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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A Bristol Broadside Part 3


Ouch! Someone broadsided a police car. That is definitely not recommended, and whoever did it is going to be in very hot water.

In our third installment from Willie Ryan's Bristol Broadside in his classic work Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, Willie considers another meaning of the word "broadside" with a second variation from his main line. We've given it below along with the full run-up. Here's how it goes.

Variation 2

11-16 24-20 16-19 23x16 12x19 22-18 10-14 18-15 7-10 25-22 14-18 29-25 9-14 20-16 5-9---A

White to Play and Draw


A---"The lineup at once is imperative. If the play goes 8-12, then white will win with: 16-11*, 12-16,11-7*, 2-11,15-8, 3-12, 22-15, 4-8, 27-23, 5-9, 31-27, 16-20, 23-16, 10-19, 25-22, 9-13, 22-18, 14-23, 27-18, 20-24,18-15, 6-10, 15-6,1-10, 30-25, 10-14, 25-22. Wm. F. Ryan."

It turns out there are two drawing lines. Neither one is particularly easy to find, and we'd have to classify this as a master-level problem. But even if you're a mere mortal in the world of checkers, you'll learn a lot by exploring this position and then studying the solution.

So start your engines! Then crash your mouse on Read More to see how to do it.20050904-symbol.gif

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07/19/14 - Printer friendly version
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Famous Shots IX


Our Checker School series of Famous Shots concludes this month, and as in previous entries, we ask you to solve the shot, name the shot, and, if you wish, name the "shot" in the photo above. During the past eight months we've taken a tour of the checker "big shots"; these are positions that every learner must master and every master must know.

Here's the finale, with the full run-up. Once again the game is not especially well played, but the ending is great.

11-15 23-18 8-11 27-23 4-8 23-19 10-14 19x10 14x23 26x19 7x14 19-15 11x18 22x15 14-18 21-17---A 12-16 24-20 16-19 20-16 2-7 17-13---B 9-14---C 31-26 5-9 25-21---D 18-23---E 29-25---F 14-18---G 21-17---H 7-11---I 16x7 3x10 (see diagram)

A---24-19 is probably better, although deep computer analysis doesn't shown a Black advantage.

B---Ouch. 25-22 was best. This move might actually lose for White.

C---19-23 was better.

D---Loses; 16-12 was better.

E---7-11 would have won. This return blunder is only good for a draw.

F---Loses again! 16-12 was fine.

G---Gives the draw back again! 7-11 wins.

H---Doesn't lose but gives Black a real edge. White just doesn't seem to want to play 16-12.

I---8-12 was best. The game now unravels for Black.

White to Play and Win


This one isn't too difficult, at least as far as these things go, so shoot it down and then click on Read More to check your answer.20050904-symbol.gif

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07/12/14 - Printer friendly version
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July Speed Problem


It's summer, and we hope you are able to get out and enjoy summer sports, such as a speedy ride on a bicycle. The winter of 2013-14 was pretty harsh in most of North America, and we're certain you're happy to be outdoors. Do it while you can, summer doesn't last forever. Unless you're in Hawai`i, of course!

Our speed problem for July isn't especially hard, but we're still allowing you 30 seconds to solve it. Such generosity! It's a very practical setting and we hope you like it. When you're ready, click on the link below; then come back and click on Read More to verify your solution.

July Speed Problem (30 seconds, relatively easy)


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4th of July Special


Every year we say the same thing: we love celebrating the Fourth of July, America's birthday. We are proud to be American patriots, and invite our American readers to celebrate along with us.

Similarly, every Fourth of July we turn to a man who served America with honor and distinction, Mr. Tom Wiswell. This year, we present a situation from one of his matches with Millard Hopper, yet another patriot and, like Mr. Wiswell, a champion go-as-you-please player.

Here's the situation.

Black to Play and Draw


It's quite a complex situation but the draw is there and you can work it out with some effort. Find the solution and then celebrate by clicking on Read More to check your answer and to see the transcription of the full game.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/28/14 - Printer friendly version
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Bristol Broadside, Part 2


In this month's installment from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard we continue with his exposition on the 11-16 Bristol opening. For the run-up to the play below, see our previous column. The notes are in Willie's own words.

