The Checker Maven

Season Opener

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It was Opening Day for the National Checker League as the 2019-2020 season was about to begin, and Marvin J. Mavin, Captain of the defending champion Detroit Doublejumpers, was ready.


Marvin J. Mavin

August training camp had been rough, with lots of physical and mental training. But Marvin had to admit it felt good to be in top shape, even though he thought the coaches had been pretty tough on him. No beer for a whole month, and running laps constantly.

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This afternoon, the Doublejumpers were facing the Seattle Single Corners at Starbugs Stadium in Seattle. A sellout crowd of over 50,000 was on hand to see what promised to be an exciting contest.

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Marvin, on first board, was paired up against the Seattle captain, a short, squat fellow that just went by the name Sluggo. In high school and college, Sluggo was a champion weight lifter and wrestler, but he was so good at checkers that he decided to take a pro contract. Still, one look at him told you that he had definitely kept up the physical training.

Word had gotten around the League about Marvin's experiences in training camp this year, and Sluggo started to ride Marvin as soon as they took their places across the checkerboard.

"Heard you had to run some laps," Sluggo said. "Must a been tough for a wimp like you." Sluggo laughed, a deep, nasty sound that had intimidated many an opponent both over the board and in the ring.

"Yeah, well, unlike you I got a brain," Marvin said.

"Not very original," Sluggo replied, "and anyhow you won't have one yourself after I bust up your head."

"Hey! Are you threatening me? You can't do that!"

Sluggo looked Marvin right in the eye. "Really? Whatcha gonna do about it?" Sluggo raised his clenched fists to chest level.

Marvin involuntarily took a step back, but just then the referee's whistle blew and the call "Play checkers!" resounded across the field.

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Sluggo stuck out his hand for a handshake, but Marvin didn't take it. He was afraid Sluggo would break his fingers. That got another low laugh from Sluggo. "Have it your way, little boy," he said. "I'll beat you on the board, over the board, and into the board."

The game proceeded as follows. Marvin had Black and Sluggo had White.


1. 11-16 23-18
2. 10-15 18x11
3. 8x15 24-19
4. 15x24 27x11
5. 7x16 28-24
6. 4-8 22-18
7. 8-11 26-23
8. 16-20 31-27
9. 6-10 18-14
10. 10x17 21x14
11. 9x18 23x14
12. 11-15 30-26
13. 3-7 26-23
14. 1-6 25-21

Loses. 25-22 was correct.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W14,21,23,24,27,29,32:B2,5,6,7,12,15,20

Marvin chuckled. "Hey, you did pretty well up to now--- for a lamebrain. But that last move is gonna cost you the game."

"Oh yeah?" replied Sluggo. "Sez who?"

"Sez me, Marvin J. Mavin."

"You're dead meat. Nobody beats Sluggo."

Marvin chuckled again. "We'll see about that," he said, and made his move.


Can you beat Sluggo? No, not on a wrestling mat, but over the board? See if you can find the win and then slam your mouse on Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.null

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10/26/19 - Printer friendly version
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Hogan's Heros

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Hogan's Heros was an American television program that ran from 1965 through 1971. It was pretty popular in its time, although today's politically correct, looking-to-be-offended crowd would find it unacceptable.

But there was a different and earlier Hogan, namely E. W. Hogan of Emo, Ontario, who is a hero to us in a checker sort of way. Some time in the latter part of the 1930s he published a problem that to this day is a bit resistant to computer solution. Take a look at the diagram below.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W5,7,10,11,16,18,K19,23,26,31:B1,2,4,9,12,17,20,22,25,K28

Yes, the KingsRow computer engine found the solution ... but it did have to think about it for a few seconds (normally KingsRow solves positions virtually instantaneously).

So we think you'll find it to be an interesting challenge. Don't worry about being politically correct; become one of E. W. Hogan's heros and try to solve it. When you're ready, click on Read More to see the solution.null

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10/19/19 - Printer friendly version
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One Last Gem

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For the last several months our monthly Checker School columns have been featuring "gem" problems. Whether or not they were all truly "gems" is for you, our reader, to decide, but we have one last entry in the current series to present to you today. It's by S. J. Pickering and apparently first made its appearance in the old (and excellent) checker magazine Elam's Checker Board.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK8,15,22,K26:B1,7,20,K27

White has two kings to Black's one and has a centralized position. Should be easy, shouldn't it? But checkers is subtle and complex, and the win may not be so simple.

Does this one sparkle for you? Can you appreciate its facets? See if you can solve it and then let your mouse shine on Read More to see the solution and notes.null

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10/12/19 - Printer friendly version
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You Did What?

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Uh-oh. Someone is in deep trouble. That fellow is going to have to work very hard and very quickly to find a draw and avoid a loss, so to speak.

Of course, things like this come up in checkers all the time. We make a move and then wish we had made another. Sometimes the draw is still there, and sometimes not. Take a look at the position below.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play, White to Draw

B:WK9,23,26,27,30:B13,14,16,18,19

White has just played 6-9. It looks logical at first glance, doesn't it? Actually, the move is sound if maybe not optimal, but as usual, playing it out over the board is the real issue. This quick little study is based on a position sent to us by regular contributors Josh and Lloyd Gordon of Toronto. It's not quite a speed problem, but it isn't too hard if you keep your wits about you.

Stay out of trouble; solve the problem and be able to say the much more positive phrase, "I did it!" You can always click on Read More to check your solution.null

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10/05/19 - Printer friendly version
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