No, we're not presenting a public service safety announcement this week, although the lesson above is obvious. Instead, we're presenting a "shocker" of the checkerboard kind.
Problems with "dual" solutions, that is, more than one way to solve them, are in general not considered aesthetically pleasing, and are usually disqualified in problem composition contests. But in actual play, a selection of feasible lines of play is a frequent occurrence.
In the problem below, Black's best move is indeed a shocker, and we're certain the composer intended that to be the sole solution. But there is a shocker in here for the problem composer as well, in the form of an unanticipated and rather mundane alternate solution.
Give yourself full credit for finding either solution, and an A+ for finding both. When you've solved it, zap your mouse on Read More to get a charge out of the full solution.[Read More]
The Single Corner opening with 11-15, 22-18 is very popular and full of interesting play, but sometimes a seemingly reasonable and natural looking move will singe a player's fingers, so to speak. We'll look at one such situation in today's original study.
To set the scene, here's the run-up, without commentary.
Here's the position as it now stands.
White should have played 17-14 but didn't, and it's a win for Black, but how? Could you have drawn with White had you played 17-14? Black still would have an edge and the draw is not easy.
So we've burned the candle at both ends, and left you with two problems. Show the Black win after White's 28-24, and show how White could have made a draw with 17-14.
Too much? Burned out? Set your mouse aflame on Read More to see the solution and explanatory notes.[Read More]
Samantha was outside the library, waiting for Andrew to arrive. “Come, on, come on, before she realizes ...”
Thirteen long minutes passed before Andrew pulled up to the curb. Samantha tore open the passenger door and scrambled into the car.
"Go! Now! Quick!" she said as she swung the door shut behind her.
"What's going on ..."
"Go! Go! NOW!" Samantha said frantically.
Andrew pulled quickly away from the curb and drove down the street.
"Faster!" Samantha said, turning to look out the back window. "She'll be at the door any second now ... there she is! Turn the car, get it out of sight!"
Andrew made a quick right turn into the nearest side street and continued driving. Samantha let out a breath and turned back around to face forward again.
"Whew! That was close!" she said.
Andrew turned back on to the main street, driving in the direction of the highway back to Lake City. "Would you mind explaining?"
"It's complicated, but I think I found something. And we better leave town right away."
"We're on our way," Andrew said. "It's an hour back to Lake City. Plenty of time to explain, even if it's complicated."
# # #
On the drive back, Samantha told Andrew about Miss Victor's extreme unfriendliness, and about the book of checker problems Samantha had found on a shelf in the library.
"A copy, you say," Andrew said. "Not the original."
"Right, a photocopy."
"Then the original is somewhere else, or missing altogether. Maybe it's archived due to its age. Or maybe ..."
"Never mind. I need to have a look at it when we get back to the hotel. But I can't believe you stole it from the library!"
Samantha smiled and put her hand on Andrew's shoulder. "I'm just full of surprises," she said.
# # #
They were back in their Lake City hotel in the early afternoon. Both of them were hungry, and even though Andrew was itching to have a look at Samantha's "acquisition" she insisted that they eat lunch first.
"Chicken fried steak," Samantha said. "My stomach may never recover from this trip. When we get back to Albuquerque, I think I'm going to make you take me back to the Cattleman's Club."
Andrew groaned. "On a professor's salary?" he asked. "That's kind of a once a year thing."
"All right, then, I'll settle for Sadie's, but it will have to be twice."
Andrew nodded, his mind clearly elsewhere.
They were in their hotel room, and Samantha had just handed him "Cudworth's Checker Problems." Andrew was at the room's little table, minutely examining the photocopy.
"What should I do while you're, um, busy?" Samantha asked. She knew Andrew would probably spend hours with the stolen book.
"Umm ... go shopping or something," Andrew replied absently.
"Sure, since I've already toured the sausage factory, I might as well check out the couture at the Lake City General Store."
"Oh, there must be something," Andrew said.
"Right, well, I'll go find myself a nice hardware store or something. See you later." Samantha grabbed the rental car keys and was out the door.
Andrew didn't pay any attention.
# # #
Two hours passed, Andrew spending all of it looking at the slim book of checker problems. Something was familiar, but he couldn't place it. He went over and over the book, trying to make the connection, without success.
The book contained only seven problems, written out in an old-fashioned style with hand-drawn diagrams.
