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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The Incredible On-Line Checkers Library

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Anyone who has tried to buy checker books in recent years has discovered very quickly that these are hard to come by, and often quite expensive when they can be found. There are very few checker books in print, and the used book market offers less and less as time goes by.

The Checker Maven has provided some newly typeset editions of classic works, but these take a lot of time to produce, and to date only a limited number have been completed.

Enter Jake Kacher's on-line checkers library, his personal effort to make checker literature readily and freely available to devotees of the game.

Jake is originally from Kiev and currently lives in California. He's held a long string of titles in various varieties of checkers, and still teaches pool checkers to an international set of students. But right now, his library, at

http://www.checkersusa.com/books/

is his major ongoing project.

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The checker library started out with what Jake called his "Russian project" and specialized in the literature of shashki, or Russian checkers. But it soon expanded into other varieties of checkers, and now contains extensive collections not only on Russian checkers, but on pool checkers, 10x10 checkers and "straight" checkers, as well as the Brazilian, Canadian, and Italian variants.

As word spread, players from around the world started submitting scans of checker literature of all types. The library now is vast. At latest count there were 250 Russian checker books, 170 straight checkers books, over 100 books on the 10x10 game, thousands of magazines of all kinds, 10,000 animated Russian checker games, several thousand straight checkers championship games and positions, various other articles and literature, and links to sites containing even more material. The library numbers four to five thousand items in books and magazines alone.

Putting an item in the library isn't a simple matter of uploading a scan; there's an intensive quality control process which requires cleaning and sizing each individual page. Some pages require a hundred or more modifications to remove graphic artifacts, increase legibility, and compress the size so that loading times will be reasonable.

Everything in the library is available free of charge, and users don't need to worry about advertising pop-ups and similar annoyances of Internet life. The concept is that the library is a place where readers and researchers can access material without the need to download (although that's available), and with referential integrity: a reference to a certain page of a certain book will produce a consistent result.

The "straight checkers" section of the library contains some extraordinary treasures, including a number of rare books such as Payne's seminal 1756 publication.

The collection continues to build, and the next stage will be the creation of a searchable database, allowing users to locate items by author, title, or year.

The library welcomes assistance from checker enthusiasts who can contribute high-quality scans of material not already in the collection.

Again, the library can be found at http://checkersusa.com/books/, and Jake can be contacted either through his site guestbook or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/checkersusa/.

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The only downside? Once you get on the site, you're going to be there for hours and hours, browsing through the most extensive and fascinating collection of checkers literature anywhere in cyberspace.

Of course, we wanted this week's checker problem to come from the material in the library; making a choice wasn't easy with so much to choose from, but we decided on this one.

WHITE
20140623-jlibrary.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W31,27,16,K10,K2:BK30,K22,19,8,3.

Can you find the correct line of play? It's not terribly difficult but there is one interesting twist. See if you can book the win, and then click on Read More to leaf through the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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07/26/14 - Printer friendly version
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A Bristol Broadside Part 3

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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

BLACK
20140610-bb3.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W32,31,30,28,27,26,25,22,21,16,15:B19,18,14,10,9,8,6,4,3,2,1.

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

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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.

BLACK
20140611-shotsix.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,30,28,26,25,17,15,13:B23,19,18,10,9,8,6,1.

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

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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

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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.

WHITE
20140530-4thofjuly2014.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W32,30,27,25,24,22,17,14:B18,15,10,8,7,5,3,2.

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

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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)

WHITE
20140423-ttsbs2.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W30,29,28,27,26,25,21,20,12:B19,9,8,6,5,4,3,2,1.

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

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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.

BLACK
20140423-fs7.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,31,30,29,27,26,25,24,15,14,10:B21,18,16,12,9,8,7,5,3,2,1.

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

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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.

BLACK
20140505-junespeed.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,28,23,22,21,10:B15,14,13,9,3,1.

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

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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.

BLACK
20140505-luckofdraw.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W24,K22,K2:B23,16,K9,4.

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

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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?

BLACK
20140505-memday.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

B:W28,24,20,18,K5:BK26,12,11,10,2.

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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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.

MAVEN, n.:

An expert or connoisseur, often self-proclaimed.


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