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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Dang Tough

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Tough steak? Bit off more than she can chew? The steak might possibly have been a little less tough, and more appealing, if it was tenderized and ... cooked.

Tough in checkers, of course, means something different (and so does "cooked" but that's a story for another day). It seems like we've published quite a number of tough problems lately, but hopefully they've been interesting and instructive. With that out of the way, we're going to publish one more. It's a good one, and although we've lost track of the source, it's nonetheless pleasing--- and tough.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W17,18,20,22,23,24,30,31,32:B1,4,6,8,9,10,11,12,16,21.

Yes, Black can win this position with skillful play and quite a bit of patience. That's by way of saying that the solution is rather long and requires careful application of technique. Are you tough enough to stick it out and gain the win? But when you're ready, it won't be very tough at all to click on Read More to see the solution.null

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02/16/19 - Printer friendly version
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Hammer It Out

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No, not like that! Computers can be frustrating sometimes, but the suggestion to 'hammer it out' shouldn't be taken literally.

Sometimes checker games can be frustrating, and you've got to hammer out a solution. In today's Checker School entry, continuing our series of 'gem' problems, we have something composed, appropriately, by Wm. M. Hammer.

Wm. M. Hammer
BLACK
null
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:WK9,K10,20,K22:B2,12,13,K23,K24

If you're Black, you might be frustrated at the difficulty of hammering out a win. If you're White, and a man down but with a centralized position, you might be frustrated at the difficulty of hammering out a draw. Yet a draw is there. Work it out and then pound your mouse on Read More to see the solution.null

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02/09/19 - Printer friendly version
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A Short Stroke for a Short Month

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Leap Year won't come until next year, so February remains a short month. It's always seemed a bit unfair to us. Even though there are only 28 days, the rent or the mortgage or the condo fees remain at their full amount, as do the cell phone bill, the cable bill ...

We're certainly not going to solve that problem here, so maybe we'd best concentrate on a checker problem. It's a short stroke for a short month, and we think you'll find it to be on the easy side.

BLACK
null
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W6,K7,10,11,22:B4,12,15,K21,23.

Can you solve this one in a short time? Figure it out and then make a short leap with your mouse onto Read More to verify your solution.null

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02/02/19 - Printer friendly version
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A Fantasy

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We found A Fantasy in an old checker publication, without any attribution. A Fantasy postulates a game between an Egyptian and the Wizard of Oz, played in the year 2,000 B.C.E.

Well, The Wizard of Oz wasn't published until 1900, but we're willing to suspend disbelief and overlook this nearly 4,000 year time gap, and we won't even get into the fact that our current form of checkers wasn't quite on the scene yet, either. We'll just start with the run-up to the problem position.


1. 9-13 22-17
2. 13x22 25x18
3. 11-16 29-25
4. 5-9 18-14
5. 9x18 23x14
6. 10x17 21x14
7. 8-11 24-19
8. 16x23 26x19
9. 11-16 28-24
10. 16x23 27x18
11. 7-11 30-26
12. 2-7 25-21
13. 6-10 24-19
14. 10x17 21x14
15. 11-16 26-23
16. 7-11 ...

Loses. An easy mistake to have made, but 7-10 would have drawn. We suspect Black didn't like the looks of 7-10 14x7 3x10 32-27 1-6 18-15 4-8 but Black is safe: ... 27-24 (31-26 10-14 26-22 14-18! 23-14 16-32 Black Wins) 16-20 31-27 12-16 19x3 10x26 to a draw.


16. ... 14-10
17. 16-20 31-27
18. 11-16 18-15
19. 4-8 ...
A Fantasy
Played 2,000 Years B.C.E.
BLACK (An Egyptian)
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WHITE (The Wizard of Oz)
White to Play and Win

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

Up until move 16, both our Egyptian friend and the Wizard played without error. But now the Wizard has a chance to win, and, being a Wizard, will naturally do just that.

Can you do as well as the Wizard of Oz, or is that thought just a fantasy? Stay in the realm of reality by solving the problem and then clicking on Read More to see the solution.null

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01/26/19 - Printer friendly version
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For the Love of Thee

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Fred C. Shardlow, born in New York around 1874 and subsequently a resident of the Marshall, Minnesota area, was a song composer, and is credited with the song, For the Love of Thee for voice and violin.

Mr. Shardlow was also a checker problem composer, and we feature one of his "Gem" problems in today's Checker School entry. Unfortunately we don't have further information about his checker career, although we did locate some other problems of his published in the American Checker Monthly and the Winnipeg Free Press.

So, for the Love of Checkers, take a look at the following position.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:WK12,15,23,28:B21,K22,K31.

