The Checker Maven

Thanksgiving: Time for Coffee and Cake

It's Thanksgiving time in the United States, and as we remark on each such occasion, this has got to be our favorite holiday, combining as it does food, family, and an air of happy contentment.

During this season, we also like to hearken back to the first days of our Checker Maven columns, which featured an excellent "coffee and cake" problem. Such a problem, you might recall, is one that is so good you'd be willing to bet your checker friends a serving of coffee and cake that they can't win it.

This year's "coffee and cake" problem is a fine one indeed. As we see below, White is up a man but is going to have to work for the win.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W31,30,16,15,10,5:BK24,22,6,2,1.

Can you find your way to the table, so to speak, where coffee and cake await? Or will you be treating your friends instead? Give it a gander, and here's our Thanksgiving treat to you: if you can solve it, and if some day we should meet in person, coffee and cake are on us. When you're ready, click on Read More to check your answer.

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11/28/09 - Printer friendly version
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Good Mental Gymnastics

In our elementary calculus classes, we all learned the right-hand rule, as demonstrated in the photo above, for finding a vector cross product. It's just a bit of simple mental gymnastics. (And, no doubt, we all learned that old, tired joke, "What do you get when you cross an elephant with a grape?")

Checkers, of course, provides its own excellent form of mental gymnastics, and no calculus classes, be they basic or advanced, are required. Today's problem in our continuing Checker School series will give us a good workout with a practical ending. The position is attributed to a Mr. D. Gourlay, and while it may be old, it is far from tired.

D. GOURLAY
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:WK27,25,21,9:BK30,K15,13.

Black is a man down; obtaining a draw is going to require some real thought. Exercise your mind, find the saving moves, and then exercise your mouse finger by clicking on Read More to see the solution.

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11/21/09 - Printer friendly version
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A Pretty Slip (Shot)

We certainly hope the young lady in the photo wasn't hiking alone, as she's just taken a pretty little slip and might need a bit of help. And indeed, we're going to hear about another kind of slip in today's column--- a slip-shot, that useful and often winning checker maneuver wherein our man "slips" behind an enemy man while our opponent is distracted by a compulsory jump elsewhere on the board. Our example comes from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard and Willie will explain it himself.

"Throughout my book, I have tried to emphasize the importance of stroke strategy in overpowering losing moves. Here is a well-known Edinburgh development in which the losing move at A (15-19) can be beaten only by driving black into a well-concealed slip-shot finale.


9-13 20-11 15-19---A
22-18 8-15 27-23*
11-15 28-24 12-16---B
18-11 4-8 30-25
8-15 24-20 10-15
21-17 8-11 25-21---1
13-22 29-25 6-10---2
25-11 5- 9 32-28
7-16 25-22 2-7---3, arriving
24-20 1-5 at the
3-8 23-18 diagram.
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W18,20,21,22,23,26,31,32:B7,5,9,10,11,15,16,19.

A---Standard play to here. The text move loses; the only way white can beat it is by forcing black into the stroke that follows. The correct move at A is: 9-13*; then 27-23, 5-9, 20-16, 12-19, 23-7, 2-11, 26-23, 13-17, 22-13, 15-22, 32-28, 9-14, 28-24, 14-17*, 23-18, 17-21, 24-19, 22-25, 31-27, 25-29, 27-24, 29-25, 24-20, 25-29, 30-26, 29-25, 26-22, 11-15, bringing about a draw. J. W. Jacobson.

B---Nothing better. If play continues with 2-7, 23-16, 12-19, then white will win with 32-28, 9-13 (10-14, 26-23, 19-26, 30-23, 6-10, 31-27, 9-13, 18-9, 5-14, 22-18, 14-17, 23-19, 17-22, 27-24 white wins), 31-27, 5-9 (6-9, 27-23), 27-24, 10-15, 26-23, 19-26, 30-23, 13-17, 22-13, 15-22, 23-19, 7-10, 19-16, 11-15, 24-19, 15-24, 28-19, etc. Wm. F. Ryan."

1---A blunder. We think Willie may have missed this one, as KingsRow now rates the position dead even, and gives 32-28 instead as the move to hold the winning edge---Ed.

2---But this gives the win back; 9-13 would draw---Ed.

3---Loses quickly, whereas 10-14 would have been much better, though still not enough to draw. However the text move leads to a very flashy finish, as you'll see when you work it out---Ed.

Find the winning moves in the diagram above, but don't slip up! Instead, when you've worked out your answer, slip your mouse over to Read More to tumble upon Willie's solution.

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11/14/09 - Printer friendly version
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The 4-Stroke

Once again, we thought we were fresh out of puns on the word "stroke." But then we found this:

Now, we know about checker strokes, and we know about checker engines (for computers), but we've yet to see a checker stroke engine, much less a 4-stroke engine. So instead we'll just go ahead and present you with one of our top of the month stroke problems, and let you use your own mental engine to come up with the solution.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W9,K11,12,16,17,18,22,27:B1,2,3,10,25,K26,K29.

While not necessarily simple, this one is easier than some of the others seen in our columns. Chug away on all cylinders and when you're ready, click on Read More to open the valves leading to the answer.

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11/07/09 - Printer friendly version
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