The Checker Maven

The ACF Nationals

Checker Action at the 2007 Nationals

Virtually every week The Checker Maven brings you a puzzle or a problem to solve; something to enjoy and learn from, and which demonstrates the endless depths of our game of checkers. But this week is a little different. Today instead we present for your pleasure two excellent games from last year's U.S. National tournament, which took place in July 2007 in the fabled city of Las Vegas. We're also shamelessly pitching the 2008 National tournament, in the hopes that you will attend if you can or donate a little something if you can't.

Our spotlighted games from the 2007 tournament were sent along by Colorado Springs checker expert Bob Murr, whom we're proud to say has been a reader and supporter of The Checker Maven since the very beginning. In the 2007 tournament, Bob played a pair of games against the Irish expert Tommy Canning, famed for his skill as a correspondence player, but equally formidable in an over-the-board contest. The games below were annotated by Bob. We hope you enjoy them.

2007 Nationals Contestants Tommy Canning and Bob Murr

[Event "US National 2007"]
[Date "2007-07-25"]
[Black "Bob"]
[White "Tommy C"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]


A---This move has a bad record strongly favoring White; the 10-15 exchange is favored here, followed by either 26-23 or the 24-19 exchange to an even game.

B---11-15 seems better.

C---30-26 is the power move here followed by 2-6, 26-22, 3-7, then the 24-19 exchange appears to win.

D---During the game, I thought this would equalize but it offers White a powerful advantage.

E---31-27 is the power move although this also appears to win.

F---This allows Black an even game, 7-2 wins by 19-24, 28-19, 15-24, 2-7, 24-28, 7-11, 28-32, 31-26, etc. WW.

G---Black was very fortunate indeed to escape.

Click here for an animated version of this game.

[Event "US National 2007"]
[Date "2007-07-25"]
[Black "Tommy C"]
[White "Bob"]
[Result "0-1"]

22.6-107-3White Wins.

A---25-22 is more common as in the trunk line of Duffy's Single Corner (DSC).

B---As taken in Duffy's variation 33.

C---New to me; Duffy recommends either 7-10 or 15-19 as in note C of variation 33 of DSC.

D---Or 15-19, even game.

E---15-19 looks easier.

F---19-23 and 12-16 also fail the test 19-23, 21-17, 12-16, 18-14, 1-5, 31-27 etc.

G---Or 6-10, 13-9, 12-16, 9-6 etc. Black doesn't have many options.

Click here for an animated version of this game.

Did you like these games? We hope so, and we hope you'll consider attending the 2008 Nationals, to be held at the Vegas Club in downtown Las Vegas. This year an incredible checker triple-header will take place!

The Vegas Club, Downtown Las Vegas

First, there is the "Arthur Niederhoffer" National Youth Tournament, running from July 19th-20th , 2008 This event is for youth 21 and under. Full information can be found here:

Then, the "Gene Lindsay" 3-move US National will be held from July 21st-25th. This will be a three-move restriction event using the 156-opening deck and played in a Swiss system format. Additional information can be found here:

Finally, the District 9 Open (Western States Championship) will be held from July 27th-28th with a playoff on the 29th if necessary. Further details can be found here:

The Vegas club is offering checker players a very inexpensive room rate at $55 plus tax for Friday and Saturday nights, and only $29 plus tax for Sunday through Thursday nights. Players will also need to add an additional $15 per day of play to help with the costs of the playing room.

Legendary organizer Gerry Lopez is accepting donations for the Nationals prize fund. A contribution of $10 or more will bring a copy of 50 selected Masters' Division games direct to your mailbox. Please be generous and send your donation to:

Gerry Lopez, ACF Representative
41858 Corte Selva, Temecula CA 92591.

You will also receive credit in the ACF bulletin and the Missouri Newsletter.

Imagine it --- ten days of top-quality checkers in fabulous Las Vegas. It's a checker player's dream!

04/26/08 - Printer friendly version
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Andy's Annihilator

In our latest installment from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps and Shots of the Checkerboard, we present what has to be the most stunning and spectacular position thus far--- and that's saying a lot. Without further ado we'll let Willie tell us about it.