We know you would love to solve it, so please do! And when you're done, you'll love to click your mouse on Read More to verify your solution.null

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01/12/19 - Printer friendly version
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New Year Action

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Who wants to start off the New Year in a dull and boring manner? The waterfall jumper above is certainly looking to make this day anything but routine.

And while we can't recommend waterfall jumping for everyone, the same principle applies to checkers. How about we start off 2019 with a real bang, courtesy of regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon of Toronto?

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W18,19,21,23,26,27,28,29,32:B3,9,10,11,12,14,16,17,20.

Black seems to have only one mobile piece. Can he truly pull out a draw?

This may be just a little past the 30 second "speed problem" category, but it's not terribly difficult and it certainly is loaded with action.

Kick off your checker year with some real thrills. Solve the problem and then jump your mouse onto Read More to check your solution.null

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01/05/19 - Printer friendly version
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The New Year is Coming

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This column will appear a few days before the New Year of 2019, and no doubt you're busy with all sorts of preparations. Are you going dancing? Taking a dinner cruise? Watching fireworks at a nearby location? Or just staying home for a celebration with friends, or even a quiet evening?

There are as many ways to celebrate as there are people, and given how busy most of us seem to be, today we have a "midget" checker problem that won't take up a lot of your time, while still being worth a little effort.

BLACK
null
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W14,25:B5,26.

Finish off your checker year by finding the solution, and then get back to your celebrations. There will be plenty more checkers in 2019! When you've finished, click on Read More to check your moves.null

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12/29/18 - Printer friendly version
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Happy Holidays 2018

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The story of the Three Kings is a central part of Christian celebration of the holiday of Christmas. Also known as the Three Magi or the Three Wise Men, and sometimes identified as Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India, they traveled to Bethlehem with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, each of which is said to have a symbolic meaning. And whether you celebrate Christmas or some other holiday, the Three Kings make for a fascinating and meaningful story.

We hope you'll have a little time for checkers during the busy holiday season, and in our archives we found a "Three Kings" checker problem. We lost track of the author's name, but nevertheless the problem is very fitting--- and a bit on the difficult side.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W32,30,21,K10,K7:BK26,K24,K23,13,3.

Were you able to solve it? The first move, as is often the case, is the key. We hope you gave it a good try; whenever you wish, you can click on Read More to see the solution.null

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12/22/18 - Printer friendly version
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The American Checkerist

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The American Checkerist was a print publication edited for many years by the prolific and talented William Ryan, who stands with Ben Boland and others among the famed golden age authors of books about checkers. Willie had a great command of the English language and wrote with a style and flair all his own.

In today's Checker School column, we have another "gem" problem, this one by William V. Scott and originally published in The American Checkerist.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win
B:WK9,K12,16,K19,29:B1,2,3,10,K22.

Wow, what's this? Five pieces per side but White has three kings to Black's one, Black is underdeveloped, and yet Black is supposed to win it? We'd almost call this a "Coffee and Cake" problem, but a closer look shows that Black has some definite positional advantages, and the problem is actually "medium" in difficulty.

Can you make this into a Black win? You don't have to be an "American Checkerist" to solve it. Find the winning line of play and then click on Read More to see the solution. Then, see if you can answer this: the 35 cent magazine in the photo above--- what would that amount to in today's money?null

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12/08/18 - Printer friendly version
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14th Anniversary Special Announcement

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This weekend The Checker Maven completes an unbelievable 14 years of continuous publication with never a missed deadline. Week after week we've brought you something about checkers, and from what you've told us, you've seemed to enjoy it.

Originally we were going to publish for 10 years. We upped that to 15 and called that a "hard" limit. That leaves us one year to go. But we turned to Mr. Bill Salot for inspiration; he's in his eighties, going strong in every possible way, and makes no excuses about age or health as he continues to support our game of checkers.

So we're going to continue publication. There's no saying how long that will be--- your editor has serious eyesight issues, for one thing--- but we won't quit as long as we can physically continue.

It seems only fitting to celebrate this anniversary and this announcement by going back to our origins, with a "Coffee and Cake" problem from Brian Hinkle. Recall that a "Coffee and Cake" problem is one that you show to your checker friends and bet them coffee and cake that they can't solve it. Brian calls this one "Trumped" (no political reference intended).

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play, What Result?

W:W10,12,24,K27:B3,7,26,K30.

Stay the course. Don't make excuses. Carry on. We wouldn't call this an easy problem, but--- like publishing The Checker Maven every week--- your efforts will be well rewarded. When you've found the right moves, click on Read More to check your solution.null

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12/01/18 - Printer friendly version
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i, as a completely non-commercial public service from which no profit is obtained or sought. Original material is Copyright © 2004-2019 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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