The Checker Maven

Playing Like A Robot

We're sure you know one or even more checker players that play checkers like a robot. They might mechanically play their "book" moves, with no understanding of the ideas supporting the moves; or they might get a notion in their head and stick to it like an automaton, no matter what the situation on the board might call for.

In today's column, we'll consider the latter situation; a player who, in a classic "Dyke" formation decides to run off the attacking piece and can't be dissuaded from that pre-programmed course of action. Let's look at the game.

BLACK: Skilled Player

WHITE: Robot-Like Player

1. 11-15 22-17
2. 15-19 23x16
3. 12x19 24x15
4. 10x19

We now have a classic Dyke position:

BLACK

WHITE
Diagram 1: White to Play

W:W32,31,30,29,28,27,26,25,21,17:B19,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1.

4. ... 27-23

White wants to run off the attacking piece. This move doesn't lose but it isn't the best. Question 1: What's a better move at Diagram 1 for White?

5. 8-12 23x16
6. 12x19
BLACK

WHITE
Diagram 2: White to Play

W:W32,31,30,29,28,26,25,21,17:B19,9,7,6,5,4,3,2,1.

Guess what White does next...

6. ... 32-27

Preparing once more to go after the "Dyke" piece. As before the move doesn't lose but isn't best. Question 2: What's a better move at Diagram 2 for White?

7. 4-8
BLACK

WHITE
Diagram 3: White to Play

W:W31,30,29,28,27,26,25,21,17:B19,9,8,7,6,5,3,2,1.

7. ... 27-24

White carries out his plan and makes a weak move. Had he played 27-23 instead, he would have lost quickly by 19-24 28-19 9-14 17-10 6-24, and White can't hold out against Black's freely roaming king.

But White could have held the game with a different move altogether. Question 3: What should White have played at Diagram 3?

8. 7-10 24x15
9. 10x19
BLACK

WHITE
Diagram 4: White to Play

W:W31,30,29,28,27,26,25,21,17:B19,9,8,7,6,5,3,2,1.

9. ... 31-27

The robot continues unthinkingly on its course, and seals its own doom. Question 4: How could White have held out longer at Diagram 4?

10. 19-23! 27x18

If instead 26-19 then 9-14 17-10 6-31 wins for Black.

11. 9-14 18x9
12. 6x31

Black wins. The robot-like player of the White pieces has a real lesson to learn from this game! You, too, might learn something: click on Read More for all the answers.

Footnote: We'll be closing the Checker Maven offices for a few weeks as we ourselves encounter a much different type of robot. Thanks to computerization, our Saturday morning articles will continue to appear on schedule each week. However, we may not be able to respond to your emails for a period of time. We do expect to return to business as usual at some point in June, 2007.



Solutions

Question 1: 25-22 (playing to the center) would be better.

Question 2: 25-22 is still the right idea.

Question 3: 25-22 here (once again!) is the last chance to hold the game.

Question 4: 17-13 would have lasted longer, although the position is still lost: 17-13 9-14 25-22 8-11 31-27 6-10 27-24 11-15 26-23 19x26 30x23 2-7 22-17 15-18 23-19 18-22 13-9 14-18 9-6 10-14 17x10 7x14 6-2 22-26 19-15 26-31 15-10 31-26 24-19 26-23 19-16 23-19 16-11 18-22 and White has no good moves left, for instance 11-7 (other moves fail also) 14-18 2-6 19-15 28-24 7-2 15-11 28-24 18-23 21-17 23-27 17-13 27-31 and there is no point in White continuing to play. (Our thanks to Ed Gilbert for analyzing this line).

Analysis for this article was primarily done with the KingsRow computer engine.

05/12/07 - Category: Problems - Printer friendly version
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