The Checker Maven

Did Marvin Blow the Game? (Conclusion)


Marvin J. Mavin and Jean Luc Tournevise
When we left off last time (click here for the first part of the story), St. Louis Switchers star player Jean Luc Louis Claude Simon Tournevise (also known as "Louie Screwdriver") was on the verge of a make-or-break decision in his match with our hero Marvin J. Mavin of the Detroit Doublejumpers. The position is diagrammed below, and resulted from this runup:

1. 11-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 12-16 29-25
4. 10-14 24-19
5. 16-20 25-22
6. 7-10 28-24
7. 8-12 32-28
8. 4-8 30-25
9. 3-7 18-15
10. 9-13 19-16
11. 12x19 23x16
12. 10x19 24x15
13. 8-12 15-11
14. 12x19 11-8
15. 7-10 8-3
16. 2-7

RED (Marvin)
(diagram)
WHITE (Louie)
White to Play - Can White Win?
With a single gleeful motion, Louie took the shot!

16. ... 27-24
17. 20x27 31x15
18. 10x19 3x17

"You sill-ee boy, did you not see zees ... how you say eet ... shot?'" he gloated after this move. "Maintenant, vous etes foutu!"

But the game continued this way:

19. 5-9 17-14
20. 9x18 22x15
21. 6-10 15x6
22. 1x10 25-22
23. 10-14 28-24
24. 19x28 26-23
25. 28-32 22-18
26. 32-27 18x9
27. 27x18 Red Wins!

"First Position, mon cher ami," said Marvin in a matter-of-fact manner. "Uh, in plain old American, you might just say, 'You lose, pal!'"

Louie treated Marvin to his best scowling glare. "I sim-plee cannot un-derstand eet!" he exclaimed. "Zis ligne - it is a no good way to play at Dames. Why I lose eet to zis clune americaine?"

"Ah, Frenchy," responded Marvin in a most politically incorrect manner, "you just gotta learn a little more checkers if you wanna beat Marvin. Ya wanted a draw, ya hadda play like this."

Marvin quickly reset the pieces to the original diagrammed position and played out these moves:

16. ... 3-8
17. 14-17 21x14
18. 10x17 27-24
19. 20x27 31x15
20. 17-21 8-12
21. 21x30 28-24
22. 30x23 15-11
23. 7x16 12x26 Drawn (White has a man-down draw).

Red

White
Red to Play, White to Draw

(Can you figure out the draw that Marvin and Louie think is so clear? Try it, then click on Read More below to see the solution.)

"Ya see, ya just hadda move your King away, and ya coulda got a nice man-down draw. But ya got a little too greedy fer yer own good," Marvin pontificated.

"Un moment, s'il vous plait," Louie cut in. "Per'aps I play eet 26-22 at move 22 and I will not 'ave zees First Postion of yours?"

"Nah, Louie, that ain't right neither. Lookit...." Marvin replied. He set the pieces back to the original diagrammed position one more time and showed the following play.

16. ... 27-24
17. 20x27 31x15
18. 10x19 3x17
19. 5-9 17-14
20. 9x18 22x15
21. 6-10 15x6
22. 1x10 26-22
23. 10-14 22-18
24. 14x23 25-22
25. 23-27 22-18
26. 27-31 18-14
27. 31-27 14-9
28. 27-23 9-6
29. 19-24 28x19
30. 23x16 6-2
31. 16-11 2-6
32. 11-15 6-9
33. 15-18 Red Wins.

"Zut!" cried Louie. "Encore une fois ... it ees zee First Position! Monsieur Marvin, you make zee connerie on Jean Claude Louis!"

"Louie," Marvin replied, "Face it. Ya just wasn't good enough to outsmart ole Marvin J. Mavin. Now c'mon, let's go across the street and I'll buy ya une biere in the name of amitie internationale!"

