The Checker Maven



Horseradish, of course, is a well known condiment, with a sharp taste and sinus-clearing effect. It's often enjoyed with prime rib of beef, on hot dogs, and in numerous other ways. It's not to everyone's taste; you either love it or you don't.

Horse-radish, in checkers (note the hyphenation) is an older term not much heard today that refers to moves that are sharp, like horseradish, but not to everyone's taste, because they are usually unsound or at least questionable in theory. They're all about over the board play; a horse-radish move, even if inferior, may be hard to refute on the spot if you're not familiar with the line.

You won't be surprised to hear that Willie Ryan was a fan of horse-radish, and the following problem comes from a horse-radish line in one of his earliest books.

White to Play and Win


Is this sort of thing to your taste, or is it a little too sharp? Does it clear your thinking? Give it a taste, and then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/26/14 - Printer friendly version
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A Bristol Broadside

Photo Courtesy Stephen Dowle

The word "broadside" carries various meanings, and perhaps the one that comes to mind at first is the "broadside" fired by the cannons on warships of a bygone day. Cannons were arranged on the sides of the ship, and having all of them fire a more or less simultaneous volley made for a powerful attack.

But there's another meaning. British photographer Stephen Dowle notes that advertising on the side and front of a bus, as illustrated above, is often called a "broadside"; hence, the photo is titled "Bristol Broadside."

Our presentation of Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard continues with an exposition on the 11-16 Bristol opening, presented in four parts due to its length. To say that this first part is explosive and spectacular is almost an understatement. Certainly Willie was thinking of cannons and not buses.

Here's Willie's run-up and notes. Additional variations will appear in future columns.

11-16 26-23---H 9-13 16-11 14-17
24-20 19-26 22-18 6-10 32-27
16-19 30-7 14-23 11-7 17-22
23-16 2-18 27-18 22-25 27-23
12-19 28-24 13-17 7-2 25-30;
22-18 9-14 21-14 1-5 drawn.
10-14---A 24-19 8-11 2-6 Campbell
18-15---B 5-9 16-7 10-14 vs. Reid
7-10---E,1 25-22 3-17 18-9
20-16---F,2 18-25 19-16 5-14
14-18---G,3 29-22 17-22 6-10

A---"The text was a long-standing favorite with that renowned celebrity of the draughts world, James Wyllie. It was also popular with many other stars of the Andersonian firmament. Although it has gained only negligible favor with the modern exponents of the go-as-you-please school, one is certain to regard the line with increasing respect as its ramifications are mastered.

B---In a title game between two world's champions, Richard Jordan and James Ferrie, the former attempted 27-23 here. The game proceeded 8-12, 23-16, 12-19, 18-15, 4-8, 25-22, 9-13, 32-27, 5-9, 29-25---C, 7-11, 27-24,11-18, 24-15---D, 2-7, 20-16, 7-11, 16-7, 3-19, 22-15, 14-18, 26-23, 18-27, 31-24, 9-14, 24-20, 14-18, 20-16, 8-12, 16-11, 19-23, 11-7, 23-27, 7-3 (30-26, 27-31, 26-22 should develop a draw), 27-31, 28-24, 31-27, 24-20, 18-23, 15-11, 6-10, 3-7, 12-16, 7-14, 23-26, 30-23, 27-9, 11-7, 16-19, 7-3, 9-14, 3-7, 14-18, and Ferrie won. Considering the usually high caliber of Mr. Jordan's play, this one stands out on the record as one of his worst examples. Time and again he displayed a remarkably dull grasp of the involved positional structures.

C---15-11, 8-15, 27-23, 1-5, 23-16, 14-17, 21-14, 9-25, 29-22, 7-11, 16-7, 2-11, 30-25, 6-10, 25-21, 5-9, 22-17, etc. would be a much easier way for white to play for the draw. Wm. F. Ryan.

D---This seems to be about the spot where the Great Jordan fell into error. A draw after 24-15 is difficult to reach. The alternative jump gains the draw easily with: 22-15, 3-7*, 20-16, 7-11, 16-7, 2-18, 24-15, 6-10*, 15-6, 1-10, 28-24*, 8-11 (10-15, 31-27, 8-11, 26-23), 24-19*, 18-22, 25-18, 14-23, 19-16, etc. Wm. F. Ryan.

E---The line of play initiated at A is usually associated with this follow-up, although black can safely adopt other moves, as depicted in Variation 1. The student should bear in mind that the strategical advantage in adopting a dormant line of play, such as the one begun at A, is twofold: first, it may throw the adversary off lines of play he is most likely to know; second, it gains the initiative and efficiency that go with employing a well-prepared plan of attack. It has been proved time and again that a player who takes a weak line of play and knows it thoroughly will win more games than the one who adopts a standard procedure of play without knowing how to carry it through.

F---To the player handling the white pieces, this is an important waiting move, as it simplifies the formational structure by thwarting any attempt by black to secure tenable complications. See Variation 2 for 25-22 here.

G---Just about all that black has left. For play on 9-13, see Variation 3. Alfred Jordan tried 2-7 here in a title match duel with Melvin Pomeroy and finished on the rocks by 16-12, 14-18, 21-17*, 9-14, 17-13, 5-9, 27-24, 7-11, 26-22, 19-23, 31-27, 10-19, 24-15, 14-17, 27-24, 17-26, 15-10, 6-15, 13-6, 1-10, 32-27, 23-32, 30-7, 3-10, 12-3, 11-16, 24-20, 16-19, 3-7, 10-14, 25-22, 14-18, 7-11, 18-25, 29-22, 19-23, 11-27, 32-23, 28-24, 23-26, 22-18, 26-23, 18-14, 23-18, 14-10, 4-8, 10-7, 18-15, 7-3, 8-12, 3-8, 15-18, 24-19; white wins.

H---White must accept the clearance or drift into a ragged formation. If 27-24 is played, then black wins with:" (See solution---Ed.)

1,2,3---To be presented in subsequent Tricks Traps & Shots installments---Ed.

Black to Play and Win


The computer rates this one as a strong Black advantage and a probable win, but it's not so easy. Fire away at it; give it your best volley, and when you've done your best, click on Read More to see both Willie's solution and the computer's notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/19/14 - Printer friendly version
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Famous Shots VI


We continue our Checker School series on famous shots in the game of checkers. These are positions that all experts should know and all aspiring players should learn. Here's the run-up for this month's installment.

11-15 24-19 15-24 28-19 9-14 22-18 5-9 26-22 7-11 27-24 3-7 22-17 11-15 18-11 8-15 25-22 9-13 23-18---A 14-23 17-14 10-26 19-3

A---This seemingly natural move loses. 22-18 is correct.

Black to Play and Win


Find the solution (for once, it's not too difficult), name the shot, and if you wish, name the shot in the photo at the top. Clicking on Read More will take you to the solutions, even though the drinks are on you.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/12/14 - Printer friendly version
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Is It Spring Yet?


Technically, it's already spring in the Northern Hemisphere, as the vernal equinox always arrives in March. Whether or not it's warmed up in your location is something else, and since these columns are written some weeks in advance, we really can't say. Hopefully, the long winter is coming to an end for most North Americans. (If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, we realize you're moving into winter, and we can only hope on your behalf that it will be a mild one.)

To herald the arrival of spring, we have an easy speed problem that will entertain without baffling.

April Speed Problem (Easy; 10 seconds)

When you've warmed to the answer, warm up your mouse by clicking on Read More to check your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/05/14 - Printer friendly version
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