The Checker Maven

Fourth Position

"Fourth Position" as practiced in the art of ballet is obviously very elegant, but appears a little uncomfortable to hold on to for any period of time. The ballerina above carries it out with great grace and skill, but we'll venture a guess that she might be a little tired and sore by the end of class.

Fourth Position, featured today in our ongoing Checker School series, doesn't need to be tiresome; it certainly seems easier to master than, for instance, First Position.

Or is it?

The three variants below show that there may be more here than meets the eye. Subtle changes to the position cause completely different end results. Maybe there's something to this after all!

BLACK

WHITE
Black to Play and Win

B:W30,K31,K32:BK20,21,K22,K23.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W30,K31,K32:BK20,21,K22,K23.

BLACK

WHITE
Black to Play and Win

B:WK30,K31,K32:BK20,21,K22,K23.

In any event, it's all very practical, as four to three endings of this type come up quite often in cross-board play. Try to work out the solutions and understand why small changes make big differences. Then glide your mouse over to Read More to see the solution, sample games, and detailed explanatory notes.



Solution

The solutions, lettered notes and commentary are taken from Ben Boland's Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers. Numbered notes are by the Editor with the assistance of the KingsRow computer engine.

Diagram No. 1: 22-18---A, 1, 31-27, 23-19, 27-31---B, 19-24, 32-27, 24-28, 27-32, 18-22---C, 31-27, 22-26, 30-23, 28-24, 27-31, 24-27. Black Wins.

Diagram No. 2: 31-27, 22-18, 27-31, 23-19, 31-27, 19-24, 27-31, 18-23, 31-26. Drawn---2. This position is known as one of the great basic draws in the scientific game of checkers.

Diagram No. 3: 22-18, 31-27, 23-19, 32-28, 18-14---F, 27-31, 20-24---G, 28-32---H, 24-28, 30-26, 19-15---I, 26-30, 14-18---J, 31-26, 15-11, 26-31, 11-16, 30-26---K, 16-20, 31-27,21-25. Black Wins---3. "King Fourth."

Game: 11-15, 21-17, 9-13, 25-21, 8-11, 17-14, 10-17, 21-14, 6-10, 22-17, 13-22, 26-17, 15-18, 29-25---S, 18-22, 25-18, 10-15, 24-19, 15-22, 27-24, 11-15, 19-10, 5-9, 14-5, 7-21, 32-27, 22-25, 24-19, 25-29, 31-26, 2-6, 28-24, 6-9, 23-18, 29-25, 24-20, 9-13, 26-22, 25-29, 20-16, 3-7, 18-15, 29-25, 15-11, 25-18, 11-2, 4-8, 27-24, 18-15, 19-10, 12-28, 2-7, 13-17, 10-6, 1-10, 7-14, 17-22, 14-18, 22-25, 18-22, 25-29, 5-1, 28-32, 1-6, 32-27, 6-9, 27-23, 9-14, 8-11, 14-9, 11-15, 9-14, 15-19, 14-9, 19-24, 9-14, 24-27, 14-9, 27-31, 9-14, 31-27, 14-9, 27-24, 9-14, 24-19, 14-9, 19-15, 9-14, 23-19, 14-9, 15-10, 9-13, 19-15, 13-9, 15-11, 9-13, 11-7, 13-17, 7-2, 17-13, 2-6, 13-17, 6-9, 17-13, 10-6, 13-17, 9-13, 17-14, 6-1, 14-18----D. Drawn by Diagram No. 2. R. Martins vs. J. Wyllie.

Game: 9-13, 21-17, 11-15, 25-21, 8-11, 17-14, 10-17, 21-14, 6-10, 22-17, 13-22, 26-17, 15-18, 24-20, 2-6, 29-25, 18-22, 25-18, 10-15, 28-24, 15-22, 32-28, 6-9, 17-13, 9-18, 23-14, 11-15, 27-23, 4-8, 24-19, 15-24, 28-19, 8-11, 13-9, 7-10, 14-7, 3-10, 9-6, 11-15, 6-2, 15-24, 2-7, 10-14, 7-10, 14-17, 10-15, 17-21, 15-19, 24-28, 23-18, 22-25, 18-15, 25-29, 15-10, 29-25, 10-7, 25-22, 20-16, 22-17, 7-3, 17-14, 16-11, 1-6, 11-8, 6-9, 3-7, 9-13, 8-3, 14-18, 7-11, 13-17, 3-7, 17-22, 7-10, 28-32, 10-6, 22-25, 6-10, 32-28, 10-15, 18-14, 19-23, 25-29, 15-19, 29-25, 23-26, 14-17, 31-27, 25-22, 26-31, 17-14, 19-23, 5-9, 23-19, 9-13, 19-15, 28-32, 27-23, 32-28, 31-27, 12-16, 11-20, 28-24, 27-32---E, 22-26, 20-27, 26-10, 27-23, 13-17, 23-26, 14-9, 32-27, 9-13, 26-23, 17-22, 27-31, 10-14, 23-27, 22-25, 27-23, 25-29, 23-27, 29-25, 27-23, 25-22, 23-27, 14-18, 27-32 18-23, 31-27, 22-18, 27-31, 23-19, 32-27, 18-15, 31-26, 13-9, 27-23, 19-16, 23-27, 9-14, 27-32, 15-19, 32-27, 16-20, 26-22, 19-24, 27-32, 24-28, 22-26, 14-18, 26-31, 18-23. Forms Diagram No. 1 at 9th move. A. Jordan vs. N. W. Banks, Game No. 2, 1911 Match.

