The Checker Maven

Marvin's New Year's Eve Exhibition

Marvin J. Mavin, the famous captain of the National Checker League's Detroit Doublejumpers, was in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a New Year's Eve exhibition match with the Colorado Springs Cross Stars, a top team in the AAA Pacific Checker League. The match was a benefit fund-raiser for disadvantaged youth and Marvin took great pride in taking part.

Robby "The Rocket" Murry and Marvin J. Mavin

Marvin, playing first board for the Doublejumpers, was pitted against the Cross Star's Captain, Robby "The Rocket" Murry. After a friendly handshake and a short exchange of pleasantries, the game began, and played out as follows.

BlackRobby "The Rocket" Murry
WhiteMarvin J. Mavin

White to Play and Draw


It seems that our hero Marvin has once again managed to get himself into trouble, with The Rocket's king behind Marvin's men and seriously threatening them. The big crowd at the sports arena, though obviously partisans of their home town player, had come to see Marvin play, and was, to say the least, surprised. After all, though The Rocket was a strong AAA player, he wasn't a major league star like Marvin.

There was almost dead silence as Marvin considered his move. Marvin, characteristically, was fidgeting in his chair and muttering to himself. What exactly he was saying couldn't quite be made out by the crowd, although a few of the fans in attendance thought they heard the phrases "some New Year's Eve this is gonna be" and "I need a beer."

What would you play in this position? Match wits with Marvin, and then click on Read More for the rest of the story.

The Checker Maven sends its best New Year's wishes to all of our readers!

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12/30/06 - Printer friendly version
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Holiday Magic

Whatever holidays you celebrate, everyone loves this time of year when the very air seems filled with magic. As our holiday offering to you, we present a problem from a little booklet called Modern Magic, published long ago and featuring the miniatures of S. J. Pickering. Here's our holiday situation:


White to Play and Draw


White's enjoyment of the holidays looks as though it's about to be spoiled, as he appears to be in a very un-festive predicament, with his king on 3 trapped and his man on 22 at risk. Can you pull off some magic of your own and save the season for White? Earn yourself a cup of holiday cheer by solving today's problem. There's no danger, though, of spoiling your own seasonal enjoyment, as clicking on Read More will, as if by magic, bring the solution to you.

The Checker Maven wishes the best of the season to one and all.

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12/23/06 - Printer friendly version
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What's on the Tube?

In this article, we're offering you something quite different: a quick survey of what's on the tube. The "tube" we're referring to, of course, is the popular internet video site YouTube. Curious about the hype surrounding this site and its recent acquisition by Google for a fantastic sum of money, we decided to take a look for ourselves, and see if--- against all odds--- YouTube had anything to offer the checker enthusiast.

Apparently, YouTube has something for everyone, and we found checker-related videos (at least of a sort) in great quantity. We spent a little time (actually a little too much time) sorting through some of these and have selected a small sampling that might interest our readers.

Don't expect great technical production and professional acting, and above all don't expect great checkers. But do expect some unusual and unexpected checker-related entertainment. Here's our pick of the bunch, and we'd be interested to hear what you think. Write us at

Xtreme Checkers
A video game spoof.

King of Checkers
Rather humorous video
about "crowning."

Checker Shots
An attempt to teach checkers;
rather hard to follow.

They use red and white pieces
but ignore compulsory jumps!

Checker Master
An amazing win;
apparently Turkish checkers.

Checkers Gone Wrong
A surreal experience;
some rough language.

Ghost Checkers
Checkers and the supernatural!

Checker Battle
Checkers as drama,
played on an unusual board.

Split Personality

As suggested by reader
"Pal" Bucker.

12/23/06 - Printer friendly version
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Showdown in Abilene

Abilene Texas is cowboy country, partner, you just better believe it. The home of many a Hollywood showdown between the guys in the white hats and the guys in the black hats, Abilene is practically synonymous with the Wild West.

It's perhaps less well-known but every bit as important (at least to us) that Abilene has a history of great checker shootouts too. We recently came across the results of the 8th Semi-Annual West Texas Tourney, held on Washington's Birthday in 1935, and surely Abilene rocked and reeled that day, not from gunshots, but from the excitement of high-class competitive checkers.

We've chosen a situation from a game between a Mr. Geo. R. Gristy, of Eastland Texas (playing White) and Mr. A. H. Tate of Olden Texas (playing Black).


