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Dr. Marion F. Tinsley
*FAMOUS CHECKER PLAYERS

Walter Hellman
Presented by the ACF: March 27, 1997. Courtesy of Don Lafferty.
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Walter Hellman


A biography by Richard Fortman

Walter F. Hellman was born June 15, 1916, in Norm Mailing, Sweden. He moved to Gary, Indiana in 1926 and won a Gary city chess tournament in 1931 at age 15. Later he became interested in checkers and won his first Indiana State Tournament in 1933 at age 17.

His later records were: 10th in the masters (age 18) in the 8th A tournament 1934 at Jamestown, New York; 3rd behind Long and Ryan in the 9th A tournament in 1937 at Martins Ferry, Ohio; 2nd to Ryan in 1939 in the 2nd NCA A tournament at Tacoma, Washington; in 1946 won both the 11th ACA A tournament in Nashville, Tennessee and the 3rd NCA A tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the 18th ACF A tournament at Ocean City, MD after winning a round over Asa Long, he withdrew after 8 rounds undefeated to accept 3rd place behind Case and Long to assure himself as a clear challenger for a 1953 title match. He finished 2nd to Marion Tinsley in the 1956 Galveston, Texas A tournament and won over Newell Banks, Harold Freyer, and others at the 21st A tournament at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He won over Don Lafferty the 1964 Rockford, Illinois A tournament and won over Everett Fuller in the 1972 Memphis, Tennessee A tournament. His final appearance was in the 3rd USA-GB Int. Match at Bouremouth, England in which he retired undefeated after 3 rounds, in order to visit his sister in their family home in Sweden.

The record of his world title matches is:

1948: defeated Asa Long 2-1-47 to become the new world champion;
1949: tied WF Ryan 4-4-42 to retain his title;
1951: defeated Maurice Chamblee 6-1-29;
1953: won over Basil Case 4-1-33;
1955: lost to Marion Tinsley 0-3-35;

After Tinsley's retirement, he returned to play in the following title matches:

1962: tied Asa Long 2-2-36;
1963: again won over Case 2-1-37;
1965: defeated British Champion Derek Oldbury 7-1-27;
1967: won over Eugene Frazier 5-0-31 in his final world title match.

Walter Hellman passed away on July 28, 1975 in Panama City, Florida.

Capsule Record

  • Played in 10 American (US Open) tournaments during 1934-72 winning 5.
  • Had 9 World Title Matches during 1948-67; won 6, tied 2, lost 1.
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