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."
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.[Read More]
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.
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.[Read More]
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.
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.[Read More]
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.
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.[Read More]
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.
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.
Don't sell out; instead, double down on these two problems, then click on Read More to see the solutions.[Read More]
The New Year has sped in with a bang. The holidays are over and it's back to work and back to school.
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.[Read More]
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.
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.[Read More]
It's the holiday season, which means family, friends, and feasting. So, we at The Checker Maven thought, why not treat our readers to more coffee and cake?
Our old friend Brian Hinkle sent us a composition of his own that he thought would make a great "coffee and cake" problem, and we heartily agree. It's a 3x3 twin with, as Brian points out, the unique feature that no matter who plays, White wins.
So, in between courses at your holiday dinner, or maybe after dinner with a second helping of coffee and cake, you might want to try this one out. We think it's easier when Black is to play, but you'll have to decide that for yourself.
Can you earn that coffee and cake? We'll give you credit if you make a good effort, after which you can click on Read More to see the solutions.[Read More]
"Fast Win" is, it seems, a computer shop on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. We can't explain how the name came about, and frankly it would seem to apply more to checkers or some other game than to computers. We have seen so-called "fast win" computerized slot machines, but we suspect that the fast winner there would be the operating venue.
Now, every once in a while we publish an "oddball" problem. This one is original, although it is inspired by something published long ago. The idea is to find a "fast win."
Well, sure, it's completely obvious that White wins, but what's the fastest way to win, given an effort by Black to hold out as long as possible?
It's not all that difficult, and we'll give you a large hint: we found a 5-move win. Can you go us one better?
Give it a try, and see if you can either make Black hold out longer or White win more quickly. You can see our own solution by clicking on Read More.[Read More]
Every year we express our delight when our favorite family holiday, Thanksgiving, rolls around on the calendar. What's not to like? It's uniquely American in origin, it appeals to all faiths and creeds, and it's a great time to show our gratitude for the things we have in our lives, and there are more of those than you might think at first glance.
On special occasions we like to turn to Tom Wiswell. Today we present one of his traditional "coffee and cake" problems, developed years ago over that very same pair of treats with Milton Loew. Mr. Loew at the time was just 16 years old and already the U.S. Junior Champion. Here's the position, which came from one of Mr. Loew's tournament games.
White is a piece down and is under attack. But Black has some problems, too. Can you win "coffee and cake" from your checker friends with this one? It's not as hard as you may think. Give it a try, and be thankful that you can always click on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]