A biography by Richard Fortman

Asa A. Long was born in Antwerp, Ohio on August 20,1904. His parents later moved to Toledo, Ohio 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 Ohio State Tournament defeating Guy Garwood in the finals. This same year he entered his first US Open held at Cedar Point, Ohio. 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 Ohio State Tournament 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 tournament, 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 International Match 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, Michigan 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 West Palm Beach, Florida. In 1937, he won the 9th US Open in Martins Ferry, Ohio over Walter Hellman, Ken Grover, Harold Freyer and W.F. Ryan in a long 10 round double knock-out tournament. 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, Michigan over Lewis, Freyer and in the finals, Grover.

After 6 years of checker inactivity, Asa entered the 22nd US Open at Eau Claire, Wisconsin with little or no preparation. After 5 winning rounds, he drew with Lloyd Taylor in round 6 then won over Milton Apel in round 7, but in a shocking upset, lost the next two rounds to Milton Loew, who had prepared for this tournament 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 Walter Hellman in a classic 40 game match at St. Petersburg, Florida 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 title.

Another long period of inactivity followed, then in 1973, Asa agreed to play on the US team that met Great Britain at Bournemouth, England winning 7, no losses and 13 draws, showing no lessening of his legendary skill. His interest again awakened, he entered the 1974 US Open at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania against a stellar field. Here, losing a memorable heat to Leo Levitt and having several drawn rounds, he finished in 5th place behind Tinsley, Oldbury, Levitt and Lafferty. Immediately following this tournament, he won the US 11-man tournament 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 Florida Open, but lost several rounds to Tinsley, Oldbury and Lowder to finish in 8th place. Asa won the 1980 32nd US Open in Longview, Texas over Levitt, Hallett, Lowder, Martin, Bruch, etc. In that same year, he tied for 1st with Don Lafferty in the Illinois Open at Effingham. In 1982, Asa entered the 33rd US Open in Tupelo, Mississippi, but lost a critical 6th round heat to Oldbury and finished in 5th place behind Tinsley, Lowder, Hallett and Lafferty but ahead of Oldbury and Levitt.

In 1983, he played in the 4th US-GB International Match at Petal, Mississippi 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 round 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, Mississippi losing 0-3-34. Also, in 1984 he tied for 3rd and 4th with Gene Zuber behind Lowder and Lafferty in the Northern States Tournament in Waseuon, Ohio.

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, Mississippi 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 Tournament 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, Virginia 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 International Match at Weston-Super-Mare, England 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, Mississippi 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 tournament, Asa played in the only Southern States Tournament of his career, tieing for 3rd and 4th with Cravens behind Hallett and King with no lost rounds.

In January 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.

Asa Long is also listed in the Draughts section of the Guiness Book of World Records (1995 edition, page 236):

Youngest and oldest national champion Asa A. Long (b. 20 Aug 1904) became the youngest US national champion, aged 18 yr 64 days, when he won in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 23 Oct 1922. He became the oldest, aged 79 yr 334 days when he won his sixth title in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA on 21 Jul 1984. He was also world champion 1934-8.

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