18 year old, Asa Long, shocked the Checker world by winning the 5th National Tournament in Boston, Ma., 1922. The youngest ever to do so.
World Champion, Asa Long wins the 9th National Tournament at Martins Ferry, Ohio, 1939.
82 year old, Asa Long, prepares to play future World Champion, Ron King, at Tupelo, Ms., in the 1986 National Tournament.
"The Iron Man of Checkers!
In 1980, he became the "oldest" to ever win the Nat. Ty. at age 76. Then, in 1984, he eclipsed his own record, winning it again-at age 80!
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 3 2000
Intuitive insight and terrific draughts over an astonishing span of decades
ASA LONG 1904-1999.
(Spelling is left as in the London article)
|For more than 70 years, Asa Long was among the top six Draughts players in the world, and he was twice world champion.
He learnt the elements of the game as a boy from his father and grandfather, and practised in the thriving local club in Toledo. Ohio.
He achieved grandmaster status as a teenager in 1922. Then he won the US National Tournament in Boston, outplaying champions of many years experience confirming the adage that draughts is a test of that you can see rather than that you know. Nonetheless. He went on to gain an encyclopedic knowledge of the game's book lore, devoting, he claimed, 50,000 hours in all to serious play and analysis.
He won the national title again in 1929,1937 and 1939, but it was in 1934 that he won the supreme title, the world championship. with a convincing victory over Newell Banks. a professional exhibition player. in a 40 game match in Detroit. He successfully defended the title in 1936 against Edwin Hunt, the assistant attorney general of Tennessee.
||His style of play. which remained unchanged throughout his career, was very distinctive. Employing sound lines, which he had previously analysed thoroughly. he often simplified to advantage, using superb endgame technique in many of his wins.
Rather than spectacularly original. he was adept at polishing up "cooks" (innovations) that had been used against him, and turning them back on his rivals.
He had uncanny intuition, and usually decided his move within 30 seconds, using the rest of his time merely to "check things over".
His fluency was often compared to that of the chess grandmaster Capablanca. though he was quick to point out that victory was never automatic:
"Some people think I merely have to sit down to win." he once said wryly.
||In 1948 he lost his world title to Walter Hellman. a highly innovative player. They met again in 1962, when the 57-year old Long tried to wrest back the title. Facing innumerable cooks, he used a combination of crosshoard
extemporised skill and what Hellman called "incredible" endgame play to hold the champion even. Many of the 40 games lasted more than three hours.
Between 1944 and 1950. Long was mentor to Dr Marion Tinsley, who became the strongest player of all time. 'lhey played 200 practice games in all. and Tinsley remarked that he was "walking on air" when he registered his first win.
Long produced some of his finest games in his later years. He won the world title at the esoteric
11-man ballot style in 1975 and took the national championship again in 1980 and 1984 - so securing a place in The Guinness Book of Records as the oldest as well as the youngest ever winner.
||In 1981 and 1985 he challenged his former pupil, Tinsley, for the world championship title once more, and although he was not successful in the matches, he did secure a remarkable win against him. Victory in the 1984 British Open Championship was, by comparison, a formality.
In 1989. at the age of 87. he narrowly failed to defeat the Chinook computer program in a 20 game match. In his eighties, almost completely deaf, he developed a tendency to talk to himself during games, and Leo Levitt confessed that he used to "tune in" to find out what was happening.
Although Long wrote no books, his annotations were insightful. and he enhanced the literature with many beautiful games.
He was, like most draught players. essentially an amateur. He was employed by the General Tyre Company
Toledo His wife Isabel whom he married in 1929. died in 1979, hut he is survived by two sons.|
Asa Long Draughts