The Checker Maven

The Incredible On-Line Checkers Library

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Anyone who has tried to buy checker books in recent years has discovered very quickly that these are hard to come by, and often quite expensive when they can be found. There are very few checker books in print, and the used book market offers less and less as time goes by.

The Checker Maven has provided some newly typeset editions of classic works, but these take a lot of time to produce, and to date only a limited number have been completed.

Enter Jake Kacher's on-line checkers library, his personal effort to make checker literature readily and freely available to devotees of the game.

Jake is originally from Kiev and currently lives in California. He's held a long string of titles in various varieties of checkers, and still teaches pool checkers to an international set of students. But right now, his library, at

http://www.checkersusa.com/books/

is his major ongoing project.

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The checker library started out with what Jake called his "Russian project" and specialized in the literature of shashki, or Russian checkers. But it soon expanded into other varieties of checkers, and now contains extensive collections not only on Russian checkers, but on pool checkers, 10x10 checkers and "straight" checkers, as well as the Brazilian, Canadian, and Italian variants.

As word spread, players from around the world started submitting scans of checker literature of all types. The library now is vast. At latest count there were 250 Russian checker books, 170 straight checkers books, over 100 books on the 10x10 game, thousands of magazines of all kinds, 10,000 animated Russian checker games, several thousand straight checkers championship games and positions, various other articles and literature, and links to sites containing even more material. The library numbers four to five thousand items in books and magazines alone.

Putting an item in the library isn't a simple matter of uploading a scan; there's an intensive quality control process which requires cleaning and sizing each individual page. Some pages require a hundred or more modifications to remove graphic artifacts, increase legibility, and compress the size so that loading times will be reasonable.

Everything in the library is available free of charge, and users don't need to worry about advertising pop-ups and similar annoyances of Internet life. The concept is that the library is a place where readers and researchers can access material without the need to download (although that's available), and with referential integrity: a reference to a certain page of a certain book will produce a consistent result.

The "straight checkers" section of the library contains some extraordinary treasures, including a number of rare books such as Payne's seminal 1756 publication.

The collection continues to build, and the next stage will be the creation of a searchable database, allowing users to locate items by author, title, or year.

The library welcomes assistance from checker enthusiasts who can contribute high-quality scans of material not already in the collection.

Again, the library can be found at http://checkersusa.com/books/, and Jake can be contacted either through his site guestbook or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/checkersusa/.

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The only downside? Once you get on the site, you're going to be there for hours and hours, browsing through the most extensive and fascinating collection of checkers literature anywhere in cyberspace.

Of course, we wanted this week's checker problem to come from the material in the library; making a choice wasn't easy with so much to choose from, but we decided on this one.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W31,27,16,K10,K2:BK30,K22,19,8,3.

Can you find the correct line of play? It's not terribly difficult but there is one interesting twist. See if you can book the win, and then click on Read More to leaf through the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
07/26/14 - Printer friendly version
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A Bristol Broadside Part 3

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Ouch! Someone broadsided a police car. That is definitely not recommended, and whoever did it is going to be in very hot water.

In our third installment from Willie Ryan's Bristol Broadside in his classic work Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, Willie considers another meaning of the word "broadside" with a second variation from his main line. We've given it below along with the full run-up. Here's how it goes.

Variation 2

11-16 24-20 16-19 23x16 12x19 22-18 10-14 18-15 7-10 25-22 14-18 29-25 9-14 20-16 5-9---A

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W32,31,30,28,27,26,25,22,21,16,15:B19,18,14,10,9,8,6,4,3,2,1.

A---"The lineup at once is imperative. If the play goes 8-12, then white will win with: 16-11*, 12-16,11-7*, 2-11,15-8, 3-12, 22-15, 4-8, 27-23, 5-9, 31-27, 16-20, 23-16, 10-19, 25-22, 9-13, 22-18, 14-23, 27-18, 20-24,18-15, 6-10, 15-6,1-10, 30-25, 10-14, 25-22. Wm. F. Ryan."

It turns out there are two drawing lines. Neither one is particularly easy to find, and we'd have to classify this as a master-level problem. But even if you're a mere mortal in the world of checkers, you'll learn a lot by exploring this position and then studying the solution.

So start your engines! Then crash your mouse on Read More to see how to do it.20050904-symbol.gif

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07/19/14 - Printer friendly version
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Famous Shots IX

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Our Checker School series of Famous Shots concludes this month, and as in previous entries, we ask you to solve the shot, name the shot, and, if you wish, name the "shot" in the photo above. During the past eight months we've taken a tour of the checker "big shots"; these are positions that every learner must master and every master must know.

Here's the finale, with the full run-up. Once again the game is not especially well played, but the ending is great.

11-15 23-18 8-11 27-23 4-8 23-19 10-14 19x10 14x23 26x19 7x14 19-15 11x18 22x15 14-18 21-17---A 12-16 24-20 16-19 20-16 2-7 17-13---B 9-14---C 31-26 5-9 25-21---D 18-23---E 29-25---F 14-18---G 21-17---H 7-11---I 16x7 3x10 (see diagram)

A---24-19 is probably better, although deep computer analysis doesn't shown a Black advantage.

B---Ouch. 25-22 was best. This move might actually lose for White.

C---19-23 was better.

D---Loses; 16-12 was better.

E---7-11 would have won. This return blunder is only good for a draw.

F---Loses again! 16-12 was fine.

G---Gives the draw back again! 7-11 wins.

H---Doesn't lose but gives Black a real edge. White just doesn't seem to want to play 16-12.

I---8-12 was best. The game now unravels for Black.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,30,28,26,25,17,15,13:B23,19,18,10,9,8,6,1.

This one isn't too difficult, at least as far as these things go, so shoot it down and then click on Read More to check your answer.20050904-symbol.gif

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07/12/14 - Printer friendly version
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July Speed Problem

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It's summer, and we hope you are able to get out and enjoy summer sports, such as a speedy ride on a bicycle. The winter of 2013-14 was pretty harsh in most of North America, and we're certain you're happy to be outdoors. Do it while you can, summer doesn't last forever. Unless you're in Hawai`i, of course!

Our speed problem for July isn't especially hard, but we're still allowing you 30 seconds to solve it. Such generosity! It's a very practical setting and we hope you like it. When you're ready, click on the link below; then come back and click on Read More to verify your solution.

July Speed Problem (30 seconds, relatively easy)

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07/05/14 - Printer friendly version
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