The Checker Maven

Minority Rules

We're really pleased to present this stunning Tom Wiswell problem. As usual, it is not easy, but it is elegant, entertaining, and instructive, and illustrates the depth and scope of our game of checkers. The setting is below; we think this is among the finest problems we've put forth to date.


White to Play and Win
There isn't a misprint here, and you didn't read it incorrectly. The premises are indeed White to Play and Win, despite being a man down. Now, White has two kings and Black is cramped, but we're not to find a draw for White, but a win.

Solve it if you can, and then click on Read More for the surprising solution.


First, we'll quote the solution directly as given by Tom Wiswell.


18-23---A, 9-14---B, 3-7, 5-9---C (13-17, 7-10), 7-10, 14-17, 10-15---D, 17-21---E (9-14, 15-18), 23-18, 9-14---F, 18-9, 13-17, 15-18, 21-25, 9-14, 17-22---G, 14-10, 25-29, 18-25, 29-22, 10-14---H, White wins.

A---"Going away," and the right square from which to force the win.
B---If 13-17, 3-7, 17-21 (or 22), 7-10, etc., White wins.
C---If 14-17, 7-10, 17-21, 10-14, 13-17, 23-26, etc., White wins.
D---NOT 23-18, 17-22, 18-25, 9-14, and Black wins!
E---If 17-22, 23-18, etc., White wins.
F---Of course, 13-17 or 21-25 lose by 18-14, etc.
G---If 17-21, 18-22, 25-29, 22-26, 29-25, 15-18, etc., White wins.
H---My lone win in a six game encounter with former Connecticut State Champion, Howard Peck, played June 21, 1969 (the opening was 10-15, 22-17, 6-10). The win was highly praised by the late A.J. Mantell, the noted critic and analyst.


We continue to be impressed by the first move, 18-23, as the "star" move to win. Most lower-level players, to which category we belong, would have made 18-22 instead. It is worth taking a little time to demonstrate to yourself that 18-22 is only good for a draw. WCC Platinum III, for instance, gives this line:

18-22, 9-14, 3-7, 13-17!, 22-13, 14-18, etc. Drawn. White cannot force a win.

An amazing problem, with a real-life setting; it's Tom Wiswell at his best.

05/14/05 - Category: Problems - Printer friendly version
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