The Checker Maven

Opening Day

Dallas Checkerdrome

Opening day.

Excitement and electricity were in the air, for today began the new season of the National Checker League. Each and every team was hopeful, their eyes set on unseating the World Champion Detroit Doublejumpers and claiming the crown for themselves.

It would take a lot of good checkers and maybe a few breaks to accomplish that, but the Pennant Race would soon be on.

No team was more optimistic than the Dallas Defiance, led by their new captain, a young lady who went by the name of Sunny Sunshine. She was a bit, shall we say, theatrical, but she had earned her team captaincy by showing skill and daring at the checkerboard.

Sunny Sunshine

Today, in the Dallas Checkerdrome, she would face Marvin J. Mavin, superstar leader of the aforementioned World Champion Detroit Doublejumpers.

Marvin J. Mavin

The Checkerdrome was packed with a sellout crowd of over 50,000 rabid Dallas fans. Soon the players and umpires were introduced and the teams stood at attention in front of their dugouts for the playing of the National Anthem.

Then the players took the field, and the season was on!

But where's this Sunny lady? Marvin asked himself as he stood in front of first board, his playing position. His opponent seemed to be missing--- oh, you've got to be kidding me! he thought.

For here came Sunny Sunshine, riding a unicycle in from the outfield! The crowd roared its appreciation and Sunny waved and blew kisses and she made her way toward first board.


She rode straight up to Marvin, jumped down from her unicycle, and cast it aside as she offered Marvin a handshake.

"Pleased to meet you, Marvster!" she said. "Ready to get your pants handed to you?" As attendants cleared the field of the unicycle, Sunny laughed and slapped her knees, and the crowd laughed with her.

Marvin, for once, was speechless.

"Lost your voice, Marvster?" she asked as she did lively dance steps over to her side of the board. "Doesn't matter. Won't change anything. But you're going to look pretty silly without pants!"


Finally Marvin spoke. "Oh yeah, well you're going to ... "

"Ah, watch what you say, Marvster," Sunny interrupted, "wouldn't want to get charged with Misogynist Microaggression Offending, now, would you?"

Marvin stopped mid-sentence. MMO would be a very serious thing indeed, and could even tank his career. The National Checker League had become very careful about staying on the good side of the LTBO (Looking To Be Offended) Movement.

"Hey," he finally said, "how about we just, you know, compete over the checkerboard?"

"You're on," Sunny said, "that's just what I had in mind." She grinned. "But I'd still hang on to your pants."

Before Marvin could either attempt a reply or realize that he had best stay silent, the whistle blew and the call "Play checkers!" resounded through the stadium.

"Play Checkers!"

The game was a tough one and for the most part it went on in silence. Finally Marvin, playing White, felt he had an advantage in a very complicated and unusual position.

White to Play, What Result?


But at that moment, Marvin forgot himself. "Well there girl, looks like I just might win this one and keep my pants." Marvin, thinking he had been very clever, chuckled.

"What did you call me?" Sunny exclaimed. "Did you call me girl?" She stood up behind her board, hands on her hips.

Marvin replied, "Well, yeah, uh, I mean you are a ... you know ... "

Sunny interrupted. "After a remark like that you still think you're going to win?"

"Well, look here young .... um, person, I got eight men to your seven, even though you got a lotta kings ..."

"Men," Sunny said in a clearly derisive tone. "And Kings. It figures. You know what this game is called in French and German? Bet you don't because you're not exactly educated. It's called Jeux de dames and Damenspiel--- the game of Queens. So don't you ever call me girl or any sexist term again. From now on you'll either call me Ms. Sunshine or Queen Sunny, is that clear?"

"Uh, yeah. Clear as Sunshine on a Sunny day. Well then, Queen Sunny, watch this."

Marvin made his move. Sunny quickly sat back down and studied the board, a frown on her face.

What will happen next? Can Marvin pull off a win? How will Sunny react? Is Marvin in hot water?

Solve the problem as best you can and then click on Read More for the solution and some answers to these questions.null

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09/26/20 - Printer friendly version
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Logical Checkers Volume 5

Grandmaster Richard Pask

It's here! Grandmaster Richard Pask's fifth and concluding volume of his Logical Checkers series is now available for free download here, or from the Richard Pask page as linked in the right-hand column. (Earlier download problems have been resolved.)

Over 300 pages in length and filled with diagrams, the book provides the crowning touch to this unprecedented series of instructional volumes, designed to take the player from novice to expert, fully prepared for master level studies.

As a sample of the new book's content, here's an illustrative game leading to a problem position, with Mr. Pask's commentary.

Illustrative Game 150: 9-13 24-20; 10-14 22-18; 5-9 27-24; 6-10 25-22; 1-5?! (although impossible to criticize in general terms, analysis has shown that this should be avoided, with 10-15! preferred) 31-27!; 14-17 (10-15? 23-19; 14-23 27-18!; 7-10 26-23; 3-7 30-25 is a quick win scored by Pat McCarthy over Ken Lovell) 21-14; 10-17 29-25; 17-21 18-14; 9-18 23-14; 11-15 27-23; 8-11? White to Play and Win.

