On the first Saturday of the month we often have a speed problem, an easy problem, or a stroke problem. Today we have a (not so) easy problem.
This one in a way is in two parts. There's the easy part in the beginning, and chances are you'll see that right away, even though White is on the verge of losing a piece. But then there's the second part. You'll see what we mean when you work on solving it. In any event, this little study is a great demonstration of an important winning technique.
Will you find a winning way easily or (not so) easily? This week, we suggest you take as much time as you need, and then click on Read More to see the solution and explanatory notes.[Read More]
Professor W. R. Fraser was a Canadian champion who also published books and studies on checkers, mostly notably The Inferno of Checkers, in which he used Dante's Inferno as a metaphor. We won't delve further into that interesting literary area today; instead we'll emphasize Prof. Fraser's academic side, by presenting one of his studies from a group Tom Wiswell included in a small collection that Mr. Wiswell called Canadian Checker Class.
We'd rate this one as fairly hard, though short of infernal. If you get the first move right and figure out the theme, you'll be able to solve it. Treat this as a professorial homework assignment rather than a descent into Hades, and see if you can get it, then burn your mouse on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
This column appears on April 15, 2017. April 15, in the United States, is the infamous day on which income tax returns are due, along with any money you might still owe. Checker Maven staff get hit pretty hard every year; we certainly hope that you do better, regardless what country you call home.
We have a slight reprieve, as when April 15 falls on a weekend, we're ever so generously allowed until Monday to pay up. So, let's enjoy a checker problem before we face the music two days hence.
White is a piece down and it's not looking so good. Would you say it's kind of like the way the tax man hits us with a big bill when we can least afford it? But in this case, White can beat the tax man and break even (try to do that with the IRS)--- no cheating required.
Tax your brain instead of your wallet. The solution is elegant and pleasing, if every bit as hard to find as enough cash to pay that tax bill. See how you do, then file your return by clicking your mouse on Read More to get your refund--- or if not exactly a refund, a look at the solution and some explanatory notes.[Read More]
The picture above dates to World War II, when many did without in support of the war effort. Luckily, today, in the free world we generally don't have to do without, as a minimum, the basic necessities.
In checkers, there is "doing without" as well; in today's study, the winning side has to make do without "the move." This is called in textbooks, logically enough, "first position without."
We know that first position is a win with two kings against a king and a man, as long as the side with two kings has the move. But checkers is full of subtle twists, and there are wins in some of these positions without having the move on the stronger side, hence the name "first position without." There are supposedly twenty or so of these exceptions to the general rule. Below you'll find one of them.
There are a couple of ways to do this, depending on how White plays. One of them is as proposed decades ago in Dr. Call's book of "Midget" problems. Another line is preferred by our KingsRow computer engine.
Can you find the win here, or will you have to do "without"? See how you do, and then "without" hesitation, click on Read More to see the solutions.[Read More]
March is over and April has come around again, as it always does, with perhaps a promise of spring. This column is being first published on April 1, 2017, and you might do well to bear that in mind as you take a look at today's checker problem.
We rate this one as very easy. You can solve it in seconds if you get the idea. But it's almost surely impossible if you don't see what's going on.
Are you sharp today? Don't fool around; puzzle it out and then click your mouse on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
In a recent article we asked you about your preferences in board diagrams, and although there were various opinions, a clear (and nearly overwhelming) majority seem to prefer black and white diagrams with the corresponding side notations of "Black" and "White." So, as of today, we're switching over. A good picture is indeed worth a thousand words.
The problem is that we didn't think the black and white diagrams were of especially high quality. But we're happy to say that we've found a way to "port" the excellent black and white diagrams used in our print publications over to the web. We'll spare you the technical details, which involve rather arcane Linux knowledge, and instead hope that you like our new, larger, clearer diagrams. Do write and let us know what you think.
So, let's start off with a fine problem from Samuel Gonotsky. This one is taken from over the board play and it's quite a nice early endgame study.
Against best play by Black, White will have to work pretty hard to get the draw. Situations such as these are seldom pure black and white. Can you find your way through? Our computer found a neat move to make things much harder than we think Mr. Gonotsky intended, but that's the black and the white of it. Give it a try and then click on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
We've often said that we present a range of problems in our Checker Maven columns; sometimes they're grandmaster tough, sometimes beginner easy, but most are usually somewhere in-between. We have readers with a very wide range of skills, and we try to provide something for everyone. We suggest the following: when you find a problem is tough, study the solution with a view to learning technique; when it seems easy, try for rapid sight recognition.
Today, though, we've got a truly easy-as-pie problem that even many early-stage checkerists will solve right away. See how quickly you can spot the solution!
By the time you read this line, you've probably already solved it, but just in case, you can ease over to Read More to check your answer.[Read More]
If you live in a cold North American climate, you probably can use a bit of a winter break. Now, there's a definite difference between a winter break--- an escape from the cold--- and a spring break, which is often associated with hijinx on the part of college students.
But we think a winter break can also stand a bit of mischief, at least of the checker nature. So we've chosen a problem that was originally titled "Maryland Mischief." Surely, Maryland can suffer from some serious winter weather, and perhaps this is a Marylander's way of taking a break. Have a look and see what you think.
Attributed to a Wilson Coudon of Elkton, Maryland, you can tell you're in for some mischief from the problem terms alone, as it's one of those "What Result?" puzzlers that often leave you guessing. That diagonal lineup looks pretty mischievious, too. Perhaps the fact that White is down a piece will provide a clue?
Take a short winter break and see what you can do with this one, then click your playful mouse on Read More to see the solution.[Read More]
We're trying out some of these ideas today. By eliminating the clock, of course, we eliminate the timed challenge and in a way negate the idea of a "speed" problem; the idea will be to simply see how fast you can spot the solution, without any external pressure.
The reader also suggested that since our diagrams show Red and White pieces, we should discontinue use of the term "Black" in favor of "Red." That's a bit more complicated, in that much of the literature we quote uses the terms "Black" and "White." In our early days, we indeed used black and white diagrams, but the red and white proved much more popular.
What to do? Red or Black? Le rouge ou le noir? For now, we're continuing with Black rather than Red, but we'd love to hear your opinions. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But let's go ahead and look a typical speed problem. Black (Red) is at the bottom of the board, moving up, and the terms are Black (Red) to play and win. There's no clock and so no particular time limit. We've also provided both a Red/White and a Black/White diagram. Which do you prefer?
Click on Read More when you're ready to check your solution.[Read More]
We were surprised to learn that the expression "easy peasy" is relatively modern, having first made its appearance around 1976, apparently as part of an advertisement for dishwashing liquid that went "easy peasy, lemon squeezy." The expression has since come to mean, of course, something simple or easy.
Today's problem falls in that category. The Checker Maven tries to present a range of problems, from beginner through grandmaster level, and we know that an easy one is often a quick and welcome diversion.
So, here's today's "easy peasy" position.
You won't have much trouble with this one, and the solution is rather nice, although there are a couple of ways to go wrong. When you're ready, an easy peasy click on Read More will reveal everything.[Read More]