The Checker Maven

Thanksgiving 2011

We've come again to the Thanksgiving season, that great American holiday which we enjoy so much. It's a great time for family, food, and celebration; a time to reflect on the many good things that we enjoy each and every year.

At Thanksgiving we like to feature a problem from a leading American problemist. This year, we turn to Ben Boland, whose work is often featured in our columns. Today's study isn't easy (most of Mr. Boland's problems definitely present a challenge) but solving it, or making a good effort, will earn you the traditional coffee and pie that will round out your day in an excellent fashion.

Here's the problem:


White to Play and Draw


When the problem was originally published, we were told "you will be well repaid for your efforts should you solve it--- without looking at the solution." We too admonish you: "Don't peek!" It's a fine problem and well worth your time.

When you've given this a good effort--- and not before!--- click on Read More to see the solution.

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11/26/11 - Printer friendly version
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Drink (Some More) Water

In a previous column dating back to the days of our Santa Fe office, we admonished readers to stay hydrated, or to "drink water." That was especially important in the unforgiving dryness of New Mexico's high-desert region.

Now that our offices have been in Honolulu for a while, a mere block and a half from the Pacific Ocean and the beaches of Waikiki, we tend not to think about hydration quite as much. But the warm Hawaiian sun ought to remind us to "drink water" here as well, for it's no less important than it was back on the mainland.

Of course, you've got to know that this is leading up to another Checker School lesson from F. W. Drinkwater, and knowing how to win the following position is an important matter as well; that's true whether you're in Honolulu, Santa Fe, Belpre, Morristown, or anywhere else across the nation and around the world.


White to Play and Win


White has a slight mobility advantage, but the position is pretty finely balanced and the slightest error will be too much. Can you win with White, or will the position gulp you up? See if you can swallow the difficulties and find your way to the solution; then click on Read More to drink deeply from Ben Boland's extensive study material, including the solution, sample games, and detailed notes.

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11/19/11 - Printer friendly version
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McKelvie's Jumbo Shot

When you think of a "jumbo shot" the photo above might represent one of your worst nightmares. That one looks like it's going to hurt--- a lot--- and you probably can't expect much in the way of sympathy from the old-fashioned stern-looking nurse who is preparing to administer it. Neither is it likely to be a "shot in the arm," if you know what we're getting at.

On the checkerboard, a jumbo shot could be a nightmare or a delight, depending which end of it you're on. It too could hurt the recipient a great deal while definitely being a shot in the arm to the one who delivers it. Today's excerpt from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard features our old friend Mr. McKelvie and a shot to end them all. Willie explains, even if somewhat briefly.

"Here's another good number by Champion D. G. McKelvie on the Souter opening, in which 15 pieces are cleared from the board in one grandiose sweep. McKelvie was evidently a keen student of the stroke art, since many of the best-known coups are credited to his name.

11-15 26-22---1 11-15---3
23-19 8-11 30-26
9-14 22-17 8-11
22-17 4- 8---2 26-22
6- 9 27-23 3- 8. This
17-13 15-18---A brings you
2- 6 32-27 to the

A---After this, black is trapped and tied. Better play here for a draw is: 14-18, 23-14, 9-18, 17-14, 10-17, 21-14, 7-10, 14-7, 3-10, 24-20, 15-24, 28-19, 5-9*. Wm. F. Ryan.

1---A weak move; 25-22 is much better---Ed.

2---Gives up all advantage. 14-18 would have kept a strong lead---Ed.

3---Turns a probable loss into a clear one. 11-16 would have minimized the damage although there is really no saving this one---Ed.


White to Play and Win

Will you find this one to be a shot in the arm, or a pain in, you know, the other place? We won't needle you any further; take a stab at it and then press the plunger on Read More to see the solution.

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11/12/11 - Printer friendly version
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Fall Blows in Fast

North America is well into the autumn season, and what's left of the leaves on much of the continent is blowing away fast. Winter is just around the corner in most northern locales; there isn't much time left.

We hope that today's speed problem won't blow you away, but you'll have to act quickly as indeed there isn't much time. We think 15 seconds is more than enough for a problem that merits a difficulty rating of "moderate" at most. We'll warn you: there are actually two winning paths; one is much longer than the other.

Don't get frozen out; click below to display the problem and start the clock. Then come back and click on Read More to verify your solution.

November Speed Problem (moderate difficulty; 15 seconds)

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11/05/11 - Printer friendly version
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