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Checkers by Radio
March 1940 QST Article

March 1940 QST

March 1940 QST Cover - RF CafeTable of Contents

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from QST, published December 1915 - present (visit ARRL for info). All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

Game playing with a remote opponent is routine these days thanks to the Internet, but a couple decades ago it was not quite so easy. A checkers or chess match via telephone, snail mail (the only kind of mail at the time), or even fax machine were the venues available to the common man, but Hams had another means - radio! Using either Morse code or voice (aka phone) and a playing board set up like the one shown in this article, two players could easily match wits anywhere in the world where signals could be exchanged. Evidently the participants could get so wrapped up in the game that they risked forgetting to broadcast their call signs at the legally required interval (every 10 minutes), so author Utterback provides a friendly admonition at the end. The radio checkerboard has been cleaned up and colorized. Click on it for a larger version to print out.

Checkers by Radio

Checkers by Radio, March 1940 QST - RF CafeBy Amos Utterback,* W9FB

Interest by playing checkers by radio is gaining by leaps and bounds. Many more hams would like to try this fascinating sport but don't know how to prepare their checker boards. It is rather difficult to explain this over the air, so a little enlightenment on the subject is about due.

To those who contemplate getting in on the fun, it is suggested that they first purchase a book on checkers and read up on the rules of the game. This will save embarrassment in case of question on any point. The books cost about 25¢ in book stores.

There are two accepted methods for preparing a checker board for radio games. One uses letters, the other numbers. Both systems are shown on the sketch accompanying this article. The lettering system was introduced in QST by W6DEG some years ago, and many players no doubt have boards prepared in this manner. Numbered boards are shown in practically all books on checkers. Either system may be used successfully, and it is a good idea to prepare your board as shown in the sketch, making possible the use of either method, as desired by your opponent. Simply determine whether his board is numbered or lettered, and play accordingly. The lettering process has the one advantage that it is somewhat easier to handle by radio.

Numbering and lettering may be done by cutting small pieces of paper about 1/2" x 3/4", drawing a line across the center of each and placing the correct number above and letter below the line. After the pieces of paper are glued to the board they should be protected with a coat of shellac or lacquer (or coil dope-hi).

In playing, the board is always turned in such manner as to place the "double corners" at the upper left and lower right. The double corners are, of course, 1/A-5/E and 28/BB-32 /FF. The game is started by placing the "men" in position with one color on the squares 1 to 12 (or A to L) and those of the opposite color on 21 to 32 (or U to FF). It is not necessary to indicate which color you are using, but rather you must indicate to your opponent whether your men are in the 1-12 sector or the 21-32 area at the start of the game.

Care must be taken that all moves are made on both boards simultaneously. A player may move as he chooses, telling the other player"6 to 10," "F to J," etc., so the same play will be made on both boards. To avoid errors and resulting confusion, it is best to acknowledge each play of your opponent by repeating the move back to him after he has given his instructions. If, for example, he says "6 to 10" you should acknowledge "6 to 10 OK, or 6 to 10 R," to show that you have made the move as directed. In case letters are used, the term "F to J" may be shortened to "FJ," etc. If a jump is made it is not necessary to mention the numbers or letters of the squares over which the piece passes, but just the numbers or letters on which the piece touches, thus "27 to 20 to 11 to 2," etc. The other player will then remove the captured pieces as required.

Checkers by radio offers a new thrill both for the game and also for our hobby, as one never knows with whom he is about to play nor how good the other player is. Give it a whirl, fellows, and realize another pleasure from our hobby. Important: Don't forget to sign your call at intervals as required by law!!



Posted December 25, 2020
(updated from original post on 10/19/2015)

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