The Checker Maven

21st Century Checkers: 10-15s


We are both pleased and proud to be able to present the fourth volume in Mr. Richard Pask's new series, 21st Century Checkers. Destined to become the definitive modern reference on 3-move ballots, these books are sure to be of great interest to every serious checkerist. Volume 4, 10-15s can be downloaded here, or from the Richard Pask page linked in the right-hand column.

As in all of the volumes in the series, the book makes extensive use of color. If you want a printed copy, it might be best to print it at home, as commercial services charge quite a bit for color printing.

Here's a preview problem from the new book.

Black to Play and Draw


Click on Read More to see the solution and analysis.

The Checker Maven thanks Mr. Pask for his contributions to the checker community and for honoring us with the opportunity to present his work. We are relieved and delighted that this great player and unexcelled author is on his way to a full recovery from life-threatening health issues encountered earlier this year. May Mr. Pask live long and prosper--- and continue to publish!20050904-symbol.gif

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08/31/13 - Printer friendly version
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Beginner's Corner: You Have to Actually Win It


Check the scoreboard above. It looks like Boston has blown a really big lead and will lose a game that should have easily been a win.

Something like this also happens in checkers. It's been said about such games of pure skill that for the less experienced player winning a "won" game can be one of the toughest chores. How many times have we held a decisive advantage and let the win get away from us? We're certain every checker player alive has had this frustrating experience.

In the diagram below, White by rights ought to win the game. He's a man up, though his position is a little cramped. But it shouldn't be all that hard ... should it?

White to Play and Win


Can you win this won game, or will you have one hard time with it? There just might be a little more to it than it may seem. When you've found the solution, click on Read More to verify the win that you won.20050904-symbol.gif

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08/24/13 - Printer friendly version
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Back to School 2013


It's definitely the "back to school" season. And although school has already started here in Hawai`i--- public school reconvened at the early date of August 5--- the back to school rush is in progress or soon forthcoming at many locations around America.

To celebrate back to school (yes, some people do actually celebrate it) we present a small "scholarly" problem. It's simpler in appearance than those in our Checker School series, but it's definitely in the "need to know" category for all cross-board players. You'll probably recognize it, but can you solve it from the diagram?

White to Play and Draw


Give this "the old school try," and then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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08/17/13 - Printer friendly version
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The Winner Is: The Computer


We've often praised the checker analysts of yore; they had only raw skill and brainpower available to them. There were no supercomputers or 10-piece databases to aid them, yet they still got an amazing amount right.

But the computer, far from "spoiling" the game of checkers, has shown us some deep and subtle things about our game. At times, the old analysts stand corrected when the computer finds something completely unexpected.

We don't think those old analysts would at all mind being overruled. Their quest was for the truth and we think they'd be happy to see that goal served.

Today we have a game that was played something like 75 years ago. The original published analysis makes a lot of sense when you read it; it's practical and more than a little compelling. But the computer has a lot to say, as we'll see in the run-up below.

1. 11-15 22-17
2. 15-18 23x14
3. 9x18 17-14
4. 10x17 21x14
5. 8-11 26-23
6. 4-8 24-20
7. 11-15 28-24
8. 6-10 ...

Once considered weak but actually quite acceptable.

8. ... 31-26

The original analysis claims that 25-21 should win for White, but it really doesn't.

9. 10x17 23x14
10. 17-21 25-22
11. 1-6 29-25

The shot with 30-25 loses after 30-25 21-30 22-17 30-23 27-4 6-9 and Black should win. Here White would hold the draw most easily with 22-17. The actual move played, 29-25, was originally declared to be a loser. Deep computer analysis shows that White gets a slim draw.

12. 15-18 22x15
13. 7-10 14x7
14. 3x28
White to Play and Draw


White is a man down! What's the catch? Why shouldn't this be a straighforward man-down loss?

But note that Black's man on 28 is in the dog hole. That's never a good sign. White does have a draw, though the original analysts, lacking computers, didn't see it. Can you?

This is a very hard problem indeed, but the solution is quite rewarding and useful in over-the-board practice. Do give it a try, even if you need to turn to your computer or our own computer solution, which you can access by clicking on Read More.20050904-symbol.gif

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08/10/13 - Printer friendly version
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Summer Speeds By


Someone once said that when the 4th of July comes along, summer is half over. That might be a bit pessimistic, but when the calendar turns to August, we know for sure that we're on the back side of the season.

Where did it go so quickly? Are we really ready for the back to school push and the inevitable turning of the leaves?

At our Checker Maven offices here in Hawai`i, of course, we don't worry so much about the leaves or colder weather, but school does start up again in a mere two days from the date of this column.

So today's offering is, fittingly, a speed problem. It's really pretty easy as these things go, so we think ten seconds is about the right solution time. When you're ready, click on the link below. When you're done--- it won't take long--- come back and click on Read More to check your solution.

August Speed Problem (easy; 10 seconds)


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08/03/13 - Printer friendly version
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