The Checker Maven

Pretty Tough

As we've noted a number of times, The Checker Maven tries to provide a variety of problems: some easy, some hard, some in-between. Today's problem, a study by celebrated problemist L. T. de Bearn, is, like the cut of meat shown above, definitely on the "tough" side. While obviously appealing to the skilled player looking for a challenge, intermediate players and even ambitious beginning players can benefit by doing some analysis and carefully playing through the solution.

So, without further ado, here's the position.


White to Play and Draw


Forces are even but White has a pretty serious mobility issue, and in checkers that can spell doom. But there is a way to a draw. Are you tough enough to find it, or will this problem chew you up? Get your teeth into this one, and then bite your mouse down on Read More to see the solution.

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01/28/12 - Printer friendly version
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What Is Checkers?

Based on the photo above, we suppose our column's title should have been "What are Checkers?" as a plural subject requires a plural verb. But of course, the intended meaning of the phrase references "checkers" as a game, in the singular, and so the singular verb is correct after all.

Although we could go on at length about syntax and other matters grammatical, we're sure you didn't come here for a language lesson. In fact, it's time for an installment of Checker School, and while good grammar and usage are highly recommended, good checker moves are what we're really after.

Today we have an interesting position which is not particularly easy to solve; in fact Ben Boland himself went wrong when he published it in Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers.


White to Play and Draw


Mr. Boland's premise is correct; the game can be drawn by White, even though the position looks anything but favorable. Can you find the correct "checker usage" that leads to a draw? Or will you be sentenced to fail? Don't worry; you won't get graded on your answer, and you can always click on Read More to see the solution, notes, a sample game, and the reason why today's column is titled What is Checkers?.

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01/21/12 - Printer friendly version
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Checker Problem Composition Contest


Veteran player and problem composer Bill Salot is sponsoring the second in a series of checker problem composition contests. The first competition produced a pair of very fine problems. You can get all the details of the new contest and a look at the entries in the previous contest here.

You're sure to enjoy these elegantly-crafted problems, but why not make a try at it in your own right? If you don't know where to begin, take a look at some of your own games; surely in one or more of them, either you or your opponent made some nice play that could well be the basis of a problem. It's an entertaining exercise and a great way to learn more about checkers.

We congratulate Mr. Salot on his efforts in promoting the art of checker problem composition.20050904-symbol.gif

01/17/12 - Printer friendly version
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"Read More" Once More


We have been experiencing ongoing database problems and "Read More" links were out of service this morning. We've fixed this and apologize for the inconvenience.

Our long-term solution is a complete rebuild of our database. That's in progress but it's a big job. In the meanwhile, please bear with us and do let us know if something isn't quite right.20050904-symbol.gif

01/14/12 - Printer friendly version
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Reed's Delayed Brooklyn


The Brooklyn Bridge is certainly a New York City icon, famed in poem, song, and urban legend. You probably are wondering about our title, which contains the words "Delayed Brooklyn"; more typical for New York would be "Brooklyn Delay" as many a rush-hour traffic jam plays itself out every week, if not every day, on the Brooklyn Bridge.

But in today's installment from the classic Willie Ryan book Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard we'll find out just what "Reed's Delayed Brooklyn" is all about. Let's hear it in Willie's own words.

"The following brilliant crossboard game was contested by James P. Reed and Alfred Jordan when Reed visited the British Isles many years ago to do battle with the leading boardsmen in John Bull's domain. When the diagrammed situation was reached, Jordan continued 21-17 and had to give up soon thereafter. When the game was over, the brilliant Pittsburgher astonished Jordan, as well as the gallery, by pointing out how Jordan could have drawn by a delayed form of the Brooklyn shot. We consider this one of the finest and most deceptive examples of the Brooklyn in embryo:

11-15 5-9 7-11
22-18 18-14 22-18
15-22 9-18 11-16---B
25-18 22-15 27-23
12-16 10-19 3-7
29-25 24-15 26-22
9-13 8-12 7-10---C.
26-22---A 23-19 Diagram.
16-20 4-8
30-26 25-22

White to Play and Draw


A---If you still think it can't happen to you, look at these figures showing how the great William Strickland, blindfolded, polished off a victim while playing six opponents simultaneously! Continue at A: 25-22,16-20, 24-19, 5-9, 28-24, 8-11, 32-28---1, 4-8, 19-15óB, 10-19, 23-16, 6-10, 26-23, 1-5, 30-26, 9-14, 18-9, 5-14, 22-18^ 14-17, 21-14, 10-17, 26-22, 17-26, 31-22, 8-12, 23-19; then the finish, with: 3-8*, 18-14, 7-10*, 14-7, 11-15*, 19-10, 12-19, 24-15, 2-25, and black wins.

B---The loser. From here to the end, Strickland kept his win well in hand, never giving his opponent a chance to draw. The correct play for a draw at B is 30-25, 10-14, 18-15, 11-18, 22-15, 1-5, 15-10, 6-15, 19-10, 14-18, 23-14, 9-18, 26-22, 7-14, 22-15, 2-6, 24-19, 14-18, 27-24, 20-27, 31-24, 6-9, 15-11, 8-15, 19-10, 9-14, 10-6, 13-17, 6-2,17-22, 2-6, 22-29, 6-10, 5-9, 10-17, 9-13,17-14, 18-22, 14-17, 22-26, 17-22, 26-30, 24-19, 30-25, 22-26, 25-22, etc. F. Tescheleit vs. J. M. Dallas.

C---This is where Jordan fell. One would never suspect that white had a Brooklyn in the offing. At the time this game was played, Jordan was champion of England, and the fact that he missed a draw by 31-27 proves how games may be drawn by stroke strategy that otherwise would be hopeless. In short, Jordan missed the Brooklyn idea and lost the game."

1---30-25 is perhaps a better move here---Ed.

2---This move is fine, but 6-9 would have been at least as good---Ed.

Can you find the solution, or will your resolution be delayed? When you're ready, cross over the bridge to Read More to see the snappy solution.

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01/14/12 - Printer friendly version
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The Speed of Winter

In continental North America, it seems that one day we're at a picnic and the next day we're buried in snow. Winter can come on fast and catch us by surprise; winter seems to have its own chilling speed.

It will be January when this column appears and no doubt there will be more than enough snow to go around in many locales. But wherever you may be, whether snowy and cold or warm and sunny (we highly recommend Hawai`i in January), you're sure to enjoy a checkers speed problem that is easier than most. Click on the link below to display the problem and start the clock. We think you can solve this one in five seconds, so that's all you're going to get! When you've got the answer, click on Read More to verify your solution.

January Speed Problem (Easy, five seconds)

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01/07/12 - Printer friendly version
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Software Upgrade

Between January 2 and January 6, 2012, The Checker Maven site will be doing a major software update. While we anticipate only minimal downtime, things do happen and we ask for your patience and understanding if the site does happen to experience a longer than anticipated outage.

Followup: As of January 3, 2012, the update has been completed. Please do let us know if there is anything that doesn't seem to work correctly.

01/02/12 - Printer friendly version
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