The Checker Maven

Man Up

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Today's Beginner's Corner episode deals once again with that "you've got to win it" idea. A man up is usually a win, but short of the expert level, the other player isn't just going to concede; you'll have to show that you know how to win it.

Here's one such situation.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W25,21,15,K11,10:BK18,14,12,5.

Can you "man up"* and win with a man up? We think you can. Prove us right by solving the problem and then clicking on Read More to see the solution.

*Editor's Note:: The image at the top of this article is intended to express the idea that both men and women play and excel at checkers.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/25/14 - Printer friendly version
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Hobson's Choice

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The phrase Hobson's Choice, named for 16th century English stable owner Thomas Hobson, is often used to describe a no-win situation. In checkers, that would occur when any move available would be bad; in other words, a player would be left to choose only among various losing options.

That usage, though frequently employed, is incorrect, as Hobson's Choice really means "take it or leave it"; you have but one option and there really is no choice except that of refusal. (Mr. Hobson reputedly offered his customers a choice of but one horse, which was no choice at all.) In checkers, however, you've got to make a move, so the phrase Hobson's Choice doesn't seem to apply.

We think, in the position below, as published by Ben Boland in Familiar Themes in the Scientific Game of Checkers, the author meant to use the term dilemma, which accurately refers to a choice among undesirable alternatives. Contrast this with Morton's Fork, which is a choice among equal or equivalent alternatives.

Confusing? Perhaps simply looking at the diagram is the best option.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W14,11,10:BK22,12,2.

White indeed seems to face a dilemma; he's going to lose a man no matter what choices he makes. But a draw is still possible with perceptive play; can you find it?

Of course, for you, the reader, the choice is certainly Hobson's; you can choose to solve the problem, or just leave it! We do hope, though, that you'll try it, and then click on Read More to verify your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/18/14 - Printer friendly version
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Famous Shots III

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Checker School today brings us the third in our series of famous shots, taken from Ben Boland's Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers. As is the case with the other entries in this series, experienced players should recognize it by sight, while less experienced players would do well to learn the position.

Here's this week's run-up:

11-15 23-19 8-11 22-17 4-8 17-13 15-18 24-20 11-15 28-24 8-11 26-23 9-14 31-26 6-9 13x6 2x9 26-22 9-13---A

A---Loses. 3-8 or 1-6 would be correct. White to play and win.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,30,29,27,25,24,23,22,21,20,19:B18,15,14,13,12,11,10,7,5,3,1.

We're not sure which looks more interesting: the checker position or the attractive concoction shown in the photo at the top. Right now, though, let's go for the checker position. Find the solution, name the shot (both of them!), and then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/11/14 - Printer friendly version
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The Holidays Sped By

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The holidays have sped by as they always do; there's the long run-up, a week or so of family fun and frolics, and then--- it's over, and we face that winter letdown and months of solid, virtually uninterrupted work, school, or what-have-you.

Fortunately, there's a bright spot for readers of The Checker Maven. For some little while, the father and son team of Lloyd and Josh Gordon, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, have been replenishing our stock of speed problems, with positions from their own games and of their own design. We're presenting the first of these today.

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Photo by Mrs. Lloyd Gordon

Josh and Lloyd generally assemble problem positions that vary from easy to medium in difficulty, making them perfect for speed problems. This month we'll start with an easy one. You won't have a lot of trouble solving it, and it's quite clever and pleasing. Ten seconds will be plenty of time, we think, although perhaps you may disagree!

When you're ready, click on the link below to show the problem and start the clock. Then come back here and click on Read More to verify your solution.

January 2014 Speed Problem Easy; 10 seconds

Thank you, Josh and Lloyd, for sending these problems, and we hope that the rest of your Eastern Ontario winter won't be too tough.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/04/14 - Printer friendly version
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Problem Composition Contest 14 Completed

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Bill Salot's outstanding series of checker problem composing contests continues to thrive, attracting talented problem setters from around the world. Contest 14 has just concluded, and the winner is from the Netherlands. Check it all out by clicking on the Compositions link in the left-hand column.20050904-symbol.gif

01/02/14 - Printer friendly version
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