The Checker Maven

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


Published each Saturday morning in Honolulu, Hawai`i


Contests in Progress:

Composing Championship #65


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March Speedsters

To start the month, here are two more speed problems, with the timer running to see how fast you can find the solutions:

No. 1. Very easy.

No. 2. Easy.

After you've solved them, click on Read More to check your answers.

There's the green flag ..... go!

[Read More]
03/05/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Life Is Full of Tough Choices

The last offering for February is two problems in one. It's based on something published by Willie Ryan many years ago. The adaptation of the setting is rather liberal.

Here's the situation. You're in the final round of the Mega-Bowl of Checkers. The coveted title of Supreme Exalted Checker Champion hangs in the balance. Thousands of avid fans are watching from their $500 stadium seats and hundreds of thousands more are tuned in on the Checker Television Network. Sponsors have paid a million dollars each just for their 30-second commercial spots. This is really the Big Time, and you know if you win you'll become an instant media star, with wealth and fame yours without limit.

You're playing Black and it's your move:

WHITE (your opponent)

BLACK (you)
The tension in the air is electric. Your five minutes are almost up. You've narrowed your choices down to two moves: 2-6, and 2-7. Somehow, you know that one of these moves will result in victory and a life of ease, while the other will lead to ignominious defeat and a quick return to your old back-breaking job at the quarry pits.

What move do you choose? Can you show how that move wins and why the other move loses?

Make your choice carefully; a lot is riding on it. Then take a look at the animated solutions in which Black wins or White wins.

02/26/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Two Easy Pieces

Willie Ryan's Tricks, Traps, & Shots of the Checkerboard, published in 1950, is truly one of his best. Willie had as a goal the presentation of a graded compendium of tactical devices and examples, with shots and strokes the main feature, but various other motifs as well. By any measure, Willie succeeded rather well indeed.

This excellent book of tactics is extremely difficult to find at any price. Yet, it is such a valuable reference and training book for beginner and intermediate alike, that The Checker Maven has decided to produce, over a period of months, a freely available electronic version. (Recall that we did the same with Arthur Reisman's fine book of basics, Checkers the Easy Way, available in Postscript and PDF formats.) The copyright is long expired, and there are no legal or ethical barriers to republication.

We'll present a few pages in The Maven every few weeks, as mood and opportunity catches us; and we'll simultaneously gather it all together in what will eventually become a newly-typeset printable book.

Let's start off, then, with a pair of problems from the introductory pages of the book. We've called them Two Easy Pieces, and though these are speed-solvers for the experienced player, they present important basic concepts for the learner to master. Willie's own entertaining commentary accompanies each problem.

EXAMPLE 1

White to Play and Win
'A guileless amateur would be tempted to run for a king in Example 1, by moving 22-17; but black has a sure draw against that move by 7-11, 17-13, 11-16, 13-9, 16-19, etc. Instead of 22-17, white can make a win immediately by executing an elementary maneuver known as a "double exposure slip," which means that white can end all resistance by exposing two of black's pieces to capture at the same time. With this broad hint, the tyro should conceive the idea that gives black the heave-ho. A good plan for the beginner to adopt in studying a position is to allow himself a limited time, say five minutes, in which to find the right play without moving a piece; and failing in this, to consult the solution. This method enables the learner to correct his faulty calculations before they take root in his mind.'
EXAMPLE 2

White to Play and Win
'Again in Example 2, Mr. Tyro's policy of trying for a king by 18-14 is worthless, as black replies 6-9, 14-10, 13-17, 21-14, 9-18, with an easy draw in store. White simply does not have enough strength (placement of material) of position to make a strategic win, but in this case as in many others, a win can be effected by a tactical coup commonly termed "a compound stroke," so named because an opposing piece becomes an integral part of the scheme. In this example, we have the simplest form of a single corner compound in which the winning idea involves the single corner file or so-called "long diagonal."'

When you've given these a good try, click on Read More for the solutions.

[Read More]
02/19/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Remarkable, Indeed

In January we presented a mind-boggler of a stroke problem (click here to see it again). This month, we offer another brain-twister of a different nature. Take a look at the situation diagrammed below, titled Remarkable Block Problem and attributed to an author calling himself "X.Y.Z."

