The Checker Maven

Thanksgiving Weekend 2017

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Every year we express our delight when our favorite family holiday, Thanksgiving, rolls around on the calendar. What's not to like? It's uniquely American in origin, it appeals to all faiths and creeds, and it's a great time to show our gratitude for the things we have in our lives, and there are more of those than you might think at first glance.

On special occasions we like to turn to Tom Wiswell. Today we present one of his traditional "coffee and cake" problems, developed years ago over that very same pair of treats with Milton Loew. Mr. Loew at the time was just 16 years old and already the U.S. Junior Champion. Here's the position, which came from one of Mr. Loew's tournament games.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:WK19,K11,5:BK32,28,K24,12.

White is a piece down and is under attack. But Black has some problems, too. Can you win "coffee and cake" from your checker friends with this one? It's not as hard as you may think. Give it a try, and be thankful that you can always click on Read More to see the solution.null

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11/25/17 - Printer friendly version
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Pretty as a Picture (Frame)

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A pretty picture deserves a pretty frame. In our experience very often the frame, if it is one of quality, is more costly than the picture itself.

There's a picture frame in checkers, too, or more precisely, a picture frame position, and it's the subject of this month's Checker School column. Here's the pretty as a picture position.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W32,31,30,28,21,13,K4:BK29,20,12,5,3,2,1.

As you'll see in the solution notes, it was once thought that this was a win for whoever played first, but actually, it's a draw either way. It's somewhat complex, and in fact we've corrected a couple of errors in Ben Boland's published solution. But, you get the picture.

In fact, we invite you to stay in the picture and try to solve the problem. And picture this: clicking on Read More will show you the solution, sample games, and comments and corrections.null

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11/18/17 - Printer friendly version
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Robertson's Tool

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If you've ever lived in Canada, you'll know about the Robertson screwdriver, invented by Canadian P. L. Robertson around 1908. Robertson screws and screwdrivers supposedly have many practical advantages, though we won't go into them here.

Would P. L. Robertson be related to D. Robertson of Glasgow? Probably not, but if the Canadian Robertson was known for practicality in tools, Glasgow Robertson might equally be known for practicality in checker settings.

Consider the problem below.

D. ROBERTSON
WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Move and Draw

B:WK29,24,12:BK23,K7.

This is, indeed, a practical situation; Black has two Kings but is down a piece. Pulling off a draw in this situation would be rather a success.

Can you do it? Keep your grip on your best checker tools, and give this one a turn or two. You can see the solution by applying your mouse to Read More.null

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11/11/17 - Printer friendly version
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Spectacular Finale

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A spectacular finale: It's the goal of many a concert, show, or special event, and it sends everyone home just as pleased as might be, often with an unforgettable memory.

Does checkers offer the same level of excitement? Certainly! Today we bring you a problem that will make you sit up in your seat.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W31,30,22,17,16,14,10:B24,K21,18,15,8,7,3.

This is a stroke problem that is supposed to an "easy" one, but we have our doubts about that unless your powers of visualization are very well developed. We'd call it at least "medium" in difficulty, but as a pleaser, it surely rates way up there.

Stroke problems may not be practical, but they are great fun, and they develop our ability to look ahead. Give this one a try and see if you aren't just a little taken in by the spectacular conclusion. As always, clicking on Read More will show you the winning moves.null

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11/04/17 - Printer friendly version
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