The Checker Maven

The Luck of the Draw

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There are games of skill, games of luck, and games that combine the two. In the game of checkers, luck plays a small role: you might catch your opponent on a bad day, or in a Swiss system tournament, maybe you'll get an easier match-up than another player with the same score. But that's about it.

The following problem was first published in 1929, and from the looks of it, perhaps you need to get lucky to find the solution. It's by Fausto Dalumi, an Italian who like so many others came to live and work in the United States. Mr. Dalumi earned a well-deserved reputation as a composer of elegant and challenging checker problems.

BLACK
20140505-luckofdraw.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W24,K22,K2:B23,16,K9,4.

Feeling lucky? We think you'll need more skill than luck to find the solution, but the problem is a dandy. Give it your best and then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/31/14 - Printer friendly version
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Memorial Day Special

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This column will appear on Memorial Day weekend; Monday will be Memorial Day, a time to honor the men and women who have sacrificed so much to defend America's freedom. As it is so often and so truly said, "Freedom is not free," and The Checker Maven adds its own salute in honor of the memory of the patriots who gave their all on our behalf.

During the Second World War, checker expert Millard Hopper visited our service men and women to entertain them with checker lectures, lessons, and exhibitions. Mr. Hopper gave some of his problem settings war-themed names, such as his "Solomon Island Slam." Some of the other problem names would today be considered to contain racially offensive language, but back then, America was at war, and we need to be more understanding than critical.

We never found the exact position for the "Solomon Island Slam" so instead we'd like to offer the problem below. There are two possible winning lines, depending on Black's choices, but in both cases White's key first move is the same. Can you find it?

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

B:W28,24,20,18,K5:BK26,12,11,10,2.

When you've got the answer, click on Read More to verify your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/24/14 - Printer friendly version
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21st Century Checkers: The 11-15s

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The Checker Maven is proud and privileged to present the fifth volume in Richard Pask's groundbreaking 21st Century Checkers series, The 11-15s. You can download it in PDF format here, or on the Richard Pask page as linked in the right-hand column. Mr. Pask continues to generously offer his work free of charge.

Mr. Pask's series on the three-move ballots is sure to be the definitive reference for years to come and no serious player should be without it.

Volumes 6 and 7, on the 11-16s and 12-16s, are in the works. Mr. Pask has told us that his objective is to have completed the series by some time in mid-2015. We wish him continued good health after his wonderful recovery from some serious issues in the past year.

If you plan on printing this new book, keep in mind that it makes extensive use of color and so printing at a commercial shop could be much more costly than printing on an ink-jet at home.

As a preview, here's an interesting run-up from the 11-15 23-18 9-14 ballot.


1. 11-15 23-18
2. 9-14 18-11
3. 8-15 22-18
4. 15-22 25-9
5. 5-14 29-25
6. 4-8 25-22
7. 8-11 27-23
8. 11-15 24-20
9. 6-9 31-27
10. 7-11 28-24
11. 9-13 23-18
12. 14-23 27-18
13. 12-16 18-14
14. 10-17 21-14

Through some transpositions the play is still in the KingsRow opening book.


15. 2-6

Loses; 16-19 was best.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,30,26,24,22,20,14:B16,15,13,11,6,3,1.

Here Mr. Pask points out a subtle move that secures the White win. Can you find it on your own? Match wits with this eminent British grandmaster and see if you can find the sequence of moves that brings White the victory. When you're done, click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/17/14 - Printer friendly version
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Famous Shots VII

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We continue our series of Famous Shots from Ben Boland's Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers with a fireworks-filled position. Here's the run-up, with notes.

12-16 21-17 16-20 17-13 10-14---A 23-19---B 14-17 19-16 17-21---C 16-12---D 11-16---E 22-18 8-11 25-22 7-10 26-23 10-14---F 24-19 14-17 31-26 4-8 19-15---G

A---Looks natural but 11-15 would be better.

B---24-19 would have kept the advantage.

C---Gives a slight edge to White. 11-15 was correct here.

D---22-18 would have kept the small lead for White.

E---Gives White an edge again. 11-15 is still the move to make.

F---This move leads to a probable Black loss; 10-15 would have been correct.

G---A serious mistake. With 28-14 White should go on to win. Now Black wins.

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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W32,30,29,28,27,26,23,22,18,15,13,12:B21,20,17,16,11,9,8,6,5,3,2,1.

As usual, we're asking you to solve the problem, name the shot, and also name the "shot" pictured at the top of the article. There are two different solutions to the problem, one as originally published, and one found by the computer. Can you find one of the them? Click on Read More when you're ready to check your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/10/14 - Printer friendly version
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May Stroke

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After so many years of publication, we're out of "stroke" puns and find it necessary to do repeats. But the photo above is definitely a harbinger of spring and summer; rowing crews out on the water, enjoying outdoor activity, perhaps after a long winter.

Today's problem is relatively easy and is set with only four pieces per side; it's a little more practical than the more complex, artificial stroke problems.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W22,19,15,6:BK24,23,K21,20.

Solve this one from the diagram, if you can, for great practice in visualization. Then click on Read More to verify your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/03/14 - Printer friendly version
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