The Checker Maven

Blither's Advice

There are people who talk a lot, and despite our illustration above, we don't at all mean to stereotype this behavior. Copious yakking knows no boundaries of gender, group, or anything else.

At times, wordiness can be most beneficial. For instance, our monthly Checker School columns usually contain rather verbose advice and explanation, and we think that's a good thing, as it makes the lessons easier to learn and apply. But this month, Ben Boland, the original source of our current pedagogical series, is untypically laconic. Is it because the material is easier than usual? Or was Mr. Boland having an especially quiet day? We can't know the answer, but we can have a look at the subject study, which traces back to a certain L. J. Vair.

Black to Play and Win


You might say that the position speaks for itself; Black is a man up and ought to be able to win. Yet, it's trickier than you might think at first glance. Can you get the last word on this problem or will it leave you speechless? We're only going to say that clicking on Read More will bring you to the solution, a sample game, and explanatory notes.

[Read More]
02/27/10 - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Moving Day

During the coming week, The Checker Maven is relocating full-time to Honolulu, Hawai`i.

Our Santa Fe offices closed permanently on February 26, 2010. Business will resume in our Honolulu office on March 8 at partial capacity; we expect to be back to full operation before the end of March.

We will of course publish a new column each Saturday morning during the transition, without interruption or delay.

We've had a great run in Santa Fe, but it's time to move on and consolidate in the interests of reduced costs and efficiency.

Catch you soon at our Honolulu office.

02/27/10 - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Scott's Scorcher

The expression "hot stuff" has a number of different meanings and uses, and our photo above is a real scorcher in its own right. Scorchers exist as well in our game of checkers, and who else is as uniquely qualified as Willie Ryan to discuss them? Mr. Ryan, who was "hot stuff" of the checker sort in his own day, calls the following play "Scott's Scorcher" in his book Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard. Let's let Willie tell us more.

"We found the Dyke game and stroke, described here, hidden in an old tome, credited to W. Scott, and it is altogether too good to pass by unnoticed. In this example, the winning clearance is effected by employing one of those peculiar in-and-out devices so widely used in stroke strategy.

11-15 27-239-14
22-17 4- 8 23-19
15-19 23-16 11-15
24-15 11-20 19-16---3
10-19 29-25 15-19---4
23-16 7-10 31-27---A
12-19 17-13 3-8
25-22 8-11 16-12---B
8-11 26-23 See the

Black to Play and Win


A---White dares not play 16-11, as black will force white into this crushing coup: 16-11, 10-15, 31-27---5, 14-17*!, 21-14, 19-23, 27-18, 6-9, 13-6, 1-26, 30-23, 15-29. A very unusual 'double-take.'

B---The beginning of the end. However, white still can pull out with a draw, by: 30-26*---6, 10-15, 13-9*, 6-13, 16-12, 8-11, 27-24, 20-27, 32-7, 2-11, 26-23, 11-16, 28-24, 16-20, 23-19, 20-27, 19-10, 27-31, 10-7, 31-26, 7-2, 26-17, 2-7, 1-6, 12-8, 5-9, 7-11, 17-22, 25-18, 14-23, 11-15, 23-26, 8-3, 26-30, 3-7, 9-14, 7-2, 6-9, 2-6, 30-26, 15-10. Wm. F. Ryan."

3---This move may actually lose. 32-27 is much to be preferred here---Ed.

4---Gives back the edge; 20-24 would have retained the substantial advantage for Black---Ed.

5---White would do better here with 22-17, although the game may still be lost---Ed.

6---In a line of play that probably only a computer would find, KingsRow shows that the surprising move 13-9 will also draw here as White pulls off a stroke of his own: 13-9 6x13 16-12 8-11 27-24 20x27 32x7 2x11 etc. Drawn---Ed.

Are you "hot stuff" yourself? (Remember, we're talking checkers here.) Demonstrate your elevated temperature by solving the problem; but if you get overheated, clicking on Read More will take you straight to the solution.

[Read More]
02/20/10 - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

V for Victory

History will forever remember Sir Winston Churchill as the man who lead England to victory in the dark days of World War II. Sir Winston was a writer, painter, statesman, and politician; but above all, he was a leader who inspired and encouraged his people to endure, survive, and ultimately triumph. The Checker Maven has long admired the steadfast courage of the British people, and Sir Winston was its mainstay and embodiment.

We were reminded of Sir Winston when we saw the tutorial problem below; Black is to play and win, and Sir Winston's famous "V for Victory" seems to appear when the board is viewed from the White side, as shown below.

However, for the purpose of our study, since the terms specify Black to play, let's look at this the other way round.


Black to Play, What Result?


The terms given are not "Black to Play and Win" but since we are talking about "V for Victory" and Black has a nice V formation, you might make an assumption here. (Of course, you know what they say about assumptions.)

In any case, keep your courage, stay the course, find the way to potential victory, and then click on Read More to see the solution.

[Read More]
02/13/10 - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

The Fastest Month

February, of course, is the shortest month of the year, weighing in at just 28 or 29 days; and those days seem to rush by, especially if you've got bills that come due the first of every month. No sooner have you paid February's bills, it feels like the ones for March are coming due.

For the short and fast month of February, we propose a short and fast checker problem--- and we won't even bill you for it! Time on our Javascript clock rushes by as fast as can be. Can you solve this one in ten seconds? We consider it moderately easy. Click below to show the problem and start the clock; then click on Read More to confirm your solution.

February Speed Problem (moderately easy)

[Read More]
02/06/10 - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.