The photo above shows a very narrow drawbridge somewhere in Holland. Now, in checkers there are bridges and draws, and some of those draws are narrow indeed. Today, we'll look, not at a bridge, but at a narrow draw, which we'll define loosely as one that is difficult to find over the board and requires precise play, hewing to a "narrow" path.
We've been exploring the final part of Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard with a series of variations on some rather tricky play. Today, we ask you to join Willie in helping the White pieces find a narrow draw.
Here's the run-up one more time, with just a couple of notes as reminders.
A---Loses. 28-24 and several other moves would draw.
B---Willie claimed that this draws, but the game was lost earlier.
C---Black's winning move was 25-29; now White can draw.
This one is tough, no doubt about it, and the path is indeed narrow and long. Still, it's a really terrific study, filled with checker wisdom. Do give it more than a narrow try before clicking on Read More to see the solution and notes.[Read More]
Last month we presented a "twin" problem by Brian Hinkle. Today's Checker School entry is a bit reminiscent of the "twin" idea. Originally found in Ben Boland's classic Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers, Mr. Boland showed a position in which, supposedly, if Black plays then White wins, while if White plays, then Black wins.
But much to our surprise, we found that, in the original edition of the book, the second member of the twin was in error!
The first problem, which Mr. Boland says isn't that difficult for top players, requires quite a lot of nuanced play.
The second problem, which existed for many years without the correct solution being found, may prove difficult, but honestly, we thought it was relatively straightforward--- if and only if you find the correct first move, something that eluded the experts. (We understand that the problem terms and solution were corrected in a later edition of Mr. Boland's book.)
It's not a "twin" problem; it's more like the "evil twin." Can you solve both parts? If you can, consider yourself a top player, but in any event, clicking on Read More will show you the solutions, several sample games, and detailed notes and analysis.[Read More]
For reasons that we won't go into here, the number 13 is considered unlucky by some. Yet, for us, it's always been just the opposite, and in fact, this week The Checker Maven completes 13 years of uninterrupted, no-fail on-time weekly publication. It's a record we're proud of, and we hope to be able to carry on until our projected wrap-up at the 15 year mark.
To celebrate our 13th anniversary, we turn to Richard Fortman's Basic Checkers and explore one aspect of Ballot No. 13: 9-13 23-19 5-9. It's a reasonably balanced ballot, with maybe a little advantage to White.
(22-18 also a good choice instead of 27-23.)
Black is lucky; there are actually four moves to draw at this point. Mr. Fortman gives 11-15, which is arguably the best, but it isn't the only one. 9-14 or 11-16 or 10-14 instead of 11-15 also draw.
Fortman calls the first two probable White wins but they are all draws, though perhaps rather narrow ones.
For the purpose of today's study, let's consider 11-16 with the likely reply 22-18.
In the book, Mr. Fortman gives 16-20 as Black's next move. This gives White a substantial edge, and though we wouldn't yet call it a White win, Black is going to face a hard time.
What should Black play instead to ensure a draw? Can you sketch out a possible line of play?
We're asking you to match wits with one of the great checker analysts of all time. But it's a great exercise, and, luckily, clicking on Read More will show you the solution.[Read More]
A pretty picture deserves a pretty frame. In our experience very often the frame, if it is one of quality, is more costly than the picture itself.
There's a picture frame in checkers, too, or more precisely, a picture frame position, and it's the subject of this month's Checker School column. Here's the pretty as a picture position.
As you'll see in the solution notes, it was once thought that this was a win for whoever played first, but actually, it's a draw either way. It's somewhat complex, and in fact we've corrected a couple of errors in Ben Boland's published solution. But, you get the picture.
In fact, we invite you to stay in the picture and try to solve the problem. And picture this: clicking on Read More will show you the solution, sample games, and comments and corrections.[Read More]
Surprise! Some surprises are good, some others are not, but in today's Checker School entry, we think you'll find a nice surprise ... two of them, in fact.
We found this study very interesting in that the game is played quite flawlessly on both sides, yet White ends up with a draw that could prove difficult to find over the board, requiring two "surprises."
