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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Mr. Scissors

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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.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK17,19,22,24:B8,11,K26,K28.

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.null

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08/25/18 - Printer friendly version
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Fast Lane

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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!null

08/23/18 - Printer friendly version
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Popularity

Popularity is fleeting. One day you're in ...

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... the next day, you're out.

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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.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W9,16,18,20,26,30:B1,3,7,11,21,K29.

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.null

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08/18/18 - Printer friendly version
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Another Snappy One

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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.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:WK9,19,25:B11,K17,K18.

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.null

[Read More]
08/11/18 - Printer friendly version
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Not Secure

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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.null

08/06/18 - Printer friendly version
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Sort Of

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"Sort of" is a common two-word phrase in English. We're "sort of" tired or hungry. We "sort of" need to do homework, laundry, yard work, etc. And the best example of all: We're "sort of" interested in doing something or going somewhere.

We hope that all of us are more than "sort of" interested in checkers, though; and if we are, you'll find this "sort of" speed problem (pun intended), provided by regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon, to be a good one.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W14,15,18,19,24,27,28,30:B1,3,6,7,8,11,20,22.

Why is this a "sort of" speed problem? The initial sequence is easy to find, but the follow-up play is a bit more complex, though certainly below the expert range. So don't "sort of" solve it; do it all the way, after which clicking on Read More will more than "sort of" show you the solution and explanatory notes.null

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08/04/18 - Printer friendly version
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The Year of the Checker

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1987: Korea and Iran were in the news (sound familiar?). Reagan was President. The stock market had a giant meltdown. And IBM's John Akers declared 1987 to be "The Year of the Customer" leaving us to wonder what other years might have been.

But did you know there was "The Year of the Checker"? Well, those exact words weren't used, and it was only the thought of one writer, but the following quote makes our point.

"... this season finds checkers fast becoming one of the leading popular pastimes, with checker clubs being formed in almost every large city in the country. Team matches are going on, checker columns are appearing in the local papers and the year XXXX will witness the greatest checker gathering of all time ..."

Taken from a checker book, we think this rather effectively declares that "The Year of the Checker" was in progress. We challenge you to name the book and the author, and replace "XXXX" with the year that the author referenced. What year was "The Year of the Checker"? (Hint: It certainly wasn't 1987.)

Although the fortune of our game has declined since, some things are timeless, such as the following problem, which appeared in the book cited above.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:WK8,K13,21:BK7,K15,K23.

The problem isn't especially difficult, though it might be better suited to a more advanced beginner than to a novice. See if this is "the year of the checker" for you; find the solution and then click on Read More to see the winning moves and the answers to our questions.null

[Read More]
07/28/18 - Printer friendly version
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Checker School: Second Session

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We've completed our first session of Checker School, which was a tour through Ben Boland's Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers. For our next session, we'll turn (at least at first) to an unusual book published by Andrew J. Banks in 1945, called Checker Board Strategy. Mr. Banks, who lived in Washington, D.C., evidently self-published his work.

The book is written in an entertaining style and features a number of fascinating fictional players. We'll get to meet them as the months roll by. Mr. Banks starts out with the rules of checkers (compiled by none other than William Ryan) and then continues with a brief games section that illustrates the basic openings. Next is a section he calls Snappy Problems (Gems) Today, we'll look at the first one and along the way make the acquaintance of Nemo and Skittle.


Nemo had been studying the foregoing games (in the Games Section--Ed.) when Skittle exclaimed, "You are learning checkers the hard way. You are like a tourist I saw in the State of Maine; he stoped a native and inquired 'How far is it to Portland?'"

"How far was it?" Nemo asked.

"The way the tourist was headed it was about 25,000 miles. The native told him that if he would turn around and go the other way it would be only about two."

"You be my guide; show me the quick way to learn the game," said Nemo.

"By solving problems you will be learning checkers the quick way."


Champion player Alex Moiseyev flatly states that beginners should not touch opening books until they have played a large number of games; many other checker greats stress the value of solving problems. So, the first "gem" or "snappy" problem proposed by Mr. Banks is this one, by G. M. Gibson.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W27,23,K4,K1:BK30,20,16,2.

Can you solve the problem proposed to Nemo by our new friend Skittle? Make it snappy! Solve it and then snap your mouse on Read More to check your solution.null

[Read More]
07/21/18 - Printer friendly version
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Bastille Day

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July 14 is the national holiday of France, generally known as Bastille Day. Popular wisdom is that the holiday commemorates the capture of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, during the revolution which brought down the French monarchy.

But we learn something every day. When we consulted the official French government website, we were told:

«Si le 14 juillet est généralement associé à la prise de la Bastille en 1789, c'est dans les faits le 14 juillet 1790, la fête de la Fédération, qui est officiellement commémoré en France.»

We'll bet you didn't know that, either.

Now, it seems that in honor of Bastille Day, we should present a problem by a French problemist, but in the 8x8 Anglo-American literature, we didn't find one that we could specifically attribute. However, Jean-Bernard Alemanni, in his excellent book "Les jeux de dames dans le monde" does present a couple of relevant demonstration positions. While these are surely not original compositions, the one we show below makes for an easy practice exercise.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W12,15,17,18,19,25,26,30,32:B1,2,3,6,8,9,11,24.

Vite, vite! Trouvez la solution, and when you're done cliquez votre souris sur Read More to check your answer.null

[Read More]
07/14/18 - Printer friendly version
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Friday the 13th

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Paraskevidekatriaphobia. It's what fear of Friday the 13th is called in scientific language (actually, it derives primarily from Greek), and many people won't even go out of doors on that date. There are many ideas as to its origin, but it's a fear not universally held. In fact, in Cantonese speaking areas such as Hong Kong, 13 is considered a lucky, not unlucky, number--- so presumably Friday the 13th would be a lucky day.

Friday the 13th is coming up in the week following initial publication of this column; how will you greet the day?

Unsurprisingly, we suggest greeting it with a thematically relevant checker problem such as the one below, composed by grandmaster problemist Ed Atkinson.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK2,K5,6,11,16,17,K19:B3,10,K20,K21,26,27,K28.

Will you be lucky or unlucky, or do you believe it's all a matter of skill? Try your luck, and then luck out by clicking on Read More to see the incredible solution.null

[Read More]
07/07/18 - 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 © 2004-2019 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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