The Checker Maven

Double Duty


Checker players can take an important lesson from working moms, who do double duty--- they are full-time employees as well as full-time mothers and homemakers. We often wonder how they have the mental and physical stamina to do it all.

You might think the point we're making is that, as checkerists, we can ourselves do "double duty" and fit checker study and play into our busy lives (admittedly, much less of a task than that faced by working moms). While a valid point, that's not where we're going in today's column. You'll get the idea when you solve the problem diagrammed below.

White to Play and Win


Can you find the White win right away, or will you have to double back and try again? Make at least two attempts before you click on Read More (and that's a single click, not a double click) to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
07/28/12 - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

McCulloch's Masterpiece


There was a huge ranch recently for sale in McCulloch County, Texas. The sales literature called the 8,000 acre ranch a "masterpiece" and attached the same label to the property's 7500 square foot ranch home. Priced at just over 25 million dollars, we're reminded that this version of "McCulloch's Masterpiece" won't come cheap, though we have little doubt that it's worth every cent.

For better or worse, The Checker Maven doesn't have a budget that supports such high end investments; at times we have enough trouble just paying the bills. So today, we'll bring you a different "McCulloch's Masterpiece," one of the checker variety, and one that won't cost us--- or you--- anything at all. It's the latest entry in our Checker School series, and comes from Ben Boland's Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers.

Black to Play and Win


Don't bet the bank on this one, just enjoy solving it! When you've found the answer, click on Read More to cash in on the solution, three sample games, and detailed explanatory notes.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
07/21/12 - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Dick's Gambit


The photo above is of an iceboat named Dick's Gambit. It was taken by Michigan photographer Rick Wolanin, and is used with his kind permission. (You can see more of his work here.)

We can understand why the boat bears the "Gambit" moniker; ice-boating is a pretty wild and wooly endeavor. After all, a "gambit" is a deliberate risk taken in the hope of gaining something in return.

There are gambits in checkers, too; there is even "Dick's Gambit" although in this case we refer to checkerist George Dick. Willie Ryan featured Mr. Dick's gambit in Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, and we're reprinting Willie's words for you today.

"As a general rule, an early losing move, when properly met, causes the game to deteriorate rapidly. The numerous early losses illustrated in this book prove that. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, as in the game below, where white makes a losing move on the eighth turn, yet is able to keep the game going for a long time, on the very fringe of tenability, only to succumb in the end to black's exacting play.

11-15 5-9 11-16
24-19 25-22---A 18-15---E
15-24 8-11 10-19
28-19 30-25---B, C 22-17---F.
9-14 12-16*---D See the
22-18 19-12 diagram.

A---A losing move---1. Although white is lost on the eighth play, with 22 pieces still on the board, this is one case where you can't count your checkers until they're hatched. The usual continuation for a draw at A is 26-22*, 8-11, 22-17, 11-16, 25-22, 16-20, 17-13, 4-8, 22-17, 8-11, 30-26, 11-15, 18-11, 7-16, 26-22, 2-7, 22-18, 7-11, 18-15, 11-18, 29-25, 3-8, 31-26, 8-11, 19-15, 10-19, 17-10, 6-15, 13-6, 1-10, 23-7, 15-18, 7-3, 19-23, 26-19, 16-23, 3-8, 11-16, 8-11, 16-19. James Hill.

B---If 22-17 is played at this point, black scores with: 9-13, 18-9, 13-22, 26-17, 6-22, 30-26, 11-15, 26-17, 15-24, 27-20, 10-15, 29-25, 15-19, 23-16, 12-19, 31-26, 4-8, 25-22, 8-11, etc. John Drummond.

C---If 27-24 is played, the win is clinched by black with: 11-16, 24-20, 3-8, 20-11, 8-24, 32-28, 4-8, 28-19, 8-11, 30-25, 1-5, 22-17, 9-13, 18-9, 5-14*, 25-22, 11-15, 19-16, 12-19, 23-16, 7-11, 16-7, 2-11, 26-23, 11-16. Wm. F. Ryan.

D---The only move to force the win, which proves that sometimes you must give a man to get a game.

E---Absolutely necessary, as black is threatening to win with 16-19.

F---Again forced, as 22-18 is suicide if black moves 16-20 in reply; while 32-28, 4-8, 22-17, 7-10, reverts to Note H."

1---A very long computer analysis says that this move is clearly inferior, but it's hard to interpret it as a dead loss at this point. It's interesting to watch the computer, as the analysis runs deeper and deeper, slowly increase its evaluation of Black's advantage, but after over half an hour, it still doesn't see a definite win---Ed.

Black fo Play and Win


Solving this problem won't require a gambit on your part, or even a slippery ice-boat ride; all that's needed is substantive checker skill. Give it a try and then slide your mouse to Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
07/14/12 - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

All But One


It's the sort of thing we did when we were kids. We'd find a plate of cookies on the kitchen table, and we'd eat all but one, thinking that if we left that one cookie behind, no one would think that we had eaten the rest. Somehow, it never seemed to work, but that didn't stop us from trying ... and those cookies were so good!

We've titled today's stroke problem "All But One" and you'll know why we chose that title when you find the solution.


White to Play and Win


Can you solve this one or will you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar? It's an elegant composition and the solution is a treat ... perhaps even as good as those cookies we purloined all those many years ago. When you've eaten this problem up, click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif


[Read More]
07/07/12 - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.