Charles Walker (checkers player)

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Charles Clendell Walker (born 1934) is a former Mississippi state checkers champion and minister. He founded the International Checker Hall of Fame in Petal, Mississippi in 1979.[1] Walker is also known in checkers history for his record-setting victories in simultaneous checkers matches. In a January 1992 match that lasted over eight hours, he played 229 checkers games simultaneously. He won 227 contests, lost one and tied one.[2][3] In 1994, he set a Guinness World Record while playing 306 checkers games simultaneously and losing only one.[4][5]

Walker started playing checkers at a young age: "At age 7, his family was flooded out of its home. To pass time in the emergency shelter, he played checkers. Later he discovered his father-in-law was shy. He broke the ice by playing checkers with him on the front porch, and getting beaten."[6] The game became his lifelong passion that defined much of his life, both public and private.[7]

In the 1990s, Charles Walker helped organize and publicize several World Man-Machine Checkers Championship matches of the checkers computer called Chinook against several human players.[8][9]

Walker was a long-term friend, admirer, and promoter of World Checkers champion Marion Tinsley, whom Walker described as "the greatest checkers player who ever lived," and "probably the greatest who ever will live".[10]

Walker served as a Secretary of The American Checker Federation, was the Editor of Checkers Magazine[11] and also served as President of World Checker Draught Federation.[12]

Walker ran a successful insurance business and was described in the media as "an insurance millionaire"[13] and an "insurance tycoon".[14]

Walker was arrested by ICE agents on January 7, 2005 in an undercover sting operation and charged with attempted money laundering of "$6 million in represented drug smuggling proceeds".[15] Charles Walker plead guilty on June 30, 2005.[15][16] His sentencing had to be postponed twice,[17] in particular because of Hurricane Katrina, but he was sentenced to five years in prison in January 2006.[18] In January 2005, after his arrest, Walker announced that the International Checkers Hall of Fame was to be closed, and that he would resign his post as President of the World Checker Draught Federation.[19] The International Checkers Hall of Fame was kept open until Walker's sentencing, but the building was destroyed by fire on September 29, 2007.[20][21]


  1. ^ Checkers hall of fame gives a big boost to Miss. town, 5/14/89, Pantagraph.
  2. ^ Checker King Crowned, 1/28/92, Long Beach Press-Telegram.
  3. ^ NewsMakers.Los Angeles Times. January 28, 1992. Quote from paragraph two:"Staking Out His Place: What would you do after playing 229 games of checkers simultaneously, defeating 227 contestants, losing one contest and tying one? Charles Walker claimed the title as world checker king in Petal, Miss., over the weekend and exulted: "I am going home and eat me a steak." Walker's only defeat came at the board of Marian Tinsley, 65, the mathematics professor and retired undefeated champ: "The only one who beat me was Father Time.""
  4. ^ Checker Hall of Fame: Game Over, 10/6/07, Accessed July 3, 2008
  5. ^ The Guinness Book of Records, Norris McWhirter, 1993, Bantam Books ISBN 0-553-56257-6; page 601.
  6. ^ Adam Nossiter.Checker Kings Get Jump on Crowning Glory at Their Hall of Fame. Oddities, Folksy Tips Fill Players' Palace.Atlanta Journal Constitution. July 16, 1989.
  7. ^ Millionaire's Monument to Game.Los Angeles Times. November 19, 1980.Quote:"Walker's fascination with checkers is apparent throughout his house and office, where checker-board tables, walls and floors are the main design theme. There is a bed canopy in the shape of a crown and a dog that is, naturally, named Checkers."
  8. ^ Jonathan Schaeffer. One Jump Ahead: Challenging Human Supremacy in Checkers. Springer-Verlag, New York. 1997; ISBN 978-0-387-94930-7.
  9. ^ COMPUTER WINS CHECKERS SERIES BY DEFAULT. National Public Radio. August 19, 1994.
  10. ^ FARM-BOY GENIUS WAS NICE CHAMP AT CHECKERS. Lexington Herald Leader. April 11, 1995.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Retirement and Resignation of Charles Walker. American Checker Federation. January 10, 2005
  13. ^ Checkers champ wants someone to oversee monument. The Advocate. November 7, 1990
  14. ^ TINSLEY GRASPS CHECKERS IMMORTALITY. Wichita Eagle. September 13, 1989. Quote: "The Checker Hall of Fame is also the creation of insurance tycoon Charles Walker, a 10-time Mississippi checker champion."
  15. ^ a b Checkers Hall of Fame Founder Guilty in Money Laundering Case. Inside ICE: Volume 2, Issue 14. Accessed July 3, 2008.
  16. ^ Checkers group founder pleads guilty to laundering money.The Advocate. July 2, 2005
  17. ^ Sentencing for Checker Hall founder rescheduled again.Sun Herald. October 28, 2005
  18. ^ Checkers group founder sentenced to 5 years in prison. The Advocate. January 7, 2006.
  19. ^ Checkers Hall" to close, leader resigns amid charges. The Advocate. January 29, 2005.
  20. ^ Checker Hall of Fame: Game Over. October 6, 2007. Accessed July 3, 2008
  21. ^ State investigates Checker Hall of Fame fire. Picayune Item. October 6, 2007

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