Derek Oldbury (1924-1994)
A Great Checkers Player despite All Odds
Derek Oldbury was born in 1924 (the exact date of birth is unknown) and was a British draughts champion from Devon, England. Commonly known in the checkers world as DEO, he was a rival of fellow checkers great Marion Tinsley for many years. Throughout his long and illustrious checkers playing career, Oldbury displayed a strong interest for the Go as You Please or GAYP variation of the game of draughts, a version in which the players have the option to choose the opening moves that they would like to make.
Derek Oldbury was an extraordinarily prolific checkers writer, and many of his written works are considered to be definitive guides to the game of checkers to this very day. One of Oldbury’s more notable works was the 6 volume guide The Complete Encyclopedia of Draughts. This particular work is still considered an important reference material for students of the game of draughts.
Aside from his interest in Go as You Please or GAYP variation of the game, Derek Oldbury was also an avid supporter of the Chinook computer checkers program and counted many of the people on the development team of the game as some of his closest friends and colleagues in the world of checkers.
Derek Oldbury was born a paraplegic, and all of his 71 years were spent in a wheel chair. This proved no handicap to him however, and he managed to rise above his physical condition in order to accomplish his lifelong goal of becoming a World Champion checker player. It was in 1991 that he published his now classic "The Complete Encyclopedia of Checkers", which was comprised of a staggering 6 volumes. It was also that year that he won the world's title in checkers.
As if all of these accomplishments weren’t enough, Derek Oldbury was also heavily involved in the writing of his own version of a checker playing computer program in his spare time.
One of the things that most checkers players remember about Oldbury was his lively sense of humor and many of the checkers events that he played in were filled with the sound of his characteristically loud peals of laughter. He was definitely one of the greats in the checkers world, and is missed by many of his friends in the field.
Among Oldbury’s other literary accomplishments were “Move Over”, which is an online book that serves as an excellent introduction to the game, and “The Unknown DEO”, which is a collection of 62 draughts columns written for the Rotherham Advertiser.
Derek Oldbury passed away in July of 1994.