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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In the Woods

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W. J. Wood was a player, problemist, and leading checker editor for many years way back when. The problem below dates back to the 1920s and it's really a good one.

BLACK
20141219-inthewoods.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W32,17,14,11,10,K3:B28,K22,19,5,4,2.

We said it was good, not easy. White is in immediate danger of losing a piece. How can the game be saved? Can White find his way out of the woods, or at least out of Mr. Wood's predicament?

Don't lose your way; find the amazing solution if you can, and then click on Read More to check it out.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/24/15 - Printer friendly version
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Capers on the Kelso: Part 3

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What does a screenshot from an arcade-style video game have to do with checkers?

We challenge you to identify the source of the screenshot, for therein lies the answer.

We continue with our multi-part excursion into the Kelso with the third installment, taken from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard. Today we cover the beginning of Willie's Variation 1.

The run-up is short:

10-15, 22-18, 15-22, 25-18.

Now we continue with Willie's text:

Variation 1

6-10---A 8-15 9-13
29-25---B,3 25-22 23-18
11-15 4-8 7-11*---D
18-11 21-17---C 30-25
WHITE
20141216-tts-c3.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W32,31,28,27,26,25,24,22,18,17:B15,13,12,11,10,8,5,3,2,1.

A---"Black has three good moves to start with. Most of our leading masters have shown a preference for 9-13 here, but 6-10 (an earlier favorite) and 11-15 are just as good. The principal advantage of the text defense (6-10) is the fact that it may be applied also to another two-move opening: 9-13, 22-17, 13-22, 25-18, 6-9, which develops the same position.

B---Some players object to 6-10 at A because of the 18-14 'bust' at this juncture, and others dodge 6-10 because of the situation arising at C (21-17) in trunk. The analysis in this lesson is offered to prove that both objections are unfounded. See Variation 3 for play on 18-14.

C---This move has long been regarded as the major stumbling block of the 6-10 defense. My innovation at D deflates this highly rated attack.

D---This odd move improves on more published play than you can shake a stick at. The accepted move in the past has been 8-11, as used in the Stewart-Banks match, giving white a strong game. I had this 7-11 improvement cooked up for Walter Hellman at the 1939 Tacoma National Tourney, but he avoided the whole line by playing 18-14 at B."

3---Variation 3 will be the subject of a future column---Ed.

Click on Read More to see the solution and additional notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/17/15 - Printer friendly version
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Long Winter School Days

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This column will appear on January 10, when the holidays are behind us and school is back in session, with long weeks to go before spring break. So it seems appropriate that today's Checker School column be, well, a long one, with no less than three problems to solve, and then four sample games and a page of detailed notes.

If it seems like a lot, it is, but the road to checker mastery is paved with checker studies, and if you can solve these, you've come a long way. All three of today's positions are inter-related, as you'll see when you work on them. Diagram 2 is Allen's Win and Diagram 3 is Robertson's Draw.

Diagram 1
BLACK
20141203-fp153-1.png
WHITE
White to Play, Black to Draw

W:W31,23,22,21,20,19:B14,13,12,10,8,7.

Diagram 2
BLACK
20141203-fp153-2.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W31,23,20,19,K2:BK30,13,12,11,8.

Diagram 3
WHITE
20141203-fp153-3.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W31,23,20,19,K2:BK30,13,12,8,7.

Just to be fair, we'll let you know that the first diagrammed position leads to both the second and third, depending on the moves chosen.

Study hard and find the solutions, then click on Read More to see the solutions, sample games, and detailed notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/10/15 - Printer friendly version
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January Speed

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January, in much of North America and Europe, is the time for winter sports, such as speeding along on a pair of skis. We must admit that not much skiing goes on near the The Checker Maven offices in Honolulu; a plane trip to Colorado or some other similar location would be required.

But checkers is available everywhere, and you don't need a $600 plane ticket to try out a checker speed problem, such as the one found in the link below.

When you're ready, click to start the Javascript timer. It's all downhill from there!

January 2015 Speed Problem (Medium, 10 seconds)

When you're done, come back and click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/03/15 - Printer friendly version
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New Year's Edition 2015

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The New Year will soon be welcomed in, with great parties and joyous celebration--- and, we must admit, an occasional overindulgence. So our New Year's problem is usually an easier one, to take into account the possibility that some readers may have ... a headache.[1]

Without further ado, then, here's the setting.

WHITE
20140817-ny14.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W28,K9,K8:BK30,16,14,10.

Here we go again: Black is a man up, why isn't it an obvious win? But a closer look shows that White has two kings and the Black men on 10, 14, and even 16 look vulnerable. How will Black win it?

Can you solve it, or does it just give you a headache? Try it out and then click on Read More for instant relief.20050904-symbol.gif

[1] If you are of age and choose to enjoy adult beverages, please don't drive. We urge our readers to stay safe and not endanger themselves or others.

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12/27/14 - Printer friendly version
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Holidays 2014

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The holiday season is upon us, and whatever holiday you celebrate, The Checker Maven wishes you the best of the season. May you enjoy family and friends, peace and contentment, not only during this special time but in every day to come.

