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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Farmer Sneed, Ned, and Mr. Hatley

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Not being television fans, your editors were until now unfamiliar with Sneed's Feed and Seed in the television program The Simpsons.

In this month's Checker School column, we meet a different Farmer Sneed, another character named Ned, and Ned's father, Mr. Hatley. Taken from the curious and fascinating Checker Board Strategy, by Andrew J. Banks, the good farmer is taught a thing or two about book learning. The Banks' character Farmer Sneed predates Sneed's Feed & Seed by about half a century.


FARMER SNEED LEARNS A THING OR TWO

Under the sweet scented apple blossoms, Nedís face twitched nervously as he eyed Farmer Sneedís beehives. He could hear the wind pushing through the apple blos- soms, the bleating of lambs, and the cackling of chickens. The old farmer liked to take Ned near the bees. Pucker- ing his weather beaten face, he chuckled, "Letís move this hive a little." However, Sneed quickly jerked back his thick muscular hand when a bee stung it. He muttered a little sheepishly, "Oh, thatís nothing--- itís good for my rheumatism. Come on, letís play checkers on the porch; I like to trim you book players."

"Why Uncle Sneed," protested Ned, "the students of book play win all the national championships; take Asa Long, for example."

"Never heard of him," snorted Sneed, "I could probably lick him too. I believe what old Ben Franklin said, 'Care- lessness does more harm than want of knowledge'."

By this time Mr. Hatley had arrived; he met them at the well. "Sneed, you have the best water that I have tasted anywhere," Hatley. said politely, after quenching his thirst and taking a deep breath of the fresh country air.

"None better," Sneed agreed, as he rubbed the hand that the bee had stung. He was not anxious to play Nedís father, but he did so; and Sneed lost five games in a row. Later Ned inquired, "Father, how can you beat Farmer Sneed so easily?"

"I know hundreds of problems," was the reply. "I use those ideas against Sneed."


Here's one of the problems that Mr. Hatley put to use. It's attributed to H. Lieberman.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B2,6,K13,K23:W14,15,19,K8

Do you know hundreds of problems, like Mr. Hatley? You'll only need to know one to solve this position. Don't get stung; solve it and then click on Read More to see the surprisingly simple solution.null

[Read More]
07/11/20 - Printer friendly version
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Fourth of July 2020

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This column will appear on July 4, 2020, and as always we delight in celebrating America's birthday. We make no apologies for being devoted American patriots.

America (and the world) have had a very tough time this year. But the American way is not to throw our hands up in the air and say, "Oh poor us! We did a terrible job handling the crisis! We'll never recover!"--- although shamefully there are some who are doing just that. We believe the American way is to do what Americans have always done: face up to the crisis, work our way through it, and carry on. We will recover, just as we always have. It may take some time and there may be substantial pain along the way, but we'll do it. We're Americans and that's what Americans do.

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We always like to celebrate the Fourth with a problem from Tom Wiswell, a man who was both a great patriot and a great checkerist, and we'll do the same today. It's a deceptive three by three which Mr. Wiswell called Tempo.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W14,30,31:B3,12,22

Solve this problem at any tempo you wish, and at the right time, click on Read More to see the solution.null

[Read More]
07/04/20 - Printer friendly version
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Alex Moiseyev, Problem Composer (Part 1 of 2)

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Alex Moiseyev

We recently presented an interview with a great modern champion, Alex Moiseyev, in which we talked about his life and playing career. But we didn't cover a lesser-known fact about Alex: that he is also a problem composer. In fact, he holds the title of Grandmaster in the composition of 10x10 problems for International Checkers.

Indeed, most of his compositions have been for the International and Russian games, but he has composed a few for English checkers. This month we'll show you one of them, and next month we'll challenge you with an even tougher position.

Alex's first problem is at an advanced level though not at grandmaster levels.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK7,K16,32:B19,K23,K27

You should be able to solve this one if you give it sufficient thought and time. No need to be a Grandmaster! See how you do and then click on Read More to see the solution and notes.null

[Read More]
06/20/20 - Printer friendly version
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Solution to CV-6: Metamorphosis

CV-6: Metamorphosis
BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B7,18,K1,K23:W9,14,31,K5,K30

Solution and notes are by problem composer Ed Atkinson.

30-25---A 23-19---1 25-21 18-23---B 14-10 7-14 9-6 1-10 5-9 14-18 31-26 23-30 9-14 10-17 21-16 White Wins with the move.

A---31-26 23-19 26-22 18-25 30-21 is a piece down draw.

B---18-22---C 14-10 7-14 9-6 1-10 5-9 22-25 9-18 25-30 18-15 White Wins.

C---19-23 31-27---D 23-32 9-6 1-17 21-23 32-28 23-19 7-10 5-9 28-32 19-23 32-28 23-18 10-14 18-22 White Wins.

D---31-26 23-30 9-6 also wins.

1---Black could also just play something like 7-11, losing in a routine man-down situation---Ed.

Ed adds, "The solution is short, but, I think, is well concealed. There is quite a bit to look at. This problem, under the name Transposition, won one of Bill Salot's contests some years ago. When it appeared, ACF Master Joe Moore called it a 'masterpiece.' Since then I've composed several other problems on the same theme. Brian Hinkle also used the idea. I had been calling it a freeze, but I think Brian calls it a hesitation stroke. I like his name better. The inspiration was a problem by J. C. Greensword."