Variation 1

"14-18---A 27-23---E 18-27 32-16 7-10 31-27 10-19 16-12 (see diagram)

Black to Play and Draw


A---In the Stewart-Banks world's title match of 1922, Stewart tried 19-23 here and brought about a draw. This line is very old and was widely used before Champion Stewart appeared on the scene. It may be rightly classified an American innovation, as W. R. Barker was the first to play it, in a match with Wyllie in 1874. Two decades later, Willie Gardner sprang it on Wyllie in the second England-Scotland team match of 1894, winning with the black pieces. The following model play will assist the student in securing a working knowledge of the feature points of the 19-23 line:

19-23 25-22 9-13 25-22 13-17 drawn.
26-19 6-10 22-18 11-15 21-14 Robert
7-11 27-23---C 8-11 30-26 10-17 Stewart
15-10---B 11-15 18-9 15-24 23-19 vs.
6-24 32-28 5-14 22-18 24-28 Newell
28-19 15-24 29-25 3-7 19-16 Banks.
1-6 28-19 4-8 18-9 17-21;

B---An excellent alternative for the draw, and one that we consider equal to the text is: 28-24, 11-18, 19-15, 2-7, 30-26, 7-10, 32-28, 10-19, 24-15, 3-7, 27-24, 9-13, 26-22, 5-9, 24-19, 18-23, 19-16, 8-11, 15-8, 4-11, 16-12, 23-26, 12-8, 26-30, 28-24 (8-3, 14-17*, 21-5, 30-21, 3-10, 6-15, will earn the draw), 7-10, 8-3, 11-16, 20-11, 14-18, 22-15, 10-28, etc. James Lees. Again at B, we tried the Lees' way (28-24) against Arch Henshall, a strong amateur from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and almost lost when Henshall made a three-point landing in our king row like this: 28-24, 11-18, 19-15, 9-13 (Arch didn't know Lees' play, but his 9-13 looks good), 24-19, 5-9, 27-24, 18-23, 15-10 (if 25-22 is used, 8-11 is correct), 6-15, 19-10, 14-18, 25-22, 18-25, 29-22, 9-14, 20-16, 14-18, 22-15, 23-27, 32-23, 8-11, 15-8, 3-28, 23-19, 28-32, 19-16, 32-28,16-11, 28-24, 10-7, etc., a draw.

C---Safer for a draw than 19-16, 11-15, 16-12, 8-11---D, 27-23, 3-7, 12-8, 14-18, 23-14, 10-26, 30-23, 11-16, 20-11, 7-16, 8-3, 15-18, 23-14, 9-18, 21-17, 5-9. Willie Gardner.

D---9-13, 30-26, 8-11, 27-23* (better than 26-23, 3-7*, 23-18, 14-23, 27-18,15-19,12-8,11-16, after which black is strong, though white can still size the draw with careful play), 2-6, 31-27, 4-8, 29-25, 5-9, 32-28, 15-18, 22-15, 11-18, 26-22, 10-15, 28-24, 8-11, 23-19, 6-10, 19-16, 3-7, 12-8, 18-23, 27-18, 14-23, 8-3, 9-14, 3-8, 14-17, 21-14, 10-26, 8-3, 7-10, 16-7, 26-30; a draw. J. Macfarlane.

E---Equally good for a draw is: 21-17, 9-13, 17-14*, 6-10, 15-6, 1-17, 27-24 (safer than 25-22, 18-25, 30-14, 2-6, 29-25, 8-11, 27-23*, etc., which also produces the draw), 19-23---F, 26-19, 8-11---G, 25-22,18-25, 30-14, 2-6, 29-25, 6-9, 25-21, 9-18, 20-16, 11-27, 32-14, 4-8, 19-15, 8-11, 15-8, 3-12, 31-26, 12-16, 26-22, 16-20, 22-18, 13-17, 18-15. Hugh Henderson vs. A. B. Scott.

F---A fool-proof safe line to a draw is: 5-9, 24-15, 17-22, 26-17, 13-22, 32-27, 8-11, 15-8, 4-11, 28-24, 7-10, 24-19, 3-8, 25-21, 9-13, 21-17, 11-15, 20-16, 15-24, 27-20, 8-11, 16-7, 2-11, 30-26, 11-15, 20-16, 15-19, 26-23, 19-26, 29-25. Melvin E. Pomeroy.

G---18-23, 31-26, 8-11, 19-16, 17-21! (Pomeroy notes this as a Chicago "special" that improves on published play by 4-8, 26-19, 8-12 etc.), 26-19, 13-17!, 32-27*, 2-6*, 16-12, 4-8!, 19-15, 11-18, 25-22, 17-26, 30-14, 6-10, 24-19, 10-17, 19-15, 17-22, 20-16, 22-26, 27-24, 26-31, 24-20, 7-11, to a draw. Melvin E. Pomeroy."

In the diagram above, can you find the move to draw? Willie showed one of them, but there are actually two. Can you find them both? When you're ready, click on Read More to see the solutions.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/21/14 - Printer friendly version
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Famous Shots VIII


Our Checker School series continues its presentation of famous shots as set forth by Ben Boland in his classic Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers. These are shots that experts should already know and hopefuls should learn.

