The first day of fall is just a few days away at the time this column will be published, and it's time to get serious. All the students are back in school and all regular activities have likely resumed by now. With cold weather ahead, it's time to sharpen your checker skills to prepare for the busy checker season ahead.
Of course, The Checker Maven is always willing to help, so we've got a problem today that's somewhat tougher than last week's entry.
Will you solve it or fall down on this one? You should be able to solve it, but you can always let your mouse fall on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
Fall in the Northern Hemisphere is not far off, and if you live in a so-called "temperate" climate zone, you're probably out enjoying the last of the warm weather. So today, we won't keep you from your outdoor pursuits for long; our problem definitely falls into the "easy" category, and you'll solve it in short order. The position was provided by regular contributors Josh and Lloyd Gordon of Toronto.
You've probably already solved it, but just in case, ease your mouse on to Read More to easily check your solution.[Read More]
On every Labor Day holiday, we pay tribute to the common man and woman. Yes, we've said it before, but it's worth saying again: These are the people who, through honest hard work, make our nation what it is. Whatever you do, be proud of it and celebrate your contribution. We believe that all occupations are honorable, and that the farmer in the field and the laborer on the construction site can take pride of place right alongside the business executive and the real estate tycoon. We all have our job to do, and all of it is important.
Checkers is a great equalizer. Great players have come from humble origins. Over the board, it makes no difference if you're rich or poor, famous or unknown; only your skill and ability count for anything.
We don't know what your life's calling may be, but if you're here, you must be a checker fan, and today, as we recognize Labor Day together, we hope we've got something pleasing for you. Naturally, we've turned to that great problemist and American patriot, Tom Wiswell, with a composition he called "The Pocket."
This is a very practical problem, showing a way to get a draw when things look rather difficult. Would you be able to find the draw over the board? Labor away at it--- checkers is an honorable pursuit if there ever was one--- and then work your mouse over to Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
At the end of May of this year (2017) your editor had the great pleasure of visiting with Mr. Richard Pask and family at his home in the town of Chickerell, in Weymouth, on England's southern coast. Mr. and Mrs. Pask, and their son Robert, are delightful and hospitable people, and it was a very memorable visit indeed.
Mrs. Pask, a musician and teacher, is also a talented gardener and keeps a wonderful English garden, the likes of which are seen only in movies.
Of course, we talked checkers, and Mr. Pask showed us through his library (shown above), packed with checker literature and checker memorablia. Our discussions ranged far and wide, continuing over dinner at a traditional English pub, The Turk's Head.
We asked Mr. Pask to tell us of his favorite personal game, and he said it came from the 1985 Scottish Open, where Mr. Pask had the White against Danny Shields with the Black.
A likely loss (already)! 11-15 or 11-16 would have been correct. Mr. Pask points out that this position can also arise from the opening sequence 1. 9-13 23-19; 2. 10-14 27-23; 3. 7-10?.
26-22 instead keeps the advantage.
The game has now reverted to a probable draw, although the actual play could be difficult over the board.
Probably loses. 8-11 would be a narrow draw.
9-14 was better; Black is surely lost.
Grandmaster Pask was able to find the win in this position. Can you? We'd rate this one as about medium in difficulty; a little effort will be rewarded. See how you do and then click on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
Brooklyn, New York, has got to be the center of the hipster movement. Now, a hipster is supposedly "a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream."
By that definition, checker players would not exactly be hipsters, yet many a top player has had humble origins in Brooklyn. Perhaps times have changed. But checkers does have the Brooklyn Position, and that's the topic of today's Checker School entry.
We've seen the Brooklyn Position at various times in previous columns, but today we present an in-depth study. The solution, accessible by clicking on Read More, gives half a dozen sample games that run into this position. It's well worth the time and effort to study it carefully.
Are you hip, or just a drip? Show your stuff, and find the solution. It's actually not so difficult, and you might even think it's kind of trendy.[Read More]
Watch out! That tempting bit of cheese will come at a stiff price ... unless that little white mouse can somehow avoid the trap. Yes, today we're continuing our Willie Ryan series, A Trap With A Tale.
