We can bet that this woman has a pretty interesting tale to tell about installing a sink trap. It can be a messy job and a lot of things can go wrong. But it appears she's found a solution in the form of long-lasting plastic components.
Which, of course, brings us to our subject: finding a solution, not for drain problems, thank goodness, but for equally perplexing checkerboard conundrums.
Today we're continuing with our presentation of material from Willie Ryan's fascinating Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard with the first part of something Willie calls A Trap With a Tale. We know you'll find it interesting, as we've discovered some unique things about this study. We'll give the runup without Willie's notes; those will come in later columns, but for now we want to cut to the chase.
This one is not so easy and correct play requires what was once called "sticktoitiveness." Can you tell this tale or will you remain trapped in erroneous play? Patience is the watchword. When you're ready, clicking on Read More will indeed tell the tale in the correct manner.[Read More]
We quickly found out that "Subkow" is one way to transcribe a Russian name that is sometimes rendered as "Zubkov" or "Zoubkov". Since the "S" and "Z" sounds are clearly delineated in Russian, we can only think that here is another story about fanciful transcriptions done by monolingual Anglophone immigration officials who just wanted to write something down and be done with it.
In any case, there are perhaps a half-dozen Subkows in the U.S., and it's quite likely that one or more are related to checkerist William Subkow, who is credited with the following problem circa 1930 or so. It's our Checker School entry for this month.
You'll see right away that Black doesn't have much in the way of good moves; that's never a favorable sign. In fact, we'll give you a hint of sorts: There is only one initial move to draw, and that's no transcription error. The solution is a bit on the long side, but it's quite logical, although there are a couple of interesting ways to go wrong for both Black and White.
Can you find the right moves and transcribe them properly, in order to better check them after you click on Read More? That will take you to the solution, several sample games, and detailed explanatory notes.[Read More]
Was checkerist A. Schaefer in any way connected to the famous, and once family owned and New York based, F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company? It's one of those things that are possible, but doubtful. In any case, Schaefer, like all New York City breweries, left the city many years ago, and is now owned by Pabst, who still operate the brand.
Schaefer used to advertise itself as "the one beer to have when you're having more than one." In all honesty, The Checker Maven doesn't think "having more than one" is always a good idea (we ourselves choose not to drink alcoholic beverages). If you've "had a few" as the saying goes, you're not likely to be able to solve interesting Checker School problems such as the one below.
Black actually looks like he could lose if he's not careful. How is he supposed to win? But there is a way, and it's subtle and pleasing with a key move at a key moment. You won't need "more than one" checker problem today, as this one is very satisifying. Give it a try and then click your mouse --- just once --- on Read More to see the solution, sample games, and detailed notes.[Read More]
The young fellow above seems to be having some trouble with his lesson, at least judging by the state of the blackboard, the look on his face, and the number of books piled up beside him. Could those possibly be checker books, and might the bottom one be a library edition of Complete Checkers? We can't say for sure, but one can always hope.
In today's Checker School entry, we present a little lesson with a big payoff. The position is shown below.
What can White do here? The man on 17 is doomed and apparently White can only shuffle his king around and wait to lose. Yet there is an astounding draw here, one most worthy of the Herd Laddie. We call this a "little lesson" because Ben Boland was unusually brief in his commentary and there is only one sample game. Nonetheless we're certain you'll love this study, which is now approaching 150 years in age.
Give it a little try and then click your little mouse on the little Read More button to see the larger than life solution.[Read More]
The above quotation comes from the popular television series Downton Abbey, and surely it rings true for life in general.
But for our game of checkers, we suggest that the situation is different, and bringing to light unpublished play is sometimes instructive and revealing.
That's the case today, as we conclude our extended series on the Kelso taking from Willie Ryan's famed Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, with something Willie calls "a fine unpublished variation."
Let's first give the entire run-up, without commentary.
