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 Last Song

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"The Last Song" can mean a lot of things; the end of a concert, maybe even the end of a career; or more metaphorically, the end of a relationship, an era ... the list goes on, and it's a bit too melancholy for our tastes. But in the world of checkers, we're looking at a much better interpretation for today's column.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W10,20,30,31,32:B2,12,17,18,19.

We're going to hear, or at least see, the last song from Mr. G. M. Gibson, the author of our recent few Checker School "snappy" problems propounded by our friend Skittle to the aspiring neophyte Nemo. We'd rate this one as a little above average in difficulty; the theme is one we've seen a few times before.

Don't let this be your last song; whether you solve it or not we hope you'll keep coming back to visit with us and that you'll keep on playing checkers. When you've sung the last verse (i.e., come up with a solution), let your mouse sing out on Read More to see how it's done.null

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11/10/18 - Printer friendly version
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The Speed of Winter

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Perhaps we say this every year --- but winter is speeding in North America, and by the time this column appears it may already be here. At our offices in Hawai`i, we'll soon have those nights when the temperature dips down below 70F, and we understand that in places such as Michigan it gets even colder than that.

And with winter speeding in, it's time for a nice little speed problem sent by regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon.

We've more or less dispensed with our Javascript clock in the interests of keeping our site accessible even on the most basic browsers, or for folks who turn Javascript off as a security measure. So time yourself, if you wish. How speedy can you be in finding the solution to the problem below? It certainly falls in the "easy" category.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W12,14,17,22,23,31,32:B3,5,6,7,10,13,15.

Got it? We thought so, but you should still click on Read More just to be sure.null

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11/03/18 - Printer friendly version
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The Long Crooked Trail

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We've published a number of fine compositions by master problem composer Ed Atkinson, and today we have one that Mr. Atkinson calls The Long Crooked Trail.

Ed tells us, "The first part is original then it runs into old published play as credited in the notes. This ending is a study in the opposition and its changes."

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W20,28,K5:B7,12,21.

Ed continues:

"I think of The Long, Crooked Trail as an endgame lesson, rather than as a problem to be solved, except, perhaps, by experts ... However, it seems instructive for a wide range of players."

We certainly agree, although we think it's worthwhile for you to think about the position and see if you have any ideas about the solution, even if you're not yourself an expert player. That will make the actual solution more meaningful when you do look at it later, by trailing your mouse on Read More.null

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10/27/18 - Printer friendly version
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Three Wrongs, One Right

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Two wrongs don't make a right, we're told, and if so, surely three wrongs don't, either. A third wrong will only lead to even more trouble--- or in the case of our game of checkers, a loss--- and that leads us to this week's four-fold problem.

We'll look at a published game from years back, in which three wrongs weren't counterbalanced by a right (until today, at least).


1. 11-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 12-16 29-25
4. 10-14 24-19
5. 8-12 26-22
6. 4-8 18-15
7. 16-20
BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W15,19,21,22,23,25,27,28,30,31,32:B1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,12,14,20.

At this juncture, White played 23-18, and annotator Gary Garwood called it a weak move. He suggested instead 31-26 or 22-18. But these moves are just as bad. All three of them lose. Three wrongs, no right. But in fact there is a right move and White can obtain a draw here.

Can you find the correct move to draw for White, and then (for extra credit, if you will) show the Black wins for all three incorrect moves? It's a tall assignment, but one that will give you quite a bit of checker insight.

When you're right (and you know it, as the saying goes) do the right thing by clicking your mouse on Read More to see the solutions.null

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10/20/18 - Printer friendly version
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Double Down

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Doubling down: You're playing Blackjack at some fabulous Las Vegas casino and you think you've got two great cards. So you "double down" --- double your bet in the hopes of doubling your winnings.

Alas, it's not that simple. While under the best circumstances your chances of winning are almost 2 out of 3, most of the time you'll just double your losses. Those bright lights and free drinks are paid for by someone.

So, how does "doubling down" apply to this week's Checker Maven column? Read on.

Our Checker School columns for the last few months have featured "gem" problems by G. M. Gibson. Today we bring you the concluding entry in the G. M. Gibson problem series, and it's a practical one.

BLACK
null
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W10,20,30,31,32:B2,12,17,18,19.

There are two ways to for White to win this. If this were found in a problem competition, that would be kind of a bad thing; dual (or "double") solutions are frowned upon.. But as a teaching position, doubling down (or should we say doubling up) can be instructive, and we're asking you to find both winning lines. Can you double down and do that? Can you find at least one solution? They're closely related, and if you find one, you might just find the other.