Were you able to figure out this tricky situation? Brian Hinkle, who first showed us this interesting play, remarks, "At the initial setting in order to draw White has to run away with the king with 3-8! ... believe it or not! Without prior knowledge I am sure I would have taken the shot and gone up a man (and a king!) with 27-24x as was played out. Isn't this 27-24x the most natural way and a cool win (for Red)? There are two other lines that end up in First Position. So if White gets greedy, White will lose! Red set a trap that would be hard for White to turn down."

Well, whether you yourself solved this one or not, you've also surely earned yourself une biere for trying. We hope you enjoyed looking into this fascinating and instructive position. There is much more to it than we have space to present here, so grab that beer, and use your computer to explore the variant lines.

And, we're pleased to say, our hero Marvin did not blow the game!

French-English Glossary:

maintenant vous etes foutu now you are finished
mon cher ami my dear friend
ligne line, as in "line of play"
Dames French name for checkers, though more often referring to international rules
clune americaine American clown
un moment s'il vous plait one moment if you please
zut drat
connerie best translated here as "trickery"
encore une fois once again
une biere a beer
amitie internationale international friendship

(Accent marks have been omitted throughout. --Ed.)

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08/27/05 - Printer friendly version
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It's Your Turn Once Again

The very popular It's Your Turn online play site suffered a serious meltdown on Friday, August 19, 2005. This site, highly rated and highly recommended on our site ratings page, hosts turn-based play, counts among its membership many top-notch players, and offers a number of checker tournaments every month.

Due to a faulty backup strategy, both main files and backups were lost, and the site suffered a 10 day outage before coming back on-line on August 29, 2005. Site operator Patrick Chu spent quite a bit of money to hire a data recovery service, and they did their job well: everything except game moves was fully recovered from the crashed storage devices.

During the crisis, site management provided frequent informational updates. and presented a balanced and forthright viewpoint. They have "confessed" to less-than-stellar business practices vis-a-vis backup and recovery, and have offered to make good on lost membership time due to the site outage.

It's Your Turn has been a great place to play both casual and serious checkers, and members now have a choice: they can castigate Mr. Chu for his faults, and abandon the site; or they can realize that It's Your Turn remains a good place to find a good game.

We ourselves have been critical in the past of the site's unfortunate lack of attention to customer service. We expect that this recent experience may have turned that situation around.

It is our hope, and our recommendation, that if you are a checker-playing member of It's Your Turn, you will stay on as a member and keep playing. There is a real danger of the site losing enough membership to cause serious harm. We would surely not wish to see that happen.

08/24/05 - Printer friendly version
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The 2005 ACF 9th District Tournament

The first three days of August saw unusual action in the gaming rooms of the Four Queens in Las Vegas, Nevada.

No, we're not talking about Blackjack or Texas Hold'Em, though we're sure there was plenty of action of that type elsewhere in the casino.


Nery Cardenas and Ryan Pronk; Tom Jones and John Cardie

We're talking about the 2005 edition of the American Checker Federation 9th District Tournament, organized by California checker stalwart Gerry Lopez. A small but enthusiastic group of players gathered in the City of Entertainment for some serious cross-board action.

Competition took place in two divisions, with these final results:

A Division


Ranking Name State Points Remarks
1. Gerry Lopez CA 10 2005 Cal. and Dist. 9 Champion
2. Nery Cardenas CA 8
3. Ryan Pronk AZ 4 withdrew
4. Bob Murr CO 2

B Division


Ranking Name State Points Remarks
1. John Gibson CA 20
2. Alex Lopez CA 18 first tourney
3. John Cardie CO 16 first tourney
4. Robert Ferguson UT 14 first tourney
5. Tom JonesNV 8 first tourney
6. Paul Stein CA 4
7. Joe ColemanIA 2

