The Checker Maven

Head's Redeemer

It seems that Mr. Lucius S. Head (whose visage, by the way, is certainly not shown in the picture above) is better known to us than to Mr. Ryan, as we know that he (Mr. Head) was once a resident of Chicago and played many games with old-time Windy City checker expert and somewhat controversial author John T. Denvir. Mr. Head also resided at one time in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was Minnesota state champion. But such details notwithstanding, in this month's installment from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, we see an interesting and practical situation which Mr. Ryan attributes to Mr. Head. Here's Willie to tell us more.

"L. S. Head, of Albany, New York, American member of the 1905 International Checker Team, was a modest soul whose name rarely appeared in checker periodicals of his day. Yet he was a distinguished and widely respected player, as well as an accomplished analyst. Among the few notable items credited to his name is the practical position treated here, known as "Head's Draw," which keeps popping up in play every now and then.

10-15 6-10 1-5*---1
23-18 25-22 22-17
11-16 9-14 5-9*---2
18-11 18-9 17-13
8-15 5-14 15-18*
22-18 27-23 13-6
15-22 8-11 2-9
25-18 19-16 30-25
16-20 12-19 9-13
29-25 23-16 26-22---A
4-8 11-15 10-15
24-19 32-27 28-24

Black to Play and Draw


A---If 26-23, 10-15 are played, 23-19 insures a draw; but if 28-24 is used, black shoots the works with: 15-19, 24-15, 20-24, 27-20, 18-27, 31-24, 7-11, and black wins by capturing the piece on 25."

1---Despite the star here, KingsRow gives 1-6 to draw as well---Ed.

2---Again despite the star, KingsRow gives 15-18 to draw also---Ed.

Can you use your head and solve this one? Noodle on it for a while then head over to the solution by clicking on Read More.

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02/28/09 - Printer friendly version
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Grant vs. M'Guire

General Ulysses S. Grant

Everyone knows about the great American general Ulysses S. Grant, who fought on the side of the Union in the American Civil War. However, we can find no record of a Confederate general named M'Guire or McGuire. The only reference our research department was able to uncover was of a physician, Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire, who served with the Confederate army and who was in fact present at the famed Battle of Gettysburg. However we can't find any indication that Dr. McGuire's unit ever faced any of General Grant's units in combat, and we're even more certain that they never met in person over the checkerboard. General Grant went on to be President of the United States, and Dr. McGuire went on to become a contributor to the first of the Geneva Conventions.

Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire

Today's Checker School position, which is taken from an actual game between someone named Grant and someone named M'Guire, certainly didn't involve the two Civil War personages mentioned above; and the game actually took place in 1893, some 28 years after the end of the War Between the States. It's a small "set piece" battle which is of considerable practical interest.


Black to Play, White to Draw


Can you align the troops such that the Black and White armies fight to a draw? Sound the bugles and beat the drums, then work out the solution before clicking on Read More to charge over to the solution, a sample game, and notes.

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02/21/09 - Printer friendly version
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Valentine's Day Celebration

Valentine's Day is the traditional day of romance, yet we are certain that our game of checkers and romance are seldom associated. More's the pity, as we can see in the photo of the young folks just above, and the wonderful picture of the older folks just below.

We like to think that checkers can be an important part of a romantic relationship. Consider: checkers is good clean fun; it's sociable; and it's an inexpensive activity. It's one of the overlooked simple things that can add a lot to a couple's time together.

To celebrate Valentine's Day, here's a checker problem that is of moderate difficulty; we propose that it's just the right thing for you and your Significant Other to work on during a pleasant hour together, perhaps over a soda or a pot of tea. And who knows where it all might lead?


Black to Play and Win


Put your heart into finding the answer, then click on Read More for the charming solution.

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02/14/09 - Printer friendly version
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Winter Speedster

Here in much of North America we're mired in the depths of winter, but that doesn't seem to faze our speed skater in the picture above. He's having a great time out on the ice, making the most of the season.

At home, there's nothing like a checker problem to help us make the most of the season too, and this month we bring you an easy speed problem that will cheer you, even if it won't quite last through a whole cup of tea. In fact, it's easy enough that we think 10 seconds is plenty of time.

When you're ready, click on the link below and speed to your solution. After you're done, click on Read More to check your answer.

February Speed Problem (easy)

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02/07/09 - Printer friendly version
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