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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Rule, Britannia!

The history making first ever United States-Great Britain internet match is drawing to a close, and the British team has scored a solid victory. With nine out of ten boards reporting, the score is Great Britain 7 wins, 2 losses, and 27 draws. No matter the results of the tenth board, Great Britain has won the match.

The British team was lead by solid performances by Jan Mortimer (three wins) and team captain Lindus Edwards (two wins). The only U.S. wins to date were both scored by the young American star Ryan Pronk.

Complete details can be found on the official web site. In addition, Jim Loy has been annotating the games and posting them on the message boards at the It's Your Turn site (free registration may be required to view these).

The Checker Maven congratulates the Great Britain team on a very fine victory.

05/09/05 - Printer friendly version
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The Checker Maven Reader's Survey!

We hope you'll be willing to complete our first-ever reader's survey. It will take you five minutes or less and will help us immensely to ensure that The Checker Maven brings you the content that you, our valued reader, need and want.

Thank you in advance!

Note: as of 01 June 2005 the survey is complete and the results have been published. However your comments and suggestions are always welcome; just email us at any time.

05/05/05 - Printer friendly version
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Richard Pask's Revised 'Key Openings'

We are very pleased and privileged to offer for download Grandmaster Richard Pask's revision to his classic 1999 work, Key Openings. The book can be downloaded here in PDF format, which, though giving rise to a larger download, is a stable format which will reproduce in the same manner on all computers and printers.

Our thanks to Mr. Pask for the opportunity to place this work before the checker playing public.

04/29/05 - Printer friendly version
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A Draw Move Is To Be Made Every Time

The history-in-the-making internet match between the US and Great Britain is moving to a conclusion, with the British leading as of this writing with a tally of four wins, two losses, and 22 draws. Three board positions are still in progress. Complete details are on the official tournament site.

Here at the New Mexico office of The Checker Maven we're continuing to muse over articles published in 1926 in The Morris Systems Checkerist just prior to the 2nd International Match, played between the US and Great Britain over the board, back in those Golden Days. But things were not simple then, either; the magazine tells of quite a heated controversy in selecting the final two American players for the twelve-player team. We've simply got to requote in part a short piece that the magazine reproduced from the Lynn Item:

"...They have selected 10 players for American team and these are Heffner, Banks, Horr, Gonotsky, Long, Ginsberg, Reynolds, Lieberman, Hanson and O'Grady. There are two more to be chosen and they talk of such men as Bradford, Duffy, Lieber and Dossett.

"It would have been better had the team been held down to 10 men a side, which was the number 20 years ago. The 10 now selected are all good players although there are one or two who should do a lot of practicing from now until the opening of the match; and then play safe and sure instead of taking new lines which they have picked out for themselves and which they may think will trip their opponents. Cooks are not to be thought of in this kind of play but a draw move is to be made every time."

The piece was written by John H. Finn, who, obviously, would not have been of a mind with the likes of draughts champion Derek Oldbury or American football coach Vince Lombardi.

04/25/05 - Printer friendly version
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The Manchester Draughts Club

It's a Wednesday evening, and you've just finished a day at one of the editorial offices of The Checker Maven. You're in the mood for a good game of checkers and you wouldn't mind a beer as an accompaniment.

If you're at our Santa Fe office, you might head out to your favorite cantina for chips and salsa, and a Dos Equis Amber to go along with them, but the only checker competition you'll find is on the internet.

If you're at our Honolulu office, you can catch the live-on-the-beach sunset show on Kalakaua Boulevard, and afterwards maybe have a Hinando at Duke's Barefoot Bar; and you can even play chess at the famed beachfront pavilion at the corner of Kealohilani. But if you want to play checkers, you'd better head back to the office and go online.
If you were in Manchester, England, though, you'd really be in luck. No, The Checker Maven isn't going to be opening an office there, at least not yet. But even better, Manchester is home to the Manchester Draughts Club, which meets Wednesday evenings at The Castle.
Founded in its present form by Dr. John Reade and Bill McKay in 1990, the club chose The Castle because of its old-fashioned ambiance, good service, and fine selection of Robinson's Cask Beers. These draughts players know what enjoyment truly is!

