The Checker Maven

The Lindyville Checker Club, Part 1

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Today, at long last, we begin another seven-part serialized story, The Lindyville Checker Club. We'll give a little more background into the story at its conclusion, but for now we'd just like to begin telling the tale.

A checker problem will be found at the end of each installment. The problems in this series are generally easy.

We hope you enjoy our latest contribution to the literature of checker fiction.

# # #

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The law was in pursuit, and they couldn't be more than a couple of hours behind. The posse would be at least twenty strong and they would have easy access to fresh horses. For Carl and his three companions, time would soon run out.

"We're going to have to split up," Carl told them. "If we stay together, they'll get all of us. If we go our separate ways, we'll have better chances."

The other men shifted in their saddles and grumbled. But they knew Carl was right. Their horses were tired and they couldn't push them any harder.

They thought it was going to be easy. After weeks of observation, they worked out when the gold deliveries to the Iowa City bank were made. Ambushing the wagon outside of town would be simple; in order to disguise the shipments, the wagons were only lightly guarded.

Everything went according to plan right up until the last minute, when the Federal Marshall decided to ride out and escort the wagon into town. Maybe someone tipped him off or something made him suspicious. But he showed up just as Carl's gang were taking the sacks of gold off the wagon.

The Marshall saw the dead bodies of the wagon driver and the single guard riding with him, and knew better than to take on the gang alone. Realizing that the gold would slow down the gang and tire their horses, the Marshall went back to town and assembled a posse, figuring to catch up with the gang before too long.

"The gold's too heavy for the horses," Carl said. "We gotta unload it and bury it. It's slowing us up too much. When this all blows over, we can come back to get it."

"That means we gotta trust each other," one of the men said. "I don't like it."

"I don't like it neither," Carl said.

"So what's the idea then?" another asked.

"I'll show you," Carl said, grinning. Before the others could react, he had his Colt out of his holster and shot two of them through the head.

The third man, Grigg, was just fast enough. Rather than drawing his gun and trying to shoot it out, he wheeled his horse and took off. Carl fired a couple of shots but Grigg was already too far away.

There was no time to chase him down. Grigg would have to be dealt with in the future. But for now, there was work to do.

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Carl dismounted and took the sacks of gold from the dead men's horses. He put them on his own horse, mounted, and took off.

Carl rode a few more miles. He still figured he had an hour's lead. Then he took his horse off the trail and rode off into the brush. It didn't take him long to stop and bury the gold, making a careful note on his map so he could find it later. Much later, from the looks of it.

He got back on the trail and rode on. Luck was with him; he reached Lake City ahead of the posse. He abandoned his horse and walked into town. He got even luckier when he got to the train station and found that a train going back East was due to leave in just ten minutes. He bought a ticket with one of the gold coins he had secreted in his boots and got on board.

As the train was pulling out, he saw a group of riders coming down the main street. It was the posse. He smiled and chuckled to himself. A change of train or two and they'd never find him. He'd be home free. All he had to do was lay low for a year or two in New York, and then make his way back out west. No one would find the gold where he'd buried it, and it would be waiting for him when the time came.

Grigg might be a problem, but Grigg would never find the gold, and would never find him, either.

Things were going to work out really well. Carl would just have to be a little patient.

# # #

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Andrew Lopez, professor of mathematics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, couldn't wait to be done with his last lecture of the day. Bernalillo Books, his favorite antiquarian bookstore, had left him a message saying that they had just gotten an 1898 edition of American Checker Player, and they'd hold it for him for 24 hours.

It was quite a find, and Professor Lopez didn't want to pass it up. All he wanted to do was wrap up this Abstract Algebra seminar and race down Central Avenue to the bookstore.

He thought about asking the students if they'd like to quit early, but the fact was that anyone dedicated enough to enroll in Abstract Algebra was there for the duration.

Half an hour to go. He felt like he was about to burst at the seams, but somehow, he held on. Who wanted to bother with finite Abelian groups when a copy of American Checker Player hung in the balance?

