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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Draughts on a Winter's Eve

Sometimes, on a cold winter's eve when the snow lay in heaps upon the ground, my neighbor would visit and we would sit at the table and play not a few games of draughts. My daughter would bring us something warm to drink, or even, at times, a pitcher of ale; my neighbor always would remark about how fine was my ale, thinking, I wager, to be urged on to a second glass. We would play until the fire burned low on some of those nights, and daughter would sit and watch all the while. How hard it was the next morning to rise early for work, and how equally difficult it must have been for her to rise for school! Still, we enjoyed our games, and she seemed to enjoy sitting by every bit as much.

So it was one evening that, with the hour getting late and the room starting to chill, we decided to contest one final game. And what a game it turned out to be, one to remember all through the years! My neighbor and I, being very closely matched as to skill and temperment, had pretty evenly divided the score thus far, and of course we were both rather hoping to win this last match and carry the honors of the evening. I had the Black men, he the White, and the game proceeded in this manner.

1. 9-14 22-18
2. 5-9 24-19
3. 11-15 18x11
4. 8x24 28x19
5. 4-8 25-22
6. 9-13 29-25
7. 8-11 22-18
8. 14-17 21x14
9. 10x17 18-15
10. 11x18 23x14
11. 7-11 25-22
12. 11-16 14-10

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W32,31,30,27,26,22,19,10:B17,16,13,12,6,3,2,1.

"Alas," I cried, "I fear all is lost. Good neighbor, I believe the evening is yours." Although I did always essay to win in a gracious manner and equally so to lose in a sportsmanlike fashion, still, I am sure, there was disappointment in my voice.

But suddenly, to my great surprise--- and, I am certain, my neighbor's as well--- my daughter spoke out and said, "Oh, father, I think not; surely the game is drawn!"

"Daughter," said I, "there is no shame in my loss. Pray do not detract from the skill shown by our good neighbor in his command of the White pieces in this excellently played game."

"Oh, no, father, that I would not do," she replied, "but still, though well played by you and our neighbor alike, even so, the game is most surely drawn."

At this moment our neighbor smiled, put down his pipe, and said, "Aye, then, good father, let your spirited young lass contest the finish in your stead!"

"Oh, father, may I?" asked she, and I knew she was not to be denied; whereupon, I moved my chair to the side, she moved her own round to the Black side of the board, and the play went on.

For the solution, and the rest of our story, just click on Read More.

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12/01/07 - Printer friendly version
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An Oktoberfest Contest

It was about five in the afternoon on a fine Sunday in October, and Marvin J. Mavin was sitting in the Biergarten on the Detroit Oktoberfest grounds. Marvin, as you probably know by now, is team captain of the Detroit Doublejumpers, a leading team in the National Checker League. The Doublejumpers were off today, and Marvin had just finished playing a simultaneous exhibition in the Oktoberfest's Main Halle. Marvin took on no less than 48 other players, all at once, in a benefit for disadvantaged city youth, a cause that Marvin often proudly volunteered to support. Marvin, in true championship form, won 46 games, drew two, and lost none at all.

The problem was, Marvin decided that such a performance was worthy of a beer. Or maybe, beers. So after the exhibition, he had gone right to the Biergarten, and for the past hour had been enjoying the atmosphere perhaps a little too much, and, well, things like that don't usually turn out for the best...

Marvin, in a bit of a reverie, suddenly sensed someone standing in front of him, talking rather loudly. Blinking his eyes and looking up, he realized it was none other than Dmitri Tovarischky!

Now, if you recall our earlier story (found here), a little while back Marvin had gone with his girlfriend Priscilla (who was at the moment in England on business) to a champagne party, and had played to a rather tense draw in an impromptu challenge game with Russian champion Dmitri. Marvin's less than star-like behavior had led to quite a row with Priscilla, and Marvin ended up taking the bus home instead of riding in Priscilla's Mercedes.

"Checkers Boy! What you doing here!" Dmitri exclaimed. "Should be home practicing!" Dmitri accompanied the last statement with a bit of a snort.

Marvin looked up, and it was obvious that he wasn't pleased to see Dmitri, let alone listen to his remarks. "Hey Russki, I played an exhibition and won 46 out a 48. You couldn't a done that! You ain't good enough!"

