weeks before the Qualifier. The WCDF (World Checker and Draughts Federation) recently began hosting these qualifier tournaments to determine a challenger for the next GAYP title match with Ron King of Barbados. There is no prize money for this competition. Although, winning this event will guarantee you at least the loser’s share of the purse at a World Title match.


The majority of tournaments in the U.S. use the three-move restriction style of play, where the first three moves of the game are balloted from a random draw of a special opening deck of cards. Alex Moiseyev of Dublin, Ohio is the current World Champion in this format. The GAYP (Go-as-you-please) format, or freestyle format, allows the players to select their own opening moves, and is the game most familiar to amateurs. Of the seven possible opening moves, the 11-15 move is usually played since it is the strongest, but other moves such 9-14 or 11-16 are occasionally tried. The GAYP format has a smaller scope of openings than three-move, but requires greater foreknowledge of 11-15 openings in an event like this.


Friday, October 7


Steve “Mr. Ohio” Holliday drove me to the Cleveland airport, where I flew to Newark, N.J. on Continental Airlines. I had a long layover, which permitted time to review GAYP lines I might encounter in the tournament. The flight to Prague left at 5:30 pm in the rain. It was a 7 hour, overnight flight covering 4100 miles. There is a 6-hour time zone difference between Prague and the Eastern U.S. time zone. The carrier was Czech Airlines. Instead of having first class and coach sections, they called it “business class” and “travel class.” The plane had eight seats across with two aisles: 2-4-2. I was in the first row in travel class in the center section on the aisle (seat 5C). The good news is that I had a lot of legroom, and was the first person to be served food and beverage. The bad news is that my seat was directly across from the toilet, so it was not very restful with all the people traffic. The TV monitors showed various movies, real-time position of the plane against a world map, elevation info, etc.


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