The critical position. Willie gives the following spectacular clearance as his main line draw:
But let's go back to the diagram. Willie says, "If 9-13 is played, 14-10, 7-14, 15-10 will be good enough ..." and certainly after 2-7 22-15 the draw is on the board. Now, Willie goes on to claim: ... if 16-20 is selected, the following leads to a draw: ..." and then he gives J. P. Murray's previously unpublished variation.
So, from this position:
can you find the White draw? This isn't especially easy, but what's interesting is that there are actually two drawing moves for White, one of which the computer discovered ... perhaps a whole new unpublished variation?
Give it your best effort, and the solution, which we'll certainly not leave unpublished, can be reached by clicking on Read More.[Read More]
The British train known as the Transpenine Express certainly goes to Leeds, but the title of today's Checker School column deals with a position first published in an old newspaper known as The Leeds Express.
Surprisingly, our intrepid research department didn't turn up very much on this publication, which obviously enough once featured a draughts column. The most likely candidate is the Leeds Evening Express, published by Frederick Robert Spark starting in 1867. Today, there is a Leeds Express published by Johnston Publications, a major British publisher of local and regional newspapers. There was also the Skyrack & East Leeds Express, later called the Leeds Skyrack Express and then Leeds Express, which ended publication in 2002. But given the date of today's study, we'd stick with the Leeds Evening Express as the source.
Confusing? Unraveling publication histories is at times as difficult as solving a challenging checker problem. Now, the position below may not be the toughest ever, but it too surely requires some thought.
Can you unravel this one? We ourselves had some serious unraveling to do, as you'll see when you click on Read More to see the solution, notes, and a sample game.[Read More]
Grandmaster Richard Pask's crowning achievement, Complete Checkers, is now available in electronic and print editions. We are proud to say that Mr. Pask once again gave us the honor of editing, typesetting, and publishing his latest work.
Combining all seven sections of 21st Century Checkers with much new material, including guides and indices as well as play revisions and enhancements, the book extends to over 730 pages, with 200 diagrams and some 2,200 complete games. It will be the definitive guide to 3-move ballot play for decades if not generations to come. Mr. Pask has built on the work of the great players and masters, applying his own vast knowledge and expertise, and employing powerful modern computer engines to validate and extend the analyses.
The result is incomparable, and due to Mr. Pask's generosity, the electronic edition is yours as a completely free PDF download. Just go to the Richard Pask page, as linked in the right-hand column. It was our mutual desire that the book be available to everyone, everywhere, without barriers caused by financial limitations.
But, means permitting, you may likely wish to have a print copy. The print edition is perfect-bound with full-color covers and can be obtained from Amazon or CreateSpace as well as Amazon UK and Europe sites. It is priced very modestly at $24.99 in the US. We put a lot of care into the print edition and we think you'll find it a great addition to your checker library, providing you with years of high-level study material.
Now, just to get you going, here's a position from some of the new material Mr. Pask added to this edition.
There is more than one way to do this, but the differences are in the details rather in the basic principles. The solution is a bit long and you may not find it easy, but we'll give you a broad hint: think about achieving a simpler, known winning position.
Book your solution and then page over to Read More to see a solution.[Read More]
Sinclair gasoline stations are common in the western United States, with some in the Great Plains and just a handful on the East Coast--- but not a single one in Hawai`i. We can only guess that Sinclair Oil decided to sacrifice participation in the admittedly small and difficult to supply Hawaiian market, in favor of more profitable ventures. We can hardly blame them.
But our subject today is a study attributed to checkerist A. Sinclair, a gentleman who we are almost certain is in no way an antecedent of today's Sinclair Oil. The study is taken from Ben Boland's marvelous classic, Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers.
Black is a man up, but with no safe moves, that advantage is highly temporary. How can he get the draw here? We think you'll find the solution nothing short of amazing, and the title of this column gives you a big hint. Does that oil the skids enough to lead you to a solution? Step on the gas and work it out, then motor your mouse over to Read More to see the amazing drawing method, explanatory notes, several sample games, and two supplementary positions.[Read More]
Tommy Wagner was learning that high school is a scary place for a new freshman.