The club was created to provide a venue for casual cross-board play, as a welcome alternative to correspondence play, which had been the only local option for nearly a decade. But under the inspiration of Frank McDonald, the club soon introduced competitive play, which quickly rose to a high level of skill and achievement.

Internally, the club sponsors both 3-move and go-as-you-please (freestyle) leagues and knockout tournaments. Winners from these competitions qualify as challengers for the Lancashire 3-move and freestyle championships each year. As of this writing (April 2005) Frank Bednall is the reigning 3-move champion, while Donald Oliphant holds the freestyle crown. In addition, the club puts on two open tournaments each year, in memory of two former Lancashire players: the Arthur Jones 3-Move Tournament, played in the spring, and the Ronald Bumby Freestyle Tournament, played in the autumn.


Donald Oliphant, 3-Move Lancashire County Champion, and Melvyn Green, Challenger
Photo by Sue Reade
But the club doesn't stop with just that. Lancashire County enters two teams for the British Counties Championship each year, and the Lancashire South team is staffed by the Manchester Draughts Club. Lancashire South won the championship in 2003, and is through to the second round thus far this year (2005).

Lancashire South (Manchester) Win the 2003 British Counties Championship
From left: Matthew Eke, John Reade, Donald Oliphant, Melvyn Green, Eddie O'Gara
Photo by Sue Reade
Dr. Reade extends his invitation to checkers and draughts players who find themselves in the Manchester area on a Wednesday evening to ring him at 0161-643-2985 and arrange for a few games at The Castle. The club plays from opening at 7:30 PM until closing at 11:00 PM, and you're certain to find top-notch competition and the best of British beer.

To be sure, chips and salsa in Santa Fe is fine fare, and the sunset show on the beach in Waikiki is a great experience, but compared with quality over-the-board draughts play and a few pints of Robinson's, you know what our choice would be.

The Checker Maven thanks Dr. John Reade for providing text and photos as the basis of this article.

04/16/05 - Printer friendly version
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Richard Pask's Supplement to Oldbury's Move Over

Grandmaster Richard Pask has completed his supplement to Derek E. Oldbury's classic Move Over, and has very kindly allowed us to offer it here for download.

Move Over (which itself can be downloaded from here) is a true classic, a work that was controversial in its time and which still excites the interest of every two-fisted checker player. Now, Grandmaster Pask has provided insightful commentary on the original text, as well as solutions to the problems at the end of the book--- problems which have proven perhaps somewhat more challenging than Oldbury had anticipated.

Be sure to read Mr. Pask's latest work, which is as much a fine tribute to a great player as it is a superb elucidation of a classic text.

Note: the download at the moment is in "Word" format, meant to be printed on A4 paper, and requiring Jim Loy's checker font to render the title page illustration correctly.

04/11/05 - Printer friendly version
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How Times Have Changed

The Checker Maven has reported on the exciting U.S. vs. Great Britain match being played on It's Your Turn at this very moment (April 2005). It's Your Turn is a correspondence style site; players take turns making their moves, just as you would do if you were truly playing by mail.

In fact, many of our readers know that there have been actual mail-based matches between the U.S. and Great Britain. Here's a short article that appeared almost 80 years ago in the September-October 1926 edition of The Morris Systems Checkerist:


Correspondence Match, G. B. vs. U. S.

The following is the score between an English team captained by D. Bryant, and an American team lead by Ray Kemmerer. It will be noted that some of the players have "crossed the bar" since starting the match a few years ago.

Great Britain --- U. S. A.