In our last excerpt from Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, we showed the run-up to a position that turned out to be a Black win. The solution to that position included a computer move with which we'll see that Willie Ryan, in his book, disagreed. It's much easier to show than tell, so here goes.
This was the point at which we asked you to find a Black win. Now let's look at a possible alternate continuation, the one preferred by Willie, which he claims leads to a draw instead of a Black win.
Here the computer played 24-20 and showed a Black win, as we presented in our previous column. But Willie instead gives this to draw:
Who is right, Willie or the computer? Can Black still win against Willie's preferred defense?
We think you know the answer, but can you show the Black win?
Willie stars this as the only move to draw; the computer move was instead 19-16 and White went on to lose.
Who is right, Willie or the computer? That's the question we're asking you to answer in today's column. This is probably a master-level problem, but if you followed the solution from last time, you'll have a broad hint as to what will happen here.
Take on Willie or take on the computer, and see how you do. At the heart of the position is an important over-the-board playing principle. When you're ready, click on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
Does the word "interchange" call to mind the kind of hopelessly complicated tangle of roadways depicted above? We're not sure if this photo is real or satire, but please remind us to seek an alternative route.
In checkers, "interchange" can have different meanings, the most common ones probably referring to an exchange of pieces or an exchange of positions.
Today, we'll present a study that takes the idea to its ultimate conclusion. This is not a typical checker problem, but it has a great deal of didactic value. The exact origin of this problem is unknown, but it's been around for a while.
The problem is to go from the start position
to the following fully interchanged position.
Of course, this has to be done completely with legal moves (e.g., all forced captures will have to be avoided).
Now, we won't say it's easy or short (it's neither), but a methodical, thoughtful approach will yield results. This is a great exercise in planning and visualizing, and we believe it will aid in the development of over-the-board skills. And in the process, you'll certainly learn something about mobility, traffic jams, and clearing a path.
Can you untangle this one, or will you loop around in your quest for a solution? It's worth your time and effort, but when you want to get out of the traffic, just click on Read More to see an animated solution.[Read More]
Shown above is a hotel room that is quite attractive because it's nice and neat, giving it plenty of appeal. At least based on the photo, you'd most likely be quite willing to stay there for business or vacation.
Checker problems can be nice and neat, too, with solutions that appeal and settings that draw you in. We think the problem below meets these criteria.
This problem is "nice" in that it has a very flashy solution which is reasonably well concealed. And the problem is "neat" in that the author's intended solution can be avoided, yet there is still a solid win which demonstrates practical technique.
Are you nice, or neat, or nice and neat? Don't be mean and don't mess it up! Solve the problem and click on Read More to see the solutions.[Read More]
Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States, certainly wasn't the author of today's Checker School study; President Jackson passed away a good forty years before this position was first formally presented. But did President Jackson play checkers? It's been speculated by historians that he was a chess player, and it seems quite likely that, at the very least, he would have known how to play the game of checkers. But his favorite sport was apparently dueling; he is reported to have participated in some hundred duels!
Fortunately, a checker duel has far fewer permanent consequences than the type of dueling President Jackson did. Let's, for instance, look at the position below.
"Play and Draw" has little application to dueling (unless you're drawing pistols), as obtaining a draw in a duel isn't the point. But here, getting a draw with the Black pieces represents a respectable achievement. Can you do it? No pistols or swords needed, just good over the board checker skills. Solve the problem and shoot (or stab) your mouse on Read More to see the solution, sample games, and explanatory notes.[Read More]
Hard Problem is actually the title of a play by Tom Stoppard that ran at the Scena Theatre in Washington, D.C., early this year. While the "problem" is about consciousness, not checkers, by all accounts it was a good show.
We hope we have a good show for you today as well, with a "hard problem" about checkers. Let's jump right in.
You'll need to maintain a high degree of consciousness to solve this one, and, regardless of possible metaphysical implications, you'll have to focus and apply solid over the board visualization skills. Try to solve it without moving the pieces; that will definitely be a mind-expanding experience. Then, when you're done, make a conscious decision to click on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]