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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In the Grand Manner

We spent a pleasant interval at our Honolulu office, where we made quite a bit of progress on our "electronic classics" projects. But now we're back in Santa Fe, and, lo and behold! The Santa Fe Opera performance season is in full swing!

Along with the Grand Old Game, there is little that is as wonderful as Grand Opera, performed by a truly world class company such as we are privileged to have here in Santa Fe.

Red

White
White to Play and Win
To celebrate this summer's opera season, we turn, as one might expect, to Tom Wiswell, and a fine problem he captions In the Grand Manner. Give it a try and see if you don't think it, too, is world class. Then, click on Read More to verify your moves, and try out a thematically-related "bonus" problem.

Just a word of caution: today's problem is "grand" in terms of difficulty as well as content. If you solve it, congratulations --- you might wish to reward yourself with a front row seat at the Santa Fe Opera!

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07/30/05 - Printer friendly version
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Welcome to Checker School

Our May Checker Maven Reader's Survey demonstrated to us the popularity of our electronic republications of classic checker literature, and contained suggestions to publish more as time permits. In response to these requests, we're inaugurating a new series that we're calling Checker School. This will, over time, amount to new electronic editions of Ben Boland's classics Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers, and Familiar Themes. These are seminal works that prove as valuable today as they did when they were published over six decades ago. Now, these books contain much complex material, so a complete reissue will likely take many months if not years, but we're working at it!

Let's get started with a delicate endgame of a very practical nature. Class is in session!

N. Currie
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

Click on Read More for the solution, a runup to the position, and additional notes and quotes from Famous Positions.

(Editor's Note: the color diagrams will return as soon as we work through our article backlog.)

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07/23/05 - Printer friendly version
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Three Easy Strokes, Part Three

Here's the last of our "easier" stroke problems, at least in this series. Will you find this one to be a July cruiser, or something more? Solve it, check your solution by clicking Read More, and then prepare yourself --- next month's problem is going to be a summer scorcher.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
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07/16/05 - Printer friendly version
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Two Easy Pieces: Sixth Edition

Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, presented here in a new electronic edition, is up to the sixth installment. Here's what Willie has to say on page 16 of the book.

EXAMPLE 11
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
'The issue is clearly drawn in Example 11. The white king on square 22 has a strangle hold on black's pieces on squares 13 and 29, but the black king on square 1 is threatening to go 1-5 next, followed in order by 5-9 and 9-14, and then releasing his impounded pieces by squeezing 14-17, thus driving the white king on square 22 from its potent position. The proposition, therefore, is for white to maintain control of square 22 by preventing the black king on square 1 from effectively advancing up to square 14. This is artistically accomplished by the "shift and stem" principle. It's easy to master these tactical "killers" with step-by-step study.
EXAMPLE 12
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
And now we come to one of the most common of all tactical tricks--- the ever useful pinch play. As the term suggests, a pinch is a move that puts pressure on an opposing piece so that it cannot avoid capture, whereas in a "squeeze" play the threatened piece can avoid capture by moving to an adjoining square. All checker strategy is premised on force, carried out by tactical devices, and the pinch and squeeze are two of the most frequently employed weapons of the adroit tactician. Example 12 is a sparkling illustration of a delayed pinch, wherein white eventually forces black to lose a piece (and the game) by a perfectly timed pincer.'

You can check your solutions by clicking on Read More.

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07/09/05 - Printer friendly version
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Checker-Go-Round

Get on the Merry-Go-Round with this month's speed problems. How fast can you turn them around? The clock is running, can you solve these before your ride is over?

Click on Read More to check your solutions.

(We are always in need of speed problems. If you have any that you'd like us to publish, please contact us using the contact link in the left column.)

Problem 1. Very easy.

Problem 2. Easy.

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07/02/05 - Printer friendly version
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Fifth Reprise: Two Easy Pieces

Here is the fifth installment of our continuing series from Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard. As always, we're here to listen to the man himself; click on Read More to check your solutions.

