The Checker Maven

The World's Most Widely Read Checkers and Draughts Publication
Bob Newell, Editor-in-Chief


Published every Saturday morning in Honolulu, Hawai`i


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A Possible Misstep

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Snow can still come in April in many parts of North America, and if it does, you had best be careful and not suffer the type of mishap that of the unfortunate lady above.

This month's speed problem doesn't have a time limit and doesn't use the Javascript clock. Now, it's not a particularly hard problem, it's just that ... well, there's a way to misstep and slip, even if it doesn't involve snow and ice, and then things get a little more complicated.

Perhaps it's simplest to show you the diagram and let you find out for yourself.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W32,30,28,27,25,23,19,15,14,13:B21,20,17,12,8,7,6,5,3,1.

Watch your step, and solve this step by step. The next step? Clicking on Read More to check your solution.null

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04/07/18 - Printer friendly version
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Thinking It Over

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The sculpture above is found near the Pioneer Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a city we've visited a few times. We don't know what the young lad is musing upon; could that be a book of checker problems next to him?

Whatever he's contemplating, it's unlikely that it's today's checker problem, another fine entry sent to us by master composer Ed Atkinson. He calls it Thinking It Over. Let's let him describe it in his own words.

"Here is the problem. It is only the unusual setting and the first few moves that are original. The resulting end game can be traced back through the centuries to the very first problem published in English, a 262 year time line.

The references can be found in Boland's Border Classics, page 59 and Famous Positions, page 8. Closely related material was published by several in the mid 19th century."

Thinking It Over
BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W27,K22,17,15,9:BK29,K25,7.

What's this? White is up two pieces, so where's the problem? But it won't take you long to realize that White's big advantage is greatly at risk, and getting the full score is anything but easy.

Okay, you know what we're going to say: think it over, and find the winning moves. As often is the case, the key is to find the right first move. After you've given this enough thought, think about clicking on Read More to see Ed's solution and notes.null

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03/31/18 - Printer friendly version
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Find Both Solutions

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You probably learned in basic math classes that any quadratic equation has dual solutions, though they may not be unique, and when solving such equations, you were surely asked to find both solutions.

But as we've noted before, in checker problem competitions, "dual" solutions are frowned upon; a composition should have a but a single path to correctness. But with our speed problems, and with a mind to improving over the board visualization skills, sometimes a problem with a "dual" can be of value --- if you can find both solutions.

The following problem was sent to us by regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon of Toronto, who developed it in conjunction with noted contemporary problemist Bill Salot. It has a dual solution.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W18,19,21,23,26,27,29:B5,9,10,11,12,14,17.

Can you find both paths to victory? You'll get half credit for finding one of them, but full credit only if you work out both. The challenge is fair in that one solution is not simply a variant of the other.

Give this at least a "couple" of tries, and then click on Read More to see how you've done.null

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03/03/18 - Printer friendly version
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Patterns

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Ed Atkinson, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is well-known in the checker community as a top player and skilled problemist. He is also, we're proud to say, a regular Checker Maven reader and occasional correspondent.

Ed offered us an original problem for publication and as you might expect, it's a dandy. He calls it Patterns, and you'll see why if you find the winning moves.

BLACK
null
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W12,16,17,29,K1,K8:B2,3,10,15,26,27.

You'd think White would have an easy win here; after all, he's got two kings and Black has none. But White looks a bit crowded around Black's single corner, and the win isn't at all easy to find. This is a top-notch, difficult problem with a rewarding solution. Can you find the pattern?

See what you can arrange, and then click on Read More to check your work.null

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02/17/18 - Printer friendly version
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The Depths of Winter

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North America is in the depths of winter once again; it's the time of year when there's been enough winter weather that you really, really want spring to come. But you'll have to wait another eight weeks or so for that.

Fortunately, checkers never gets tiresome, and if you've got to be indoors, what better way than with a hot beverage and a fine checker study? The one below, attributed to old-time player Charles Hefter, is surprisingly good.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W19,18:BK20,K17.

Looks easy, doesn't it? Black has two kings and White has but two ordinary men. But in fact winning this position requires careful play.

Can you get the full score or will you tire of the effort? Of course you won't, and clicking on Read More will allow you to check your solution.null

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02/10/18 - Printer friendly version
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Two For The Price Of One

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Two-for-the-price-of-one promotions are certainly popular in the world of marketing, making the buyer believe they're getting a good deal. Sometimes you do get a good price, and at other times (such as in the photo above), not so much. We occasionally refer to some bad deals as giving you "fifty percent off twice the price" or what is known in French as a "fausse solde."