There are a few questionable moves in the run-up to today's shot, but nonetheless this one is seen over the board from time to time.

11-15 23-19 8-11 22-17 9-13 17-14 10x17 21x14 15-18 19-15 4-8 24-19 6-9---A 15-10---B 13-17---C 19-15---D 17-21 28-24 11-16---E

A---6-10 is the "book" move here. 6-9 gives White a small advantage.

B---Very bad and might even lose; 28-24 was best.

C---Evens it up again; 11-16 would have kept the lead.

D---Loses. 10-6 was correct: 10-6 1x10 26-22 17x26 31x6 etc.

E---Seals Black's doom and loses quickly. 12-16 would have continued the fight longer.

White to Play and Win


Can you find the winning moves, identify this shot by name, and perhaps name the "shot" at the top of our article? It may take some effort, but we think you can do it; when you're ready, click on Read More to check all your answers.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/14/14 - Printer friendly version
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An Untimed Speed Problem


Today, instead of the usual timed speed problem with which we often open the month, we're presenting an untimed speed problem. It's one that can be solved fairly quickly, but which we think is best enjoyed without the pressure of our relentless Javascript clock.

The problem was sent to us by Lloyd and Joshua Gordon, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Lloyd and Josh are a father and son team who often send us interesting positions from their games.

White to Play and Win


Can you slug this one out? Take as long as you wish and then smash your mouse on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/07/14 - Printer friendly version
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The Luck of the Draw


There are games of skill, games of luck, and games that combine the two. In the game of checkers, luck plays a small role: you might catch your opponent on a bad day, or in a Swiss system tournament, maybe you'll get an easier match-up than another player with the same score. But that's about it.

The following problem was first published in 1929, and from the looks of it, perhaps you need to get lucky to find the solution. It's by Fausto Dalumi, an Italian who like so many others came to live and work in the United States. Mr. Dalumi earned a well-deserved reputation as a composer of elegant and challenging checker problems.

White to Play and Draw


Feeling lucky? We think you'll need more skill than luck to find the solution, but the problem is a dandy. Give it your best and then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/31/14 - Printer friendly version
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Memorial Day Special


This column will appear on Memorial Day weekend; Monday will be Memorial Day, a time to honor the men and women who have sacrificed so much to defend America's freedom. As it is so often and so truly said, "Freedom is not free," and The Checker Maven adds its own salute in honor of the memory of the patriots who gave their all on our behalf.

During the Second World War, checker expert Millard Hopper visited our service men and women to entertain them with checker lectures, lessons, and exhibitions. Mr. Hopper gave some of his problem settings war-themed names, such as his "Solomon Island Slam." Some of the other problem names would today be considered to contain racially offensive language, but back then, America was at war, and we need to be more understanding than critical.

We never found the exact position for the "Solomon Island Slam" so instead we'd like to offer the problem below. There are two possible winning lines, depending on Black's choices, but in both cases White's key first move is the same. Can you find it?

White to Play and Win


When you've got the answer, click on Read More to verify your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/24/14 - Printer friendly version
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21st Century Checkers: The 11-15s


The Checker Maven is proud and privileged to present the fifth volume in Richard Pask's groundbreaking 21st Century Checkers series, The 11-15s. You can download it in PDF format here, or on the Richard Pask page as linked in the right-hand column. Mr. Pask continues to generously offer his work free of charge.

Mr. Pask's series on the three-move ballots is sure to be the definitive reference for years to come and no serious player should be without it.

Volumes 6 and 7, on the 11-16s and 12-16s, are in the works. Mr. Pask has told us that his objective is to have completed the series by some time in mid-2015. We wish him continued good health after his wonderful recovery from some serious issues in the past year.

If you plan on printing this new book, keep in mind that it makes extensive use of color and so printing at a commercial shop could be much more costly than printing on an ink-jet at home.

As a preview, here's an interesting run-up from the 11-15 23-18 9-14 ballot.

1. 11-15 23-18
2. 9-14 18-11
3. 8-15 22-18
4. 15-22 25-9
5. 5-14 29-25
6. 4-8 25-22
7. 8-11 27-23
8. 11-15 24-20
9. 6-9 31-27
10. 7-11 28-24
11. 9-13 23-18
12. 14-23 27-18
13. 12-16 18-14
14. 10-17 21-14

Through some transpositions the play is still in the KingsRow opening book.

15. 2-6

Loses; 16-19 was best.

White to Play and Win


Here Mr. Pask points out a subtle move that secures the White win. Can you find it on your own? Match wits with this eminent British grandmaster and see if you can find the sequence of moves that brings White the victory. When you're done, click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/17/14 - Printer friendly version
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i. Original material is Copyright © 2004-2014 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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