Apparently, his students did.

The bell finally rang, ending the class period. A couple of students started toward the front of the room, obviously with time-consuming questions on their minds, but Professor Lopez waved them off as he quickly gathered up his papers and briefcase. "Come during office hours!" he said, making a beeline for the exit.

He made record time through the parking lot, pulled out of the driveway, turned onto Central Avenue, and drove off at a speed that astonished even him.

Luckily, he wasn't ticketed, and he got to the bookstore just before their 5 PM closing time.

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It was all worth it. A few minutes later, he was on his way back to his car, carrying nothing less than a full set of the 1898 issues of American Checker Player.

A pleasant evening was definitely ahead, and he smiled in anticipation.

But then he remembered: He had promised to take his girlfriend, Samantha, to dinner. He had cancelled a couple of times already, and the second time, it was clear that she was losing patience.

If he cancelled again so he could stay home and read his checker magazines, he knew he might not get another chance.

Samantha was nice, and he truly cared for her. It was just that he hated having to choose between his girlfriend and checkers.

TO BE CONTINUED.

# # #

Yes, the problems in the series are definitely related to the story, but we won't spoil things for you at this early stage.

Problem One
BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W25,17,6:BK26,K18.

Click on Read More to see the solution, and be sure to stay tuned for future chapters in our story.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/27/15 - Printer friendly version
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Capers on the Kelso, Part 7

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The racehorse Kelso was without question one of the greatest of all time, winning five "Horse of the Year" titles and setting nine track records in an eight-season career. Kelso retired after suffering an injury in March, 1966, with total winnings just shy of two million dollars, an amount that wasn't surpassed for many years.

We're not aware of anyone winning anything like two million dollars in checkers, but the Kelso opening has its share of fame, too, and has produced both winners and losers. Today, we continue our extended series on the Kelso, drawn from Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard.

Here's the run-up to today's position. For comments, see previous columns in this series.


1. 10-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 11-15 18x11
4. 8x15 21-17
5. 4-8 17-13
6. 9-14 29-25
7. 6-10 24-20
8. 1-6 28-24
9. 8-11

Much inferior to 15-19.


9. ... 32-28
10. 3-8---C

The best move in this position, though white retains an advantage. Willie's recommended 14-17 is a probable loss. Note C will be found with the solution.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to play, what result?

W:W31,30,28,27,26,25,24,23,20,13:B15,14,12,11,10,8,7,6,5,2.

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06/20/15 - Printer friendly version
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Burning the Candle at Both Ends

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Today's Checker School entry is a fascinating position we call "Burning the Candle at Both Ends," because the terms could just as well have been "White to Play and Draw." To be sure, this isn't in keeping with the traditional meaning of the phrase, but to us it seemed rather apt. See if you agree: First White must find the right move to save the draw. But then Black has the same task and must hew to the correct path. It's a double-ended problem with both ends burning.

E. M. HARDEN
BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play, Black Draws

W:W31,27,25,21,20,19:B14,13,12,11,10,5.

Can you work out both sides of this very interesting endgame? We hope you won't have to burn your own candle at both ends in so doing, and rather than stay up all night, you can always click on Read More to see the solution, a sample game, and detailed notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/13/15 - Printer friendly version
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Not So Fast

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Last month we brought you "not quite" a speed problem, and this month is no different. We originally were going to publish today's entry as a speedster, but the position requires a little thought, so again we're dispensing with the JavaScript clock and letting you take all the time you need.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W26,K21,K12,11:BK29,K4,K3,1.

At first glance (aren't those famous last words?) it looks like White has it sewed up, as all three Black kings have no safe moves. That just leaves the single Black man ... oh ... wait ... Black has "the move" and White can't necessarily trap the Black man ... hmmm ... not so simple after all.

The winning technique is well worth knowing, so take your time and see if you can figure it out; then click on Read More to see the solution and notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/06/15 - Printer friendly version
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