White to Play and Win


15-18 and the resultant 3 for 3 would have drawn. Can you find the White win? Of course, as would be expected in an advanced study, you may not find it easy. For the solution, download the book and refer to page 167.

Now that this landmark series is concluded, we plan to prepare and publish a comprehensive single-volume edition of all five parts of Logical Checkers, a mammoth book with over 1,000 diagrams and likely running above 800 pages. An electronic version will as always be provided completely free of charge. The trade paperback print edition is estimated to cost around $30.00, although that has yet to be finalized. The book will take quite some time to bring to press, but look for it in the latter part of 2021.

The Checker Maven thanks Grandmaster Pask for the honor of continuing to publish his work and for his unparalleled generosity in providing it to the checker playing public completely free of charge.null

09/19/20 - Printer friendly version
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Sal Returns To The Beacon Cafe


Saturday, September 10, 1955: It was the first Saturday after the Labor Day weekend. For Sal Westerman, a retired actuary in Bismarck, North Dakota, the day held special meaning, for at 1 PM, the Coffee and Cake Checker Club would resume its weekly meetings after the summer break.

Sal missed those get-togethers at the Beacon Cafe in the Provident Life Building. It was the highlight of the week for the elderly gentleman. Oh, he understood that during the all-too brief North Dakota summers, pretty much every organized indoor activity came to a stop so that people could enjoy the long hours of daylight and spend time outdoors. But he missed his club nonetheless.

Sal Westerman

His wife Sylvia sensed his eagerness and served an early lunch so that Sal could be on his way and not be a minute late. Sal walked much faster than usual from his home to the Beacon that afternoon, and arrived a full five minutes early.

When Deana, the proprietor and the best baker in a dozen counties, greeted him, he felt a warm flow of contentment. Looking to the back of the Cafe, he was even more pleased to see that a few of the boys (all of them at least 50 years old) were already in the big booth that the Club always used. Delmer, Dan, Wayne, and Larry were on hand, and look! even Tom was present.

There were greetings and handshakes all around, and by one o'clock two more members had arrived: Louie and Ron. It was a great gathering and Sal couldn't have been more pleased.

Ron Klunker

"Welcome back, boys!" he said. "I hope you all had a great summer and are ready for some checkers!" There were words of assent all around and Larry and Louie even gave out a little cheer. But it was Wayne who asked the inevitable question.

"What've you got for us today?"

"Oh," Sal chuckled, "a real nice one from Ed." Ed was Sal's checker penpal way out east in Pennsylvania. "Ed says you have to find 18 star moves to solve it."

"18 star moves!" Dan exclaimed. "That's darn tough!"

Behind her counter, Deana, sensed her moment. She was as good at marketing as she was at baking. "Zucchini chocolate chip bars today," she said. "Fresh and hot."


"Sounds great!" Sal said. "I'll be happy to have the boys buy me a couple when they can't win this one!"

"Says who!" exclaimed Tom. "Lay 'em out, Sal!"

Sal set up two checkerboards, one in the big booth and one in the adjoining booth. With such a great turnout, one board would hardly be enough. He arranged the pieces in the following position.

White to Play and Win


"Golly," Dan said, and then added, "gee."

"Since you have to find 18 star moves, I'll give you some extra time," Sal said. "How about half an hour?"

There was a great clamoring of disagreement. "An hour!" Louie demanded. "Play fair!"

"Okay, an hour. But not a minute more!" Sal looked over at Deana. "We're going to need a lot of coffee," he said.

"Gotcha covered," came the reply but the boys paid no attention. They were already deeply engrossed in Ed's problem.

We're certain you're glad the Club is finally meeting again, and no doubt you'd like one of those zucchini chocolate chip bars. Can you solve the problem and win one (virtually, of course)? Take as much time as you like. Put a pot of coffee on the stove and try to work it out; then click on Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.null

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09/12/20 - Printer friendly version
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Labor Day 2020


Labor Day is another of those holidays that we, as Americans, enjoy celebrating. It's a great opportunity to honor the contributions of the vast numbers of hard-working members of our society who form the backbone of our nation. From CEO to technology professional to trucker to gardener, and all the many and varied other occupations, each and every one of you is important and deserves respect and recognition.

But in these Covid-19 days, many have fallen on difficult times as jobs have disappeared, businesses have closed, and there is more than enough hardship and grief to go around. We can only wish for a recovery that is as speedy as possible given the seriousness of the situation. We look forward to a future Labor Day when we all have reason to celebrate in happiness and prosperity.

We once again turn to Tom Wiswell, an American who lived through difficult days, too: the dark days of World War II. Mr. Wiswell used checkers as a means of helping to keep up our spirits, and we can use a little of the same today. He called the following problem "Imagination" saying that he could not imagine a good player without imagination.

White to Play and Draw


Mr. Wiswell says that "ordinary methods" won't do here, so indeed use your imagination to labor away, and when you're ready, click your mouse on the (non-imaginary) Read More button to see the solution.null

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09/05/20 - Printer friendly version
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