This column will appear on April 2, 2016. Yesterday was April 1, or "April Fool's Day," the traditional date for all sorts of stunts and jokes.
On April 1, 1943, the above Norman Rockwell drawing appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
Mr. Rockwell did a certain amount of checker art, but in this particular instance, he deliberately riddled the drawing with errors, 43 of them by his count. (How many of them can you find? A larger version of the drawing can be found here.)
Today's problem is more in the nature of a "thought" problem. We know it's possible to construct positions that can't arise on the checkerboard. Here's one taken from "Impossible Settings" in Ben Boland's book, Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers.
There are only four pieces in this position, but we'd like to challenge you to find the minimal position that can't possibly arise in play that follows the rules. Can you find an impossible setting with fewer than four pieces?
The picture at the top of this article may give you a clue as to the answer. Click on Read More when you're done fooling with this and wish to see the answer.
The following position is the smallest position that can never be achieved in actual play:
Yes, an empty board contains zero checkers, and you can't get any smaller than that! There's obviously no way it can actually happen, short of dumping the last lone checker on the floor, which we wouldn't call a legal move.
Was this a suitable April Fool teaser? We hope you found it more amusing than annoying!
And, in case you're wondering, here are the 43 errors in the drawing.