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 Bit of a Break

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Sometimes, it all gets to be a little too much, and we need a break. We're not sure what the poor fellow in the picture above is working on; could he perhaps be doing a manual transcription of the 10-piece endgame database?

Today we have a speed problem, provided by regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon, that will give you a break in checker terms: it's definitely on the easy side. While some may disagree, we believe that easy problems have a clear purpose: to improve both sight-solving skills and speed of analysis.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W32,30,19,K15,K6:BK26,24,23,21,12,7.

See how quickly you can solve this one, and then break over to Read More to verify your solution.null

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05/05/18 - Printer friendly version
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A 'Maid of the Mill' Surprise

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Above, a group of Morris Dancers are performing Maid of the Mill at a festival in Newcastle. Maid of the Mill spans many genres: dance, art, literature ... and draughts.

In our ongoing serialized story, Three Move Opening: A Checker Romance, our protagonist made an unfortunately timed reference to the Maid of the Mill opening. Today, we'd like to offer something quite substantial in the play of that opening.

The following is based on the 15th game of the 2014 World Championship Go As You Please match between Sergio Scarpetta (Black) and Ron King (White). The game, as played, ended in a draw, but there was an interesting winning possibility for Black.


1. 11-15 22-17
2. 8-11 17-13
3. 15-18

Forms Maid of the Mill.


3. ... 23x14
4. 9x18 21-17
5. 10-15 25-21

24-20 is definitely better, but it isn't clear that this move loses.


6. 4-8 26-23
7. 18-22 24-19
8. 15x24 28x19
9. 11-16

Back into the KingsRow opening book with a pull for Black, but not clearly a win.


9. ... 27-24
10. 8-11 24-20
11. 7-10 32-28
12. 3-7 28-24
13. 11-15 20x11
14. 7x16 24-20

23-18 also draws.


15. 15x24 20x11
16. 12-16 11-8

Loses; 23-18 should draw.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W31,30,29,23,21,17,13,8:B24,22,16,10,6,5,2,1.

Mr. Scarpetta didn't find the win. Can you? We realize that's a lot to ask, and in fact it's a very difficult problem, but the solution is as surprising as it's good, and we think that any effort you put into this problem will be amply repaid. So do try it, and then click on Read More to see the answer.null

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04/28/18 - Printer friendly version
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A Possible Misstep

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Snow can still come in April in many parts of North America, and if it does, you had best be careful and not suffer the type of mishap that of the unfortunate lady above.

This month's speed problem doesn't have a time limit and doesn't use the Javascript clock. Now, it's not a particularly hard problem, it's just that ... well, there's a way to misstep and slip, even if it doesn't involve snow and ice, and then things get a little more complicated.

Perhaps it's simplest to show you the diagram and let you find out for yourself.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W32,30,28,27,25,23,19,15,14,13:B21,20,17,12,8,7,6,5,3,1.

Watch your step, and solve this step by step. The next step? Clicking on Read More to check your solution.null

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04/07/18 - Printer friendly version
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Thinking It Over

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The sculpture above is found near the Pioneer Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a city we've visited a few times. We don't know what the young lad is musing upon; could that be a book of checker problems next to him?

Whatever he's contemplating, it's unlikely that it's today's checker problem, another fine entry sent to us by master composer Ed Atkinson. He calls it Thinking It Over. Let's let him describe it in his own words.

"Here is the problem. It is only the unusual setting and the first few moves that are original. The resulting end game can be traced back through the centuries to the very first problem published in English, a 262 year time line.

The references can be found in Boland's Border Classics, page 59 and Famous Positions, page 8. Closely related material was published by several in the mid 19th century."

Thinking It Over
BLACK
null
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W27,K22,17,15,9:BK29,K25,7.

What's this? White is up two pieces, so where's the problem? But it won't take you long to realize that White's big advantage is greatly at risk, and getting the full score is anything but easy.

Okay, you know what we're going to say: think it over, and find the winning moves. As often is the case, the key is to find the right first move. After you've given this enough thought, think about clicking on Read More to see Ed's solution and notes.null

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03/31/18 - Printer friendly version
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Find Both Solutions

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You probably learned in basic math classes that any quadratic equation has dual solutions, though they may not be unique, and when solving such equations, you were surely asked to find both solutions.

But as we've noted before, in checker problem competitions, "dual" solutions are frowned upon; a composition should have a but a single path to correctness. But with our speed problems, and with a mind to improving over the board visualization skills, sometimes a problem with a "dual" can be of value --- if you can find both solutions.

