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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A New Approach

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We often look for a new approach, a new way to do things. Sometimes that new way is better, sometimes not; and sometimes, it doesn't really make any difference. Is it an improved way or just another way? The answer is not always clear.

In today's installment from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, we continue looking at situations arising from the Kelso opening. Here's the run-up, without additional commentary.

10-15 22-18 15x22 25x18 6-10 18-14 10x17 21x14 9x18 23x14 1-6 29-25 12-16 26-23 16-19 24x15 11x18 28-24 8-11 24-19 4-8 31-26 6-9 19-15 11-16.

BLACK
20161010-neworold.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw
W:W32,30,27,26,25,23,15,14:B18,16,9,8,7,5,3,2.

To make this a little easier (as the ensuing play is complex), we'll note right away that Teschelheit's classic Master Play gives a line with 15-10 for White to draw. Willie says he has something new, and gives 26-22 as the only move to draw. And so we simply pose the question: Who is correct? Willie, Teschelheit, both, or neither?

We urge you to explore the play for a while, and then take the old approach of clicking on Read More to see the different lines of play and the answer to our question.20050904-symbol.gif

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11/19/16 - Printer friendly version
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See It And Believe It

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Some things, like this monster wave at famed Waimea Bay on the North Shore of O`ahu, have to be seen to be believed.

In fact, we often hear phrases like, "You have to see it to believe it," to refer to something far out of the ordinary; "I'll believe it when I see it," to express skepticism; the metaphysical version, "I'll see it when I believe it"; and of course, the ever-popular "I want to believe."

You've definitely got to file today's Checker School entry under "you have to see it to believe it." We won't spoil the fun by explaining quite yet; we'll just say that this one is--- well, truly something else. Let's take a look at the position.

G. BUCHANAN-J. DEMPSTER
BLACK
20160723-fp174.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W5,16,18,20,26,30:B1,3,7,11,21,K25.

Black has a slight superiority in force (a king vs. a man), but White has more mobility, and that's a huge hint to the problem's solution. We consider this one pretty tough and a real test of visualization skill. It's definitely worth spending some time on, even if you don't get it. After you do, we're sure you'll find it quite believable that clicking on Read More will show you the annotated solution and half a dozen sample games.20050904-symbol.gif

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10/22/16 - Printer friendly version
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Mr. Darcy Plays Draughts

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Our new book is out and available on CreateSpace and Amazon! This column is something of an advertisement, we hope forgivably, for Mr. Darcy Plays Draughts and Other Stories: The Checker Fiction of Bob Newell. Net proceeds, if any, will help defray the ever-increasing costs of Checker Maven web hosting.

The book is a collection of some of the best stories appearing in this column over the past years, plus one brand new one, the title story, Mr. Darcy Plays Draughts. Why is Elizabeth suspicious when Mr. Darcy takes up a seemingly innocent interest in the game of draughts?

Read the book and find out. But we'll give you a hint right here by presenting a checker problem closely related to those that appear in the story (and no, we're not going to give any more than that away).

BLACK
20161003-mrdarcy.png
WHITE
White to Move and Win

W:W32,22,K15,10:B23,21,13,2.

As always, solve the problem, and then click on Read More to verify the solution and learn more book ordering details!20050904-symbol.gif

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10/08/16 - Printer friendly version
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The 4th Catalan Number

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As we continue to explore the Kelso opening with Willie Ryan and his classic book Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, we reach our 14th installment on this fascinating opening.

There's almost nothing special about the number 14, except perhaps that it's what's known as a Catalan number, the 4th Catalan number, to be precise. Catalan numbers are named for Belgian mathematician Eugène Charles Catalan, and appear in various applications in the branch of mathematics known as combinatorics. The simple(!) formula for Catalan numbers is given above. Catalan numbers also appear in graph theory; in particular, Cn is the number of non-isomorphic ordered trees with n vertices, as also shown above. (If you don't quite follow that, watch the movie Good Will Hunting.)

But enough math! By now you're surely ready for some checkers. Here's the run-up to today's position.


1. 10-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 6-10 18-14
4. 10x17 21x14
5. 9x18 23x14
6. 1-6 29-25
7. 12-16 26-23
8. 16-19 24x15
9. 11x18 28-24
10. 8-11 31-26

Willie offers 31-26 as an alternative to 24-19, the latter of which he calls "A natural though timid move."


11. 4-8 23-19
12. 6-919-15
13. 11-16

Willie correctly says that 9-13 should have been played here and that now "Black will have to do more than whistle to get past the graveyard."

BLACK
20160723-tts134d.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,30,27,26,25,24,15,14:B18,16,9,8,7,5,3,2.

Higher math skills are not required here, just rather high over the board checker skills. This is not an easy problem, but there is still no need to apply combinatorics or graph theory (unless you really want to), as you can always check your solution by simply clicking your mouse on Read More.20050904-symbol.gif

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09/24/16 - Printer friendly version
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Cowan's Coup Revisited

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Artwork courtesy La Mame Games

Just over five years ago, we published a column on Cowan's Coup based on analysis by Willie Ryan. This week in our Checker School entry, we'll revisit the position and gain the benefit of Ben Boland's viewpoint, as expressed in his classic Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers.

WHITE
20160707-fp173.png
BLACK
White to Play and Draw

W:W24,23,21,20,19,18:B17,14,12,11,10,9.

No matter what move White makes, he's going to lose two men at once. Yet we're asked to find a move that draws.

