A biography by Richard Fortman

Although Leo was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 4, 1931, he spent his youthful years in Florida, Arizona, Indiana, and Ohio where he graduated with both BS and MS degees in physics.

He became attracted to the game of checkers at the early age of 8 by playing with his father, and at age 13, entered his first tournament in Tucson, Arizona.

In 1948, at age 16, he won the Indiana State tournament over the veteran Lee Munger of Indianapolis. He repeated this victory in 1949. He became the World Junior Champion at the historic Paxton, Illinois national tournament in 1950 at age 18, by virtue of being the highest finisher under the age of 21. He played a tie round with Marion Tinsley in which he drew the weak side of the Edinburgh in an original, now classic, game.

In 1951, at the Lakeside, Ohio tournament he finished second to Marion Tinsley, losing to the great one by the score of 1-0-13 draws.

He won the Ohio state tournaments in 1951 and again in 1959 after a long layoff during which time he got his MS in physics, got married and became the father of a little girl.

In 1960 he moved with his family to California where he accepted a position as a nuclear reactor physicist. Since that time he has been an 8 time California State champion.

Although he has yet to win a national 3-move tournament, he has been a consistent high finisher since 1950. His best performances were in 1974: 3rd behind Tinsley and Oldbury in one of the strongest fields ever, and 1980: 2nd behind Asa Long.

In the 1974 Philadelphia National tournament Leo defeated former world champion Asa Long in a 5 1/2 hour, 132 move classic which I described: "From here to the ultimate finish, a game of the first water, in a stark 3x3 ending, and, in my opinion, one of the finest wins ever scored in competitive crossboard play."

Also in Philadelphia, immediately following the national 3-move tournament, a national 11-man ballot tournament was held. Leo finished 2nd to Asa Long. He defeated Long in one round, but lost to him in a later round, finishing 2 points behind.

In GAYP he played a match for the World Championship with Derek Oldbury in Glasgow, Kentucky in 1976. The match ended in a tie, 1-1-22.

He is most proud of his record in US vs Great Britain international matches. He compiled a record of 27 wins and 31 draws and no losses in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th internationals. In the 6th international, after a 5 year layoff from the game, his play fell off somewhat, resulting in a score of 5 wins, 1 loss, and 14 draws. His grand total, however, of 32 wins, 1 loss, and 45 draws, is one of the best in international match play.