The Checker Maven

Checker School: Cowie's Position

While the photo above certainly depicts an interesting position (although one which we're most unlikely to attempt ourselves), our title, and today's lesson in our ongoing Checker School series, refers to a position of a much different nature.


White to Play and Win


It's three against three, but White has two kings and seemingly the upper hand. But the twists and contortions necessary to score the win will require much flexibility of thought. See if you can master this surprisingly intricate position; but don't get tied up in knots; clicking on Read More will definitely ease the strain by bringing you the full solution, a sample game, and Ben Boland's detailed notes and commentary.

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04/28/07 - Printer friendly version
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A Message from Gerry and Alan

Our postal mail today brought us a very nice letter from none other than Gerry Lopez, who is a top player and a tireless organizer and promoter of our great game. Gerry is a major force behind this year's Nationals, coming up sooner than you think in July, 2007.

Gerry enclosed two short notes, one from himself and the other from American Checker Federation President Alan Millhone. We're pleased to be able to reproduce these messages here.

From Gerry: "It took a lot of work to get a good deal at the Plaza in Las Vegas for the GAYP National. Now the ACF needs help with pledges to meet the bid that we made to get it there. Anything you can do to help with a check or pledge will be much appreciated. Please help our game by mailing your check or pledge to: Gerry Lopez (ACF Nat'l), 41959 Corte Selva, Temecula, CA 92591. My phone number: (951)-695-2499. Email:"

From Alan: "The National Tourney is coming up in July. Unfortunately, for many people, one of the measuring sticks for the value of a game is its prize fund. Checkers, one of the most beautiful games in the world, is not understood by most people. They think it's a game for children. When they read that the National Champion of the game receives a first prize of only $1,000, their conception is strengthened. It's high time to support our game. If every checker player contributes something, that terrible misconception can be changed. Let's do something to affect that change with your contribution, big or small, to this year's National. To support the game, please mail your check to Gerry Lopez, GAYP 2007, at 41858 Corte Selva, Temecula, CA 92591. All contributions will be credited in the ACF bulletin. Let's get more respect for our game!"

We couldn't agree more, and The Checker Maven encourages you to help out in any way you can. We'll be sending in a little something ourselves, and we challenge you to do the same if at all possible.

04/28/07 - Printer friendly version
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The Legendary Tinsley

We once again have the privilege of presenting a new book by grandmaster Richard Pask. It's his exhaustive compilation of the checker career of Dr. Marion F. Tinsley, arguably the greatest checker player who ever lived, and is entitled simply The Legendary MFT.

The book is filled with games, commentary, and notes, and contains thorough indexing by opening and opponent, and much, much more, including an introduction by none other than Richard Fortman. It's simply too rich to fully describe here, so we invite you to download the book at once, by clicking here, or visiting our Richard Pask page as linked in the downloads section of the right hand column. The book is completely free thanks to the generosity of Mr. Pask.

To get you in the mood, as if that were necessary, we've chosen a situation covered in the book from the legendary Hellman-Tinsley match. This contest of titans started out with 24 draws, and then Mr. Hellman made a slip resulting in this position (having just played 17-14).


Black to Play and Win


You will not be surprised to know that Dr. Tinsley found the winning line of play, and drew first blood, going on to take the championship with three wins by the conclusion of the match.

Can you match wits with The Legendary Tinsley and find the winning line on your own? Can you correct Mr. Hellman's play and show how he could have held the draw?

A tall order, to be sure, but answers are just a click away; pressing Read More will bring you the entire game with annotations and comments, and, of course, the answers to our questions.

Hold the Phone: A Post-Publication Addendum

We're delighted that The Checker Maven has interested and attentive readers. After publication of this article, we heard from long-time correspondent Brian Hinkle, an analyst with a keen eye for position. He consulted with Ed Gilbert, and the fruits of their collaboration may have overturned history, not to mention the results of our proposed problem. Click on Read More for the rest of the story.)</p> [Read More]

04/21/07 - Printer friendly version
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Tombstones for Tyros

In this installment from Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, Willie pulls no punches in his characterization of the lions devouring their weaker prey. Let's listen in as Willie speaks.

"The Cross opening is a perpetual favorite with all classes of players. For some unexplainable reason, it is infested with more early pitfalls than any other opening on the board. Here, in one concise arrangement, you will find four of the best-known and most commonly employed 'shockers' that experienced players are constantly using to slay the innocents.

11-15 23-18

See the diagram.


White to Play and Win


A---Another early demise follows 9-13, which loses as follows: 9-13, 26-23, 6-9, 30-26, 9-14, 18-9, 5-14, 32-27, 1-5, 19-16, 12-19, 23-16, 11-20, 22-17, 13-22, 25-4, and white wins.

B---If 18-23 is employed, then counter with 19-15, 10-19, 24-15, 11-18, 22-15, 14-18, 31-27, 7-10, 17-14. At this stage, 10-17, 21-14, 6-10 is drawable, but 10-19 allows the shot by 14-10, 6-15, 25-22, 18-25, 27-4, with which white wins.

C---A natural-looking move is 11-16, but it cracks up quickly by 22-15, 16-23, 31-27, 10-19, 17-10, 7-14, 27-9, 6-13, 24-15, and white wins.

D---This has been erroneously rated a losing move, but it produces a draw as shown in Note E. The accepted draw moves at this point are: 14-17, 21-7, 3-10, 22-17, 13-22, 25-18, 8-11, 29-25, 2-6, 25-22, 6-9, 22-17, 24-28, 17-13, 10-15, 13-6, 15-22, 6-2, 11-15, 2-7, 15-18, 7-10, 18-23, 10-15, 22-26. Andrew Anderson.

E---This is the real loser, since it allows the shot which follows. Black can still draw at E by playing: 14-18, 25-22, 18-25, 29-22, 8-11, 13-9 (best chance), 10-15, 9-5---F, 15-19, 5-1, 19-23, 1-5, 11-15, 5-9, 3-7, 9-13, 12-16, 20-11, 7-16, 13-17, 15-19, 22-18, 24-27; a draw. Wm. F. Ryan.

F---If 22-17 is used, follow with: 15-19, 17-13, 19-23, 9-6, 2-9, 13-6, 24-27, 6-2, 27-31, 2-6, 11-15, 6-10 (21-17, 23-26, 30-23, 31-26 ends in a draw), 3-8, 10-26, 31-22, 32-27, 8-11, 27-23, 12-16, 30-25, 22-29, 21-17; a draw. Wm. F. Ryan."

You needn't have this problem become your tombstone; avoid the hungry lions by clicking on Read More to see the short and snappy solution.

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04/14/07 - Printer friendly version
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With Deliberate Speed

Today's speed problem is a little different; it's really not a "speed" problem per se, in that it needs to be solved in seconds. Instead, we present a problem that's a good deal harder than the usual "find the tactics" speed problem, though it really isn't so difficult as problems go.

Your challenge in this month's speed offering is to find the solution within the "regulation" five minute time limit. Are we perhaps being too easy on you? Only you can decide; try out the problem, and then click on Read More to see the solution and a sample game which leads to the problem position. Make haste slowly!

April Speed Problem No. 1

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04/07/07 - Printer friendly version
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