White to Play and Win


Believe it or not, there's only one winning move. Everything else draws or loses. Here Mr. Gristy played 24-20, allowing Mr. Tate to come up with a spectacular draw.

Can you win this unexpectedly difficult shootout? Can you figure out what Mr. Gristy should have played to win with the White side (instead of 24-20)? Can you show how Mr. Tate cleverly drew after 24-20?

Fight for the solutions, and then shoot back in time with us to Abilene Texas, 1935, to see the full game, explanatory notes, and the surprising answers. All it takes is a simple click on Read More.

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12/16/06 - Printer friendly version
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8th International Match Book Now Available

We received our copy of 8th IM: 2005 Eighth International Match this week, and the book is a gem and a rare must-own. Co-edited by Gerry Lopez and Jim Loy, it's a genuine tour-de-force.

Not a mere booklet or even a trade paper edition, this is a professionally bound hardback covered in bookcloth, with oversized high-weight pages, large, clear type, and easily readable diagrams. But it's the content that shines. Here you get Al Darrow's history of the entire match series, photos from previous matches as well as color and black-and-white photos from the 2005 match, player biographies, and many more features. Of course, every game is included with expert annotations by the players themselves and other annotators including Alex Moiseyev, Jim Loy, Mac Banks, and others.

Get your copy quickly while they last from Alan Millhone, P.O. Box #1, Belpre, OH 45714-0001 or Gerry Lopez, 41858 Corte Selva, Temecula, CA 92591. It's just $40 in the US and $45 international.

To whet your interest, here's a problem taken from the book.


White to Play and Win

For the solution, click on Read More.... but first, order the book without delay!

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12/16/06 - Printer friendly version
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Key Endings

The Checker Maven is pleased and privileged to present a new electronic edition of Grandmaster Richard Pask's instructional book, Key Endings. In its pages you will find a wealth of information including detailed play on 25 common and important checker endgame situations, as well as material on the opposition, parameters, and much more. This book contains essential knowledge for the developing checker player and an important summary and review for the established expert.

Together with the already-released electronic editions of Mr. Pask's Key Themes, Key Landings, and Key Openings, as well as the other books available on this site, the makings of a basic checker library are now easily and freely available, without cost, to checker players around the world.

You can download your own PDF-format copy of Key Endings here, or from the Richard Pask page, as linked in the right-hand column of our front page. The book is free, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Pask, in allowing us to republish it and offer it here for your education and enjoyment. Mr. Pask has also given us permission to republish his Solid Checkers, which we hope to accomplish sometime in the latter part of 2007.

Please bring any errors (for which we alone take full responsibility) in Key Endings to our attention, so that we may promptly correct them. Write

And now, to get you started and spur your interest, here is a tough position presented in the book. Mr. Pask calls it the Skullcracker Ending as it arises from the difficult 3-move ballot known as, unsurprisingly, The Skullcracker.


Black to Play and Draw


If you can solve it, great! If you have trouble with it, download the book and study the theme. We won't give the answer to the problem here; you'll find it in the book!

12/09/06 - Printer friendly version
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Our Second Anniversary: Let's Have Coffee and Cake!

With this issue, The Checker Maven celebrates two full years of uninterrupted, on-time weekly publication, something that we believe no other internet checker webzine has ever accomplished. Over the past 24 months, we've seen our weekly readership grow from a handful to several thousand, as The Checker Maven has become a Saturday morning staple for many a checker enthusiast. By any measure, it's the world's most widely read checkers and draughts publication.

For our part, we're grateful to all of you for making us a success far beyond anything we would have ever believed possible, and we hope to be able to continue to publish for a long time to come.

To celebrate the day, we'd like to go back to our favorite "coffee and cake" theme. This is an idea created by none other than Willie Ryan, about a problem that you'd set up for your checker pals and bet them coffee and cake that they can't win it. Well, today's coffee and cake problem gives them a fighting chance. It isn't really that difficult if you can see the winning method, so you might actually have to pay up on this one.


White to Play and Win


Our thanks to Brian Hinkle, to whom we owe coffee and cake many times over, for sending us this problem. Solve it, check your solution by clicking on Read More, and then treat yourself--- to coffee and cake, of course.

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12/02/06 - Printer friendly version
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