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Dr. Marion F. Tinsley
*FAMOUS CHECKER PLAYERS

Walter Hellman
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Leo Levitt

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Asa Long


A biography by Richard Fortman

Asa A Long was born in Antwerp, OH on Aug. 20,1904. His parents later moved to Toledo, OH where he has resided during his adult life. He first became attracted to the game of checkers at age 12 through friendly games with his father and later joined the strong Toledo checker club.

At age 16, he entered and won the 1920 OH ST TY defeating Guy Garwood in the finals. This same year he entered his first US Open held at Cedar Point, OH. Although failing to qualify for the masters, he won over several recognized experts such as H B Reynolds, Andrew Dossett and Ralph D Banks. One year later he played a 20 game exhibition match with the English Champion, Alfred Jordan at Cedar point losing 1-3-16.

In 1922, at the age of 18, he won the OH ST TY again defeating his high school classmate Mike Lieber in the finals. This same year, he traveled to Boston to play in the 5th US Open. Although losing to Louis Ginsburg, he came back to defeat Alfred Jordan twice to win the TY, the youngest on record which still stands!

In 1923, he was matched with John F Horr, the 1920 US Champion, in a 40 game match to help determine the soundness of the 4 barred openings to be played by forced ballot. Horr, a recognized authority on these openings, won the match 4-1-35.

Unable to enter the 1924 6th US Open due to his school work, he next played in the 1927 2nd IM vs Great Britain. Here, he tied Sam Gonotsky's first place finish with 13 wins, but lost 3, while drawing 24.

In 1929, he entered the 7th US Open again at Cedar point winning over Basil Case, Nathan Rubin and his arch-rival, Louis Ginsberg in the finals, to win his second US Open without the loss of a game.

In 1934, he defeated Newell Banks in a 40 game match at Detroit, MI 7-3-27 for the world 3-move Title, the first played at this style. He defended his title by defeating the 8th US Open winner, Edwin Hunt 3-1-35 in 1936 at W Palm Beach, FL.

In 1937, he won the 9th US Open in Martins Ferry, OH over Walter Hellman, Ken Grover, Harold Freyer and W F Ryan in a long 10 round DKO TY. He now became known as the "Iron Man with Iron Lines" in the world of checkers. Asa returned two years later to win the 10th US Open in Flint, MI over Lewis, Freyer and in the finals, Grover.

After 6 years of checker inactivity, Asa entered the 22nd US Open at Eau Claire, WI with little or no preparation. After 5 winning RDs, he drew with Lloyd Taylor in RD 6 then won over Milton Apel in RD 7, but in a shocking upset, lost the next two RDs to Milton Loew, who had prepared for this TY by several weeks of hard practice with Edwin Hunt and Don Lafferty.

In 1961, after Loew declined to challenge, Asa exercised his option as runner-up and met Hellman in a classic 40 game match at St. Petersburg, FL ending in a tie 2-2-36. In earlier title matches, a 10 game overtime was played, but here Asa decided 40 was enough, with Hellman retaining his

His interest again awakened, he entered the 1974 US Open at Philadelphia, PA against a stellar field. Here, losing a memorable heat to Leo Levitt and having several drawn RDs, he finished in 5th place behind Tinsley, Oldbury, Levitt and Lafferty. Immediately following this TY, he won the US 11-man TY and then went on the next year to win over Ken Grover for the World 11-Man Title. Also, in 1974, Asa played in his only FL Open, but lost several rounds to Tinsley, Oldbury and Lowder to finish in 8th place.

Asa won the 1980 32nd US Open in Longview, TX over Levitt, Hallett, Lowder, Martin, Bruch etc. In that same year, he tied for 1st with Don Lafferty in the IL Open at Effingham. In 1982, Asa entered the 33rd US Open in Tupelo, MS, but lost a critical 6th RD heat to Oldbury and finished in 5th place behind Tinsley, Lowder, Hallett and Lafferty ahead of Oldbury and Levitt.

In 1983, he played in the 4th US-GB IM at Petal, MS winning 8, no losses and drawing 12.

Playing in the 34th US Open at Tupelo in 1984, Asa scored one of his greatest victories at the age of 80 and became known as "The Living Legend" coming from 2 points behind in the final RD to defeat Richard Hallett followed by Lafferty, Bruch, Markusic, Fuller and J Morrison.

In 1981, Asa Challenged Marion Tinsley for the World 3-move Title at the ICHF in Petal, MS losing 0-3-34. Also, in 1984 he tied for 3rd and 4th with Gene Zuber behind Lowder and Lafferty in the NO States TY in Waseuon, OH.

In 1985, Asa again challenged Marion Tinsley for the World 3-move Title with Tinsley winning again 6-1-28. In the 35th US Open at Tupelo, MS in 1986, Asa finished 3rd behind Don Lafferty and Jim Morrison with no lost rounds and ahead of Ron King, Albrecht, Cravens, Lowder, Hallett, Markusic and Freyer.

In May of 1987, he won the 1st World Invitational TY at the ICHF over Ron King, Lowder, Markusic and Martin defeating twice the Irish Champion, Hugh Devlin. Asa entered the 36th US Open at Danville, VA in 1988, but was forced to withdraw after the first round due to an accidental fall causing a fractured ankle.

In 1989, he played in the 5th US-GB IM at Weston-Super-Mare, ENG and once again had a perfect score of 5-0-15.

In 1990, he entered the final US Open of his long career at Tupelo, MS to finish in 3rd place (2nd human) behind Tinsley and the Chinook computer program winning 3 rounds and drawing 5 with no losses and was ahead of Hallett, Lafferty, Bruch, Lowder and the Checkers 3.0 computer program. Just prior to this TY, Asa played in the only SO States TY of his career, tieing for 3rd and 4th with Cravens behind Hallett and King with no lost rounds.

In JAN 1992, Asa played his last competitive match in a 20 game exhibition contest with the Chinook computer program at the ICHF which ended in a tie 1-1-18 with photos and games in the March 1992 issue of the "Checkers" magazine.

CAPSULE RECORD

  • 15 US 3-move Open Tourneys covering 74 years, 1916-1990, winning 6 and won one US Open 11-man Ballot Tourney.
  • 4 USA-Great Britain International Matches 1927 to 1980
  • 6 World 3-move Title Matches, 1934 to 1985, won 2, drew 1, lost 3 and won one World 11-Man Ballot Match.
  • Won the 1984 British Open not mentioned above.
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