The feature problem for February was The Little Fooler by Tom Wiswell and Jimmy Ricca. Did it fool you? Click above to go back to the problem and see the elegant solution.
Also in February we started our Masked Man series. Could you identify the problemist and, just as importantly, solve the problem? Again, click above to go back, take one last look, and find out how well you did.
Didn't solve them all this time? Take heart. Last month's lean and mean two-by-two problems were harder than you might have expected. But don't give up. Try out this month's problems and watch your skills improve.
That said, feel free to browse the calendar and as always send us your comments and suggestions.
Through the history of the game, many books have been written and many authors have tried their hand, some with great success and others with less spectacular results. And so, we'd like to ask our readers a question: who is your favorite checker book author?
In this survey, we've listed a few of the most prolific and well-respected authors. Which one do you enjoy reading the most? Enter your vote and then compare it with the choices of other readers.
We'd like to introduce you to Marvin J. Mavin, the hero of this webzine and the Captain and First Board player for the Detroit Doublejumpers, one of the leading teams in the Central Division of the National Checker League.
Marvin was a top player on his grade school and high school teams, being named to the All-State squad three years running in his home state of New Jersey. He moved on to collegiate checkers, receiving a full-ride scholarship from the prestigious University of Champions in Mississippi. Following college he was a first-round draft choice of the St. Louis Switchers, who started him out with their Triple-A farm club, the Louisville Leapers of the Southeastern Checker League.
Marvin made the "big show" within a year, moving up to the Switchers, but became a free agent after his two-year contract expired, as he and the Switchers were unable to come to terms, with Marvin asking $12 million a year and the Switchers capping their offer at $8 million. The Doublejumpers then signed him on for $10 million per year plus performance based bonuses. The rest, as we all know, is history.
Join us in the columns of The Checker Maven later this month (March 2005), as Marvin pays a visit to a Detroit grade school and gives a lesson (or perhaps gets a lesson) on the "Fun Shot" in the Single Corner opening.
You can get them here. Let us know what you think.
Oh...yes, these are for checkers, in case you were wondering!
We've come across what must be a fairly new site but one that has really captured our attention. It's called TurnPlay and it's simple, focused, and unique. This site has a lot of promise and we hope that it attracts its share of users. It is sure to appeal to the serious checker player.
TurnPlay is not a site for a casual head-to-head "pickup" game. It is instead a site which you can use to establish games with other players, who don't even have to be members themselves, and then engage in serious play backed by a game moderation system that works the way it ought to, including the use of correct PDN for moves.
In addition, the site allows for setup and play of an arbitrary position, something we have yet to see elsewhere.
Memberships are inexpensive at $20 per year although free guest memberships offer many of the important features, including unlimited play.
We did, by the way, also just now review another site which offers email turn-based play of something they believe to be checkers (although we beg to differ). We won't embarrass them, or us, by mentioning its name in The Maven, but the full review is here if you'd like to see for yourself.
Missing screen shot images for about half a dozen sites on the review page have been restored as of 05 March 2005; our apologies for any inconvenience.
We received this email today:
"I see a lot of people using a Cheating program for playing checkers on Yahoo. Where are they getting it from? Thanks"
It's pretty sad, isn't it? We can only hope that some day, these folks might get a life and realize that there is no shame in losing with grace and sportsmanship, and that relying on your own skills and accepting the results is what makes a true winner.[Read More]
Also last month, we updated our review of the Blondie24 computer program. Click on the link, and then take a look at the animated game between Blondie and Simple Checkers to see how surprisingly well these two fare over the board.
And finally, we've done a complete rewrite of our article, So This Is Checkers?, as we've come across a lot of supplementary information about interesting checker variants both old and new.
(This article was rewritten on 09 February 2005 due to newly found information affecting its accuracy.)
Take a good look at the image below. It's an artist's conception of a serious checker game in a rural grocery store. Nice drawing, but the artist was clearly not a checker player.
However, the game these two are playing in fact could be one of two (or maybe even more, but we know of two) little-known checker variants, one of them quite old and the other quite modern. The game also looks a lot like (but isn't quite) several other unusual variants.
Do you know what variants would be an exact match? Can you name a few also-rans that don't quite make it?
Click on the picture to see a larger version; then come back and click on Read More for the solution.[Read More]