"Dmitri would be winning all games, Checkers Boy! Dmitri does not drink bad American beer and get funny in head and play poor game of checkers!"

"Hey, I didn't ..." Marvin started, but Dmitri immediately interrupted him.

"You and I, we play game now, da?" And before Marvin could even reply, Dmitri had opened up a little briefcase, took out a folding board and a set of checker pieces, and had started to set up for a game. "Checkers Boy will take Black pieces," Dmitri stated when the board was ready for play.

"No dude, they're Red pieces. Red, get it, like you!" Marvin chuckled at this remark but Dmitri glowered at the impolite comment. Not receiving a reply, Marvin began the game, and it played out as follows.

Black: Marvin
White: Dmitri

1. 11-16 23-18
2. 16-20 24-19
3. 9-14 18x9
4. 5x14 27-23

"Kind of a bum move, Russki!" exclaimed Marvin.

5. 8-11 22-18
6. 6-9

"Is now your bad moving," Dmitri said.

"Will ya keep quiet and play!" Marvin, replied with some annoyance.

6. ... 25-22
7. 2-6

"American beer drinker is cooked goose now!" Dmitri said, with glee.

7. ... 22-17

8. 4-8 30-25

"Ha, ya big loser, that move ain't so hot," Marvin threw across the table.

9. 11-16

"OK, Checkers Boy, Dmitri maybe make one mistake, but now you losing game for sure," Dmitri shot back.

10. ... 25-22

10. 20-24 32-27
11. 16-20 29-25
12. 8-11 17-13
13. 11-16

"You playing bad checkers when drinking American beer!" Dmitri said, repeating his earlier remark.

13. ... 22-17
14. 7-11 25-22
15. 3-8

"Now win is here," said Dmitri. "Game is over for Checkers Boy!"

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W31,28,27,26,23,22,21,19,18,17,13:B24,20,16,14,12,11,10,9,8,6,1.

15. ... 19-15
16. 10x19 17x10
17. 6x15 13x6
18. 1x10 21-17
19. 10-14 17x10

White Wins.

BLACK

WHITE
White Wins

"I told you, Dmitri is winning all games," Dmitri concluded. "Checkers Boy better take taxi to home and go in his bed and sleep until next day is coming." And in an instant, Dmitri had packed away the checker set and board and was gone.

"Wha...what..." was all Marvin could say, and in the background, he heard one of the small crowd of observers call out, "Yeah, better get 'em a taxi and send 'em home!" and then added, "His coach ain't gonna like it when he shows up for practice with a big headache!"

Can you correct the play at moves 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, and 15? Dmitri did make one large error, but Marvin made many. What would you have played instead? Analyze the game and then click on Read More for complete annotations and the game in PDN format.

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10/13/07 - Printer friendly version
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Allan Millhone Plays Checkers

To accompany our interview with American Checker Federation President Alan Millhone, we present these two fine games played by Mr. Millhone in the 2006 District 6 Checker Tournament, against no less an opponent than World Champion Alex Moiseyev. The games have been expertly annotated by Dr. Richard Beckwith.

Games from 2006 District 6 Tournament

Game 1

Black: Alan Millhone
White: Alex Moiseyev

10-14 22-18 11-16 26-22---A 8-11---B 22-17---C 16-20---D 17x10 6x22 25x18 9-14---E 18x9 5x14 29-25 7-10 25-22 3-7 30-26 11-15 24-19 15x24 28x19 4-8 22-17 7-11 17-13 11-16 26-22 8-11 22-18---F 1-5 18x9 5x14 13-9 11-15 9-5 15x24 23-19 16x23 27x9 12-16?---G 5-1 10-14 1-6 14-18 6-10 18-22---H 10-15 22-25---I White Wins.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to play (note D)

B:W32,31,30,29,28,27,25,24,23,21,18,17:B16,14,12,11,9,7,6,5,4,3,2,1.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw (note G)

B:W32,31,21,9,5:B24,20,12,10,2.

A---Also reached from 11-16 23-18 10-14 26-23 same.

B---Natural, but a very weak reply, unless one has a prepared defense. In fact, Solid Checkers gives 8-11 a question mark. The two usual alternatives are 7-10 and 16-20. The 16-20 move permits 22-17 7-10 and the option of a good off-Bristol-Cross variation with 17-13 now, as shown in Basic Checkers Op. # 120 trunk, the line where 24-19 is held back. To keep more options open, 7-10 has been suggested (instead of 16-20 or 8-11), then 22-17 and now black has the option of 16-20 (into the same line just mentioned) or the 16-19 bust.

