My buddy Tim Shorts came up with a really great, and easy peasey, way to do ability checks for his B/X game. We have been using these for quite a while now and I can say I really like them. The rule is brilliant in it's brevity, and the fact that it changes nothing in the rules, it simply slaps on to what we are already using.
Attribute/Contests Rolls:When asked for an Attribute or Contest rolls use the following formula: d20 + level + attribute bonus/penalty = result. Results are compared to the challenge rating I’ve assigned to the task. There are levels of failure and success.
That's it. Quick and easy. I like it because it takes into account the character's level (thus they get better the higher their level) but also takes into account high/low ability scores as well. The added bonus with this method is that it still allows a certain level of GM Fiat in the game and still leaves the GM squarely in control of their game.
I am sure that will ruffle some feathers among the more sensitive players out there, but as a GM with almost four decades of experience, I say your minor quibbling is moot. The GM runs the game and is nice enough to let you play around in their world.