The Checker Maven

Uncle Ben's Porch: Tommy's Tryout

It was getting near the end of the school year. Tommy had done well and had kept up his grades, and so Mom had allowed him to continue to spend a couple of hours every Saturday morning over on Uncle Ben's porch, learning checker lore from the old retired gentleman, who had won much-justified fame and recognition in an earlier year as a checker author, teacher, and master player.

"Well, Tommy," Uncle Ben said as they had settled into their chairs on another hot and steamy Florida morning, "pretty soon there will be the Elementary School Varsity Checker Team tryouts."

"Yes, Uncle Ben," Tommy replied, "I'm eligible for the team next year, and the tryouts take place just before the end of this year." (Of course, Uncle Ben wasn't really Tommy's uncle, but everyone called him that.) "I'm going to do my best to make the team," Tommy added.

"Well, Tommy, you've been coming right along," Uncle Ben said, "but of course your school has one of the top teams and it's going to be tough competition to win a team spot." Uncle Ben paused and reflected for a moment. "Now I know you're probably the best player in your class, but it's quite rare for someone to make Varsity the very first year that they're eligible. So it just might happen that you would have to play Junior Varsity for a season or two."

Tommy knew that Uncle Ben was trying, in his own kind and gentle way, to tell him not to be disappointed if he didn't make the team on his first try. Tommy understood just how hard that might be. But didn't Uncle Ben know just how badly Tommy wanted to make the team? After all, he'd been working on his checkers really hard this past year, paying close attention to everything that Uncle Ben taught him each Saturday morning. And besides, he'd made a point of keeping up his grades, skipping all of his favorite weeknight television programs in order to have enough time to do really good schoolwork.

Uncle Ben winked at Tommy, He did that often, but it still always caught Tommy by surprise. Uncle Ben always seemed to know just when to lighten the mood, offer a glass of his delicious homemade lemonade, or just the right word of encouragement. He really was a special kind of grownup.

"Oh yes, Tommy, I do know what you're thinking, and you have indeed turned into a fine young checkerist. But some things just take time. The wood in these fine old chairs we're sitting on didn't get seasoned over night. Some things just take time and waiting and patience. That's often hard for a young fellow to understand, but you'll see it all in time. So do your best, and whether you make the Varsity team now or a little later, I'll still be very proud of you and all that you've learned."

Before you could know it, the lemonade glasses were filled to the brim, and Uncle Ben had turned to the checkerboard, which as usual was set up with the day's work. "So, Tommy, I've got one for you here," Uncle Ben said. "It's something that will come up often in your games and who knows, you might even see it in your tryouts. Take a look."

Well, Tommy thought, Uncle Ben is hardly ever wrong--- he couldn't remember a single time, in fact, that Uncle Ben hadn't taught just the right thing at just the right time. Tommy sipped the cool, refreshing lemonade while he looked over the position Uncle Ben had laid out.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W17,13,8:BK31,10,6.

As usual, it didn't look easy at all, but Tommy knew that Uncle Ben was always giving him something that would stretch and grow his skills while still staying within his grasp... if he would just work at it hard enough. This time, Tommy was through most of his glass of lemonade before the idea came to him, and as he always did, said, "Hey Uncle Ben, how about this...." and started to move the pieces.

Can you solve the position? Whether or not you played Varsity Checkers for your school, give it a try and then click on Read More for the solution, a sample game, and no less than twenty additional examples of this theme.



Solution

See No. 21 below.

Game11-15, 22-18, 15-22, 25-18, 8-11, 29-25. 12-16, 25-22, 16-20, 24-19, 4-8, 19-15---A, 10-19, 23-1 6-10, 27-23, 8-12, 22-17, 12-19, 23-16, 1-6, 17-13, 9-14, 18-9, 5-14, 26-23, 11-15, 23-19, 15-24, 28-1 14-17, 21-14, 10-17, 32-27, 17-22, 16-12, 7-11, 19-16, 2-7, 27-23, 20-24, 30-26, 11-20, 26-17, 24-2 31-24, 20-27, 23-18, 27-31, 18-14, 7-10, 14-7, 3-10, 12-8Forms No. 21.

A---19-16 is published play.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B2,13,K23:W5,10,18,22.

1. J. Sturges, No. 55 His Critical Sit. 1808. W:B2,13,K23:W5,10,18,22. White to Play and Win. 10-6, 23-14, 5-1, 2-9, 1-5.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play, Black Wins

W:B11,15,27:W20,24,K6.

2. J. Sturges, No. 62 His Crit. Sit. W:B11,15,27:W20,24,K6. White to Play, Black Wins. 6-10, 27-32, 10-19, 32-28.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:B3,7,K10:W12,16,K9.

3. A. Ronald, No. 24 Dunne's Guide. B:B3,7,K10:W12,16,K9. B. W. 10-15, 9-6, 15-19, 6-2, 19-24, 2-11, 24-20.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B3,17,21,28:W16,30,31,K1.

4. W. Bryden, Gem No. 82 D. W. Vol. 6. W:B3,17,21,28:W16,30,31,K1. W. W. 31-26, 28-32, 16-11, 32-27, 1-6, 27-31, 6-9, 31-22, 9-13, 21-25, 30-14, 22-18, 11-7. Appeared as No. 810 Dundee Wkly. News. Ending with J. Taylor.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B9,13,K23:W18,22,32,K15.

5. J. Dempster, No. 288 H. P. Bk. W:B9,13,K23:W18,22,32,K15. W. W. 32-27, 23-32---A, 15-10, 32-27, 10-6, 27-23, 6-1. A---23-14, 27-23, 14-17, 23-18, 17-26, 18-14. W. W.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:B6,10,15,23,K30:W13,17,21,31,K8.

