The Checker Maven

The People's Journal

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We've heard more than enough over the years about the "People's Republic of XXX" and the "Democratic People's Republic of YYY" and all the rest. These countries are seldom a republic and virtually never democratic.

So our latest finds, "The People's Journal" and "The People's Checker Book" might at first sound more than a little suspicious, until we point out that these publications date back to about 1898, long before the first appearance of a "People's Republic" and even before the Bolshevik revolution.

In fact, "The People's Journal" published some interesting checker problems, one of which is presented below.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:B14,K11,K22:W12,24,K19.

This problem has a surprisingly clever solution, and it might in fact fool some of the people some of the time, but we suspect it will please all of the people all the time. When you're ready to check your answer, it's your democratic privilege to click your mouse on Read More.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/25/16 - Printer friendly version
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June 18: A Nutty Day in History

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Today's column appears on June 18, 2016, and we found an interesting Hawaiian connection to this date, which lead to a rather tenuous checker connection. But first, a little background is in order.

You probably didn't know that the macadamia nut is named after Scotsman John Macadam, who was born in 1829, but if you've ever visited Hawai`i you'll be familiar with the flavor and texture of this iconic item.

The macadamia nut was first brought to Hawai`i in 1881 by William Herbert Purvis, but the reintroduction in 1892 is usually taken to be the beginning of commercial production. Brothers Edward Walter and Robert Alfred Jordan planted their trees on Wyllie Street in Nu`uanu Valley on, you guessed it, June 18 of that year. Upon reading the name "Robert Alfred Jordan" we immediately thought of the great checkerist Alfred Jordan, but of course that was another person altogether.

Still, we continued with that nutty line of thinking and tried to recall the "nuttiest" checker problems we've ever seen. In the end we decided on this one.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W31,25,K22,15:B18,K11,8,7.

Why is this a "nutty" problem? Actually, it's a really good one, and White needs to find several "star" moves. It just struck us that the board position looks, well, nutty, and not something you're likely to see very often, if ever, in over the board play. Is the problem "nutty" or merely a "tough nut to crack"?

Don't go nuts; just work out the solution and then click on Read More to see the not so nutty solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/18/16 - Printer friendly version
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The Return of Mr. Sturges

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Scare easily?

No, that's not the ghostly apparition of our recent short story; we don't expect Mr. Sturges to return in person any time soon--- or at all, for that matter. But the name and work of such a great player of yore is bound to turn up again and again, and this week is one such instance. Here's a study in our Checker School series which is most unusual, and it's credited to the man himself.

J. STURGES
WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W29,17,13,K7:B21,K19,15,10,6,5.

You might ask, where's the challenge, with Black up two checkers? Well, he's going to lose one of them right away, and he really needs to watch his step. Certainly, Black has a win, but as is the case in all over the board play, you need to show it.

Phantom moves won't do it. You'll have to play real, solid checkers to save the win. Are you up to the task, or will you be scared off? Don't be afraid; you can always click your mouse on Read More to see the solution, a sample game, and detailed notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/11/16 - Printer friendly version
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A Day in June

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This column is due to appear on June 4, 2016. It seems that the month of June has inspired many lines of poetic thought. Perhaps none is as well known as that of James Russell Lowell:

“And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.”

(By the way, our photo above depicts a perfect June day in Waikiki.)

Or, consider this bit of humor from Bern Williams, with a grain of truth within:

“If a June night could talk, it would probably boast that it invented romance.”

And how about one of our favorites, a Dr. Seuss doggerel:

“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

Indeed, how did it get late so soon? That's a perfect introduction to an easy speed problem, for which we're allowing you 10 seconds. Think fast! It gets late really, really soon.

June Speed Problem (Easy, 10 seconds)

When you're ready, click on the link above. Solve the problem and then come back here and click on Read More to verify your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/04/16 - Printer friendly version
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