The Checker Maven

Wyllie's Waterloo

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Surely you were expecting us to have chosen a dramatic image of the famed Battle of Waterloo, but we like to keep our readers guessing, and we came up instead with a Waterloo tractor made in Waterloo, Iowa, one hundred and one years after Napoleon's defeat on June 18, 1815. The young lad on the tractor perhaps played checkers in his leisure time, and we hope he did well and didn't meet his own Waterloo over the board. But we can surely excuse him if he did, for even the checker greats had their own bad days. Willie Ryan, in his book Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, tells us about a bad day that one of the greatest of all, James Wyllie, endured.

"It is sheer fallacy to believe that when James Wyllie ruled the boards 80 years ago, he had no worthy contemporaries. On the contrary, Wyllie lived and competed in an era that produced most of the game's outstanding players and personalities, including Andrew Anderson, John Drummond, Robert Martins, John Robertson, Henry Spayth, and Robert D. Yates, to name just a few. Wyllie's predominant fame and popularity stemmed from his prolific activities, his inimitable wit, and his fearlessness as a champion. While others were vainly striving to defend reputations they did not have, jocular James took them all on, in good season and bad, acquitting himself on all occasions with admirable poise. The "Herd Laddie" had his bad innings at the board, as indicated by this reverse at the hands of Robert McCulloch, of Glasgow, best known for his revised publication of McCulloch's Edition of Anderson's Guide. The game proceeded as follows:


11-15 25-22---B,1 9-14
24-20 18-25 28-24---3
8-11 29-22 5-9
28-24 7-11 26-23
4-8 30-25 9-13
23-19 2-7 31-26---4
15-18 19-15---2 7-11---5
22-15 11-18 26-22---C,
11-18 22-15 to the posi-
32-28---A 14-18 tion in the
10-14 24-19 diagram.
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W27,25,24,23,22,21,20,19,15:B18,14,13,12,11,8,6,3,1.

A---Wyllie's favorite line of the Ayrshire Lassie, and one that lends itself to a wide variety of "soupy" formations.

B---26-23 is equally good. Charles Hefter of Kankakee, Illinois, is the distinguished author of the following coup on that line: 26-23, 9-13, 19-15, 7-11, 31-26, 3-7, 24-19, 5-9, 26-22,1-5, 28-24, 7-10, and now comes the cut-up by 20-16, 11-20, 15-11, 8-15, 21-17, 14-21, 23-7, 2-11, 19-1, 9-14, 22-17, 13-22, 25-9, 5-14, 1-6, 11-16, 6-10, 14-18, 10-14, 18-23, leading to a draw.

C---This is where Wyllie went wild. The game had been adroitly contested by both players to this point. Wyllie could have drawn easily here, by 15-10, 6-15, 19-10, 13-17, 23-19, 11-15, 20-16, 3-7*, 10-3, 1-5, 19-10, 12-28, 3-12, 28-32, 27-24, 32-27, 10-6, 27-20, 6-1, 20-24, 1-6, 24-27, 6-9, 18-23, 26-19, 27-24, 9-18, 24-29. Wm. F. Ryan."

1---Despite the natural look of this move, the computer scores 25-22 as not so good for Black, giving White a definite edge---Ed..

2---27-23 is preferred here---Ed.

3---This move is a probable loss. 20-16 might have kept White in the game, but Black is still strong---Ed.

4---White is now completely lost. Better was 31-26 though the situation remains bad---Ed.

5---This very bad move allows a draw. A winning line for Black might have been 13-17 15-10 6x15 19x10 8-11 24-19 18. 17-22! 26x17 11-15 27-24 18x27 20-16 27-3 17-13 3-8!10x3 31-27 19x10 27x11 25-22 11-7 22-17 7-2 13-9 14-18 17-14 18-23 21-17 23-27 9-5 2-7 17-13 27-31 13-9 7-2 Black Wins. White is completely out of safe moves---Ed.

Will you meet your own Waterloo here? Willie seemed to have a mini-Waterloo of his own in not catching the blunder pointed out at note 5 above. Battle the problem and then march your mouse to Read More to see the solution.



Solution

"Continue: 12-16, 19-12, 13-17, 22-13, 6-9, 13-6, 1-26*, 24-19, 18-22! (14-17 also wins, but this is decisive), 25-9, 3-7, 12-3, 26-31, 3-10, 31-13, and Wyllie was lost for words."

02/11/12 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version
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