The Checker Maven

Thanksgiving 2015


This is Thanksgiving weekend, definitely our favorite time of year, when the wonderful Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in the United States. It's a great family time, with food--- lots of it--- and festivity and reflection on the many things for which we all can be grateful.

On such occasions we like to feature a Tom Wiswell problem. Mr. Wiswell, a great checker champion, checker writer, and American patriot, represents for us the spirit of America and the spirit of the American holidays.

This year we've picked out a problem that is a real dandy.

White to Play and Win


White is a piece up, but Black has a king and the White win is yet to be demonstrated. It's a practical problem but not necessarily an easy one.

So, see how you can do. Take your time; it's a holiday weekend and some leisurely checker enjoyment is most appropriate. When you're done, click on Read More to see the solution. Then, do as we invite you to do every year at this time--- help yourself to another slice of pumpkin pie.20050904-symbol.gif

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11/28/15 - Printer friendly version
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Capers on the Kelso, Part 10


In the offices of The Checker Maven, we're learning new things all the time, and in seeking a theme photo for our extended "Kelso" series, we came across "Dr. Bob Kelso," who is pictured above. Apparently, Dr. Kelso is a character in a television series about which, we must admit, we know nothing (we definitely prefer checkers over television).

Fortunately, there's always more to learn about checkers, too, and today we'll be looking at a slight variation on the Kelso from that shown last time; just a single move changes, but in checkers that can make all the difference. This is a continuation of Variation 2 on Capers in the Kelso as found in Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard. Here's the run-up without annotation; see the previous columns in this series for complete notes and discussion.

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 32-28
10. 14-17 25-21
11. 10-14 23-19
12. 7-10 27-23
Black to Play and Draw


Can you doctor the play enough to find the moves needed to draw? The cure is rather complex. But fear not, healing is at hand by clicking on Read More for the full solution treatment.20050904-symbol.gif

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11/21/15 - Printer friendly version
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Marvin's Return

Marvin J. Mavin

Marvin J. Mavin had been on the injured list for almost two weeks, sitting out something like ten matches.

It had all started in Boston. Marvin's team, the National Checker League champion Detroit Doublejumpers, was visiting Beantown to play a three-match series against the Boston Bristols. Marvin complained that he had a sore elbow, and the Doublejumper's trainer, Gus "Gassy" Gustafson, recommended that Coach Harry Butterfield sideline Marvin until his elbow healed.

"The boy been practicin' too much," Gassy commented. "Done hurt his elbow liftin' them checkers an' he needs ta' lay off 'em fer a spell."


But there was another version of the story making the rounds. Marvin had been seen in Boston's famous Durbin Park Pub, showing his prowess by drinking straight out of one of the pub's massively heavy stone beer crocks. A photo in the local paper, the Boston Probe, showed Marvin at one of the pub's tables, holding his elbow and wincing with pain.


But tonight, though, the Doublejumpers were in Portland at the Portland Playpen Arena, and Marvin had been given the all-clear. He'd be back at the Doublejumpers first board position, where he'd face ace player D. Rock Noodle of the Portland Pitchers.

D. Rock, a brash but highly talented youngster, stepped up to the board and shook hands with Marvin.

"Hey, take it easy, that's my bad arm," Marvin complained.


D. Rock grinned. "Heard all about that one, Marv," he said. "Too much practice or too many brewskies? What's the real story, old timer?" Noodle held his grin, taunting Marvin.

Marvin, turning red, was on the verge of replying when Referee Jack "Acky" Ackerman blew his whistle, signaling the start of the match.

The players made several moves each and the game started to get complicated. It was now Marvin's turn and he was taking quite a bit of time to work out his move. Finally, he decided on a line of play and made his move.

D. Rock Noodle

D. Rock looked at the board, looked at Marvin, and looked again at the board, plainly puzzled.

"Oops," Marvin said. He realized at once that he'd blundered. Noodle was grinning again, and Marvin knew he'd have to think fast.

"Ow!" Marvin yelped. "My elbow!" With a swift theatrical move, Marvin dropped to the floor and rolled, holding his left elbow with his right hand. "My elbow! It's gone out again!" He continued rolling around the floor, groaning and grimacing all the while. A murmur rose from the huge crowd.

Trainer Gustafson and Coach Butterfield rushed out onto the playing floor. Gustafson dropped to one knee, bending over Marvin. He softly whispered, "Marvin .. you be holdin' the wrong elbow."

Marvin quickly switched his grip, covering his motion with another loud yelp, hoping no one would notice.

Referee Ackerman made his way over.

Coach Butterfield took a look at the board and realized at once what was going on. "Marvin must be allowed to take back his last move," the Coach said to Ackerman. "Obviously his elbow spasmed and he dropped his checker on the wrong square."

Referee Ackerman was well known for being impartial and fair. He was also no one's fool. "The move stands, Coach," the referee said in a very quiet voice. "Rule 5-c-1. If I were you, I wouldn't push things."

Coach Butterfield quickly decided it would be best to drop the issue.

"What's your decision, Coach?" Ackerman asked. "You can put in a substitute if you want. Or if your player isn't injured too severely, he can stay in."

The Coach glanced again at the board and realized the position was so bad that a substitute player could never save the game.

"Despite his injuries, Marvin will play on," the Coach declared. The crowd, some of whom had figured things out and some of whom hadn't, reacted with a mix of cheers and boos.


Meanwhile, Trainer Gustafson had rigged up a sling for Marvin's arm. Marvin, playing it for all it was worth, rose painfully from the floor with the help of both Gustafson and Butterfield. Marvin slumped into his chair and stared at the board, awaiting D. Rock's move.

"You oughta be an actor," D. Rock said, "because you sure can't play checkers worth a hoot."

D. Rock made his move and now Marvin faced the following position. Marvin knew that he would have to make every play with precision. There could be no more blunders.

White to Play and Draw


The draw isn't easy to find. If you were substituting for Marvin, could you save the game? Match wits with D. Rock Noodle and when you've come up with your answer, click on Read More for the solution and the conclusion of our story.20050904-symbol.gif

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11/14/15 - Printer friendly version
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A Winter Stroke


Many golf enthusiasts just can't get enough, and while we don't know how they do it, some of them golf even during the winter when snow covers the ground. They're out taking their "winter strokes" and loving every minute of it.

We have a different "winter stroke" to offer you. We don't know if snow is as yet on the ground where you live--- it might well be in some locations--- but we're pretty sure you've kept the snow off your checkerboard. Here's a stroke problem that will stretch your powers of visualization.

White to Play and Win


Solving these problems is par for the course; when you're done, click on Read More to score your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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11/07/15 - Printer friendly version
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