The Checker Maven

Hynd's Hedgehopper

The Hedgehoppers were a relatively obscure band from Durban, South Africa, circa 1971 (just where do we come up with these things?). Quite honestly, we've never listened to their music; and today, we'd wager it would be difficult to find.

Perhaps equally difficult to find is Willie Ryan's classic book, Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard. Fortunately, we're reprinting sections of it here each month; and in our usual manner, our lead photo and full column have related titles. Today, we bring you Hynd's Hedgehopper, explained to us by Willie himself.

"Here is a good stroke by Champion John Hynd of Manchester, England, which is recorded in every expert's notebook. Hynd, by the way, has been playing top-flight draughts for almost half a century, and is still playing with the best. A former Champion of England, he played on the British team in the 1905 International Match.


10-14 28-24 9-14
24-20 4-8 26-23
6-10 23-19 2-6
22-18 8-11 30-26
11-15 25-22 5-9---A
18-11 14-18 See the
8-15 29-25 diagram.
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,31,32:B1,3,6,7,9,10,11,12,14,15,18.

A---Off the beam, and loses. Here is how black should play it: 6-9*, 32-28, 9-13---1, 19-16, 12-19, 23-16, 14-17, 21-14, 10-17, 24-19, 15-24, 22-8, 3-19, 27-23, 17-21, 23-16, 21-30, 28-19, 30-23, 16-12, 23-16, 20-2, 1-6, etc., for a draw; an old combination."

1---Ed Gilbert's King's Row computer engine gives 1-6 to draw here as well, and the continuation is also quite flashy: 1-6 20-16 11x20 19-16 12x19 23x16 15-19 24x15 10x19 22x15 14-18 15-11 18-23 27x18 9-13 11x2 3-8 2x9 5x30 to a draw.

Can you sing and dance your way through this one? Don't worry, sweet music can be had by clicking on Read More, which will take you straight to the solution.

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04/25/09 - Printer friendly version
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Our New Santa Fe Offices

We've had a few inquiries about our new, downsized and down-costed Santa Fe location, so to better illustrate, we've shown above a (rather poor) webcam photo of your editor's desk. The offices are not much different from those at the old location; they're just smaller and the building itself is somewhat older, and certainly in a part of town substantially further down the prestige ladder. What a difference a half a mile can make!

The larger question, of course, is as yet unanswered: in this economic downturn, how long can we keep offices in both Santa Fe and Honolulu? While we don't yet have a timetable, it seems likely that one or the other will close in the next year or so. Time, fortune, and the wishes of our parent company, Mr. Fred Investments, will ultimately tell the tale.

04/25/09 - Printer friendly version
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Heffner and Price

Volleyball players Heffner and Price were two of the mainstays of the Alabama women's volleyball team some six or seven years ago, but that was Erin Heffner and Erin Price. And for better or worse, our topic in these columns isn't women's volleyball.

Instead, it's our mission and our duty to focus on checkers, and today's lesson in our monthly Checker School series, drawn from the pages of Ben Boland's Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers, concerns closely related positions by checkerists A. J. Heffner and G. Price. We have no way of knowing if these gentlemen ever played volleyball, but their mastery of the art of Dama is undoubted.

A. J. HEFFNER
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK9,31,32:BK8,12,20.

G. PRICE
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W32,27,K10:B20,12,K8.

Now that we've served up these problems, can you volley back at us with the solutions? Give it a try, but if there are spikes in your path, click on Read More to jump to the solutions, sample game, and explanatory notes.

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04/18/09 - Printer friendly version
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Two Parts from Denvir

We're not talking today about the city of Denver, as attractive and appealing as that modern metropolis might be. Instead, we're talking about John Denvir (and neither do we mean the late popular musician who called himself John Denver). John T. Denvir was a well-known checker player and author in the early 1900s, and was, to put it mildly, a man of controversy. He did publish a number of checker instruction books, and today's two-part problem is drawn from one of them.

First, look at this position arising from a Single Corner opening:

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W22,20,18,12,9:B14,11,3,2.

White has drawing moves here, and it's not so hard to find them. We invite you to give it a try.

One way not to draw is with the seemingly clever 20-16, which results in this position.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W22,18,16,12,9:B14,11,3,2.

Can you find a win for Black at this point?

If you don't find the solutions, you needn't travel all the way to Denver to see how it's done; clicking on Read More will transport you immediately to the answers.

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04/11/09 - Printer friendly version
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Downsizing

The current state of the economy affects everyone, and The Checker Maven is no exception.

We don't spoil your reading experience by publishing advertising; we will never, ever charge a subscription fee; and we neither solicit nor accept donations. Revenue from a handful of collateral products, and cross-subsidies from our parent company, the Avi Gobbler Productions Division of Mr. Fred Investments, provide us with our only sources of income. It's no surprise that with the economy as it is, our operating funds are down substantially.

So, as a cost-saving measure, we made the decision to move our Santa Fe offices half a mile or so to smaller quarters in a less expensive area. Our staff count will remain the same, and most importantly, regular Saturday publication of The Checker Maven will continue without interruption or reduction in quality or quantity of content.

04/11/09 - Printer friendly version
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Springing Into Spring

Spring has come to the northern hemisphere, and our rather impressive long jumper in the photo above is literally springing into spring as the outdoor season arrives. But even with our irrepressible urge to get out of the house and into the fine fresh air, we know you still have a little time to keep up with your game of checkers.

In this week's column we help you do just that, with a nice speed problem that will give you a little practice without keeping you inside for too long. We rank it as "medium" on the difficulty scale and allow you ... one minute. After all, the sunshine and blue skies are calling you!

Click below to show the problem and start the clock, then click on Read More to check your solution.

April Speed Problem (medium; 60 seconds)

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04/04/09 - Printer friendly version
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