"These aren't original problems," Andrew muttered. "I know they're not, but ..."
Just then the door opened and Samantha came in, carrying a very large shopping bag.
"You won't believe what I found here," Samantha started to say, when all of a sudden Andrew looked up and shouted, "That's it!"
Samantha, taken aback, dropped her heavy bag. "What on earth do you mean?" she said. "I go to a quilt store and 'that's it'? What are you talking about?"
It finally registered in Andrew's mind that he had shouted his words at Samantha. "Oh, no, not you!" he said. "I mean I've got it!" He smiled, got up, and gave her a hug.
"What are you talking about?" she asked, hugging him back, rather tentatively.
"Well, I think I've got it," Andrew said. "I just have to check a couple of things on the internet. This hotel is supposed to have service, isn't it?"
"Don't you want to see our new quilt?" she asked. "I found ..."
"Yes, sure, honey, sure, right away, just as soon as ... now where did we put the laptop? We brought it with us, right?"
# # #
Samantha had folded, unfolded, and refolded her new quilt at least half a dozen times. Andrew hadn't even looked at it once.
"This internet connection is just too slow," Andrew said, probably for the tenth time. He had the stolen book opennext to the laptop and was scribbling notes on squares of paper from the little notepad he found on the hotel dresser.
About ten minutes later, he shouted, "That's it!"
"You said that before," Samantha said. "What's 'it' now?"
"I was right! I've got it!"
"You've got it? Well, I hope it's not catching. Now, can you please look at our new quilt?"
"Oh, yes, it's very nice, I love it," Andrew said. "But I knew there was something familiar about all this!"
"You've never been interested in quilts," Samantha said. "How could it be familiar?"
"No, the book! Cudworth's book! Don't you get it?"
"No. I don't. Tell me."
But Andrew was still talking. "We have to go back there."
"Lindyville, where else? But it will have to be a night. Tonight. Yes, we'll go tonight. Late. Very late."
"We can't. We have a flight back in the morning. We have to be at the airport by eight."
"Change it. We'll go back Monday. This is too important. Can you take care of it? We'll call in sick or something. We can crack this case if we just go back to Lindyville, I know we can!"
Samantha looked like she would rather crack Andrew's head than the case, but she knew how he was. "I'll take care of it," she said. "Then let's go for dinner. We can give Waffle House one last chance, I suppose."
# # #
All through dinner, Andrew kept a resolute silence about his conclusions, merely saying, "You'll see, you'll see," and then consulting his notes over and over again.
"I wish we had a printer," he said. "We'll have to make do with my sketches." He produced another couple of squares of paper with untidy scrawls all over them."
Andrew paid the check. "Come on, we need to buy a couple of flashlights and a few tools," he said. "There must be a hardware store that's still open."
"Oh, there is," Samantha said, "believe me, I've seen every store in this town."
Half an hour later, the rental car's trunk was loaded with flashlights, batteries, a crowbar, a pickaxe, a bolt cutter, a hammer, and some large screwdrivers.
"Planning a break-in or something?" the checkout clerk had asked. Andrew had just glared while Samantha stared open-mouthed.
"Let's get an hour or two of sleep," Andrew said. "We'll be on the road by eleven and get to Lindyville by midnight."
"What on earth are we up to?" Samantha asked.
"You'll see, you'll see," Andrew kept repeating, all the way back to the hotel.
The problem is of medium difficulty (or maybe not quite), but the solution is very appealing. See how you do and then click Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
The Checker Maven is in the midst of office renovations, and it's a stressful, difficult, and expensive time. We'll be shutting down our computers tonight (Monday, February 8, 2016) around 8 PM HST, and they'll be off for a couple of weeks. Never fear, The Checker Maven website will stay online and Saturday columns will appear on schedule. It's just that we might be a little slow in responding to email, as for the most part we'll be working out of the Hamilton Library on the University of Hawai`i Mānoa campus.
We'll be back as soon as we can!
We're always looking for entertaining and instructive speed problems. Unlike like the young racers above, our goal today isn't to cross the finish line first; it's to further develop our checker visualization skills, and one way to do that is with a good problem solved against the clock.
Regular contributors Josh and Lloyd Gordon of Toronto sent us a speed problem that is relatively easy, but quite surprisingly, it arose in actual over the board play. You'll see what we mean when you solve it.
February 2016 Speed Problem (easy, 5 seconds)