BLACK

WHITE
White to Move and Win
Again, as in last month's stroke problem, the situation is artificial, but nonetheless diabolical. See if you can solve it without going off the deep end, and then take a look at the animated solution, here.

It all reminds us of Crowther's original Adventure game in which "you're in a maze of twisty passages..." But that was "XYZZY", not "X.Y.Z."

And, by the way, did you try to get your computer to solve this one? It's doubtful that any computer program would be able to come up with the solution. Click on Read More for some supplementary discussion on why this might be.

[Read More]
02/19/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Who Was That Masked Man?

For the next little while, we'll be running a monthly "guess the author" feature problem. We'll present you with a checker problem, and a photograph; your challenge will be twofold:

1. Solve the problem (of course).
2. Identify the person in the photo (on the left), who is the problem's compositor. You can click on the photo for a full-size version.

February's entry will be what will probably turn out to be the easiest of the three, at least in terms of identifying the person in the photo; we're not so sure about the problem itself! Here it is:

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win
Click on Read More to check your answers.

[Read More]
02/09/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Are You Faster Than the World Champion?

Click here for a checker problem reported to have been solved by the World Champion in something between 30 to 45 seconds.

Can you beat the World Champion? The clock is ticking!

(The Maven thanks Brian Hinkle for sending this one along.)

Now click here to see the animated solution. Did you beat the Champion? Record your results here.

02/05/05 -Printer friendly version-
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The Little Fooler

The feature problem for February is entitled The Little Fooler and is credited to Tom Wiswell and Jimmy Ricca. No less an authority than Ben Boland himself called this "a fine original problem." Skilled solver Brian Hinkle took almost a month to crack it.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
There are only two pieces per side but there is no ease in simplicity here. In fact, long ago W. T. Call published a book of "Midget Problems" with just two per side, and they are widely regarded as real challengers.

Give this gem a really good try; your efforts will be well rewarded. After you've tried it, vote on how hard you thought it was, and click on Read More for the elegant solution.

[Read More]
02/04/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Speed Department

As we race into February (where did those holidays go?) we'd like to introduce our Speed Department. These are easy problems to be sight-solved as quickly as possible. Click on the link for each problem and the diagram will appear.

How quickly can you solve these? A timer is running while you work! Click "Got It!" when you've figured it out and you'll see exactly how long it took.

Click Read More to check your solution.

These problems are provided courtesy of a gentleman named Charles, who in 2005 is celebrating his 60th year playing the Grand Old Game. He can be found on the GoldToken game site under the name NATONE. Look him up and play a friendly game or two.

Now: ready, get set, GO!

No. 1 (easy)

No. 2 (very easy)

[Read More]
01/31/05 -Printer friendly version-
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But the Computer Says......

Here's a problem attributed to O. H. Richmond, and published a little over 50 years back by Tom Wiswell. He called it "Black Beauty":

BLACK
null
WHITE
Black to Play and Win
The White forces in the Black double corner are really boxed in, but Black has to find a way to make that into a win.

Now, you'll surely find that this is a neat problem and a "real twister" as Wiswell would say. So solve it, check your solution with the animation here, and then click on Read More to find out what the computer has to say about this problem. It won't be what you think--- or will it?

[Read More]
01/29/05 -Printer friendly version-
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A Real Mind-Boggler

The Checker Maven presents as its most unusual offering for January the following mind-boggler attributed to a Mr. W. Veal. It is a "stroke" problem, that brand of spectacular, if unrealistic fireworks that appeals to some and is anathema to others.

To be sure, the position below is composed and obviously impossible; there just aren't that many pieces in a game, and they could never get into such a contorted distribution. But for the fan of the stroke problem, realism isn't the issue. The whole point is a clever key move or two, and lots of action afterwards.

Now, depending on what computer program you use, you may or may not be able to coax it into solving this for you. But you really should try it on your own. And since the play is mostly all forced, the challenge is more in trying to visualize the moves than it is in actually finding the solution. But the visualization challenge is mind-boggling indeed. Can you make it out or will this just drive you over the edge?

BLACK

WHITE
White to Move and Win
Click on diagram for a very large version
Click here for an animated solution, very kindly supplied by Martin Fierz.

01/21/05 -Printer friendly version-
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i, as a completely non-commercial public service from which no profit is obtained or sought. Original material is Copyright 2004-2022 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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