Contests in Progress:
The P=NP problem in computer science is one of the Millennium Prize Problems and if you can solve it, you'll win a cool $1 million prize from the Clay Mathematics Institute. We won't attempt to explain the problem here but it certainly can be said to be at the ultra-difficult level. The prize is yet to be claimed.
Turning to checkers, we recently we presented Brian Hinkle's Prize Problem which carried with it an award of $100 (not $1 million) to the first correct solver. Alas, that reward went unclaimed. Today we have a different sort of prize problem. It was published back in 1907 in the Canadian Checker Player magazine. The prize was a six-month subscription to that excellent publication of bygone days, and the prize was indeed awarded to a successful correspondent.
We'll not claim that the problem is up to Brian's grandmaster composing standards, nor will we offer anything beyond personal satisfaction for finding the solution. But it's nevertheless an interesting composition.
Would you have won a half-year subscription to one of history's best checker publications? We'd offer you a free six month on-line subscription to The Checker Maven but that wouldn't be much of a prize given that our publication is already free. So solve it just for the fun of it, and claim a look at the solution by clicking on Read More. If you like, write to us and tell us if you might have been a winner well over a century ago.[Read More]
Uh-oh. Someone is going to have to get out that spare tire, and no matter how many times you've changed a tire on the road, it's never much fun.
There are other kinds of spares, of course. There is spare time (a rather rare commodity in the Checker Maven offices). You can be "spared" something unpleasant, like a visit to the dentist. A spacious home has "room to spare" --- and so on.
In today's Checker School column, we present a very old position attributed to William Payne. "Spare" also has a meaning in checkers, as you'll see.
Of course, the problem is extremely easy and will be solved in a couple of seconds by players with even a moderate level of experience. But after you solve it, use a spare couple of minutes to click on Read More to see what point Andrew J. Banks, author of Checker Board Strategy, was trying to make.[Read More]
No, the folks above aren't talking about a movie or a video game. They're actually touting a summer camp, packed with active rather than passive adventure. Sounds good to us.
This month's speed problem is action-packed, too--- and quite active. Solve it and see why.
We'd say it's on the upper end of easy in difficulty, not quite medium, but certainly not trivial and very nice. Skilled players won't need a lot of time. The rest of us might need a little longer, but it's definitely within reach. Take action, try it out, and then click on Read More to check your solution.[Read More]
"Kingless" in chess isn't possible. The White King must be somewhere. The above chess position was originally presented as a "find the White King's square" puzzle. Unfortunately the puzzle is trivial and flawed with multiple solutions.
"Kingless" in checkers, on the other hand, is quite a normal situation.Contest 58 in Bill Salot's spectacular long-running Unofficial World Championship Checker Problem Composing Contest series has begun. and the theme of this contest is indeed Kingless. It features four disparate problems, all of whose settings contain no kings. However, this set of problems is free of multiple solutions and certainly isn't trivial.
The contest can be found, as always, at contests.checkermaven.com. It runs until the end of October. Be sure to try out the problems and cast your vote for the one you think should win the title.
For today's problem, Bill provided us with a "sample" kingless problem. It's not part of the contest but it illustrates what you have to look forward to. The problem is entitled Bewildered and is by well-known composer Roy Little.
Bewildering? Perhaps. You don't need to be the king of checkers to solve it, though; it's within reach if you put in the effort. When you're ready, give your mouse a kingly click on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
It's Labor Day weekend at the time of publication of this column, and on Monday, we recognize and celebrate the contribution of workers in all walks of life. The drawing above shows just a few of the many ways in which people contribute. There are lots more, and we've always said that we think all honest work is praiseworthy and honorable.
After some really tough times, we're happy to note that America is getting back to work, and in fact the demand for workers is high. So let's give Labor Day an extra measure of emphasis this year and enjoy the day as never before.
We usually turn to Tommie Wiswell for a problem on holidays such as this, but instead today we've got one that Tommie selected for inclusion in one of his books. It's by William Link, who composed this problem while still playing as a youth in New York City a nearly 80 years ago. Mr. Wiswell viewed him as an up and coming champion, but we've not heard or read much about him. Perhaps something derailed his checker career? We don't know, but we do know that the following position, which Mr. Link called Out on a Limb is an interesting one. Mr. Wiswell calls it "simple, pleasing, and instructive."
