The Checker Maven

The World's Most Widely Read Checkers and Draughts Publication
Bob Newell, Editor-in-Chief

Published every Saturday morning in Honolulu, Hawai`i

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Capers on the Kelso, Part 6


Finally, we go to the source. Shown above is the River Tweed in the Kelso area of Scotland, and as we all know, the 10-15 Kelso opening is named for this region.

We continue this extended series on the Kelso with Willie's "Variation 2," as presented in his famed and famous Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard. Variation 2 is reached as follows. (Annotations are shown in previous columns in this series.)

10-15 21-17 24-20
22-18 4-8 1-6
15-22 17-13 28-24
25-18 9-14 8-11---1
11-15 29-25 32-28---A
18-11 6-10 14-17---B,C

A---"Forms a position made famous by American Champion A. J. Heffner of Boston, who published much fine play on it years ago. The ramifications of this formation should be mastered by every aspiring player, as it has been the nemesis of many headliners in the checker firmament."

1---Willie has previously noted that this is a very weak move. 15-19 is really the only way to go for Black.

Notes B and C are shown in the solution.

The last move, 14-17, is critical. What if Black plays 15-18? How about 14-18? It turns out that both of these moves lose.

After 15-18
White to Play and Win


After 14-18
White to Play and Win


So, you have two problems to solve. The first is easier than the second, especially as our computer analysis explored some improved play in the second problem. See what you can do, and then go to the source by clicking on Read More to see the solutions.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/23/15 - Printer friendly version
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A Textbook Win


"Hitting the books" is something we were admonished to do throughout our academic years, from grade school all the way through graduate school. There was certainly a lot of knowledge in those weighty textbooks, and though acquiring that knowledge wasn't always an enjoyable experience, hitting the books usually paid off.

The same is true with checkers, although we have to admit to enjoying checker study a little more than we enjoyed things like tensor analysis or the works of Kant in the original German. Besides, if we want to be good at checkers, book learning is a necessity, not an option.

Today's study definitely could have come from a checker text.

Black to Play and Win


White has just played the losing 19-15. What should White have played? And more importantly, how can Black win? This problem is another example of the beautiful subtlety of checkers.

It's only fair to warn you that it will take Black a little while to win this. But the process is no more than a logical and methodical application of textbook principles.

Write a chapter in your own checker textbook by solving this problem, then click on Read More to see our own annotated solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/16/15 - Printer friendly version
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Mulholland Drive


We had a little more trouble than usual with today's Checker School theme.

There was a very famous engineer, William Mulholland, but the surname's spelling isn't the same as the name in our theme. Mr. Mulholland designed and directed the construction of the 233-mile long Los Angeles aqueduct, which opened in 1913. Mulholland Drive and other places around Los Angeles are named after him. His career had an unfortunate ending after the deadly collapse of the St. Francis Dam in 1928.

But what about Mr. Lucas? The name is common enough, and we uncovered numerous engineers and engineering firms bearing that name.

There is at least one modern-day person named Lucas Mullholland, with that exact spelling, but for privacy reasons we won't publish a photo or travel any further in that direction.

Of course, there's the famed 2001 Mulholland Drive movie, as shown above.

What has all of this to do with checkers? We don't know, but it's almost a certainty that William Mulholland at least knew how to play the game.

Today's study consists of two problems based on a single diagram. It all comes down to who moves first.

Black to Play and Draw
White to Play, Black Wins


This is an excellent and subtle study, and it's well worth your time. See if you can engineer the solutions, then click on Read More to see notes, commentary, analysis, and sample games.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/09/15 - Printer friendly version
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Not Exactly a Speed Problem


Today's problem was sent by regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon of Toronto, Ontario. We were going to feature it as a speed problem, and indeed there are some speed problem aspects here. But the problem goes deeper than the first few moves, as you'll soon see.

So this month, we'll spare you the Javascript clock and let you take as much time as you need. We don't doubt that you'll see the "speed" part pretty quickly. After that, you'll likely need to think it through.

Here's the position.

White to Play and Win


It's an interesting study. Take all the time you need, then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/02/15 - Printer friendly version
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The Joker


It's been a while since we featured a Chris Nelson problem. Mr. Nelson was a checker analyst and composer who lived in that one-time hotbed of checkers, Brooklyn, New York.

Today's problem gets its name from Tom Wiswell, who says it has fooled many an expert with a "joker" or false solution. Mr. Wiswell continues, "We doubt that you will get it the first time."

White to Play and Win


Don't let the joke be on you. When you think you've got it, check twice and see if you've really solved it. Then click on Read More to see that it really wasn't that hard after all.