EXAMPLE 9

White to Play and Win
'Example 9 is such a simple win that white can polish off black in just three of his own moves; and yet this "pitch-a-piece and block" coup has been muffed even by better class players. At first glance, white appears to have a win by playing 32-28, but black counters with 14-17, 22-13, 7-10, 13-9, 10-14, 19-15, 16-19, 23-16, 12-19, 9-6, 14-18, and steals the piece on square 27 to draw. One of the most fascinating factors in scientific checker play is the element of surpirse. Example 9 features a position that, by ordinary processes of play, can only be drawn; but a jolting pitch (sacrifice) at the right moment changes the complexion of the situation decisively.
EXAMPLE 10

White to Play and Win
White doesn't have the move or opposition to win in Example 10, and there appears to be no way to effect an exchange to get it. This poses the question, "Is there any way white can alter the move in Example 10 without actually making an exchange?" The answer is yes---by the "pitch and grip" idea. The pitch and grip is precisely what the term implies. You pitch a piece and then apply a grip that forces black to lose not only a piece but the move and the game as well. Some of the ideas we have discussed in this chapter occur more often than others in play, but all are equally important to mastery of the game. Usage of all sorts of ideas is what makes checkers a fascinating study and a challenge to one's ingenuity.'

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06/25/05 - Printer friendly version
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The Last of the Masked Men

Our Masked Man problem series draws to a close with this month's article. We hope you've enjoyed it. Perhaps we can run another similar series sometime in the future.

If you can identify the problemist in the photo below, you're doing really well at this sort of thing.

Now, here's his problem. Our guest problemist gives the terms as White to Play and Win. What do you think?
RED

WHITE
White to Play and Win
Can It Be Done?
White is a man up and by rights ought to win, but can you do it? Can it in fact be done at all?

Check your solution by clicking on Read More. Intended to be of "medium" difficulty, this one packs a surprise. Even if you solve it easily, though, by all means read the commentary which accompanies the solution.

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06/18/05 - Printer friendly version
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Three Easy Strokes, Part Two

We continue again this month with our "summer light" series of easier-than-usual stroke problems with this offering for June, which is, as you will see if you figure it out, a bit mis-labeled. And be forewarned, after this series concludes it's back to the hard ones!

After you solve it click on Read More to check your answer.

RED

WHITE
White to Play and Win
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06/15/05 - Printer friendly version
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It's Easy When You Know How

A recent addition to the library in our Santa Fe office is an item we've sought for quite some while: W.T. Call's Midget Problems, published in 1913. We think the following quotation from the preface to this little booklet is revealing:

'Are not these little problems easy?

'Yes, when you are looking at the solutions.'

Over the coming months we'll be featuring some selections from this work, which features nothing but problems with two pieces per side, hence the title, Midget Problems. But as the preface warns, these are small only in size, not in challenge.

We'd like to start out with an offering that you might consider trite; and frankly, we'd have to agree, yet there is a method to our madness. It is a setting of First Position, credited to Dr. T. J. Brown of Limerick, who put this forth around the year 1870.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win
There's nothing new or different here, and yet we strongly urge you to try this out. Play it against your computer, or practice it with a strong opponent. How well do you really know First Position? Sometimes a thorough review of a familiar concept is a well-worthwhile exercise, as so often we find our knowledge isn't quite as solid as we would wish to think.

And when you've worked through this setting (you can click here for an animation of Dr. Brown's trunk solution), answer this trivia question, also credited to Dr. T. J. Brown. What is the earliest published example of First Position? Can you name the author and year? If you can, you really know your draughts history.

But before you're done, tell us, if you can, what White's last move might have been, and then draw a conclusion from your answer. (Thanks go to Brian Hinkle for this one.)

As usual, click on Read More for the answers.

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06/08/05 - Printer friendly version
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A Tommie Wiswell Saturday Bonus!

As a special Saturday extra for our readers, we offer this Tommie Wiswell Prize Problem, which is actually somewhat easier than most Wiswell offerings, but certainly no less elegant.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Draw
Forces are even but, to say the least, White does not have a lot of options. Can you save the day for the White team? Give it your best and then click Read More for the solution.

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06/04/05 - 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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