The Death of Expertise, by Tom Nichols, is a book that attempts to make a case for, well, expertise. The author's main points are that in the internet age, everyone thinks they're an expert, and the democratic concept of equality has come to mean that everyone's opinion is equally valid. Mr. Nichols makes a few good points, but then he says this:
"Sensible differences of opinion deteriorate into a bad high school debate in which the objective is to win and facts are deployed like checkers on a board--- none of this rises to the level of chess--- mostly to knock out other facts."
Mr. Nichols' expertise certainly doesn't extend as far as knowing much about checkers, but that doesn't stop him from making a judgment, and thereby becoming guilty of exactly the sort of thing he condemns.
In checkers, expertise comes to the fore. You have it or you don't and there's no faking or pretending. Take, for instance, the following problem, which will require genuine expertise to solve.
We think this one will really challenge you. Black has the narrowest of draws and must make a long series of star moves (nine by our count). Rise to the level of checkers (not chess), show your stuff, and do your best on this one. Then check your expertise by clicking on Read More to see the solution.
If you haven't yet reached the expert level, though, don't worry. Working on the problem will in and of itself help you develop, even if in the end you don't find the solution.[Read More]
We all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. There were the porridges that were too hot, and too cold, and just right. There were the chairs that were too big, and too little, and just right. And there were the beds that were too hard, and too soft, and just right.
Brian Hinkle has sent us a checker problem that he calls Goldilocks, because it requires just the right moves at just the right time: not too soon, and not too late.
As Brian told us, "White is a man up and has a king, so it should be easy, right?" But of course, it's anything but. This is a master-level problem whose solution eluded many an expert player.
Whatever your skill level, though, this problem rewards careful study and the solution is very pleasing. We know you'll love it when you see it. First, though, do the best you can, and when you've done not too much, and not too little, but just the right amount of study--- be sure to click on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
Yes, that's a Gibson Les Paul guitar, made by the Gibson company. The famous guitar manufacturer was founded by one Orville Gibson in 1902, and revolutionized guitar design with an arch-top model, based on the design of the violin.
Our current Checker School series is featuring "snappy" problems by G. M. Gibson. We don't know anything about this gentleman; was he a contemporary of Orville, or a relative or descendant? Did Orville play checkers himself?
These questions will remain unanswered for the moment. But we're happy to present another of Mr. Gibson's "snappy" (or should we, to accord with our metaphor, call it "twangy"?) problems.
Forces are even, although Black, with centralized kings, may have more mobility. Can you snap out a win from this one? Pick away at it and then strum your mouse on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
Clever, Montana, is a real place, a fast-growing small town of about 3,000 with the motto "It just gets better every day." The town is well over 100 years old and it's pretty likely to have some sort of checker playing history. Do folks still play checkers in Clever? We emailed a town official but we never got a reply, so we can't say for sure.
There's certainly a place for cleverness in the game of checkers, and today's problem, a "not quite" speed problem, relies on a clever first move.
Are you clever enough to solve it? We think you are, but when you're done, the clever thing to do would be to click on Read More to check your solution.[Read More]
Labor Day is another one of our favorite holidays, for it gives us the chance to recognize the contributions of the average guy and gal, the working woman and working man who are the backbone of America's prosperity. Every day these folks put in an honest day's work and ask no more than the chance to get ahead a little, to take care of their families, and to do their part in building a society that will offer something to everyone.
As we've pointed out in previous years, many checkerists were and are "ordinary" people who in fact are quite extraordinary. Checker champions have been baseball players and steel workers and just about anything you can think of. Checkers knows no boundary of class or status, and we can't help but feel good about that.
We turn as always to Tom Wiswell, with something he called Fantastic. He could have easily been describing himself, but of course Mr. Wiswell was modest and humble as are most of the truly great.
Now, we're going to do something different this week. We'll give you the solution up front. Here is what Mr. Wiswell published quite some years ago.
Mr. Wiswell's solution ends here. Continue:
White Wins with the opposition.
But the thing is that Mr. Wiswell, very uncharacteristically, was wrong. The position is actually a draw. So what you ask you to labor away at is this: Correct the play above and show how Black can draw. You've got your work cut out for you, and the task is not easy. But, as the saying goes, that's why they call it "work." When you're ready, work your mouse over to Read More to see the annotated and corrected play.[Read More]
It looks like something straight out of a horror movie; the evil villain (let's call him Mr. Scissors) threatens our heroine with a horrible fate. But of course, we know that the hero will arrive to save the day ... or will he?
The villain in the old movie above certainly isn't regular contributor and master problemist Ed Atkinson, who sent us today's problem, which he of course calls Mr. Scissors.
Once you find the right first move, the problem isn't all that hard. Can you cut it? Snip away and save the day, then cut your mouse over to Read More to see the cutting-edge solution.[Read More]
At our Checker Maven location we're already seeing preliminary effects of Hurricane Lane and we anticipate heavy rain and high winds tonight (August 23, 2018) and tomorrow and into the weekend. If the storm doesn't make its anticipated westward turn it could track right over us.
Our offices will be closed and we could be out of touch for anything from a short while to a longer while. Publication will continue for at least a few weeks as that's all automated, and our server is on the mainland.
We're hoping for the best but we're prepared to be indoors for a while with our checker books!
Popularity is fleeting. One day you're in ...
... the next day, you're out.
Our game of checkers, too, has gone through such cycles.
In 1908, a match was played for the championship of Essex County, Massachusetts. One can only imagine with wonder at the popularity of checkers 110 years ago, at a level such that even county championships were vigorously contested.
The match was played between C. O. Mayberry, who was champion of the city of Lynn (yes, there were municipal champions as well), and Frank L. McClellan, the Captain of the Lynn Checker Club (in additional to the local club, the Lynn newspaper published a checker column). In the position below, Mr. Mayberry played Black and Mr. McClellan, White. The setting was originally featured in Teetzel's Canadian Checker Player. Mr. Teetzel opines that Mr. Mayberry must have thought he was going to win, but it was not to be, as Mr. McClellan found a clever draw.
Checkers is, sadly, far less popular today, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to enjoy the game. Will the problem above prove "popular" with you? We think so, and after you solve it, we're sure you'll enjoy clicking on Read More to check your solution.[Read More]
Wow, we'd hate to be on the receiving end of whatever is going on in the photo above; that lady is really snapping at someone. We can only hope it all gets worked out peacefully.
We're continuing our Checker School series with another "snappy" problem posed to our friend Nemo by his mentor, Skittle, both of whom appear in Checker Board Strategy by Andrew J. Banks, a self-described "checker philosopher." The problem itself is attributed to G. M. Gibson.
Black has two kings and a man to White's one king and two men, and has one other obvious advantage. Do you see it? Do you see how White might defend, and how Black might still overcome that defense?
Don't snap at us; we're just trying to provide you with interesting material! And when you find the solution, you'll surely snap to attention! Clicking on Read More will let you check your work and review our extensive notes.[Read More]
If you browse with Google Chrome, you may have noticed that for a little while now our site bears the legend "Not secure" next to the URL. Is The Checker Maven indeed "not secure"?
Actually, it's fine. We don't collect any information from you so there's nothing that needs to be encrypted or hidden away. But Google is pushing web site managers to move from the http protocol to the encrypted https protocol.
The problem for us, aside from the time it would take to make the switch, is that we'd incur almost $100 per year in additional costs, and neither we nor you would really get anything in return.
So we're keeping things as-is for a while longer. Don't worry, your personal information isn't at risk, because we never collect it in the first place.