C---A good move by the world champ, whereas 24-19 allows 16-20 and back into a standard Bristol-Cross.

D---See diagram prior to 16-20. Alan has previously played the published 7-10 here (vs. L. Cowie in 2005 OH Ty.), but I like this 16-20 better! Both BC and SC give only 7-10 25-22 3-7 31-26 9-13 18-9 5-14 23-19 with white powerful.

E---While this will get through to draw, black also has 7-10 as a defense (perhaps new?). Continue with 24-19 (or 29-25 3-7 24-19 11-15) 11-16 and into an old secondary Bristol-Cross defense often used by another Ohio player, Louis Cowie (and occasionally by your annotator as well). This position normally arises from 11-16 23-18 16-20 24-19 10-14 26-23 8-11 22-17 11-16 17x10 6x22 25x18 7-10.

F---13-9 (liked by programs, but not necessarily better) 11-15 32-28 15x24 28x19 1-5 31-26 2-7 22-18 14-17 21x14 10x17 9-6 17-21 6-2 7-10 2-6 10-14 18x9 5x14 26-22 21-25 6-2 (or 6-10 14-18 22x15 25-30 draw) 25-30 2-6 and now pitching the man on 14 is necessary, and then the king can attack the elbow to draw. rcb

G---Sets up a “breeches” problem later. Instead, 10-15 5-1 15-18 31-26 12-16 (now OK with 31-26 played) 1-5 2-7 9-6 16-19 5-9 7-11 (whoops! 18-23 draws this game) 32-27 & 9-14 WW, T. Laverty – R. Jones 1987 Florida Open

H---Now black cannot advance to 23 to set up a trade due to the king advance with 10-15 & 15-19.

I---The scoresheet ended here, but the position will win for white given the three stranded black pieces in front of the double corner, as well as additional white kings “on the way.”

Game 2

Black: Alex Moiseyev
White: Alan Millhone

10-14 22-18 11-16 25-22 16-20 29-25---A 8-11---B 18-15---C 11x18 22x15 4-8---D 26-22---E 7-10 31-26 10x19 24x15 6-10---F 15x6 1x10 22-18---G 8-11 28-24 10-15 25-22 2-7 23-19 14x23 19x10 7x14 26x19 9-13 22-18 14x23 27x18 20x27 32x23 11-16 18-15 16-20 15-11 20-24 23-18 24-27 18-15 27-31 11-7 3x10 15x6 31-27 6-2 5-9 2-6 9-14 19-15 14-18 6-9 18-22 15-10 27-23 21-17 Drawn.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play (note D)

B:W32,31,30,28,27,26,25,24,23,21,15:B20,14,12,9,7,6,5,4,3,2,1.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to play (note F)

B:W32,30,28,27,26,25,23,22,21,15:B20,14,12,9,8,6,5,3,2,1.

A---A natural development, but 24-19 is preferred, or taking the Bristol-Cross a move earlier, as Alex did in Game 1. Historically, 29-25 has thrown the advantage back to black.

B---This position is also reached by either 11-16 22-18 16-20 25-22 8-11 29-25 10-14 or by 12-16 22-18 16-20 25-22 8-12 29-25 10-14.

C---24-19 is known to be “bad” by well-versed players due to the bind, but narrow draws do exist. Continue: 11-16 (4-8 19-15 7-10 27-24 draws) 18-15 4-8 28-24 7-10 15-11* (instead of 22-18 and Ryan’s “Pickle Barrel trap” given in Solid Checkers) 8x15 23-18 14x23 27x11 16x23 26x19 20x27 31x24 10-15 draws, Wyllie-Barker, 1882, from 11-16 24-19 8-11 opening.

D---See diagram prior to 4-8. There are three established options here, with 7-10 (Var. 1) being best for black, and a review of the OCA database reveals the majority of these games have resulted in black wins. The 4-8 played here has historically favored white. The third option is 9-13 (Var. 2), as given in Basic Checkers Opening #116 trunk.