Is this a coup that you can pull off? Please do try; after all, this is a non-violent coup. But if the solution eludes you, or you'd just like more insight, you can click on Read More to see one way to do it along with numerous sample games and an explanatory note or two.20050904-symbol.gif

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09/10/16 - Printer friendly version
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The Crocodile Position

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There's been a lot in the news in recent months about alligators attacking humans, sometimes with tragic results. But crocodiles, particularly the South Pacific varieties, can also be very dangerous.

The differences between crocodiles and alligators are many, even if they seem to be similar creatures. For instance, they have different jaw shapes, and crocs are more tolerant of saltwater environments.

The position below, an entry in our ongoing Checker School series, could be either crocodile or alligator. In fact, as you'll see in our solution notes, it's been called both at various times. But regardless of name, it's quite ferocious.

CROCODILE POSITION
W. H. RUSSELL

BLACK
20160701-fp172.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W10,15,19,23,27,32:B1,3,8,12,16,20.

Don't get caught up in the jaws of this one; work it out and then snap your mouse on Read More to see the solution, sample games, and detailed notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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08/20/16 - Printer friendly version
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Capers on the Kelso: Lucky 13

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13 is viewed by some as a bit of a "shady" number but we've always liked it. For instance, how can you argue with that great-looking All-American meal above, served by the Lucky 13 Bar and Grill in Salt Lake City?

This is the 13th installment of "Capers on the Kelso" from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, and we think you're in luck once again. These pages in Willie's classic book contain an unbelievable wealth of great checker material. Today's position is subtle rather than explosive.

We're still working with Willie's "Variation 3" and in "Note B" of the text we find another fascinating and instructive situation.

Here's the run-up, without commentary.


1. 10-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 6-10 18-14
4. 10x17 21x14
5. 9x18 23x14
6. 1-6 29-25
7. 12-16 26-23
8. 16-19 24x15
9. 11x18 28-24
10. 8-11 31-26
11. 4-8 23-19
12. 6-10

The correct move here was 6-9. Willie now calls this "a dead loss." Indeed, it is; but White will require patience and technique to bring home the win.

BLACK
20160613-lucky13.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,30,27,26,25,24,19,14:B18,11,10,8,7,5,3,2.

You don't need to be lucky to solve this one; although the solution is long, it's not nearly as difficult as some of the others in this series. Try your luck; then, for sure you'll luck out when you click your mouse on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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07/23/16 - Printer friendly version
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Are You Dunne Drummond Yet?

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We think you'll agree, when you work through this week's Checker School problem, that it's worthy of an introductory drum roll. There's some very pleasing play involved, and you're sure to get a lot of satisfaction from it. The position is credited to Drummond and Dunne.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play, Black to Draw

W:W30,22,20,19,18:B21,13,12,11,10.

Material may be even, but there are significant mobility issues and things are not so simple. How can Black find the way to a draw?

When the drummer is Dunne Drummond, can you drum up the solution? Work it out and then drum your mouse on Read More to see the solution, along with detailed notes and numerous sample games.20050904-symbol.gif

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07/16/16 - Printer friendly version
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The Return of Mr. Sturges

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Scare easily?

No, that's not the ghostly apparition of our recent short story; we don't expect Mr. Sturges to return in person any time soon--- or at all, for that matter. But the name and work of such a great player of yore is bound to turn up again and again, and this week is one such instance. Here's a study in our Checker School series which is most unusual, and it's credited to the man himself.

J. STURGES
WHITE
20160414-fp170.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W29,17,13,K7:B21,K19,15,10,6,5.

You might ask, where's the challenge, with Black up two checkers? Well, he's going to lose one of them right away, and he really needs to watch his step. Certainly, Black has a win, but as is the case in all over the board play, you need to show it.

Phantom moves won't do it. You'll have to play real, solid checkers to save the win. Are you up to the task, or will you be scared off? Don't be afraid; you can always click your mouse on Read More to see the solution, a sample game, and detailed notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/11/16 - Printer friendly version
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Capers on the Kelso: An Even Dozen

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Isn't it curious, in a world dominated by decimal numbers, undoubtedly stemming from our ten finger and ten toe makeup, that the number twelve--- a dozen--- seems to have special meaning? Arithmetic based on twelves is called duodecimal and likely arises from the approximately twelve lunar cycles that make up the solar year.

For us, the significance is that this is the twelfth column in our extended treatment of the Kelso opening, as presented in Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard.

We continue to look at Willie's "Variation 3." Here's the run-up.


1. 10-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 6-10 18-14
4. 10x17 21x14
5. 9x18 23x14
6. 1-6 29-25
7. 12-16

The best move to draw remains 26-23, as Willie points out. Last time, we investigated 25-22, which is correctly analyzed by Willie to be a White loss. But what about the closely related move 26-22? Willie comments, "6-9 will do the job." We're not sure quite what Willie meant by "doing the job"; does this move win or merely give White the best winning chances?


7. ... 26-22
8. 6-9

Here's the resulting position.

BLACK
20160413-tts-p12.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W32,31,30,28,27,25,24,22,14:B16,11,9,8,7,5,4,3,2.

In fact, there's a draw here, but White has to find it. This is probably another one of those master-level challenges, but as in previous instances, it's worth the effort and there's a lot of technique to be gleaned from a careful study of the position.

It may take more than a dozen minutes, but give it a try, and then click once (not a dozen times) on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/21/16 - 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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