The Checker Maven

Josh and Lloyd Compose


Josh and Lloyd Gordon of Toronto have been contributors to The Checker Maven for some while, frequently sending us interesting position from their games and studies. Lately, they've been trying their hand, not at music composition, but at problem composition.

Now, while perhaps they're not yet ready to enter Bill Salot's excellent high-level competitions (see here[1]), they did send along an effort that we found quite interesting. It isn't terribly hard but it's a lot of fun.

White to Play and Draw


Are you composed enough to find the solution? Composing a mouse click on Read More will allow you to annotate your opus with the correct solution.

[1] Bill Salot runs frequent thematic composition contests at the link given above. The problems found there are of the highest quality and are richly deserving of your attention.


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04/30/16 - Printer friendly version
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Reid Along


Having your child read along with you is a wonderfully rewarding activity. We can't say for sure if this mom is sharing a book about checkers with her daughter, but we can certainly hope so.

Today in our Checker School installment, we invite you to a "Reid-Along" of our own, with a problem attributed to checkerist H. Reid.

Black to Play and Draw


Can you "Reid" the position and come up with the surprising move that gains Black the draw, or will you "Reid-em" and weep, as the saying goes? Either way, clicking on Reid More (!) will of course bring you to the solution, a sample game, and explanatory notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/23/16 - Printer friendly version
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A Taxing Situation


Yes, it's that time of year in the United States, tax day. Income taxes are generally due on April 15, though there's a bit of a reprieve in 2016 due to various holidays. Still, this is the final weekend for getting those taxes done and, if you're unlucky, writing a check to Uncle Sam, and you won't get so much as a "thank you" in return.

We invite you to take a checker break from your tax accounting, with a problem that is mentally rather than financially taxing. It will take solid visualization powers to solve this one, but at least it won't cost you anything.

Black to Play and Win


Tax your brain and see if you can solve it without moving the pieces. Then tax your wrist, just a little, by clicking your mouse on Read More. You won't get a refund but you will get to see a solution that is guaranteed to be more interesting than adding up deductions.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/16/16 - Printer friendly version
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Capers on the Kelso, Part 11


It's hard to believe, but there's still a play on the word "caper" that we haven't used. In many noir movies and detective shows, a "caper" was a crime of particular significance.

Fortunately, checkers is no crime, although you may think a particularly bad move might be one; but that's a pun for another time. Today, we instead turn back to Willie Ryan.

Our extended series on the Kelso moves toward a finish as we start to contemplate Wille Ryan's "Variation 3" as given in his classic book, Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard. Here's the run-up.

1. 10-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 6-10 18-14

This is the beginning of Variation 3 in the book.

4. 10x17 21x14
5. 9x18 23x14
6. 1-6 29-25
7. 12-16 25-22?

Willie correctly gives 26-23 as the drawing move. He notes that 25-22 gives Black an easier time. In fact, in our KingsRow analysis we quickly discovered that it's a definite Black win.

Black to Play and Win


We may be talking master-level play here, but can you find the Black win? We'll let you know that it's nothing spectacular or fiery, just consistent play that restricts White's options until there are none left. It's the way many a game is won. Can you find the win? As it's said in Hawai`i, "if can, can; if no can, no can." Either way this one is worth some time and effort. When you're done, click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/09/16 - Printer friendly version
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April Fool Recap


This column will appear on April 2, 2016. Yesterday was April 1, or "April Fool's Day," the traditional date for all sorts of stunts and jokes.

On April 1, 1943, the above Norman Rockwell drawing appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

Mr. Rockwell did a certain amount of checker art, but in this particular instance, he deliberately riddled the drawing with errors, 43 of them by his count. (How many of them can you find? A larger version of the drawing can be found here.)

Today's problem is more in the nature of a "thought" problem. We know it's possible to construct positions that can't arise on the checkerboard. Here's one taken from "Impossible Settings" in Ben Boland's book, Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers.

White to Play

There are only four pieces in this position, but we'd like to challenge you to find the minimal position that can't possibly arise in play that follows the rules. Can you find an impossible setting with fewer than four pieces?

The picture at the top of this article may give you a clue as to the answer. Click on Read More when you're done fooling with this and wish to see the answer.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/02/16 - Printer friendly version
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