The Checker Maven

Petterson's Drawbridge

The beautiful old drawbridge shown above is at the entrance to the walled Dutch town of Heusden, which lies on the Maas River. We think it's a fitting illustration for today's Checker School lesson, which is about the classic "Petterson's Drawbridge" position.

We always ask when we present material on a well-known position: How well do you really know it? We're certain that our more advanced readers know it pretty well, but a thorough review never hurts; and for everyone else, this is a great opportunity to master this very difficult end-game formation. Here are two examples for you to try out. You might wish to attempt the second one first.

White to Play and Draw White to Play and Draw
W:W9,20,21,30:B1,3,14,19. W:WK2,10,20,21:B1,3,K18,K19.

When you've crossed this bridge, or more correctly, these bridges, cross your mouse over to Read More to see the solutions, four sample games, and detailed study notes. If you go over all of this material carefully, you'll be a drawbridge expert (of the checker variety, at least) and your cross-board results will definitely improve.

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09/24/11 - Printer friendly version
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Reed's Rocket

Given the title of today's column, we'll guess that you were expecting to see a picture of a powerful rocket blasting off from its launching pad. Instead, what you see above is an ingenious device called the Reed Rocket Nutcracker. We suppose that when you have "a tough nut to crack" this device will provide all the cracking power you'll ever need. But for cracking less resistant nuts, perhaps an old-fashioned low-tech nutcracker might do the job without the set-up time the "rocket" appears to require.

Old-time checkerist C. F. Barker was certainly a tough nut to crack, but in Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, Willie describes just how James Reed did exactly that.

"Here is how James P. Reed, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, put the skids under Boston's renowned Charles Francis Barker, in an American Championship match in 1889:

10-14 21-14 6-10
22-17 9-25 27-24
7-10 29-22 1- 6
17-13 10-14 19-15
3- 7 22-18 10-19
25-22 14-17 24-15---1
14-17 24-19 12-16---A.

White to Play and Win


A---Fatal. 6-9 or 11-16 will draw."

1---Play has been textbook perfect to this point---Ed.

You know what we're going to say now: Can you crack this position, or will you crack up trying? Take a crack at it, and then crack that mouse on Read More to see the powerful solution.

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09/17/11 - Printer friendly version
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21st Century Checkers: the 9-14 "Double Corner" Ballots

Today we are pleased to present the second volume of Grandmaster Richard Paskís new work on the 3-move openings: 21st Century Checkers 9-14s, or the Double Corner ballots.

As he did with volume 1, Mr. Pask is making this work available in electronic format, free of charge.

The new book can be downloaded here, and will soon appear on our Richard Pask page as linked in the right-hand column; a large selection of Mr. Paskís other works can also be found there.

Hereís a position taken from the book. The run-up to the diagram is as follows.

9-14 23-19 5-9 27-23 11-15 22-18 15-22 25-18 7-1; 26-22 11-15 18-11 8-15 24-20 15-24 28-1; 4-8 22-18 8-11 30-26 2-7


Black to Play and Win


What would have been the correct move? Can you show the win after 32-27? Can you work all of this out on your own?

See how far you can get, and then click on Read More to see the solutions. And, of course, donít forget to download the book! Our sincere thanks go to Mr. Pask for allowing us the privilege of presenting his new book.

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09/10/11 - Printer friendly version
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Labor Day 2011

Labor Day is another holiday that we particularly like because, as we note every year, it celebrates the greatness of the common guy and gal, those hard-working not-so-ordinary "ordinary" folk who have made America what it is today.

We're sorry to say that our politicians have in recent times let the common man down, seemingly oblivious to the economic plight faced by so many. We know that the problems of the American economy are tough ones and not easy to solve, but if there's a will there's a way. It's just that we haven't seen much in the way of will from our leaders in Washington.

So The Checker Maven would like to tell these leaders: Millions and millions of Americans want and need something better, and they're willing to work long and hard to make it happen. You need to help them out. The American workforce is nothing less than awesome. Don't let us down any longer!

We always celebrate this holiday with an offering from one of the greatest American problemists, Tom Wiswell, and Mr. Wiswell is certainly someone who never lets us down. Here's one that we know you will enjoy. It isn't easy, but it's elegant and a bit surprising.


White to Play and Draw


White is a man down and will have to truly labor to obtain a draw. A lot of checker insight is needed to visualize the conclusion. We suggest that you put in your hours and work on this one; if you're able to solve it you'll feel amply rewarded. Then be sure to enjoy Labor Day along with us; you've certainly earned it.

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09/03/11 - Printer friendly version
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