But to start off February we have, indeed, two checker problems for the price of one, and it's definitely a good deal. (Not that you ever have to pay to read The Checker Maven, of course.)

The first situation is a true speed problem, and a rather nice one sent to us by regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon. It's not terribly hard, probably of the 30 second variety.

Diagram 1
BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W32,K21,10,7,K2:BK22,18,K15,3,1.

But what is interesting, though, is that if White plays 2-6 the game is lost, yet that's the move one might make reflexively. This one is somewhat longer and a bit more difficult, and can't really be called a speed problem.

Diagram 2
WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W32,K21,10,7,K6:BK22,18,K15,3,1.

Don't sell out; instead, double down on these two problems, then click on Read More to see the solutions.null

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02/03/18 - Printer friendly version
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The New Year Has Arrived

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The New Year has sped in with a bang. The holidays are over and it's back to work and back to school.

We hope your "work" will include your checker game, and to that end we have a speed problem provided by regular contributors Josh and Lloyd Gordon of Toronto. We won't run our Javascript clock this time, as we think you should be allowed at least a minute or two to solve it. We'll even give you a hint: Read the first sentence of this column again.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:WK11,13,17,18,21,28,30:B5,6,9,12,19,K27,K31.

Can you rush to a solution and work out the winning moves? When you've got it, click on Read More to see the solution.null

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01/06/18 - Printer friendly version
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The New Year Is Coming In

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We're publishing this column just ahead of New Year's Eve. Now, usually our New Year's column appears just after the holiday, and we like to publish an easier problem in case you, well, indulged in a bit of celebration, such as the Honolulu revelers above are doing.

But you've got until Sunday night this year (2017) which gives you most of a weekend, so we don't at all feel guilty about publishing something a little more difficult.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W28,27,24,22,19,18,16:B20,13,12,11,7,3,2.

This is indeed fascinating. Black seems hemmed in and has little in the way of safe moves. How can he possibly win it?

Finding the solution actually isn't all that hard, and it's a very pleasing one. Can you do it before the year runs out? That's your challenge, to ring in the New Year with a checker victory. Clicking on Read More will allow you to verify your work.null

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12/30/17 - Printer friendly version
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Holiday Coffee and Cake

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It's the holiday season, which means family, friends, and feasting. So, we at The Checker Maven thought, why not treat our readers to more coffee and cake?

Our old friend Brian Hinkle sent us a composition of his own that he thought would make a great "coffee and cake" problem, and we heartily agree. It's a 3x3 twin with, as Brian points out, the unique feature that no matter who plays, White wins.

So, in between courses at your holiday dinner, or maybe after dinner with a second helping of coffee and cake, you might want to try this one out. We think it's easier when Black is to play, but you'll have to decide that for yourself.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play, White Wins

B:W30,26,24:B17,13,12.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W30,26,24:B17,13,12.

Can you earn that coffee and cake? We'll give you credit if you make a good effort, after which you can click on Read More to see the solutions.null

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12/23/17 - Printer friendly version
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How Fast Can You Win It?

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"Fast Win" is, it seems, a computer shop on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. We can't explain how the name came about, and frankly it would seem to apply more to checkers or some other game than to computers. We have seen so-called "fast win" computerized slot machines, but we suspect that the fast winner there would be the operating venue.

Now, every once in a while we publish an "oddball" problem. This one is original, although it is inspired by something published long ago. The idea is to find a "fast win."

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,31,30,29,28,27,26,25,24,23,22,21:BK7.

Well, sure, it's completely obvious that White wins, but what's the fastest way to win, given an effort by Black to hold out as long as possible?

It's not all that difficult, and we'll give you a large hint: we found a 5-move win. Can you go us one better?

Give it a try, and see if you can either make Black hold out longer or White win more quickly. You can see our own solution by clicking on Read More.null

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12/09/17 - Printer friendly version
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i. Original material is Copyright © 2004-2018 Avi Gobbler Publishing. Other material is the property of the respective owners. Information presented on this site is offered as-is, at no cost, and bears no express or implied warranty as to accuracy or usability. You agree that you use such information entirely at your own risk. No liabilities of any kind under any legal theory whatsoever are accepted. The Checker Maven is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Bob Newell, Sr.

MAVEN, n.:

An expert or connoisseur, often self-proclaimed.


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