R. J. Allen 0; A. J. Schmutz 0 drawn 4
D. Bryant 1; A. R. Dosset 2; drawn 1
W. Dixon 0; A. J. Lemense 0; drawn 4
C. Probert 0; W. E. Steere 0; drawn 4
J. Hawks 0; H. D. Kaufman 0; drawn 4
D. Exeter 0; A. Jensen 0; drawn 4
C. McKean 0; F. E. Potts 1; drawn 3
F. F. Smith 1; J. Tonkin 0; drawn 3

Total -- America 3, Great Britain 2, drawn 27. The heat between J. M. Roberts and J. L. Westenberger is not reported as yet.



Times have truly changed. The mind boggles at the prospect of a multi-game correspondence match, played via mail delivered back and forth across the Atlantic by ship. Small wonder the match went on for years and that some players indeed "crossed the bar" during this time.

Today's match is being played in "internet" time and all should be over in weeks, not years. And we certainly hope that no one "crosses the bar"!

The same issue of The Morris Systems Checkerist is full of articles about the 2nd live U. S. - G. B. match, which was in preparation at the time. It makes for interesting reading, and, while today's internet match continues, we'll reprint a few of those old columns here over the next few weeks.

But for the moment, keep up with all of today's action, in internet time, at the official tournament site.

04/09/05 - Printer friendly version
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Single-Game ELO Calculations with Exact USCF Formula

This form calculates the estimated changes in an ELO rating,
for a single game, using the exact, not the approximate, USCF formulas. The rating is still estimated, though, because the USCF calculations consider an entire tournament at once, is done in two passes and requires the complete tournament cross-table.

If an event is half-K, check the appropriate box; likewise if all of your
prior tournament games were wins or losses, check the matching box.

Prior rating
Prior number of rated games
Opponent's rating
Half-K event?
All losses in prior rated games?
All wins in prior rated games?

04/03/05 - Printer friendly version
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USA vs. Great Britian Internet Challenge

Team matches in checkers between the United States and Great Britain began almost exactly 100 years ago, in 1905, when the British team defeated the Americans in a convincing manner. Since that time, there have been six more such matches, with the Americans gaining the edge; and an eighth match will take place this fall in Las Vegas as a 100th anniversary celebration of this fierce yet friendly rivalry.

But, very recently on the time scale of a full century, the internet has come on the scene and has offered all sorts of opportunities for checker play, of every type and quality (see our site reviews for a rundown on this). Last year, a team match called USA vs. the World was played out at the It's Your Turn play site (the games are documented and annotated at Jim Loy's web site). The teams were ad hoc and the level of play varied widely, but it was a great match overall.

Now, the historic US-Great Britain rivalry is about to be taken up on the internet, and for this matchup, the teams are staffed with top notch, championship grade players. The US team, captained by Yunior Lopez, will have in its lineup stars such as world champion Alex Moiseyev and living legend Richard Fortman. Not to be outdone, the British team, captained by Lindus Edwards, will field players of the caliber of mail-play champion George Miller, and special guest Jan Mortimer, who this fall will challenge Patricia Breen for the women's world championship.

The match begins at the It's Your Turn site on April 4. The games will be 3-move restriction and played postal-style with three days allowed for a move. Complete details can be found at the official web site for the match, and you can follow the results there as they come in.

This promises to be a history making, not-to-be-missed match. Put a few tall ones in the refrigerator and tune in at the official web site!

03/31/05 - Printer friendly version
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The Sayings of Tom Wiswell

If you've read much at all of Tom Wiswell's writing on the art and science of checkers, you'll find gems of wisdom sprinkled liberally among the pages. A long-term friend of Tom's in New York City collected thousands of these pithy proverbs, and many of them can be found at the following two web sites:

Daily Speculations
Great Speculations

If you haven't visited these web sites yet, you really owe it to yourself to go there and learn a few new lessons of checkers and life from someone who mastered the art and science of both.


Tom Wiswell often played here. Can you identify the location?
Click for the solution:

[Read More]
03/22/05 - 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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