Try it (at least twice), and then--- wait for it--- double-click your mouse on Read More once to see all the answers.null

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10/13/18 - Printer friendly version
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Double Action

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We know little about firearms, but we've read that single-action arms have a longer and smoother trigger pull than double-action arms, which are reputed to be at least somewhat safer but perhaps less accurate. We're sure one of our readers could clarify this easily, but we won't even try.

Returning to checkers: regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon of Toronto sent in this position from one of their nightly games, and it's a position that is surely not safe for the Black forces, if White engages in accurate play.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W15,18,21,27,28,30,31,32:B3,6,7,8,13,16,19,20.

It's not hard at all, and the title of today's column gives you a huge hint. So take a "shot" at it and after you've solved it, pull your mouse trigger on Read More to check your solution.null

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10/06/18 - Printer friendly version
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The Death of Expertise

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The Death of Expertise, by Tom Nichols, is a book that attempts to make a case for, well, expertise. The author's main points are that in the internet age, everyone thinks they're an expert, and the democratic concept of equality has come to mean that everyone's opinion is equally valid. Mr. Nichols makes a few good points, but then he says this:

"Sensible differences of opinion deteriorate into a bad high school debate in which the objective is to win and facts are deployed like checkers on a board--- none of this rises to the level of chess--- mostly to knock out other facts."

Mr. Nichols' expertise certainly doesn't extend as far as knowing much about checkers, but that doesn't stop him from making a judgment, and thereby becoming guilty of exactly the sort of thing he condemns.

In checkers, expertise comes to the fore. You have it or you don't and there's no faking or pretending. Take, for instance, the following problem, which will require genuine expertise to solve.

Black to Play and Draw
WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:WK3,24,26,28:B2,14,15,19.

We think this one will really challenge you. Black has the narrowest of draws and must make a long series of star moves (nine by our count). Rise to the level of checkers (not chess), show your stuff, and do your best on this one. Then check your expertise by clicking on Read More to see the solution.

If you haven't yet reached the expert level, though, don't worry. Working on the problem will in and of itself help you develop, even if in the end you don't find the solution.null

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09/29/18 - Printer friendly version
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Goldilocks

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We all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. There were the porridges that were too hot, and too cold, and just right. There were the chairs that were too big, and too little, and just right. And there were the beds that were too hard, and too soft, and just right.

Brian Hinkle has sent us a checker problem that he calls Goldilocks, because it requires just the right moves at just the right time: not too soon, and not too late.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W10,23,26,K28:B3,9,27.

As Brian told us, "White is a man up and has a king, so it should be easy, right?" But of course, it's anything but. This is a master-level problem whose solution eluded many an expert player.

Whatever your skill level, though, this problem rewards careful study and the solution is very pleasing. We know you'll love it when you see it. First, though, do the best you can, and when you've done not too much, and not too little, but just the right amount of study--- be sure to click on Read More to see the solution.null

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09/22/18 - Printer friendly version
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Gibson

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Yes, that's a Gibson Les Paul guitar, made by the Gibson company. The famous guitar manufacturer was founded by one Orville Gibson in 1902, and revolutionized guitar design with an arch-top model, based on the design of the violin.

Our current Checker School series is featuring "snappy" problems by G. M. Gibson. We don't know anything about this gentleman; was he a contemporary of Orville, or a relative or descendant? Did Orville play checkers himself?

These questions will remain unanswered for the moment. But we're happy to present another of Mr. Gibson's "snappy" (or should we, to accord with our metaphor, call it "twangy"?) problems.

WHITE

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BLACK
B:WK7,20,K25:B4,K14,K15.

Forces are even, although Black, with centralized kings, may have more mobility. Can you snap out a win from this one? Pick away at it and then strum your mouse on Read More to see the solution.null

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09/15/18 - Printer friendly version
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Clever, Clever

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Clever, Montana, is a real place, a fast-growing small town of about 3,000 with the motto "It just gets better every day." The town is well over 100 years old and it's pretty likely to have some sort of checker playing history. Do folks still play checkers in Clever? We emailed a town official but we never got a reply, so we can't say for sure.

There's certainly a place for cleverness in the game of checkers, and today's problem, a "not quite" speed problem, relies on a clever first move.

BLACK
null
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W13,15,17,18,19,23,26,27,30:B1,6,8,9,10,12,16,20,21.

Are you clever enough to solve it? We think you are, but when you're done, the clever thing to do would be to click on Read More to check your solution.null

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09/08/18 - Printer friendly version
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i. Original material is Copyright © 2004-2018 Avi Gobbler Publishing. Other material is the property of the respective owners. Information presented on this site is offered as-is, at no cost, and bears no express or implied warranty as to accuracy or usability. You agree that you use such information entirely at your own risk. No liabilities of any kind under any legal theory whatsoever are accepted. 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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