The Checker Maven

What Is Checkers?

Based on the photo above, we suppose our column's title should have been "What are Checkers?" as a plural subject requires a plural verb. But of course, the intended meaning of the phrase references "checkers" as a game, in the singular, and so the singular verb is correct after all.

Although we could go on at length about syntax and other matters grammatical, we're sure you didn't come here for a language lesson. In fact, it's time for an installment of Checker School, and while good grammar and usage are highly recommended, good checker moves are what we're really after.

Today we have an interesting position which is not particularly easy to solve; in fact Ben Boland himself went wrong when he published it in Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W8,17,18,22:B5,12,13,K26.

Mr. Boland's premise is correct; the game can be drawn by White, even though the position looks anything but favorable. Can you find the correct "checker usage" that leads to a draw? Or will you be sentenced to fail? Don't worry; you won't get graded on your answer, and you can always click on Read More to see the solution, notes, a sample game, and the reason why today's column is titled What is Checkers?.



Solution

The solution, sample game, and lettered notes are from Mr. Boland's book. Numbered notes are by the Editor using the KingsRow computer engine.

18-15, 12-16, 15-11, 16-19, 8-3, 19-24, 3-7, 24-27, 11-8, 27-31, 7-11, 31-27, 8-3, 27-23, 3-7, 26-30, 17-14, 30-26, 22-18, 23-19, 11-8, 26-23---3, 8-3, 13-17, 7-2, 17-22, 3-7, 22-26, 2-6, 26-30, 7-10, 30-26, 6-9---4, 26-22---A, 10-6, 22-15, 14-10, 5-14, 6-2. Drawn.

A---19-16, 18-15, 26-22, *10-7, 22-17, *15-10, 17-13---5, *10-6, 13-17, 7-10, 23-18, 6-1, 17-13, 10-6, 13-17, 6-2, 17-10, 2-6. Drawn. The above position may be found as No. 280, in Lyman's Problem Book.

3---If 26-22 then White wins in an instructive manner: 7-11 22-15 11-18 12-16 8-3 19-24 14-10 24-27 10-6 27-31 3-7 31-27 6-2 5-9 2-6 9-13 6-10 27-24 10-14 17-21 18-22 24-19 7-10 19-2 10-15 24-27 14-18 and with the White king on 22 holding the two Black men on 21 and 13, the other two White kings will hunt down the Black king and win the game for White.

4---Mr. Boland's solution goes wrong here. 6-9 loses to 19-16; see note 5 below. The correct moves to draw are 6-2 or 10-7, for instance 10-7 19-24 7-2 26-31 6-10 31-26 10-6 26-22 18-15 and no progress can be made---Ed.

5---This move allows a draw. Correct is 23-26 which allows Black to win: 23-26 9-6 26-22 6-9 17-13 (now it works) 9-6 22-18 7-2 18-9 Black Wins.

Game: 11-15, 22-17, 15-19, 24-15, 10-19, 23-16, 12-19, 25-22, 8-11, 30-25, 4-8, 22-18, 9-13, 25-22---1, 8-12, 29-25, 6-10, 17-14, 10-17, 21-14, 1-6, 25-21, 19-23---2, 26-19, 6-10, 21-17, 11-16, 27-23, 3-8, 28-24, 16-20, 31-26, 20-27, 19-15, 10-19, 23-16, 12-19, 32-16, 8-12, 16-11, 7-16, 14-10, 16-19, 18-15, 19-24, 26-23, 24-27, 23-18, 27-31, 10-7, 2-11, 15-8, 31-26. Forms above position. From Lyman's Problem Book.

1---18-14 or 17-14 may be better---Ed.

2---6-9 would have been better. White now gets a slight edge---Ed.

And now, here is an essay on the topic of checkers dating back to 1899, from which we drew the title of this week's column. We're quite impressed. Today, this style of writing is considered overly elaborate. We disagree. We can't help but feel that in the last hundred years, more than a little of the art of writing has been lost.


WHAT IS CHECKERS?

An invention; and in this epoch of intellectual culture, the mind of Man has conceived no pastime approaching it for happy conjunction of beauteous simplicity, emulative interest, pellucid calculation, and an entertainment, at once useful and refined. To the serious and studious temper, it is a mentally instructive study --- differing from mathematical analysis, which considers only the numerical phases of giving combinations, while Checkers treats specially with their intrinsic qualities and positional relations. In its practice, the active, militant temperament finds a concordant recreation --- unlike the science of warfare, in the definiteness of its reckoning depends on the uncertainties or chance, such as courage, irregular topography or clime; yet the labyrinth of beautiful, geometrical evolutions, through which subtle Greek tugs thwarting Greek in this martial game, are the objective expressions of a dispassionate, subjective strife. Given a score of action and reserach limited to 32 squares and the familiar, two distinct sets of checker men --- which are assumed to be imbued with certain energized laws, seeking to equipoise or overcome each other -- the intellect felicitates itself with an exalting diversion in the realm of a Pure Science. Surviving the conventional sports of historic time, the game of checkers, with its inherent attractiveness, has acquired that degree of tried stability in popular interest, which entitles it to be esteemed as "easily first" of our amusements, and worthy of anyone's systematic study and ardent regard.---Zach Brogan in The Draughts World, September, 1899.

01/21/12 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version
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