The Checker Maven

The New Year is Coming

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This column will appear a few days before the New Year of 2019, and no doubt you're busy with all sorts of preparations. Are you going dancing? Taking a dinner cruise? Watching fireworks at a nearby location? Or just staying home for a celebration with friends, or even a quiet evening?

There are as many ways to celebrate as there are people, and given how busy most of us seem to be, today we have a "midget" checker problem that won't take up a lot of your time, while still being worth a little effort.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W14,25:B5,26.

Finish off your checker year by finding the solution, and then get back to your celebrations. There will be plenty more checkers in 2019! When you've finished, click on Read More to check your moves.null

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12/29/18 - Printer friendly version
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Happy Holidays 2018

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The story of the Three Kings is a central part of Christian celebration of the holiday of Christmas. Also known as the Three Magi or the Three Wise Men, and sometimes identified as Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India, they traveled to Bethlehem with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, each of which is said to have a symbolic meaning. And whether you celebrate Christmas or some other holiday, the Three Kings make for a fascinating and meaningful story.

We hope you'll have a little time for checkers during the busy holiday season, and in our archives we found a "Three Kings" checker problem. We lost track of the author's name, but nevertheless the problem is very fitting--- and a bit on the difficult side.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W32,30,21,K10,K7:BK26,K24,K23,13,3.

Were you able to solve it? The first move, as is often the case, is the key. We hope you gave it a good try; whenever you wish, you can click on Read More to see the solution.null

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12/22/18 - Printer friendly version
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Uncle Ben's Porch: Tommy's JV Debut

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Tommy Wagner had, with the help of Uncle Ben (a retired checkers master who wasn't really Tommy's uncle, even though it seemed like it), worked through his disappointment at not making the Varsity Checker Team when he started high school a little earlier this year. Although Tommy was a Class A player, he wasn't yet ready to complete with the experts and the titled master who made up the Varsity.

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Tommy Wagner

But Tommy had easily made the Junior Varsity, and, in competition with no less than three other Class A players, had won the role of Junior Varsity Captain. Uncle Ben, who tutored Tommy most Saturday mornings, told Tommy he was very proud of him.

"But you've got your J.V. home opener coming up on Thursday night against Jacksonville Central," Uncle Ben reminded him.

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It was indeed a Saturday morning and Tommy was sitting on Uncle Ben's porch, sipping from a glass of Uncle Ben's famous lemonade.

"Yes, Uncle Ben, and I hear they're pretty tough."

"Scouting reports say they have an Expert ranked player on their top board. That's going to be a challenge."

"I'm not afraid, Uncle Ben. I'll give it everything I've got, and I won't let her scare me."

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Letitia Wong

"Leticia Wong is said to be a rising star." Uncle Ben didn't add that the scouting reports said the same about Tommy.

"Hopefully, she'll bring out the best in me," Tommy said.

"Very well, then, let's get to practicing."

# # #

Tommy and Uncle Ben practiced longer and harder than usual that Saturday, and Tommy worked hard during the coming week, too. But Thursday rolled around pretty quickly, and on that evening, Tommy found that Leticia was indeed a formidable opponent.

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There was a big crowd in the stands. Out on the field, under the lights, the score was tied at 2-2, and Tommy and Leticia's game would decide the match. Tommy really wanted to bring in a win for the home team, and he had White in the following position.

BLACK (Letitia)
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WHITE (Tommy)
White to Play, What Result?

W:B13,K2,K23:W10,11,15,19.

It was Tommy's move. He knew he could get a draw, but his team needed a win. The clock was ticking and Tommy was low on time. He had to decide quickly.


Are you a rising star like Tommy or Letitia? Your standing doesn't matter; solving the problem will be a good exercise. Give it your all--- your team is depending upon you--- and then click on Read More for the conclusion of our story, and no less than 14 examples of the theme, including the problem solution.null

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12/15/18 - Printer friendly version
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The American Checkerist

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The American Checkerist was a print publication edited for many years by the prolific and talented William Ryan, who stands with Ben Boland and others among the famed golden age authors of books about checkers. Willie had a great command of the English language and wrote with a style and flair all his own.

In today's Checker School column, we have another "gem" problem, this one by William V. Scott and originally published in The American Checkerist.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win
B:WK9,K12,16,K19,29:B1,2,3,10,K22.

Wow, what's this? Five pieces per side but White has three kings to Black's one, Black is underdeveloped, and yet Black is supposed to win it? We'd almost call this a "Coffee and Cake" problem, but a closer look shows that Black has some definite positional advantages, and the problem is actually "medium" in difficulty.

Can you make this into a Black win? You don't have to be an "American Checkerist" to solve it. Find the winning line of play and then click on Read More to see the solution. Then, see if you can answer this: the 35 cent magazine in the photo above--- what would that amount to in today's money?null

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12/08/18 - Printer friendly version
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14th Anniversary Special Announcement

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This weekend The Checker Maven completes an unbelievable 14 years of continuous publication with never a missed deadline. Week after week we've brought you something about checkers, and from what you've told us, you've seemed to enjoy it.

Originally we were going to publish for 10 years. We upped that to 15 and called that a "hard" limit. That leaves us one year to go. But we turned to Mr. Bill Salot for inspiration; he's in his eighties, going strong in every possible way, and makes no excuses about age or health as he continues to support our game of checkers.

So we're going to continue publication. There's no saying how long that will be--- your editor has serious eyesight issues, for one thing--- but we won't quit as long as we can physically continue.

It seems only fitting to celebrate this anniversary and this announcement by going back to our origins, with a "Coffee and Cake" problem from Brian Hinkle. Recall that a "Coffee and Cake" problem is one that you show to your checker friends and bet them coffee and cake that they can't solve it. Brian calls this one "Trumped" (no political reference intended).

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play, What Result?

W:W10,12,24,K27:B3,7,26,K30.

Stay the course. Don't make excuses. Carry on. We wouldn't call this an easy problem, but--- like publishing The Checker Maven every week--- your efforts will be well rewarded. When you've found the right moves, click on Read More to check your solution.null

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12/01/18 - Printer friendly version
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