Built by the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad in 1905, Kelso Station was once an important place. In the middle of the Mojave Desert, Kelso Station served as a source of water for steam engines, a place where passengers and crew could get something to eat, and a location for "helper" engines to assist in pulling trains up a steep nearby grade.
Of course, it's all a matter of history today, as the heyday of rail travel, just like the heyday of checkers, is behind us. Will rail travel make a comeback? Will our game of checkers? We can only hope, and continue to work towards that goal. The Checker Maven is intended to be our contribution to this worthy effort.
We continue our extended series on the Kelso opening, taken from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, with more exploration of his "Variation 2." Here's a quick run-up without commentary. Detailed notes can be found in previous columns in this series. Our analysis has found some play that overturns one of Willie's conclusions.
Willie now gives the next move as 25-21, but in a note, he offers 25-22 as an alternative, resulting in the position below:
Willie, of course, proposes his own solution and it's a good one. But we found a different solution with KingsRow, and it's even more spectacular than Willie's.
Take full credit if you find either solution, and count yourself a master or better if you find both. When you're finished, click on Read More to see both solutions.
Here's what Willie has to say, in his original Note F.
F---"If 25-22 is played, then the play for a draw takes the following course: 5-9---1, 23-18, 10-14, 27-23, 7-10, 24-19, 15-24, 28-19, 3-7, 31-27, 11-16, 20-11, 7-16, 18-15, 14-18, 23-5, 16-32, 15-11, 12-16, 5-1---2, 16-19---3. A. J. Hefner."
1---Believe it or not, this position is in the KingsRow opening book! KingsRow claims that 10-14---4 is best here. Willie's 5-9 is not as good but White's advantage is slim, and computer play follows Willie's line up until Note 2.
2---The position evaluates to a draw, with 11-8 recommended by KingsRow, although 5-1 evaluates to the same result.
3---There are still quite a few pieces on the board but no winning chances with proper play.
4---Computer play is instructive and amazing: 10-14 23-18! (a spectacular computer move) 14x32 31-27 (end of opening book) 32x23 26x1 17x26 30x23 2-6 1x10 7x14 to an easy draw.