The Checker Maven

Winter Break

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If you live in a cold North American climate, you probably can use a bit of a winter break. Now, there's a definite difference between a winter break--- an escape from the cold--- and a spring break, which is often associated with hijinx on the part of college students.

But we think a winter break can also stand a bit of mischief, at least of the checker nature. So we've chosen a problem that was originally titled "Maryland Mischief." Surely, Maryland can suffer from some serious winter weather, and perhaps this is a Marylander's way of taking a break. Have a look and see what you think.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play, What Result?

W:B7,11,17,22,24,K18,K31:W8,19,28,29,K4,K25.

Attributed to a Wilson Coudon of Elkton, Maryland, you can tell you're in for some mischief from the problem terms alone, as it's one of those "What Result?" puzzlers that often leave you guessing. That diagonal lineup looks pretty mischievious, too. Perhaps the fact that White is down a piece will provide a clue?

Take a short winter break and see what you can do with this one, then click your playful mouse on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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02/25/17 - Printer friendly version
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Leeds Express

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The British train known as the Transpenine Express certainly goes to Leeds, but the title of today's Checker School column deals with a position first published in an old newspaper known as The Leeds Express.

Surprisingly, our intrepid research department didn't turn up very much on this publication, which obviously enough once featured a draughts column. The most likely candidate is the Leeds Evening Express, published by Frederick Robert Spark starting in 1867. Today, there is a Leeds Express published by Johnston Publications, a major British publisher of local and regional newspapers. There was also the Skyrack & East Leeds Express, later called the Leeds Skyrack Express and then Leeds Express, which ended publication in 2002. But given the date of today's study, we'd stick with the Leeds Evening Express as the source.

Confusing? Unraveling publication histories is at times as difficult as solving a challenging checker problem. Now, the position below may not be the toughest ever, but it too surely requires some thought.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W27,24,19,17,13,K7:BK25,20,12,9,6,1.

Can you unravel this one? We ourselves had some serious unraveling to do, as you'll see when you click on Read More to see the solution, notes, and a sample game.20050904-symbol.gif

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02/18/17 - Printer friendly version
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Le rouge et le noir

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We've received a comment from a highly respected reader to the effect that our speed problems are confusing and as a result, unfair. Our reader has asked us to state in advance the terms of the problem and to allow a little extra "orientation" time. Not displaying the Javascript clock was another suggestion, as the reader deemed it distracting.

We're trying out some of these ideas today. By eliminating the clock, of course, we eliminate the timed challenge and in a way negate the idea of a "speed" problem; the idea will be to simply see how fast you can spot the solution, without any external pressure.

The reader also suggested that since our diagrams show Red and White pieces, we should discontinue use of the term "Black" in favor of "Red." That's a bit more complicated, in that much of the literature we quote uses the terms "Black" and "White." In our early days, we indeed used black and white diagrams, but the red and white proved much more popular.

What to do? Red or Black? Le rouge ou le noir? For now, we're continuing with Black rather than Red, but we'd love to hear your opinions. Write to us at redorblack@checkermaven.com.

But let's go ahead and look a typical speed problem. Black (Red) is at the bottom of the board, moving up, and the terms are Black (Red) to play and win. There's no clock and so no particular time limit. We've also provided both a Red/White and a Black/White diagram. Which do you prefer?

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W15,K10,K9:BK19,3,1.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W15,K10,K9:BK19,3,1.

Click on Read More when you're ready to check your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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02/11/17 - Printer friendly version
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Complete Checkers, by Richard Pask

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Grandmaster Richard Pask's crowning achievement, Complete Checkers, is now available in electronic and print editions. We are proud to say that Mr. Pask once again gave us the honor of editing, typesetting, and publishing his latest work.

Combining all seven sections of 21st Century Checkers with much new material, including guides and indices as well as play revisions and enhancements, the book extends to over 730 pages, with 200 diagrams and some 2,200 complete games. It will be the definitive guide to 3-move ballot play for decades if not generations to come. Mr. Pask has built on the work of the great players and masters, applying his own vast knowledge and expertise, and employing powerful modern computer engines to validate and extend the analyses.

The result is incomparable, and due to Mr. Pask's generosity, the electronic edition is yours as a completely free PDF download. Just go to the Richard Pask page, as linked in the right-hand column. It was our mutual desire that the book be available to everyone, everywhere, without barriers caused by financial limitations.

But, means permitting, you may likely wish to have a print copy. The print edition is perfect-bound with full-color covers and can be obtained from Amazon or CreateSpace as well as Amazon UK and Europe sites. It is priced very modestly at $24.99 in the US. We put a lot of care into the print edition and we think you'll find it a great addition to your checker library, providing you with years of high-level study material.

Now, just to get you going, here's a position from some of the new material Mr. Pask added to this edition.

Bell's Win
BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W30,24,23,22,21:B14,13,12,10,7.

There is more than one way to do this, but the differences are in the details rather in the basic principles. The solution is a bit long and you may not find it easy, but we'll give you a broad hint: think about achieving a simpler, known winning position.

Book your solution and then page over to Read More to see a solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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02/04/17 - Printer friendly version
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