The Checker Maven

The World's Most Widely Read Checkers and Draughts Publication
Bob Newell, Editor-in-Chief

Published every Saturday morning in Honolulu, Hawai`i

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The Pied Piper's Fife

This month's installment from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard is appropriately named; we think you'll see why when you study the problem. But as usual, we'll hear directly from the great Mr. Ryan, in his own words.

'So many innocents have been lured to destruction by this hoary variation of the Fife opening that it has been appropriately tagged "The Pied Piper's Special."

11-15 23-19 9-14 22-17 5-9---A 26-23 9-13 30-26 13-22 25-9 6-13 21-17---B 13-22 26-17 2-6 29-25, forming the diagram.


Black to Play and Win


A---The Fife opening, developed and first played by James Wyllie.
B---The losing move. The correct moves here are: 29-25, 8-11, 25-22, 4-8, 22-17, 13-22, 26-17, 2-6; at this point 24-20, 17-14, or 17-13 will produce a draw.'

The winning path is a bit long this time, but don't be led away by the sound of the Pied Piper's fife; clicking on Read More will break the spell and bring you Willie's solution.

[Read More]
03/10/07 - Printer friendly version
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Alex Moiseyev is the reigning World Champion of 3-Move Restriction Checkers, the sixth in a line stretching back over seventy years to the first generally acknowledged 3-Move World Champion, Asa Long. However, with the notable exception of Derek Oldbury, these champions didn't write instructional books about checkers. Mr. Moiseyev has changed all that with his recent book, appropriately titled Sixth, with the subtitle Volume 1: The Way to the Crown.

World Champion Alex Moiseyev and his book "Sixth"

At first glance, the book looks like a college textbook: it's a sturdily constructed hardcover, nearly 400 pages in length, with the printed paper over boards casing style adopted by many text publishers. In fact, the book is in a way an advanced checkers text, though it's far too entertaining and lively to have been published by the typical publisher of college texts.

The book was printed and bound in the Ukraine, perhaps as an economy measure, and our only complaint is that the inking in our copy is uneven, with some pages dark and others quite light. But it's the content that matters, and that really shines.

Mr. Moiseyev presents two complete World Championship matches; his encounter with Ron King in 2003, and his contest with Elbert Lowder in 2002. He also gives us a selection of fifty of his best games from the 1996-2004 timeframe. The games are illustrated and annotated in a way seldom if ever seen in a checker book. Each page has at least one diagram, often more, and diagrams are always near the text section in which they are referenced, making for extraordinary ease of use.

In total, the book contains over 500 diagrams, presents 114 games, and treats 66 openings directly and 114 more indirectly. And you won't want to miss Mr. Moiseyev's coverage of the 3-Move World Championship Title controversy, which stretched out over the 2001-2003 time period. Checkers too has its moments of drama!

But when it comes to analysis of play, which is the real heart of the book, Mr. Moiseyev left no stone unturned. In addition to his own elucidations, he adds commentary and analysis by notables such as Richard Fortman; and finally, he verifies everything with the strong Nemesis computer engine. The result: annotations that are insightful, complete, detailed, easy to follow, and above all, interesting and engaging.

Who can use this book? The play analysis is deep and uncompromising, and there's no doubt that expert players will benefit most fully. But intermediates and even beginners will benefit as well, and will obtain untold enjoyment in playing over these fine games, learning as they go, with more of the analysis becoming accessible at each replaying. We ourselves are certainly at the lower end of the skill spectrum, yet Sixth has already given us numerous hours of entertainment and education, with many more to come.

We surely hope that the subtitle Volume 1 will mean that Mr. Moiseyev will publish additional books in the future similar to this outstanding edition.

With Mr. Moiseyev's kind permission, generous extracts from the book are reprinted here; just click to see them. Mr. Moiseyev has also selected two problems from the book, which we present below for your solving pleasure.

You can order the book through the American Checker Federation Online Store or direct from Alex; write to Alexander Moiseyev, 5676 Springburn Drive, Dublin, OH, 43017 USA. The cost of the book is US $48, or US $78 if you would like an inscribed, personalized copy.

And now, here are the problems:

Problem One

White to Move, Black to Draw


Problem Two

White to Move and Draw


We didn't say they were easy! But clicking on Read More will lead you unfailingly to Alex's solutions.

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01/20/07 - Printer friendly version
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8th International Match Book Now Available

We received our copy of 8th IM: 2005 Eighth International Match this week, and the book is a gem and a rare must-own. Co-edited by Gerry Lopez and Jim Loy, it's a genuine tour-de-force.

Not a mere booklet or even a trade paper edition, this is a professionally bound hardback covered in bookcloth, with oversized high-weight pages, large, clear type, and easily readable diagrams. But it's the content that shines. Here you get Al Darrow's history of the entire match series, photos from previous matches as well as color and black-and-white photos from the 2005 match, player biographies, and many more features. Of course, every game is included with expert annotations by the players themselves and other annotators including Alex Moiseyev, Jim Loy, Mac Banks, and others.

Get your copy quickly while they last from Alan Millhone, P.O. Box #1, Belpre, OH 45714-0001 or Gerry Lopez, 41858 Corte Selva, Temecula, CA 92591. It's just $40 in the US and $45 international.

