March 1940 QST
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
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
By 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
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)