The Checker Maven

A Familiar Position

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The yoga position shown above, we must opine, looks like rather a difficult one, yet the person in the photo seems to have taken it on quite willingly.

In checkers, difficult positions are generally avoided rather than sought. In the diagram below, Black is definitely in such a situation, and may have to go through contortions to find the way to a draw. But, like the yoga position, there is a way to do it.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W30,27,24,23,22,19,5:B21,13,12,11,10,6,1.

Can you make the necessary twists and turns? If you're a knowledgeable "book" player, the position may indeed look familiar, and you'll likely know how to do it. If it's not familiar to you (yet), it is a good one to learn, so either way, give it a try. If you find yourself in knots, you can always click on Read More to see the run-up, solution, and notes. While you're at it, just for a little additional fun, you might also try to name the yoga position in the photo.20050904-symbol.gif

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09/27/14 - Printer friendly version
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The Fugitive Companion

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It looks like these fugitive companions didn't get very far. They're all on their way back to the big house, and they'll probably stay there for a long time.

Today's Checker School column features a pair of related problems, neither of them especially easy, but as usual, quite instructive. You'll see where the title comes from when you work them through.

Diagram 1
F. DUNNE
WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play, White Draws

B:W24,20,19,K7,K5:BK14,12,K10,8,3.

Diagram Two
McKEAN - WARDROP
WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W24,20,19,K16,K1:BK23,12,7,K2.

Can you solve these problems, or will you just flee, with or without a companion? While not easy, they may not be as hard as you might think at first glance. Recapture your solutions and then click on Read More to see a sample game and the solved problems with detailed notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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09/20/14 - Printer friendly version
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Checker Poetry

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The Checker Maven has, we believe, has written and published more original checker fiction than anyone else has ever done. But we've produced very little checker poetry.

Checker poetry used to grace checker books and checker columns, and some of it was very good indeed. The poems often cleverly incorporated problem situations in their verses.

The poem below, kindly provided by Liam Stephens and John Reade, and originally penned by one William Brogan, has been edited slightly to remove an inappropriate ethnic reference and to correct an obvious printer's error.

LAZY JAKE
by Wm. Brogan

There used to live a player
In the town where I was born
Who studied checkers late at night
And early every morn.

This chap was never known
To do a tap of work,
And the neighbours all described him
As a useless lazy jerk.

But opportunity they say
Knocks once at every door.
And Jake was soon to have a chance
To put some gold in store.

A stranger with great riches
Came to this little town,
And he claimed to be a player
Of considerable renown.

He had a roll of greenbacks
That looked like a load of hay,
Said he “This roll I’ll gamble
‘Gainst Jake if he will play.”

Then the town folks they got busy
And they mortgaged home and land,
And they covered every dollar
That the stranger had in hand.

Then the old town hall was hired,
And they called on Lazy Jake.
Saying “ Come and beat the stranger
And we’ll give you half the stake.”

The mayor of the little town
Declared a holiday,
So all the interested ones
Could come and see the play.

The game was quickly started,
Deep silence ruled the place,
And a look of stern defiance
Hovered o’er each player’s face.

The stranger moved quite rapidly
As though he knew his stuff,
While Jake was playing slowly
For he found the going tough.

The following position
Came up and all was done.
So if you are a checkerist
Then show how Jake has won.

BLACK (Stranger)
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WHITE (Jake)
White to Play and Win

W:W30,25,13,6:BK31,24,17,15.

(Originally published in Wood’s Checker Player, Vol 6, No 3, October 1942.)

We're sure that you can solve it
And two points White will score
So when you are all finished
Below click on Read More.

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09/13/14 - Printer friendly version
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Clapham Common Draughts Club

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Clapham Common is part of the Clapham area of south London, but more importantly, at least to us, is that it was the home of the Clapham Common Draughts Club.

While an inquiry to the community booster group called "Love Clapham" went unanswered, former member David Harwood informed us that the club used to meet near Clapham Common's famed bandstand (shown above in its original form in the late 19th century). As far as Mr. Harwood knows, the club hasn't met in at least 20 years, and most of its members have regrettably passed on.

The club, though, will be remembered forever in all of checkerdom for The Clapham Common Draughts Book, a tutorial for beginners through intermediates that focuses on tactics and tactical themes. As with Reisman's Checkers Made Easy, diligent study of this book can't help but significantly improve your play.

The book was written by one G. E. Trott in 1947, but wasn't published until years later. Sometime in the 1960s, it was serialized and (we presume) printed in a newpaper. A little later on the Club published it in booklet form.

Today, we're pleased to offer a newly typeset electronic edition, designed and edited by Mel Tungate. It features clear color diagrams, an easy to read typeface, and Mel's additional notes and commentary. It's a really fine effort and The Checker Maven thanks Mel for putting this together. You can download it here or from a soon-to-appear link in the right-hand column.

Naturally, this week's problem is taken from the book, and it's a nice one. We'd say it's at an approximate intermediate level of difficulty.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play, What Result?

W:WK3,26,27:B10,11,18.

We'll give you a tip: In many of the situations in the book, the obvious move is not necessarily the correct move.

When you've come up with your solution, "Trott" your mouse to Read More to verify your line of play.20050904-symbol.gif

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09/06/14 - Printer friendly version
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