The Checker Maven

A Little Problem

The young woman in the picture above has a little problem: she's got a square peg and she needs to fit it into a round hole. We suspect that this will not be an easy feat to accomplish, though we surely wish her the best of luck.

Checkers is filled with little problems as well; often they're called "miniatures" and involve just a few pieces per side. They are very often both practical and challenging.

The little problem shown below seems to fit the description perfectly.


Black to Play and Win


This situation surely arises often over the board, so knowing how to win it could make a real difference. We think it's challenging, but ultimately not all that difficult. Certainly, it's not in the "square peg in a round hole" category.

Can you peg this one just by looking at the diagram? Give it a square try, and then move your mouse 'round to Read More to reveal the solution.

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06/25/11 -Printer friendly version-
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The Spring Chicken

Emma Janvier Smith was a turn-of-the-20th-century vaudeville performer who starred in productions that were famous for that era, including The Moth and the Flame and Miss Innocence; she also took on unique roles such as Girdle in The Spring Chicken. But our research, sadly, turned up no specific evidence that Ms. Janvier Smith played checkers, although we can well imagine her playing a game or two on a night when the theater was dark.

We also don't think she was related to checkerists J.D. Janvier or F. A. Smith, as Janvier was a stage name borrowed from her uncle--- her real surname was Spicer--- and Smith was her husband's name. However, she was certainly a contemporary of both Janvier and Smith. so anything is possible.

But in any case, today's Checker School lesson is about checkers, not vaudeville, though it can surely be argued that at times vaudeville-like situations arise on the checkerboard. Whether that adjective applies to either of the situations below is up to you to decide.

In the first situation, forces are even but White has one man in the "dog hole" on square 28, and the other man definitely lacks mobility.


White to Play and Draw


The second situation is quite similar to the first, except that it's Black's move, and he has a third king instead of a second man; as we know, in checkers little things can loom large.


Black to Play and Win


Can you solve these problems, or will you be the subject of comical failure? Either way, it's no joke that clicking your mouse on Read More will reveal the solutions, detailed notes, no less than four sample games and a supplementary problem.

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06/18/11 -Printer friendly version-
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Clayton's Clipper

Talk about getting clipped! It seems that extreme clipping is the order of the day in the lakeside scene above. We think it may be a bit unusual to go to the lake to get clipped, although in lakeside resorts, it's inevitable that a different sort of "clip joint" is usually to be found.

A player can get clipped at the checkerboard, too, and in just as extreme a fashion. Willie Ryan, in his classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, illustrates this nicely in his discussion below.

"Sometimes deadly shots exist in situations that appear so innocent that even master minds of the board will fail to detect them. The example shown here is a case in point. I had reached the situation on the diagram in one of my books, but overlooked a trim coup in my analysis. It was spotted by Jeff Clayton, the well-known Oklahoma City expert:

11-16 18-15 5-9---3
23-18 11-18 22-18
16-20 22-15 3-7
24-19 9-13---1 29-25
7-11---A 25-22---2 7-11---B."

White to Play and Win


A---A very weak move leading to critical play, 10-14 is better.

B---Black walks into a trap with this move. There is a narrow draw here by 1-5---4, 27-23, 9-14, 18-9, 5-14, 25-22, 14-17, 21-14, 10-17, 28-24---5, 20-27, 31-24, 17-21, 23-18, 6-9, 32-27, 8-11, 15-8, 4-11, 27-23, 7-10, 24-20, 2-7, 19-16, 12-19, 23-16, 10-15,16-12, 15-19, 12-8, 7-10, 8-3, 11-16*, 20-11, 10-14, 18-15, 14-18, 15-10, 18-25, 10-6, 25-29, etc. Wm. F. Ryan."

1---8-11 is quite a bit better---Ed.

2---27-23 would have kept the edge---Ed.

3---Very weak; 8-11 would keep things on an even keel---Ed.

4---The computer disagrees and thinks this is still a probable loss. See note 5. Instead, Black should play 12-16! 19-3 10-19 3-10 6-29 27-23 9-14 23-16 29-25 etc. White still has a clear lead and a likely win, but Black's chances are a little better. It's surprising that Willie didn't look at this spectacular shot---Ed.

5---This move appears to be incorrect and gives up the win. 32-27 retains a strong White lead---Ed.

Are you going to get clipped by this problem situation, or are you able to cut it? Try to find the solution, and then slice your mouse over to Read More to see how it's done.

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06/11/11 -Printer friendly version-
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Speeding Into Beulah

June's speed problem is taken from an actual game played on the It's Your Turn Internet site. The winning player in our problem situation uses the screen name Yearof57; his real name is Flavious Burgess and he hails from Beulah, Kentucky. Mr. Burgess says that he plays in a few tournaments around his home state and tries to play in the Majors Division, but at times "has to" play in the Masters Division. We're hardly surprised at that; Mr. Burgess is a very skilled player.

There's no doubt that he spotted the win in today's problem rather quickly, and you probably won't need a lot of time either, so we'll "help you out" by not giving you much! 10 seconds is all that's left on the clock; click on the link below when you're ready to begin.

June Speed Problem (10 seconds; easy)

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06/04/11 -Printer friendly version-
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