Will you find the solution or just be surprised? Either way, it's no surprise that clicking on Read More will show you the solution, a sample game, and some explanatory notes.[Read More]
"It's easy when you know how" could also be the theme of today's little study, but we think the deeper truth is found in another adage: When someone makes something look easy it's because they've worked hard.
We're continuing with one of the final chapters of Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps and Shots of the Checkerboard with a problem that's easier than usual, "An Easy Tale" if you wish; at least, it's easy if you've worked hard enough at your visualization skills.
Let's begin with a run-up that we've already seen a couple of times, so no further commentary is required.
Recall that Willie said this move draws, but last time we showed that if Black plays the odd-looking 25-29, Black would have actually won. However Willie gave this as the next move:
which only draws (even if the White draw is very narrow). We'll follow that path further next time, rather than stopping here with "White to Play and Draw." Instead, we'd like to look at what happens if White makes this seemingly feasible move:
resulting in the position below.
We're pretty sure you know what the outcome will be, but can you show it? It truly isn't all that difficult, but it's definitely a lot of fun. Tell the tale and then click on Read More to verify your solution.[Read More]
Onward and upward! Do these two arrows point the way to success? And will that success be on the checkerboard?
Today's Checker School entry, a position attributed to William Strickland, certainly looks like two arrows pointing upward -- from the Black side. (From the White side, the arrows point in a quite different direction.) Let's take a look.
In the interest of fairness, we presume, the terms are Black to play and draw, and that would certainly be a success in such an awkward position. As for White, it's his game to win ... if he can.
Will your arrow hit the mark? Solve the problem and then shoot your mouse onto Read More to see the solution, explanatory notes, and seven--- yes, seven--- sample games.[Read More]
Brooklyn, New York, has got to be the center of the hipster movement. Now, a hipster is supposedly "a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream."
By that definition, checker players would not exactly be hipsters, yet many a top player has had humble origins in Brooklyn. Perhaps times have changed. But checkers does have the Brooklyn Position, and that's the topic of today's Checker School entry.
We've seen the Brooklyn Position at various times in previous columns, but today we present an in-depth study. The solution, accessible by clicking on Read More, gives half a dozen sample games that run into this position. It's well worth the time and effort to study it carefully.
Are you hip, or just a drip? Show your stuff, and find the solution. It's actually not so difficult, and you might even think it's kind of trendy.[Read More]
Watch out! That tempting bit of cheese will come at a stiff price ... unless that little white mouse can somehow avoid the trap. Yes, today we're continuing our Willie Ryan series, A Trap With A Tale.
In our last excerpt from Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, we showed the run-up to a position that turned out to be a Black win. The solution to that position included a computer move with which we'll see that Willie Ryan, in his book, disagreed. It's much easier to show than tell, so here goes.
This was the point at which we asked you to find a Black win. Now let's look at a possible alternate continuation, the one preferred by Willie, which he claims leads to a draw instead of a Black win.
Here the computer played 24-20 and showed a Black win, as we presented in our previous column. But Willie instead gives this to draw:
Who is right, Willie or the computer? Can Black still win against Willie's preferred defense?
We think you know the answer, but can you show the Black win?
Willie stars this as the only move to draw; the computer move was instead 19-16 and White went on to lose.
Who is right, Willie or the computer? That's the question we're asking you to answer in today's column. This is probably a master-level problem, but if you followed the solution from last time, you'll have a broad hint as to what will happen here.
Take on Willie or take on the computer, and see how you do. At the heart of the position is an important over-the-board playing principle. When you're ready, click on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States, certainly wasn't the author of today's Checker School study; President Jackson passed away a good forty years before this position was first formally presented. But did President Jackson play checkers? It's been speculated by historians that he was a chess player, and it seems quite likely that, at the very least, he would have known how to play the game of checkers. But his favorite sport was apparently dueling; he is reported to have participated in some hundred duels!
Fortunately, a checker duel has far fewer permanent consequences than the type of dueling President Jackson did. Let's, for instance, look at the position below.
"Play and Draw" has little application to dueling (unless you're drawing pistols), as obtaining a draw in a duel isn't the point. But here, getting a draw with the Black pieces represents a respectable achievement. Can you do it? No pistols or swords needed, just good over the board checker skills. Solve the problem and shoot (or stab) your mouse on Read More to see the solution, sample games, and explanatory notes.[Read More]