He had been a star in his central Florida middle school, maintaining top academic status while leading his checker team to a State Championship.
But now he was at a large regional high school, which drew students from all over town, and he was a lowly freshman to boot.
Of course, he wanted a spot on the Checker Team, and he knew he was good, but he'd have to compete with experienced 11th and 12th graders. The Checker Varsity even had a titled Master player on their roster. Tommy knew he would have to play Junior Varsity for at least a year, maybe two.
It bothered him. A lot.
It was a Saturday morning, and he was on his way to Uncle Ben's place. Uncle Ben was the kindly retired professional checkerist who gave Tommy free lessons nearly every week. He wasn't really Tommy's uncle, of course, but everyone just called him "Uncle Ben."
But Tommy didn't want to go this morning. He wanted to stay home and sulk, and would have done that had his mother not chased him out of the house.
"You've been in a terrible mood these past few days," she had said, "and I don't really like it. Now you get on over to Uncle Ben's and don't keep him waiting! And make sure you're polite when you get there!"
Tommy didn't answer, and let the screen door bang a little too hard on his way out. He even kicked at a garbage can after he had walked a couple of blocks.
Finally he reached Uncle Ben's porch. Hands in his pockets, he shuffled up the steps.
Uncle Ben, of course, instantly saw that something was wrong, and it wasn't very hard for him to guess what it was.
"Tommy. You need to stop this," he said, in a stern tone that Tommy had never, ever heard from him. It got Tommy's attention.
He took his hands out of his pockets and sat in a chair next to Uncle Ben. He was on the verge of tears.
"I know how badly you want to play Varsity," Uncle Ben said. "We went through the same thing in middle school, remember?"
"Yes ... but ... that was different," Tommy managed to say.
"Different? How so?"
"I just captained the State Champion middle school team!" Tommy said. "Why can't Coach Schann see that?"
"I'm certain he does see that," Uncle Ben replied, "but do you realize that he has a titled Master and four ranked Experts on his team right now? Tommy, what's your rank?"
"Class A," Tommy said, almost in a whisper.
"What was that, Tommy? I don't think I heard you."
"Class A, Uncle Ben." Tommy swallowed hard, fighting back emotion.
"Yes, you made Class A at the end of last year. Now, do you suppose you should replace an Expert or a Master on the high school team? Do you expect Coach Schann to just say, here comes Tommy Wagner, I'll put him on the team even though he's lower ranked than everyone else?"
"But I ..."
"Yes, Tommy, you lead your team to victory, and that was a great achievement. You should be proud. But you should not be vain. You're good, but there are others who are better, and you'll have to earn your way up through study and practice."
"I had to do that in middle school! I don't want to do it all over again!"
"But do it you must. And it will be another new game when you get to college in a few years. In this life, we are always earning our way. Nothing worthwhile is given to us for free."
Uncle Ben poured some lemonade from the waiting pitcher. For a while, neither he nor Tommy said a word. Tommy was obviously thinking about what Uncle Ben had said.
Finally, Tommy broke the silence.
"Time's passing," he said. "I had better get to work if I want to make Varsity in the next year or two."
Uncle Ben just smiled, and turned to the waiting checkerboard. "Very well," he said, "how about taking a look at this position and see what you make of it?"
Would you make it to the High School Varsity? How about the Junior Varsity? Solve the problem, then click on Read More to see the solution, a sample game, and fourteen additional examples of this theme.[Read More]
All over the internet and in the foodie and gourmet magazines, you can read about the many and wondrous benefits of watercress. Whether you put it in your salad or use it as a garnish, you're promised untold health benefits, with the idea that cress can indeed make you well.
Of course that leads us to a horrible pun, as we present a position that arose in a game between classic checkerists E. E. Cresswell and J. Wyllie. The problem dates back around 80 years and is our current Checker School entry.
There's no doubt that Black has the initiative and will try for a win, but White can find a narrow draw. It's not easy, but it's worth your time, as the play is quite instructive. When you've gotten as far as you can, click on Read More to see the solution, a sample game, and copious notes.[Read More]