Division A Game 1
White

Red
Position at Note B, Red to Play and Draw


[Event "9th District 2005 Round 2 Game 1"]
[Date "2005-08-01"]
[Red "Ryan Pronk"]
[White "Bob Murr"]
[Result "0-1"]
1. 11-16 23-18 2. 7-11 26-23
3. 3-7 30-26 4. 16-19 (A) 23x16
5. 12x19 24x15 6. 10x19 27-24
7. 7-10 24x15 8. 10x19 32-27
9. 9-14 18x9 10. 5x14 27-23
11. 11-16 22-18 12. 6-9 18-15
13. 8-12 (B) 25-22 14. 16-20 23x16
15. 12x19 15-11 16. 20-24 22-17
17. 14-18 26-22 18. 18x25 29x22
19. 19-23 28x19 20. 9-13 17-14
21. 23-26 (D) 19-15 (E) 22. 26-30 22-18
23. 30-25 14-10 24. 25-22 10-7
25. 4-8 11x4 26. 2x11 15x8
27. 22x15 8-3 (F) 28. 15-11 31-26
29. 1-6 26-22 30. 11-15 4-8
31. 15-10 8-11 32. 10-14 3-7

White wins.
(A) 9-14 would be an alternative here but there is nothing wrong with the actual move.
(B) The losing move. 1-5 should have held the game.
(C) King's Row prefers 1-6 here, but the game is still lost for Red.
(D) Again, KR prefers 1-5 here ...
(E) ... and 22-18 here, but the outcome won't change.
(F) There is little left to say, or play.
Annotations from King's Row.

Division A Game 2
Notes by Ryan Pronk

White

Red
Position at Note G, Red to Play and Draw


[Event "9th District 2005 Round 1 Game 1"]
[Date "2005-08-01"]
[Red "Ryan Pronk"]
[White "Nery Cardenas"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
1. 11-16 21-17 2. 9-14 (A) 17-13 (B)
3. 16-19 (C) 23x16 4. 12x19 24x15
5. 10x19 25-21 6. 8-11 27-23
7. 6-10 23x16 8. 11x20 26-23 (D)
9. 14-17 (E) 21x14 10. 10x26 31x22
11. 4-8 22-18 12. 8-11 29-25
13. 7-10 25-22 14. 10-14 18x9
15. 5x14 22-18 16. 14-17 23-19
17. 17-22 13-9! 18. 1-5 (F) 18-14
19. 20-24 19-16 20. 11x20 28x19
21. 20-24 19-16 22. 3-7 16-12
23. 7-11 12-8 24. 11-15 8-3
25. 15-18 3-8 26. 18-23 8-11
27. 24-27 11-15 28. 27-31 15-18 (G)
29. 22-26 18x27 30. 31x24 30x23
31. 24-27 23-18 32. 27-23 18-15
33. 23-18 15-11 34. 18-22

Drawn.
(A) A 3-move opening that usually transposes into
Pioneer lines.
(B) Regarded as inferior because it allows the
powerful 16-19 dyke. Going into Pioneer lines with
25-21 is best. However, if the opening were 12-16,
21-17, 9-14, then this 17-13 (as preferred by Tinsley)
would be best.
(C) Planting the piece on 19, and making for a strong
game - but not in this case!
(D) Really took me by surprise. I was expecting 22-17
which may give white a stronger game. But as they
say, the element of surprise is sometimes good enough
to win!
(E) Is there anything better than this natural move?
(F) Again the previous move really took me by
surprise, but after this 1-5, I could see to the end
of the game.
(G) A nice problem setting for the beginner.

Division B Game 1

White

Red
Position at Note E, Red to Play and Draw


[Event "9th District 2005 Round 6 Game 1"]
[Date "2005-08-02"]
[Red "Robert Ferguson"]
[White "John Cardie"]
[Result "0-1"]
1. 10-14 22-18 2. 11-15 18x11
3. 8x15 24-19 4. 15x24 28x19
5. 7-11 25-22 (A) 6. 3-8 (B) 22-18 (C)
7. 6-10 19-15 8. 10x19 23x7
9. 2x11 27-23 (D) 10. 1-6 (E) 29-25 (F)
11. 6-10 (G) 25-22 12. 12-16 22-17
13. 9-13 18x9 14. 5x14 23-18
15. 13x22 18x9 16. 22-25 9-6
17. 25-29 21-17 18. 8-12 6-2
19. 10-15 17-14 20. 15-19 2-6
21. 4-8 14-10 22. 19-23 26x19
23. 16x23 10-7 24. 12-16 7-3
25. 8-12 3-8 26. 11-15 8-11