The following problem was sent to us by regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon of Toronto, who developed it in conjunction with noted contemporary problemist Bill Salot. It has a dual solution.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W18,19,21,23,26,27,29:B5,9,10,11,12,14,17.

Can you find both paths to victory? You'll get half credit for finding one of them, but full credit only if you work out both. The challenge is fair in that one solution is not simply a variant of the other.

Give this at least a "couple" of tries, and then click on Read More to see how you've done.null

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03/03/18 - Printer friendly version
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Patterns

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Ed Atkinson, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is well-known in the checker community as a top player and skilled problemist. He is also, we're proud to say, a regular Checker Maven reader and occasional correspondent.

Ed offered us an original problem for publication and as you might expect, it's a dandy. He calls it Patterns, and you'll see why if you find the winning moves.

BLACK
null
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W12,16,17,29,K1,K8:B2,3,10,15,26,27.

You'd think White would have an easy win here; after all, he's got two kings and Black has none. But White looks a bit crowded around Black's single corner, and the win isn't at all easy to find. This is a top-notch, difficult problem with a rewarding solution. Can you find the pattern?

See what you can arrange, and then click on Read More to check your work.null

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02/17/18 - Printer friendly version
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The Depths of Winter

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North America is in the depths of winter once again; it's the time of year when there's been enough winter weather that you really, really want spring to come. But you'll have to wait another eight weeks or so for that.

Fortunately, checkers never gets tiresome, and if you've got to be indoors, what better way than with a hot beverage and a fine checker study? The one below, attributed to old-time player Charles Hefter, is surprisingly good.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W19,18:BK20,K17.

Looks easy, doesn't it? Black has two kings and White has but two ordinary men. But in fact winning this position requires careful play.

Can you get the full score or will you tire of the effort? Of course you won't, and clicking on Read More will allow you to check your solution.null

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02/10/18 - Printer friendly version
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Two For The Price Of One

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Two-for-the-price-of-one promotions are certainly popular in the world of marketing, making the buyer believe they're getting a good deal. Sometimes you do get a good price, and at other times (such as in the photo above), not so much. We occasionally refer to some bad deals as giving you "fifty percent off twice the price" or what is known in French as a "fausse solde."

But to start off February we have, indeed, two checker problems for the price of one, and it's definitely a good deal. (Not that you ever have to pay to read The Checker Maven, of course.)

The first situation is a true speed problem, and a rather nice one sent to us by regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon. It's not terribly hard, probably of the 30 second variety.

Diagram 1
BLACK
null
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W32,K21,10,7,K2:BK22,18,K15,3,1.

But what is interesting, though, is that if White plays 2-6 the game is lost, yet that's the move one might make reflexively. This one is somewhat longer and a bit more difficult, and can't really be called a speed problem.

Diagram 2
WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W32,K21,10,7,K6:BK22,18,K15,3,1.

Don't sell out; instead, double down on these two problems, then click on Read More to see the solutions.null

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02/03/18 - Printer friendly version
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The New Year Has Arrived

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The New Year has sped in with a bang. The holidays are over and it's back to work and back to school.

We hope your "work" will include your checker game, and to that end we have a speed problem provided by regular contributors Josh and Lloyd Gordon of Toronto. We won't run our Javascript clock this time, as we think you should be allowed at least a minute or two to solve it. We'll even give you a hint: Read the first sentence of this column again.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:WK11,13,17,18,21,28,30:B5,6,9,12,19,K27,K31.

Can you rush to a solution and work out the winning moves? When you've got it, click on Read More to see the solution.null

[Read More]
01/06/18 - Printer friendly version
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The New Year Is Coming In

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We're publishing this column just ahead of New Year's Eve. Now, usually our New Year's column appears just after the holiday, and we like to publish an easier problem in case you, well, indulged in a bit of celebration, such as the Honolulu revelers above are doing.

But you've got until Sunday night this year (2017) which gives you most of a weekend, so we don't at all feel guilty about publishing something a little more difficult.

WHITE
null
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W28,27,24,22,19,18,16:B20,13,12,11,7,3,2.

This is indeed fascinating. Black seems hemmed in and has little in the way of safe moves. How can he possibly win it?

Finding the solution actually isn't all that hard, and it's a very pleasing one. Can you do it before the year runs out? That's your challenge, to ring in the New Year with a checker victory. Clicking on Read More will allow you to verify your work.null

[Read More]
12/30/17 - 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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