Or was it?20050904-symbol.gif

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04/25/15 - Printer friendly version
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Capers on the Kelso, Part 5


Now that's quite a caper!

Today we feature the fifth in an ongoing series on capers in the Kelso opening, taken from Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard. There's a lot of action in this one and we think it's as good as the dance caper shown above.

Here's the runup, without commentary. (Annotations are presented in previous columns in this series.)

1. 10-15 22-18
2. 15-22 25-18
3. 6-10 29-25
4. 11-15 18-11
5. 8-15 25-22
6. 4-8 21-17
7. 9-13 23-18
8. 7-11 26-23
9. 5-9 30-25
Black to Play and Draw


Black has a loose double corner, but there's definitely a draw here, though it's not so easy to get it. Can you find the right move and then correctly play out the rest of the sequence? Willie found one drawing move, but there are actually two--- not that that helps very much.

Don't dance around; jump right in and find the solution, then leap to Read More to see Willie's answer and commentary.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/18/15 - Printer friendly version
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Researching Macindoe


The Macindoe Research Facility is a state of the art establishment focusing on digital literacy. It's part of the Presbyterian Ladies' College in Croydon, New South Wales, Australia. We don't know which Macindoe the facility is named for, but by all accounts this is a leading research center not just in Australia but in the world.

Would there be any relationship to checkerist J. B. Macindoe, who lived something like a century and a half ago in Montreal, Canada? It's possible, we suppose. Do they study checkers and draughts at the Macindoe Research Facility? While we'd like to think so, we're not sure it's part of their mission, but we can always hope.

Today's Checker School entry, certainly, is worthy of serious study by serious students. Here's the position.

Black to Play and Draw


A textbook ending? Indeed it is. Do your own research--- mentally, of course--- and see if you can solve it. Then, click on Read More for the customary detailed notes, solution, and sample games.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/11/15 - Printer friendly version
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The Fastest Speedster Ever


The fastest speedster in the world is supposedly the Hennessey Venom GT, which reached a measured speed of 270.49 miles per hour in 2014, although there's one little hitch. It didn't go into the record books because the run was made in only one direction; apparently, an official record for a production car requires the averaging of two runs in opposite directions. You can buy one of these, by the way, for around a million dollars.

Today we present what is probably the easiest problem we've ever published in the more than ten year history of The Checker Maven. Naturally, we're offering it as a speed problem, and here too there's one little hitch.

We're giving you just three seconds to solve it. But at least it won't cost you anything.

If you're an expert player, you'll get it in a fraction of a second. The rest of us might need a couple of seconds. And even if you don't get it in three seconds, you'll get it before long.

Click on the link below when you're ready, and keep your eyes wide open! Come back and click on Read More to verify your solution.

April Speed Problem (Very easy, three seconds)


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04/04/15 - Printer friendly version
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How Bad Can It Get


The famous expression is "The money runs out before the month does." At times, it can get really bad. We've probably all known the feeling.

But can it get even worse? No, we're not trying to drive our Checker Maven readers into depression. There are times, though, when the only thing to do is sit back and have a good laugh.

Here's a checker position in which the idea is to make things as bad as they possibly can get. Not just a little bad, but really bad.

White to Play Worst Possible Move


Today's challenge is to pick out the worst possible move on the board. Believe it or not, there's a move here that's so bad ... well, you'll see. (Optimists take note: you can also go ahead and find the best move if you wish.)

Find the worst move and then click on Read More to find out how bad things can be. You're bound to get a laugh, and you're certain to realize that, whatever your own problems may be, they likely have a solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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03/28/15 - Printer friendly version
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Fifth Position


If you're a ballet student of any standing, you've certainly encountered "fifth position," as shown above. It's one of the basics that every aspiring ballet dancer must learn.

Checkers, too, has Fifth Position, and it requires mental effort similar to the physical effort required for ballet's position of the same name. Yes, we've seen Fifth Position in our columns before, but perhaps not to quite the depth of today's lesson in Checker School.

Here's the basic premise.

Black to Play and Draw


Even if you've done it before, it's worth another try. Solve it, then click on Read More to see the solution and the heart of this study: six sample games that lead to Fifth Position.20050904-symbol.gif

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03/21/15 - Printer friendly version
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i. Original material is Copyright © 2004-2015 Avi Gobbler Productions, a division of Mr. Fred Investments. Other material is the property of the respective owners. Information presented on this site is offered as-is and bears no express or implied warranty as to accuracy or usability.The Checker Maven is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Bob Newell, Sr.

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