English language Web site on current affairs in the biggest russian region
18:03 | May 15 | 2012

It's your move, Grand Master!

Old and young play draughts in Yakutia.

Perhaps, there is no such a person in our republic who is not interested in draughts at least a little. It can be said without exaggeration, draughts is a national game.

Have won - then get
This game has been known for a long time here, but nobody knows for sure since when. You can hear legends about Yakut draughts players up to now. The oldest journalist Stepan Nikolayev used to tell amazing stories about an excellent player - Achchas from Elgyaisky nasleg (the Suntarsky Region). People say that in olden times the name of Achchas became well-known to gold-bearing Bodaybo. He also was an outstanding mathematician. Traders and merchants resorted to his services - they took him to Bodaybo, Aldan. They knew that «the old man likes nothing better than playing draughts» and often gave him a chance to play draughts with eminent players as a payment for his hard work in the capacity of a personal accountant. Every victory was generously remunerated and that was very handy for the old man. A full cart of flour – great reward – and Achchas almost always won…

To the highest level
In 1930 the first official championship of the republic was won by Vlasiy Mikhailov. The first women's tournament in Yakutia was in 1956. Darya Makarova-Kladkina became the winner (Churapcha village).
50-60es of the XX century were the years of formation of Yakut draughts school. Nevertheless, the Yakut draughts players were in their own juice for too long. Only last 14-15 years they were popularly recognized - at first timidly, then more courageously and, finally, loud for all to hear. We received such appreciation after a series of victorious performances outside the republic. Here are some extracts from the book "Russian and international draughts": "In far Yakutia draughts achieved such heights in development that during 1953-1955 representatives of this republic invariably became winners in competitions among strongest rural teams of the Russian Federation. One could meet those who played draughts everywhere: in culture centres, clubs, village reading rooms, tea-houses and field camps". Subsequently the team of Yakutia had been the champion among rural draughts players of the Russian Federation for seven times. Semen Nikolayev became the first Master of Sports on draughts of the USSR in Yakutia. Successes of the Yakut draughts players gave cause for master tournaments which allowed preparing dozens of Russian draughts masters.
International draughts became popular in Yakutia too. The first serious competition was at regional and final Championships of RSFSR in 1961. Semen Isakov became the winner of the Championship of Siberia and the Far East.
In October 1993 the Republican Draughts Federation with Vladimir Ptitsyn at the head was founded; its aim was to develop international draughts on a par with Russian draughts, to organize and conduct competitions with participation of world-leading and Russian draughts players. High-class tournaments were conducted in the capital of our republic - Yakutsk, our draughts players also took part in them.

All flags are welcome
Exactly in Yakutsk the World Championship on Russian Draughts (1994), the Men's World Championship on International Draughts (1996, 2002), the Women's World Championship on international draughts (1999), the Men's Championship of Russia on Russian Draughts (1997), the International Tournaments on international draughts (1998, 2000, 2002, 2005) were held. Thus, Yakutia is rightly considered to be the center of various international and all-Russia tournaments.
At the present moment there are 6 Grand Masters, 43 Masters of Sports of the USSR and Russia. Achievements of the six-time World Champion Gavrila Kolesov, of the First Grand Master from our republic Alexander Azarov, of champions of Russia Ivan Tokusarov, Aleksandra Burnasheva, Irina Platonova are well-known. Our youth also promises well: Nicolai Struchkov reached the qualifying standard of the Grand Master in September 2005, Matrena Nogovitsyna was awarded the bronze medal of Women's European Championship in 2004, and this year she took the second place in standings of the World Championship, having reached qualifying standard of the international Grand Master.
And totally there are 50 champion titles from world and European championships in various age categories in collection of the Yakut draughts players.

Mikhail Mordovskoy