A---20-24 is premature here---32-28, 23-19, 28-32, and if 24-28 then 30-26, etc. Draws.

B---32-28, 18-15, (18-14 is O. K. too), 27-31, 20-24, 28-32, 24-28, 31-27, 19-16, 27-31, 16-20, 31-27, 15-18, 27-31, 18-22 (or 18-23), 31-27, 22-26. Black Wins. Note, to win, Black must place his Kings on Squares 20 and 28.

C---If the man on 30 were a King as in the Johnson setting, then 18-23 is the only move to win.

D---Continue; 13-9, 18-23, 9-14, 23-27, 1-6, 27-32, 6-10, 22-26, 14-18, 26-31. Drawn as in Diagram No. 2.

E---A. W. Valentine pointed out that Banks could have drawn by 15-18, 22-15, 27-31, 24-28, 23-19. Drawn as in Diagram No. 2.

F---The above is by W. J. Hoadley and J. M. Duffy, 1906. Johnson's continuation is: 18-15, 27-31, 20-24, 30-26, 15-10, 28-32, 24-28, 26-30---L, 19-23, 31-27, 23-18, 30-26, 10-15, 26-30, 15-11, 30-26, 11-16, 27-31, 16-20, 26-30---M, 18-23, 31-27, 23-26, 30-23, 28-24. Black Wins.

G---This stops the strong 30-26 move and is one of the points on the 18-14 attack.

H---If 30-26 or 31-26, then 19-23. Black Wins.

I---To prevent 26-22, by 14-18, 22-26, 21-25, etc. Black Wins.

J---The proper square to place the King guarding Square 22.

K---If 31-26 (31-27 or 32-27), then 16-20, 26-31, 18-23 proper 31-26---N, 20-24. Black Wins.

L---26-22, 10-14, 31-27, 19-15, 27-23, 28-24, 23-26 (22-17, 15-10), 15-19, 32-28 (22-17, 14-18), 19-23, 28-19, 23-16, 26-23, 14-10, 23-18, 16-20, 18-23. 10-15, 23-26, 15-19, 26-30, 20-24, 30-26, 24-27, 26-30, 27-23, 22-17, 23-18, 17-13, 18-22, 13-9, 19-15, 9-13, 15-18, 13-9, 22-17, 9-13, 18-22, 13-9, 17-13, 9-6, 22-17. Black Wins. Johnson.

M---31-27, 21-25. Black Wins.

N---31-27, 23-26, 30-23, 28-24. Black Wins.

1---20-16 also works here; check it out with your computer. Throughout these solutions and notes, many variants are possible, and they are worth exploring on your own---Ed.

2---There is just no way for Black to make progess, despite his extra piece---Ed.

3---White can no longer extricate himself. Note the differences in this win compared with the win from the first diagram---Ed.

"Fourth Position," as in Diagram No. 1, may be found by William Payne in his 'Introduction to the Game of Draughts," 1756. It is given as Situation No. 3 (colors reversed), Critical Situations to Win Games. And Diagram No. 2 is Situation No. 6, Critical Situations to Draw Games.

Diagram No. 3 may be found by F. N. Johnson, No. 264, the New England Checker Player, April 1879, Vol. 4. The Black Man on 20 is on 28; 28-24, 32-28, 24-20, 28-32, now same as above.

J. Wyllie in the Weekly Herald wrote he was anxious to demonstrate that the 29-25 move in the Switcher Game (at S), can positively be drawn. R. Martins in the Sept.-Oct. 1879, New England Checker Player stated, "I beg to differ with Mr. Wyllie that after 29-25 the game should be won for Black. If Mr. W. really desires to prove the principles on the (above) game, I shall feel obliged if he will select his own time and place and I will meet him accordingly in Glasgow."

They met on April 24, 1880 in Glasgow, to settle what later was termed "The Famous 29-25 Switcher Controversy." The above game was No. 7. Martins played Black in all games, the outcome Wyllie 4, Martins 1. The match proved the line to be a draw.

05/21/11 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with comments on this article.