Checkers can be a part of our celebrations, too, and we've selected a problem suitable for the longer leisure hours of the holidays. (That's another way of saying it isn't all that easy.)

Here's the setting, as published almost 90 years ago.

WHITE
20140817-hol14.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W32,30,20,18,14,6:BK31,23,21,17,10,8,7.

Well, you say, what's so hard? Black is up a piece and has a king! Oh ... wait ... White is about to get a king, and that Black man on 10 is looking a little shaky ... maybe the Black win not so easy after all.

It will take quite some visualization skill to solve it, but we're certain you'll find the result pleasing.

When you've given it your holiday best, click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/20/14 - Printer friendly version
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A Lot of Work

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The two positions presented in today's Checker School column will present you with a lot of checker-related work, for not only are there two problems to be solved, there are four sample games and more than twenty explanatory notes to go through.

But good work bears its rewards, and if you take the time to study all of this material, then unless you're already a grandmaster, you'll definitely become a better player.

J. G. CORBETT
WHITE
20140817-fp151-1.png
BLACK
White Plays, Black Wins

W:W30,23,22,21,20,19:B14,13,12,11,10,1.

J. DRUMMOND
WHITE
20140817-fp151-2.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W26,23,21,20,19:B14,13,12,11,10.

Work it all out, then click on Read More to see the solutions an a wealth of supplementary material.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/13/14 - Printer friendly version
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10th Anniversary!

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This week The Checker Maven reaches the unbelievable milestone of 10 years of continuous on-time weekly publication, with no missed issues and no missed deadlines.

Originally, we had planned to stop here; our business plan called for 10 years of publication and beyond that, we didn't know. But we're going to try for another five years, and G-d willing we'll be able to do it. If we get that far, it will truly be the end of the line.

The last several years have been a struggle, with eyesight difficulties placing greater and greater limits on what we can do, but happily we've been able to keep going.

We're also thankful that we've kept our core readership. We only have about half the readers that we did at our peak, but we still have thousands every week and we still can claim to be the most widely read "straight checkers" publication anywhere.

We also lay claim to having written more checker fiction than anyone else, ever, and though it's not a crowded field, we still think we've done pretty well.

Although we don't get a lot of correspondence--- checker players aren't big on that--- we are happy to have heard from nearly every corner of the world (we're still waiting for Antarctica and the Space Station to check in, but they're about all that's left).

It all comes down to our readers, though; without you, there would be no point and we wouldn't have lasted a year. We hope you'll keep coming back every Saturday morning, and we hope you'll find something that you like. It's been quite a journey, and we owe it all to you. Thanks for staying with us for so much longer than we ever would have expected.

Below, please find our 10th Anniversary problem offering. It's a lead-in to our next serialized story, due to begin some time next year.

One Thousand
BLACK
20141102-1000.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,30,27,26,24,22,21,18,14,10:B20,17,16,13,11,8,7,5,3,1.

When you're ready, click on Read More to reveal the action-packed solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/06/14 - Printer friendly version
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Capers on the Kelso, Part 2

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The assorted meanings of the word "caper" intermingle in our columns with various "capers" on the 10-15 Kelso opening. The photo above is of a Morris Dancer executing a caper, or leap.

Back in the world of checkers, though, we continue our series drawn from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps and Shots of the Checkerboard. Recall that Willy was looking into variations ("capers") that occur some little way into the opening. For the sake of convenience, we'll repeat the full run-up (without the notes).


1. 10-15 22-18
2. 15-22 25-18
3. 11-15 18-11
4. 8-15 21-17
5. 4-8 17-13
6. 9-14 29-25
7. 6-10 24-20
8. 1-6 28-24
9. 8-11 23-19
10. 15-18 26-23
11. 14-17 23-14
12. 17-21 32-28
13. 10-17 19-16
14. 12-19 24-8
15. 3-12 28-24
16. 7-11

Willie now goes on in Note P, "Mr. Banks saw his chance for a draw and went after it. However, he grossly underplayed his position. I was in trouble. After the game I pointed out to him that he could have worried me by playing 27-23, leaving black in the plight indicated on the diagram shown on the next page. After a few trial runs, I managed to demonstrate a narrow draw for black, which is replete with tactical brilliancies."

This brings us to our problem position (after 27-23).

WHITE
20140817-tts130.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W31,30,25,24,23,20,13:B21,17,12,11,6,5,2.

The problems in the latter part of Willie's book certainly aren't easy, but they are good, and this is no exception. Cavort with it a little and then scoot your mouse to Read More to see the solution and notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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11/29/14 - Printer friendly version
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Elegant New Problems in the Offing

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We're talking about checker problems, of course, as Bill Salot continues his series of checker problem composition contests, with the next round starting today, November 28, 2014. Be sure to visit this link to view the problems, try them out, and vote on the one you think is best.20050904-symbol.gif

11/28/14 - 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.

MAVEN, n.:

An expert or connoisseur, often self-proclaimed.


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