The Checker Maven

Thanksgiving, 2010

All across America, from Hawai`i to Maine, from Alaska to Florida, it's Thanksgiving weekend, surely one of our favorite times of the year. It's an opportunity for families both large and small to gather together to celebrate all that's good in our lives, and of course, to enjoy the usual fabulous Thanksgiving dinner.

As checkerists, we also have much in addition to be thankful for, such as the many fine players who have gone before us and made our game richer and more enjoyable. And with such thoughts in our minds, how can we help but turn to the master himself, Tom Wiswell, for this week's problem?

As usual, before you have that second helping of pie, we invite you to take a look at the diagram below.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,31,30,K9:B28,23,20,13,12.

Can you work it out? Would you bet your slice of pie on it? Give it a try, then click on Read More to see the solution. And enjoy your weekend. Happy Thanksgiving from The Checker Maven to one and all.

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11/27/10 - Printer friendly version
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Saving the Bacon

In this month's lesson in our Checker School series, we look at two positions in which White is about to fry Black's bacon ... yet Black is expected to save it. In both instances, Black is a man down and the fat is in the fire. Let's have a look at the diagrams below, attributed respectively to A. Sheean and F. O'Melay, and the famous Dr. T. J. Brown.

A. SHEEAN--F. O'MELAY
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W32,30,21,K18,11:BK25,23,22,13,3.

T. J. BROWN
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:WK29,K28,26,K4:BK27,K19,K16.

Can you save the bacon in these two cases? We must warn you the first problem is at the higher end of the difficulty spectrum, and while the second is a bit easier, it's all relative. In any case, grease your thinking cap and don't get fried; you can always click on Read More for the tasty solutions, which are served up with detailed notes and a sample game.

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11/20/10 - Printer friendly version
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Searight's Escape

Houdini was arguably the greatest (or at least the most famous) escape artist of all time. Some of his daring feats, like the water-tank escape shown above, are definitely not recommended for trial at home; not, at least, if you value your life.

Checkerist Searight most probably never did a water-tank exhibition, but his checkerboard feats are as classy in the checker world as Houdini's were his own realm. Today, we quote Willie Ryan in Trips Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, as he describes one of Mr. Searight's more amazing checkerboard escapes.

"You'll never be a champion at checkers unless you thoroughly familiarize yourself with all the better-known losses that have been the undoing of great players in the past. By studying the mistakes of the masters, you can avoid the costly errors they made, and gain knowledge that would take years to acquire by practical experience. Among the 'must' positions is Searight's draw. The game mapped out below was contested by Champion Newell W. Banks and me. When Banks reached the diagrammed stage, he 'muffed' a draw, losing the game and the match."


11-16 9-18 7-10
22-17 23-14 22-18
16-20 1-6 3-7
17-14 24-19 13-9
10-17 15-24 5-14
21-14 28-19 18- 9
9-18 6-10 11-15
23-14 30-26 32-28
8-11 10-17 15-24
25-22 22-13 28-19
11-15 4-8 7-11
29-25 25-22 27-24
6- 9 8-11 20-27
26-23 26-23 31-24---1

1---Impeccable play up to this point---Ed.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W9,19,23,24:B2,10,11,12.

Can you escape with your life in this position, or will you pay the price of failure? We won't say there's an easy out; some struggling is necessary, but it's worth it. Get on with the show, and then slip out to Read More to see the solution and notes.

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11/13/10 - Printer friendly version
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No Winter Slowdown Here

Winter is often thought of as a time of slowing down, and for some large animals, the deep sleep of hibernation. Well, winter is arriving in much of the North American continent, but there's certainly no slowdown, let alone hibernation, of checker activity. And with today's speed problem, snoozing will not be an option, because you've only got 15 seconds to pull off a solution.

Put on your indoor running shoes and get ready for a real wake-up call, When you're ready, click on the link below; then come back and awaken the Read More button to check your solution. Solve now, sleep later!

November 2010 Speed Problem (easy)

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11/06/10 - Printer friendly version
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