White to Play and Win
You should be able to solve it, but if you can't, you won't be out on a limb, as clicking on Read More will show you the solution.[Read More]
Our Prize Problem contest, sponsored by Brian Hinkle, has ended. No, we can't offer the Nobel Prize, but Brian did offer $25 to the first person to solve it. He later upped his offer to $50, then $75, and finally $100.
But no one submitted a correct solution so Brian got to keep his money.
For those of you truly puzzled by the problem (which must be just about everyone), don't feel bad. The two most powerful computer engines in the world, KingsRow and Cake, couldn't solve it either! Here's Brian's solution and brief notes.
3-7 10-15 7-10 20-24 21-17---A 24-27---B 11-7 2x11 10-6 1x10 22-18 15x31 17-14 10x17 25-22 17x26 5-1. White Wins.
A---Planning ahead for the fireworks.
B---16-20 25-21 24-27 11-7 2x11 30-25 23x30 32x7. White Wins.
White is down no less than six pieces, but still wins as Black will eventually run out of moves in this incredible block position. Marching the checkers on 11 and 4 down the main diagonal won't work as White will simply allow his piece on 29 to capture both of Black's approaching men. Try working through it on your own. You won't find a single variation in which Black doesn't eventually become completely blocked.
Block problems, along with fortress problems and "fugitive king" problems are notoriously difficult for computers to solve, and Grandmaster problemist Brian Hinkle has here created what may be the ultimate block problem of all time. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. In fact, if you'd like to see another Brian Hinkle classic, check out Bear Claw, published back in the early days of The Checker Maven.
On one of those hot, hot summer days in the Northern Hemisphere, the best thing to do is relax and cool off, as the young lady in the photo is enjoying doing. There are days when we just don't want to be bothered with any amount of effort or exertion.
Even we have to admit that on hot summer days, our attention can be drawn away from checkers. So today we've got an easy problem sent to us by regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon of Toronto. It's one of those settings for which you'll either see the solution immediately, or you'll go astray at the outset.
Experienced players will make short work of this, and the rest of us will get it with a little thought. Keep your cool, see how quickly you can solve it and then click on Read More to check your line of play.[Read More]
We're sure many readers of The Checker Maven will understand the context of the cartoon above. It's a bit of American history, in which a powerful man found himself pushed into a corner with no way out.
We continue our ongoing Checker School series, currently featuring problems and situations taken from Checker Board Strategy, a most unusual and entertaining book by Andrew J. Banks. Here is a "gem" problem composed by famous problemist S. J. Pickering and originally published in Elam's Checker Board.
The title of today's column gives a huge hint and we suggest you take full advantage. Don't get cornered; work out the problem and click on any corner (or even the middle) of Read More to see the solution and notes.[Read More]
Sponsored and produced, as always, by the seemingly tireless Bill Salot, this latest composing contest features three new and challenging positions.
Be an active participant by enjoying the problems and then voting for the one you deem best. Both Bill and the problem composers will appreciate your input, but above all you'll get to experience compositions by some of the very best contemporary checker problemists. What more can you ask?
You can also participate in the International Voters' Ladder by attempting to identify the problem that will garner the most votes. Details are on the contest page.
And now, as an introduction to Contest 57, here is a previous contest winner by Leo Springer, called Dutch Treat, which illustrates the new contest's theme of six star moves followed by a sextuple jump.
Click on Read More to see the solution and then go on to enjoy the new contest.[Read More]
July 4, 2021 will be the day after the date of publication of this column. It's a brighter and more hopeful 4th of July than it was last year, when we were in the midst of the worst pandemic in a hundred years. But America is recovering, as it always has, and the future is looking better all the time.
At The Checker Maven we remain and always shall remain unabashed and unapologetic patriots. We believe in America and we believe in the American people. We're proud to celebrate the 4th of July, America's birthday.
Every year we turn to Tom Wiswell, himself a true patriot who served America in so many ways. Mr. Wiswell was famous not only for his great playing skill and masterful problem compositions; he also produced many wise and pithy quotes. We especially like this one: "Hard work makes playing easy." We think it's typically American.
And now here's today's problem.
White is a piece up but is bound to lose a man. Can you notch the full point by finding a win and avoiding what looks to be an inevitable draw? "Hard work makes play easy" --- this one will be a bit of work, but you can make it look easy. When you've found your solution, click on Read More to independently verify your work.[Read More]