6. C. H. Freeman, No. 540 L. Prob. Bk. B:B6,10,15,23,K30:W13,17,21,31,K8. B. D. 30-25, 8-11, 23-26, 11-18, 25-29, 31-22, 29-25, etc.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B4,13,21:W28,30,31.

7. L. M. Stearns, No. 204 W. Prob. Bk. W:B4,13,21:W28,30,31. W. W. 31-26, 13-17, 28-24, 4-8, 24-19, 8-12, 19-15.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B9,12,13,K24:W20,22,25,K15.

8. G. Dick, No. 99 Phelan's A. C. P. 1876. W:B9,12,13,K24:W20,22,25,K15. W. W. 22-18, 24-28, 25-22, 28-24, 15-10, 24-19, 10-6, 19-23, 6-1.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:B2,6,10,27:W11,13,17,26

9. W. H. Broughton, No. 396 L. P. Bk. B:B2,6,10,27:W11,13,17,26. B. W. 27-31, 26-22, 31-26, 11-8---A, 10-15, 8-3, 6-10, 3-8, 26-30, 8-11, 30-25, 11-18, 2-6. A---22-18, 2-7, 11-2, 26-23. B. W. G. Buchanan arrived same Pos. See Scot. Trny. Bk. 1893. Also Game 1056 D. R. Vol. 5.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B2,16,20,K22:W10,30,32,K8.

10. J. McKenzie, Gem 293 D. W. 1900. (Leith Obser.) W:B2,16,20,K22:W10,30,32,K8. W. W. 32-27 22-17, 30-26, 17-14, 10-7, 2-11, 8-15, 14-17, 26-23, 17-22, 15-11.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B15,16,20,21:W23,27,30,K17.

11. C. F. Barker, No. 2562 Glasgow Wkly. Hrld. 1909. W:B15,16,20,21:W23,27,30,K17. W. W. 17-22, 15-19, 22-18, 19-26, 30-23, 21-25, 18-15.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B2,K13,27:W6,14,18,22.

12. O. L. Foss, No. 21 N. A. C. B. Vol. 4. W:B2,K13,27:W6,14,18,22. W. W. 14-9, 27-23, 9-5, 23-14, 5-1, 2-9, 1-5.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

B:B5,11,15,17:W20,24,K1

13. L. C. Haley, No. 52, World's Prob. Book. B:B5,11,15,17:W20,24,K1. Black wins by 17-22, 1-6, 5-9.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

B:B8,11,K14:W24,28,K13.

14. G. H. Slocum, No. 37 A. C. R. Vol. 4. B:B8,11,K14:W24,28,K13. B. W 11-15, 24-20, 8-11, 28-24, 14-18, 13-9, 18-22 9-14, 23-27, 14-10, 27-32, 10-19, 32-28.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B8,20,K13:W27,30,K14.

15. J. Lees, No. 3 D. R. Vol. 5, Pg. 97 W:B8,20,K13:W27,30,K14. W. W 30-26, 8-12, 26-23, 12-16, 14-18, 13-17, 18-15 17-22, 15-11.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B5,9,K19:W16,23,25,K7.

16. G. E. Trott, No. 2 D. R. Ibid. W:B5,9,K19:W16,23,25,K7. W. W. 23-18 19-12, 7-11, 9-13, 25-22, 5-9, 11-15, 12-16 15-10, 16-19, 10-6, 19-23, 6-1.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B16,20,22:W6,23,27,29.

17. W. Freer, No. 213 Atwell's Sc. Dra. W:B16,20,22:W6,23,27,29. W. W. 29-25 22-29, 6-2, 29-25, 2-7, 25-22, 7-11, 22-26, 11-8 26-19, 8-12.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

B:B1,11,15,22:W20,24,K9.

18. J. C. Gribbin, No. 841 D. R. Vol. 4. B:B1,11,15,22:W20,24,K9. B. W. 1-5 9-14, 5-9, 14-5, 22-26, 5-9, 26-31.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

B:B7,11,23,K18:W24,27,32,K21.

19. E. A. Jondreau, Ketchum's How To Win. B:B7,11,23,K18:W24,27,32,K21. B. W. 7-10, 24-20, 18-15, 27-18, 15-22, 32-27 10-15, 27-24, 22-26, 21-17, 26-23. 17-14, 23-27 14-10, 27-32, 10-19, 32-28. Also J. M. Duffy No. 29 "It's Your Move."

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B18,28,K22:W32,K7,15.

20. J. Sturges, No. 30 His Crit. Sit. W:B18,28,K22:W32,K7,15. W. W. 32-27 28-32, 7-10. Center board idea.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W17,13,8:BK31,10,6.

21. N. Banks Game No. 3997 R. C. Oct. 29, 1936. B:W17,13,8:BK31,10,6. B. W. 31-26, 8-3, 26-22, 3-7, 22-25, 7-14, 25-21. Black wins.

See Scottish Trny. Game, Lumsden-Dunas, No. 2 Pg. 65, D. R. Vol. 1, 1925. Also D. R. Vol. 5, Game 1057 Cohen-Tesheleit, English Trny. London, 1924. And No. 1353 D. R. Vol. 6. B. Kilner.

Uncle Ben's Porch is a fanciful and purely fictional depiction of the retirement years of the great checker author Ben Boland. We don't really know if he taught students on a Saturday morning, or if he even had a porch, but we are told that a checker board was always laid out in his retirement home.

Positions in this series are taken from Ben Boland's Familiar Themes in the Game of Checkers. A project of this nature is very ambitious and errors are bound to creep in. Please help us out by sending your corrections to unclebensporch@bobnewell.net. Thank you in advance.

05/31/08 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with comments on this article.