The Checker Maven

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words


In a recent article we asked you about your preferences in board diagrams, and although there were various opinions, a clear (and nearly overwhelming) majority seem to prefer black and white diagrams with the corresponding side notations of "Black" and "White." So, as of today, we're switching over. A good picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

The problem is that we didn't think the black and white diagrams were of especially high quality. But we're happy to say that we've found a way to "port" the excellent black and white diagrams used in our print publications over to the web. We'll spare you the technical details, which involve rather arcane Linux knowledge, and instead hope that you like our new, larger, clearer diagrams. Do write and let us know what you think.

So, let's start off with a fine problem from Samuel Gonotsky. This one is taken from over the board play and it's quite a nice early endgame study.

White to Play and Draw


Against best play by Black, White will have to work pretty hard to get the draw. Situations such as these are seldom pure black and white. Can you find your way through? Our computer found a neat move to make things much harder than we think Mr. Gonotsky intended, but that's the black and the white of it. Give it a try and then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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03/25/17 - Printer friendly version
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A Little Lesson


The young fellow above seems to be having some trouble with his lesson, at least judging by the state of the blackboard, the look on his face, and the number of books piled up beside him. Could those possibly be checker books, and might the bottom one be a library edition of Complete Checkers? We can't say for sure, but one can always hope.

In today's Checker School entry, we present a little lesson with a big payoff. The position is shown below.

White to Play and Draw


What can White do here? The man on 17 is doomed and apparently White can only shuffle his king around and wait to lose. Yet there is an astounding draw here, one most worthy of the Herd Laddie. We call this a "little lesson" because Ben Boland was unusually brief in his commentary and there is only one sample game. Nonetheless we're certain you'll love this study, which is now approaching 150 years in age.

Give it a little try and then click your little mouse on the little Read More button to see the larger than life solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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03/18/17 - Printer friendly version
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Unpublished Variation(s)


The above quotation comes from the popular television series Downton Abbey, and surely it rings true for life in general.

But for our game of checkers, we suggest that the situation is different, and bringing to light unpublished play is sometimes instructive and revealing.

That's the case today, as we conclude our extended series on the Kelso taking from Willie Ryan's famed Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, with something Willie calls "a fine unpublished variation."

Let's first give the entire run-up, without commentary.

1. 10-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 6-10 18-14
4. 10x17 21x14
5. 9x18 23x14
6. 1-6 29-25
7. 12-16 26-23
8. 16-19 24x15
9. 11x18 28-24
10. 8-11 24-19
11. 4-8 31-26
12. 6-9 19-15
13. 11-16 26-22
Black to Play and Draw


The critical position. Willie gives the following spectacular clearance as his main line draw:

14. 16-19 23x16
15. 7-11 16x7
16. 3x26 30x14
17. 9x18 27-23
18. 18x27 32x23
19. 2-7 Drawn.

But let's go back to the diagram. Willie says, "If 9-13 is played, 14-10, 7-14, 15-10 will be good enough ..." and certainly after 2-7 22-15 the draw is on the board. Now, Willie goes on to claim: ... if 16-20 is selected, the following leads to a draw: ..." and then he gives J. P. Murray's previously unpublished variation.

So, from this position:

White to Play and Draw


can you find the White draw? This isn't especially easy, but what's interesting is that there are actually two drawing moves for White, one of which the computer discovered ... perhaps a whole new unpublished variation?

Give it your best effort, and the solution, which we'll certainly not leave unpublished, can be reached by clicking on Read More.20050904-symbol.gif

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03/11/17 - Printer friendly version
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As Easy As Pie


We've often said that we present a range of problems in our Checker Maven columns; sometimes they're grandmaster tough, sometimes beginner easy, but most are usually somewhere in-between. We have readers with a very wide range of skills, and we try to provide something for everyone. We suggest the following: when you find a problem is tough, study the solution with a view to learning technique; when it seems easy, try for rapid sight recognition.

Today, though, we've got a truly easy-as-pie problem that even many early-stage checkerists will solve right away. See how quickly you can spot the solution!

Black to Play and Win


By the time you read this line, you've probably already solved it, but just in case, you can ease over to Read More to check your answer.20050904-symbol.gif

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03/04/17 - Printer friendly version
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