Ron “Suki” still the real Checker King

GM Ron 'Suki' King

Almost everyone has sat down and played a casual game of checkers. However, few play the 8×8 version the way Grandmaster Ron ‘Suki’ King of Barbados plays it. A layman may not take this version serious and feel it is inferior to the 10×10 version known as “draughts.” Of course, we have learned about World Champion Baba Sy in this version and Bobby Fischer contemporary Archie Waters, who was a self-proclaimed draughts champion.

King, who won the checker World Championship, recently went to 1st World Mind Sports Games in Beijing, China and promptly bagged a silver medal behind arch nemesis Alexander Moiseyev, a U.S.-based Russian emigre. These two heavyweights have battled many times over the years including at the Mind Games with Moiseyev winning. Compared with boxing legend Muhammad Ali, he is known for his brash personality, trash-talking and flashy style.

In 2003, he told challenger Jack Francis in the middle of a “go as you please” match that he would never be a World Champion. Strong words, but fortunately these words rarely backfire on the 52-year old as he has won an unprecedented 11 championship matches including two wins over Georgiev. Here is an excerpt from the American Checker Federation website written by Hugh Devlin.

Ron King’s 2003 Three-Move World Title Match against Alex Moiseyev was his eleventh such match, a record that exceeds the achievements of any other player in the history of the game. Mr. King has travelled widely in promoting draughts, having contested matches in the USA, Barbados, Ireland, and England, and undertaking promotional tours in the Caribbean Islands, South Africa, and Ireland.

GM Ron 'Suki' King

Playing against a street duo, GM Suki plays anybody anywhere.
That’s the mark of a champion.

Of course, those of us in chess can appreciate another mind sport competitor. King is a modern-day legend and appears to have taken on cult status in the checker world. He also holds a record for largest simul exhibition of 385 players… winning every single game! However, he also has some detractors due to his somewhat unflinching confidence and determination. Here is an interesting story from Richard Fortman, referree at a 1992 national championship. King was playing GM Elbert Lowder in the final round.

Elbert should have won. He had the tourney in the bag with only Ron King in the last round with a game up and all he needed was a draw heat with Ron King in 8th Round. It was a 3 on 3 position, 2 singles and a king apiece. Elbert said, “agreed draw,” but Ron replied, ” let’s play.” The position was a draw. They proceeded and Ron slow moved Elbert to death, causing him to step into a silly endgame trap. Elbert got really upset over Ron’s method of play, slapped the checkers off the board, and threatened to quit checkers! What a heart break for Elbert!”

Richard also commented that if Elbert had only referred the decision of the play to the referee, then the ref would also have called it a ‘draw’. The game position at the time was a draw and it was certainly an unfortunate way to end the game. No win is worth bitter feelings and poor sportsmanship.

This is another lesson that we often learn the hard way in chess!

For those who do not know Ron “Suki” King, let it be known to the checker/draughts world that his accomplishments are not overlooked in the chess community and he is to be commended for bringing honor to his sport as well as his home island of Barbados. Congratulations!

GM Ron 'Suki' King

Passing on the art!


  1. To show how strong Ron “Suki” King is… here is a February 2008 ratings below. He was #2 behind Alex Moiseyev at 2656. Moiseyev leads the American Chess Federation rating list at 2713. Both are elite Grandmasters.

    Fittingly so, Moiseyev won the gold and King the silver at the recent 1st World Mind Sports Games. Their international ratings are 2544 and 2569 respectively. See link below.

  2. Isn’t this the version that was recently played out to a draw by the computer??i fear Chess might be heading same way ,especially in Petroff Defence.

  3. Well Darren. It appears that from the amount of draws, humans have practically solved it. In this version, they do not jump backwards, nor can the king capture unless it is on the next diagonal square. I was going through the game and I didn’t understand the strategy until I figured it out. I have posted this video elsewhere, but I must show the brilliance of former World Champion, Baba Sy of Senegal.

    Both Ron “Suki” King and Baba Sy deserve recognition for being trailblazers in their sports. Below is a video of Baba Sy. There needs to be a documentary on Ron “Suki” King.

  4. Actually, the Chinook team only claims to have proved that Checkers, if played without restriction (where Ron is World Champion) is a draw.
    That is no surprise and is known without a prove for over a century.
    There is a grave errer in the article, as not Alexey Georgiev won the gold medal for the USA, but Alexander Moiseyev.
    Georgiev still lives in Russia and plays draughts 100 and brazillian draugts as well as shashki very well, but he never played checkers seriously so far.
    And actually he did lose a game when breaking the simulantous records to a player that was even greater then him. It was the legendary Marion Tinsley that Ron accepted as a challenger and he lost.
    Would Anand accept to play agaimst Kasparow in a simultaneous event?

  5. You’re correct… it was a typo. You can see in post #2 that the names are correct. In terms of the simultaneous exhibition, you have to be mistakenly referring to another event. More convincingly, Dr. Tinsley was already dead (1995) when Suki set the record in 1998.


    Anyway, that would be poor etiquette… at least it is in chess. If Tinsley even agreed to play King in a simul while living, I would have less respect for the sport that I orginally did. That would be poor sportsmanship on Tinsley’s part and not befitting of the champion he was.

    In chess, Grandmasters do play other Grandmasters in clock simuls (and win), but certainly a World Champion would not play another World Champion in a simul.

    Note: Dr. Tinsley taught here in Tallahassee where I am a professor. He taught mathematics both at Florida State and Florida A&M.

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