The Checker Maven

Great Men Like Checkers

There's no doubt that many a great man was a checkerist, and you'll see why we've chosen the title Great Men Like Checkers for today's Checker School column when you read through the solution section.

The definition of a great man can vary. Some think of great national leaders, others think of religious figures, and still others might vote for sports heroes. There is room for all of these, and more. Our photo above shows a great baseball player from the olden days, Christy Mathewson, who besides being a baseball Hall of Famer, was also a master checker player.

On the other hand, few people remember checkerist Fred Allen; and thought he might not be a member of the Hall of Fame, he is credited with a very fine and instructive checker position, which forms the subject of our column today. In our opinion, it's more than enough to secure Mr. Allen's place in checker history.


Black to Play and Win


It's an intriguing layout: the near-symmetry of the three per side on the right offset by the lone extra Black man on square 12. Is it enough for a Black win? According to Mr. Allen, it is indeed, but it's all in knowing how. Can you demonstrate your own checker greatness by showing how it's done? Solving the problem likely won't make you into a Hall of Famer, but work it through and then click on Read More to see the solution, no less than five sample games (this is indeed a practical exercise), and explanatory notes.

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03/26/10 - Printer friendly version
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Martins' Masterpiece

We'd likely be correct if we were to claim that when we say the word "masterpiece" an image such as the painting above, Da Vinci's incomparable Mona Lisa, would come to mind. Certainly it's something that will be recognized for all time as a great work of art.

Of course, great artistry exists in many fields of human endeavor. Much as there are renowned painters, there are sculptors, poets, composers, and more. There is an artistry to our game of checkers too, as most experienced practitioners are surely aware. Now, we won't say checker artistry quite reaches the level of Mona Lisa, but it can still be quite amazing.

One of checker's greatest artists had to have been Willie Ryan, and in his book Trips Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, he collected more than a few checker masterpieces. Today, he'll tell us about one that he calls Martins' Masterpiece.

"Here is how the redoubtable Robert Martins vanquished an unwary adversary with a blaze of sudden fireworks on the ending of a Whilter game. This stroke is considered by many authorities to be the best concealed sweep recorded in checker literature.

11-15 8-11 10-17
23-19 31-26 21-14
9-14 16-20 11-15
22-17 19-16 18-11
7-11 12-19 9-18
25-22 23-16 30-21
11-16 14-18 18-22
26-23 26-23 24-19
5- 9 18-22 22-26
17-13 25-18 28-24
3- 7 15-22 26-30
29-25 23-18 21-17
1- 5 22-25 30-26---A, 2
22-17 17-14 This takes you
to the diagram.

White to Play and Win


A---This is where Martins lowered the boom. Bringing out the king 30-25 lands a draw easily with the following play: 30-25, 17-14, 6-10, 14-9, 5-14, 13-9, 14-18, 9-6, 2-9, 11-2, etc."

2---The game was played perfectly by both sides up to this point, but a single mistake is more than enough to end the game---Ed.

Demonstrate your own checker artistry by finding the win. We have to agree that it's a masterpiece in its own right. To see the solution, brush your mouse on Read More.

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03/20/10 - Printer friendly version
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A Real Fooler

The gadget shown above is known as a "boost fooler." Our Research Department, which came up with this week's illustration, informs us that a "boost fooler" allows a diesel engine turbocharger to achieve additional boost, or to quote from their source: "The fooler can fool your motor into allowing more boost without tripping an engine light. Despite its cheesy design, the boost fooler works flawlessly."

Notwithstanding this interesting introduction, if you're really anxious to get top power out of your diesel engine, you'd best look elsewhere than The Checker Maven; for today we present a real fooler of a different kind, intended to give boost to your checker game. It's a setting by Tom Wiswell, and it's anything but cheesy in design.


White to Play and Draw


We warn you that this is a difficult problem, though it has at its heart a simple theme. Can you turbocharge your play and find the solution, or will your engine warning light go on? Gun your engines, give it a try, and then click on Read More to see the powerful solution.

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03/13/10 - Printer friendly version
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In Like a Lion

It is sometimes said that in the Northern Hemisphere, the month of March roars in like a lion with winter storms featuring high winds, snow, and cold temperatures. What a prospect to contemplate! We have a better idea, and so for our top-of-the-month column, we're bringing you a stroke problem that roars like a lion, but has the courtesy to at least do so indoors, where a warm fire and a hot drink are just the right accompaniments.


White to Play and Win


When you have yourself roared through the problem, click on Read More to see the solution.

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03/06/10 - Printer friendly version
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