Henry Christie

by Bob Podoff

Henry Christie was a great player! He was conceded by all to be one of the very best checker players ever produced in England! He was of course as we all remember the high scorer for the British team in the 2nd International match of 1927. Christie had twice won the English Championships, and in several International matches between England and Scotland he was one of the leading players for England.

Henry Christie as a very young man sustained a similar terrible hunting accident that had befallen John F. Horr. Horr lost his right hand and Christie lost his right eye. In a group photo on page 49 of the 2nd International match book, you can easily see Christie's glass eye! Christie, who in 1927 was 61 years old, and his score was 1-2-37. He was called the drawing master with his 37 draws! His score was rather remarkable, but his score could have been and should have been much better! In his biography they say he played conservatively. He did not play conservatively! He came out raring to play and attacked Ginsberg, Long and Gonotsky! After 4 draws on day one with Bradford, Christie attacked Ginsberg with a vengeance on day two! The result of course was a win for Christie by the score of 1-0-3. Ginsberg was one of the most dangerous players in the world! Conceded the probable equal of any player in the world by Alfred Jordan! Ginsberg was one of the greatest natural crossboard players who ever lived and did not lose very often! Just an observation of mine -- by comparison Robert Scobbie of the Scottish team beat Asa A. Long by the score of 2-1-1 in their heat! Long also did not lose very often!! In fact he would become World champion in another 6 or 7 years! And Ginsberg beat Scobbie in their heat 1-0-3! Here we go again: Scobbie beat Long; Ginsberg beat Scobbie and Christie beat Ginsberg! So now you know what I think about Henry Christie! Long reported recently in an article in the ACFB that Christie should never have lost to him! If Christie had only played safe and conservative he would have drawn Long 0-4-0! Now Christie's loss to Gonotsky on day 8 was misguided and very stupid! The ballot drawn was the Edinburgh 9-13, 22-18, admittedly the weakest of the two move openings! So what does our friend Christie decide to do? Contrary to his biography where it states, "He played safe, and did not underestimate any of the American strategists", Christie attempts to surprise the great Gonotsky by playing 11-15??? This is ridiculous and the dumbest thing that Christie could ever do given the fact that he is playing the greatest natural cross-board checker player who ever lived! It would have been hard enough to draw the great Gonotsky with the Edinburgh even had he chosen 12-16, or 10-15, or 6-9 all proven draws with tons of published play to rely on. But to attempt to attack Gonotsky with 11-15 on which there was some P.P. but not enough proven draw play to depend on, is the height of stupidity on Christie's part! 9-13, 22-18, 11-15 is still today considered a very weak 3 move opening, so imagine what it was like in 1927! Need I have to say that it was inevitable that Christie had to lose to Gonotsky! I will give Christie a lot of credit, he played the game brilliantly and the best that he or anyone else could do against Gonotsky! In fact he came up with a magnificent 4 for 4 shot that almost drew the game! So if Christie did indeed play safe his score could have been 2-0-38 (as he missed a win on Hanson)! A 2-0-38 score would have been very, very wonderful and would have placed his name in the Hall of Fame against this (in my opinion) the greatest American Team ever to play!

Black--Henry Christie White--Sam Gonotsky

Checker Animator courtesy of Hans L'Hoest
Graphics courtesy of George Miller