Ed concludes, "Let's hope that you don't need many (more) CV (problems)." And as much as we've enjoyed presenting this series, we have to agree.

We hope you too have gotten some entertainment from these special Wednesday columns. Stay safe and well, checker fans, wherever you are.

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Editor's Note: Our columns are usually written well in advance, so we don't know what the status of the recovery will be when this edition is published. We are of course hoping for the best.null

06/17/20 - Printer friendly version
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Take The Short Road

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We've not made much use of the Javascript clock in recent months because we're trying to make our website as cookie-free and Javascript-free as possible, so it can be accessed easily and safely by all. So today's speed problem won't be timed, but you won't find it very hard at all.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W19,20,K22,30,32:B12,13,21,23,K27

It turns out that White can grind out a win with 19-15. That's all well and good, but there's a shorter road to victory. Can you find it? When you have the answer, move your mouse a short distance to Read More and give it a quick click to reveal the solution.null

[Read More]
06/06/20 - Printer friendly version
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CV-6: Metamorphosis

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Today's problem by master composer Ed Atkinson, CV-6: Metamorphosis, is the last in our series of special Wednesday publications, intended to provide a little extra checker diversion during the public health crisis.

CV-6: Metamorphosis
BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B7,18,K1,K23:W9,14,31,K5,K30

None of the problems in this series have been easy, and this one is no exception. You have the usual two weeks to find the solution before we publish it in this column. Meanwhile, stay safe and healthy, checker fans, wherever you are.null

06/03/20 - Printer friendly version
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Solution to CV-5: Mindbender

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK5,K11,12,16,K19,21,25,28:B2,3,6,K10,13,14,20,26K

1. ... 5-9---A 2. 14-18 12-8---B 3. 3x12 28-24 4. 20x27 21-17 5. 13x29 11-8 6. 6x13 19-23 7. 12x19 23x7 8. 2x11 8x22 White Wins---C

A---A star move and the only one to win. Seven other moves merely draw.

B---The order of moves is critical; if 1. ... 12-8 2. 3x12 5-9 now 3. 14-18 loses but 3. 26-30 draws (KingsRow).

C---Tom Wiswell called this one-holds-two formation the "Spread Eagle": 13-17 22-13 29-25 13-17 or 29-25 22-29 13-17 29-25 17-21 25-30, White Wins.

Composer Brian Hinkle says that this is one of his best problems. That's really saying something, as Brian has composed countless world-class checker problems. He also tells us this one was partially inspired by Ed Atkinson's "Jack in the Box" theme, in which a king becomes surrounded by four opposing pieces, as seen in our 15th Anniversary problem.

Thank you, Brian, for sending this one to us.null

06/03/20 - Printer friendly version
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Memorial Day 2020

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Memorial Day has a long history. Once called Decoration Day, it began in various forms after the Civil War, at least as early as 1868, but it wasn't until 1971 that it actually became an official Federal holiday in the United States. Originally it was celebrated on May 30, but it is now observed on the last Monday of May. (There is even a Confederate Memorial Day celebrated at the end of April in a few Southern states, but apparently it's not "politically correct" to mention it.)

Memorial Day is an important observation, a day to honor and remember those who gave everything to safeguard our freedom. As is so often said, freedom isn't free.

On Memorial Day weekend we like to feature a checker problem by a celebrated American composer from the past. Often it's Tom Wiswell, but this year we turn to Charles Hefter, who as a keen analyst specialized in problems that represented corrections to actual play. This makes Mr. Hefter's offerings practical as well as entertaining.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK1,K9,14,20:B5,7,15,K23

The White win proposed by the problem terms might look a bit--- problematical-- but it's there, and not really all that difficult to find. Can you solve it? See what you can do and then click on Read More to see the solution.null

[Read More]
05/23/20 - Printer friendly version
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CV-5: Brian's 8x8 Mindbender

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Our special Wednesday CV series is intended to provide a little extra checker entertainment during difficult days. Our fifth problem, CV-5, comes from master composer Brian Hinkle. He didn't give this composition a title, and just points out that it's an 8 by 8 (eight pieces per side). We call it a "Mindbender." Keep in mind that the CV problems are intended to be challenging!

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK5,K11,12,16,K19,21,25,28:B2,3,6,K10,13,14,20,26K

You'll have two weeks to solve it, at which time we'll publish the solution. Good luck, and stay safe and healthy, checker fans, wherever you are.null

05/20/20 - Printer friendly version
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Solution to CV-4: Donnybrook

CV-4: Donnybrook
BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W6,13,20,21,24,28,31:B4,5,7,14,K22,K23,26

24-19 23x16 20x2 14-17---A 21x14 22-17 31x22 17x1---B 28-24---C 4-8 24-19 8-12 2-7---D 5-9 13x6 1x3 22-18 3-7 18-15 White Wins---E.

A---Black has a wide variety of possible moves here, but this 2 for 2 may give him the best chance for a draw over the board.

B---White seemingly has a crushing grip on the game, but in fact very precise play is necessary.

C---Moving the piece on 22 or playing 2-7 would give Black a 2 for 1.

D---But now White can and indeed must give Black a 2 for 1.

E---Winning with the move.

Problem composer Ed Atkinson notes that all White moves are star moves, and says of his problem, "This one has been described as 'weirdo' by a well known problemist and as 'psycho' by an expert player and solver."

We'd prefer to just call it "unique and entertaining." We hope you enjoyed it, and our thanks to Ed for sending it our way.null

05/20/20 - 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 © 2004-2020 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.

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