The Checker Maven

Win or Draw? It's Fifty-Fifty!

This month in our Checker School column you have a fifty-fifty chance of getting the right answer even if you don't know a thing about checkers! Here's the position we're going to consider.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play

B:WK23,K7,K6:BK17,K13,9.

Only two moves look possible for Black in this tough situation.

Consider: 9-14 loses quickly to 7-2 followed by 6-9, while 17-14 goes down almost as quickly via 6-10 14-17 23-18 17-21 10-14.

That just leaves 17-21 and 17-22.

One of these two allows White to win; it's known as Wardell's Win. The other obtains a draw for Black, and goes by the name Sweeney's Draw. All you have to do is say which is which! So, even if you just guess at the solution, you have even odds of getting it right!

Of course, all of you two-fisted checkerists will undoubtedly want to go on and demonstrate just how the win or draw takes place ... won't you?

Whether you work it all out or just play the odds, there's one sure thing: clicking on Read More will give you the answers, sample games, and explanatory notes, all courtesy of Ben Boland and his classic book Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers.



Solutions

17-21 is Wardell's Win and 17-22 is Sweeney's Draw.

Wardell: 17-21, 23-18, 21-17, 7-11, 17-14, 18-23, 14-17, 11-15, 17-22, 23-18, 22-17, 15-19, 17-14, 19-23, 14-17, 23-26, 17-14, 18-22 14-17, 6-1, 17-21, 1-5, 9-14, 5-1, 13-9, 26-30, 9-13, 1-6, 21-17, 6-10, 17-26, 10-17, 13-22, 30-23. White Wins.

Sweeney: 17-22*, 7-10, 22-25*, 23-18, 25-22, 18-25, 9-14. Drawn.

Game: 10-15, 21-17, 11-16, 23-18, 16-20, 18-11, 8-15, 17-14, 9-18, 24-19, 15-24, 22-15, 4-8, 28-19, 5-9, 25-22, 9-14, 29-25, 7-10, 25-21, 3-7, 30-25, 7-11---B, 22-17, 11-18, 26-22, 2-7, 22-15, 7-11, 31-26, 11-18, 26-22, 20-24, 27-20, 18-23, 22-18, 6-9, 17-13, 23-26, 13-6, 14-23, 6-2, 10-14, 2-7, 26-30, 7-10, 14-17, 21-14, 30-21, 14-9---A, 8-11, 9-6, 11-15, 32-28, 15-24, 28-19, 23-26, 6-2, 21-17, 19-15, 26-30, 15-11, 17-13, 11-8, 1-5, 8-3, 5-9, 10-6, 30-25, 3-7, 25-21, 7-11, 21-17, 11-15, 17-22, 20-16, 12-19, 15-24, 22-17, 24-19, 17-14, 19-23, 14-17, 23-18, 17-14, 18-22, 14-17, 22-25, 17-21, 25-22, 21-17, 22-18, 17-14, 18-23, 14-17, 2-7, 17-21---C. Forms Wardell's position. A. Jordan beat W. G. Hill, Game 75, The Second American Tourney, 1912.

Game: 11-15, 23-19, 8-11, 22-17, 4-8, 17-13, 15-18, 24-20, 9-14, 28-24, 11-15, 26-23, 8-11, 31-26, 6-9, 13-6, 2-9, 26-22, 1-6, 22-17, 18-22, 25-18, 15-22, 23-18, 14-23, 27-18, 9-13, 17-14, 10-17, 21-14, 6-10, 30-25, 10-17, 25-21, 22-26, 21-14, 26-30, 19-15, 30-26, 15-8, 26-22, 32-28, 22-15, 24-19, 15-24, 28-19, 13-17, 19-15, 17-22, 15-10, 22-26, 8-4, 26-30, 10-6, 30-26, 6-2, 7-10, 14-7, 3-10, 2-6, 10-14, 29-25, 14-17, 25-21, 17-22, 21-17, 22-25, 17-14, 26-22, 14-10, 22-17, 10-7, 17-13, 7-2, 25-30, 4-8, 30-25, 8-11, 25-22, 11-15, 5-9, 20-16, 12-19, 15-24, 22-17, 24-19, 17-14, 19-23, 14-17, 2-7, now 17-21 is Wardell's Win, and 17-22 is Sweeney's Draw. This game may be found as Variation 70, Doran's Old 14th, 1936.

A---10-15 has been analyzed to win. 2nd American Tourney. (Editor's Note: computer analysis with King's Row and the 10-piece endgame database indicates that indeed White wins, though it takes a while. Here's one line of play: 10-15 21-17 14-10 23-26 10-7 26-31 7-3 17-22 3-7 1-5 7-10 31-26 10-14 26-31 15-10 31-26 19-15 22-25 14-18 26-22 18-23 22-17 23-19 17-13 10-6 25-22 15-10 5-9 10-7 9-14 7-2 14-17 6-9 13x6 2x9 17-21 19-15 21-25 9-14 25-30 32-28 30-26 14-10 22-17 15-18 26-30 10-15 30-25 28-24 25-30 24-19 30-25 20-16 25-30 16-11 and at long last the man on 8 falls, and White wins.)

B---J. Lees' in Kear's Kelso, Plays 6-9 with a drawn result. (Editor's Note: computer analysis indicates 7-11, as played in the game, is a likely draw as well.)

C---17-22 would have drawn by Sweeney's Draw.

M. H. C. Wardell first published his position as No. 824, Turf Field and Farm, Sept. 4, 1874, then as No. 173 Lyman's Problem Book, where it is set at an early stage and Sweeney's Draw was missed.

J. A. Sweeney's position first appeared in "The Board," No. 45, 1885. For many examples of this theme see, Boland's "Familiar Themes."

10/27/07 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version
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