To whet your interest, here's a problem taken from the book.


White to Play and Win

For the solution, click on Read More.... but first, order the book without delay!

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12/16/06 - Printer friendly version
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Key Endings

The Checker Maven is pleased and privileged to present a new electronic edition of Grandmaster Richard Pask's instructional book, Key Endings. In its pages you will find a wealth of information including detailed play on 25 common and important checker endgame situations, as well as material on the opposition, parameters, and much more. This book contains essential knowledge for the developing checker player and an important summary and review for the established expert.

Together with the already-released electronic editions of Mr. Pask's Key Themes, Key Landings, and Key Openings, as well as the other books available on this site, the makings of a basic checker library are now easily and freely available, without cost, to checker players around the world.

You can download your own PDF-format copy of Key Endings here, or from the Richard Pask page, as linked in the right-hand column of our front page. The book is free, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Pask, in allowing us to republish it and offer it here for your education and enjoyment. Mr. Pask has also given us permission to republish his Solid Checkers, which we hope to accomplish sometime in the latter part of 2007.

Please bring any errors (for which we alone take full responsibility) in Key Endings to our attention, so that we may promptly correct them. Write

And now, to get you started and spur your interest, here is a tough position presented in the book. Mr. Pask calls it the Skullcracker Ending as it arises from the difficult 3-move ballot known as, unsurprisingly, The Skullcracker.


Black to Play and Draw


If you can solve it, great! If you have trouble with it, download the book and study the theme. We won't give the answer to the problem here; you'll find it in the book!

12/09/06 - Printer friendly version
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A New Book And A Great Quote

It's no secret that here at The Checker Maven we invest in as many checker books as our funding allows. This week, we received a new book by Dr. Harold Schneider, with the unusual title Board Game Tournaments for the Fun, Profit, and Professionalism of the Public. (The associated web site is here.) It's a book that is every bit as unusual as the title, covering a wide variety of game-related subjects, but concentrating, of course, on checkers.

We'll publish a full review on our Book Review page in due course (though with our current large backlog, it may be some little while). But we can't resist transcribing a line from the back cover of the book, wherein Dr. Schneider gives us what is very likely the most quotable quip in the entire history of our game:

Excluding the game of romance between men and women, it is the number one fun game in the world.

Just try to top that one! We think, in fact, that Dr. Schneider is right on the money with his assessment.

06/17/06 - Printer friendly version
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Key Themes Is Now Available

We are pleased and privileged to announce the release of a new electronic edition of Richard Pask's classic Key Themes. You can download it immediately here, or else visit the Richard Pask page as linked in the right-hand column. The book is in PDF format for easy and universal access, and is yours for the taking, completely free of charge.

Key Themes presents 90 pages of critical mid-game knowledge, featuring 25 "key themes" which arise often in play. Study of this material by the aspiring player will provide untold benefits in improved playing strength.

This electronic edition is not just a set of scanned images, but a newly typeset edition, with large, clear diagrams and an attractive layout.

We plan to release an electronic edition of Mr. Pask's Key Endings toward the end of 2006; in 2007 we will begin the ambitious task of publishing electronic editions of all of Mr. Pask's landmark opus, Solid Checkers. Our continued thanks and appreciation go to Mr. Pask for his generosity in making his fine material available to the checker-playing public.

There is no second problem in today's edition of The Checker Maven as we invite you instead to download Key Themes and spend some time in pure enjoyment. (Full disclosure warning: hours are likely to speed by unnoticed!)

05/06/06 - Printer friendly version
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Checkers 2006

We recently received our copy of the International Checker Hall of Fame annual, Checkers 2006, and it's something not to be missed. Once again, Charles Walker and staff have put together over 300 pages of sprawling, rambling checker play, history, and lore, including, we modestly point out, a lengthy extract from our own web site.

To get a copy, send $30 for delivery to US addresses, or $40 for international shipping, to ICHF, Box 365, Petal,MS 39465. Be sure to order right away, before a sellout takes place.

We're delighted that, in spite of the challenges in his personal life, Mr. Walker was able to produce another book that checker fans everywhere will treasure. We know Mr. Walker now faces some dark days, and our thoughts are with him. We can only hope that these days soon will yield to a brighter future for a man who has done so much for our game.

04/15/06 - Printer friendly version
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Typesetting Problem Causes Release Delay

We should have known better, but we upgraded our typesetting software and the inevitable happened: we ran into some serious problems which caused an unacceptable loss in diagram quality.

We've since resolved the issues, and the diagrams look better than ever, but the loss in production time set back our scheduled electronic release of Richard Pask's Key Themes from mid-April to sometime in May.

We apologize to our readers for this delay. We can only promise that the wait will be well worth it.

04/15/06 - Printer friendly version
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i. Original material is Copyright © 2004-2018 Avi Gobbler Publishing. Other material is the property of the respective owners. Information presented on this site is offered as-is, at no cost, and bears no express or implied warranty as to accuracy or usability. You agree that you use such information entirely at your own risk. No liabilities of any kind under any legal theory whatsoever are accepted. The Checker Maven is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Bob Newell, Sr.

MAVEN, n.:

An expert or connoisseur, often self-proclaimed.

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