"World's Champion Andrew Anderson is generally con­ceded to be the discoverer and early coach of James Wyllie, although there is no evidence on the records to indicate that the 'Herd Laddie' ever acknowledged Anderson as his teacher. The great Anderson played five torrid matches with Wyllie between 1837 and 1847, winning four of them, losing one. This may explain why the caustic Wyllie was reluctant to bestow any credit upon his master. A refined and quiet-mannered gentleman, Anderson was versatile as a player and as an analyst. It has been said that none of the trunk games in his Guide has ever been corrected. Among Anderson's best known analytical sparklers is this instructive sortie on the Souter opening. Proceed with:

9-14 23-19 11-16
22-17 6- 9 17-14
11-15 17-13 16-23*
25-22 2- 6 31-26---F
8-11 22-17 10-17
29-25 14-18 21-14,
4-8---A 26-22---E arriving at
the diagram.

Black to Play and Win


A---In a match game between Robertson and Wyllie, the former used 11-16 at this point, and the following sensational play ensued:

11-16 27-23 11-15 31-27 11-27 26-23
24-20 19-24 19-16 5-9 19-15 19-26
16-19 28-19 7-11 27-24 10-19 30-7---D,
23-16 15-24 16-7 15-18 17-10 resulting
12-19 32-28 2-11 23-19 6-15 in a draw.
17-13---B 8-11 22-17 8-12---C 13- 6
4-8 28-19 3-8 20-16 1-10

B---White dare not attack the piece 27-23, as 5-9, 23-16, 9-13, in reply, ends all organized resistance, and black wins.

C---At this move, one of Wyllie's cronies, Peter Rule, entered the playing room, and after hastily taking inventory of the situation on the board, exclaimed, 'My, Mr. Wyllie, how did you ever get into such a scrape as this?'

'I am a piece ahead,' was the pert reply. Then Wyllie moved 20-16, proceeded to give away six men as fast as Robertson could take them, and acquired a draw amidst loud salutes of general ad­miration.

D---A splendidly played crossboard game, which is worthy of close analytical study by all grades of players.

E---A tricky but untenable move, which requires black to meet it with exacting play. The correct move here is 26-23, as exemplified in Mclndoe's Slingshot (previously published here --Ed.).

F--21-17, at this point, would be crushed by 23-26, 30-23,15-19, 23-16, 12-19, 24-15, 10-19, 22-15, 9-18, 31-26, 7-10, etc., with black winning."

Make no mistake, this one is a real shocker, and a genuine challenge even to a top player. Can you do it? Don't get annihilated; click on Read More to blast your way to the incredible solution.

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04/19/08 - Printer friendly version
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Second Position

Our ballerina above is showing good form in demonstrating Second Position. We'll wager that ballet's Second Position is known to more of the general public than checker's Second Position--- but we'll bet the margin is small.

We continue with our review of the basics in this month's Checker School column, drawn as usual from the erudite pages of Ben Boland's Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers. And what can be more basic than Second Position? You may ask why we even bother with such an old warhorse, as it's been presented in virtually every basic checker textbook since time immemorial.

If you've mastered this position, we'll accept your argument, and you can browse on over to your favorite alternate checker site. But how many of us have really mastered all the nuances? Today, we take you on the backstage tour of Second Position, and by the time you're done, you'll be able to literally dance your way through this tricky but important ending.

Try your hand at the following progressively more difficult three examples.


Black to Play and Win



Black to Play and Win



Black to Play and Win


Can you solve them all? Never have a "second" thought about clicking on Read More to see detailed notes, a sample game, and virtually all that you'll ever need to know.

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04/12/08 - Printer friendly version
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A Bit Too Advanced

Sartre's L'Être et le Néant is a bit too advanced for most folks, let alone for the reader pictured above. We feel that there is an apt analogy to some stroke problems, which seem every bit as complex as the French philosopher's famous work on l'ontologie phénoménologique. This month's selection certainly can be described as complex; or again, making further reference to the existentialist canon, perhaps incomprehensible.

Fortunately, you can try out our problem without need for a French to English translation.


White to Play and Win


Can you find the answer, or does it all come to nothing? We posit, however, that a solution indeed exists, and that it can be definitively determined by clicking on Read More.

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04/05/08 - Printer friendly version
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