White Wins.
(A) 23-18 would be better here.
(B) 4-8 is stronger; KR thinks 3-8 is quite weak.
(C) 29-25 is better but White already has a strong game.
(D) This moves blows away the win! 29-25 would have won easily.
(E) But Red misses the chance! 14-17 would have drawn.
(F) White gives Red another shot at a draw! 26-22 would have won here.
(G) And for the last time, Red misses the chance to draw with 14-17. Beyond this point there are some sub-optimal moves on both sides, but Red is lost no matter.
Annotations from King's Row.


John Cardie, Winning!

The Checker Maven congratulates Gerry Lopez for not only having organized this event, but taking home the District 9 and California championships!


Champion Gerry Lopez

Our thanks to Bob Murr for photos and games, Ryan Pronk for additional games, and Gerry Lopez for permission to publish.

08/20/05 - Printer friendly version
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Eyes Only

We promised a "summer scorcher" of a stroke problem for August, and we think we've delivered with one that we're calling Eyes Only. When it originally appeared almost 100 years ago, the publication editor challenged readers to solve it by sight alone, without moving the pieces around on the board. The number of readers who reported success was rather small--- just one solitary correspondent claimed a victory.
RED

WHITE
White to Play and Win
Now, nearly a century later, our challenge to you is the same, but with a modern twist: solve the problem without moving the pieces around on the board --- or on the computer!

When you either have the solution, or have had enough, click on Read More to learn the winning way.

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08/13/05 - Printer friendly version
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A Little Summer Housekeeping

The publication of the conclusion of our Did Marvin Blow the Game? story has been delayed a bit, as we're carefully editing the variations on the play of this interesting position. But never fear, you'll soon learn whether our hero Marvin prevailed, or if Louie Screwdriver got the last laugh.

Also, our on-line publication calendar has gotten out-of-date. Look for us to get that fixed up within the next week or so.

Thank you for helping to make The Checker Maven one of the world's most-read checker publications.

08/10/05 - Printer friendly version
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Leo Is On The Team!

The Checker Maven is pleased to note that, following a period of controversy (see our previous editorial on this topic), eminent checker grandmaster Leo Levitt will be playing for the USA in the upcoming 100th Anniversary International Match with Great Britain.

More words are superfluous, so we will only say that the leadership of the American Checker Federation, spearheaded in this instance by Dr. Richard Beckwith, ACF President Alan Millhone, and Gerry Lopez, acted with honor in according Mr. Levitt the place on the United States team that he so richly deserves.

Congratulations and thanks are due all around to those who in the end upheld the best principles of our game. We recall Dr. Martin Luther King's famed expression, "It's always the right time to do the right thing" and we are proud that our ACF leaders did exactly that.... the right thing.

08/08/05 - Printer friendly version
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Faster Than a Speeding --- Turtle?

This month we're making good on our promise (or was it a threat?) to come up with speed problems that are much more challenging than the ones we've been offering so far. You're not likely to solve these at sprint speeds, hence this month's title caption!

Toe up to the starting line and click below to display the problems and start the clock. Good luck! You can check your solutions by clicking on Read More. Afterwards, click here to cast your vote for the type of speed problems you prefer.

(This article has been edited subsequent to original publication due to valuable reader input. As a result you have three problems instead of two!)

Problem One (very hard for a timed problem)

Problem Two (medium difficulty, original erroneous diagram corrected)

Problem Three (quite hard, as originally published)

[Read More]
08/06/05 - Printer friendly version
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