E---Well played by Alan, leaving black to use care to draw. 24-19 instead is wanted, then 7-10 leads to the “bad stuff” for white in Var. 1.

F---See diagram prior to 6-10. Not 14-18? 23x14 9x18 21-17* (instead of 26-23 3-7 23-14 6-10 draw, Gonotsky-Lieber, 1928) 2-7 26-23 6-9 23x14 9x18 30-26 1-6 26-23 12-16 23x14 7-10 14x7 3x19 25-21* 5-9 22-18 9-13 17-14 13-17 18-15 17-22 21-17 22-26 17-13 8-12 27-24 20x27 32x23 26-31 23-18 31-26 14-9 26-23 9x2 23x14 15-10 WW, J. Hanson.

G---Leads to a quiet draw, likely unpublished. (And any quiet draw for an “average” player against a world champ is a good one!) The usual press is with 23-18 14x23 27x18 9-13 18-14 10x17 21x14 2-6 22-18 6-10 14x7 3x10 26-23 8-11 23-19 20-24* 19-16 11x20 28x19 to a draw, Rubin-Hunt 1934 Am. Ty., from 12-16 22-18 16-19 opening.

Var. 1 7-10 24-19---1A 4-8 27-24---1B 20x27 31x24 9-13 (2-7 also strong) 24-20 3-7 25-22 5-9 30-25!---1C 1-5 22-18 14-17 21x14 10x17 19-16 12x19 23x16 17-21 16-12 21x30 12x3 30x14 3x1 to a strong black ending, but probable draw. RCB.

1A---Very weak, now that the draws of note C have been bypassed. White should play the 25-22 10-19 23-16 pp draw.

1B---Basic Checkers also mentions 26-22 and 23-18, but both are given to lose. The 27-24 is the best bet to draw, although the line should be avoided altogether.

1C---Instead of 22-18 or 32-27 in BC, Op 116 note F1.

Var. 2 9-13 26-22---2A 5-9---2B 22-18---2C 7-10 30-26*---2D 10x19 24x15 3-7 25-22 7-10 15-11 12-16---2E 22-17 13x22 26x17 16-19 23x16 14x23 27x18 10-14 17x10 6x22 11-7 Drawn. RCB.

2A---Or 24-19 4-8 28-24 as in BC, Op #116 trunk.

2B---Or 13-17 & 6-9 draws, which may be best if the upcoming 30-26 improvement is feared.

2C---31-26? 7-10 22-18 10x19 24x15 3-7 25-22 (starred in BC, but appears to lose given upcoming correction) 7-10 23-19 14x23 27x18 10-14 26-23 20-24 15-10 6x15 18x11 24-27 19-15 13-17* (correcting 1-5 to draw in BC) 22x6 1x26 30x23 12-16 28-24 27-31 24-19 16-20 19-16 31-27 BW. RCB.

2D---Avoiding 31-26 and back into the previous note. White is now better after 30-26.

2E---10-15 28-24 12-16 24-19 15x24 18-15 16-19* 23x16 14-18 15-10 18x25 32-28 6x15 28x10 25-30 26-23 2-6* 10-7 6-10 7-2 10-14 2-7 1-5 16-12 30-26 31x22 14-17 21x14 9x25 Drawn. RCB.

And now, as a special bonus for those of our readers who have come this far, we present a game in which we know Mr. Millhone takes great pride; a game in which he made a draw against the greatest checker player of all time, Dr. Marion Tinsley.

Black: Marion Tinsley
White: Alan Millhone

11-15 23-18 8-11 26-23 10-14 30-26 6-10 24-19 15x24 27x20 2-6 28-24 10-15 32-28 7-10 22-17 15x22 25x18 10-15 17x10 15x22 26x17 6x15 29-25 9-13 17-14 15-18 24-19 18x27 31x24 3-7 25-22 1-6 19-16 12x19 24x8 4x11 22-18 13-17 28-24 6-10 24-19 17-22 21-17 22-26 17-13 10x17 19-15---A Drawn.

A---The only move to draw, and a fitting conclusion to a game played without even the smallest of errors.

Mr. Millhone modestly calls himself "an average player" but these games show that if this is "average" play, wouldn't we all like to be "average" ourselves!

10/14/06 - Printer friendly version
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A Sports Bar Debate

There was a big Sunday afternoon crowd at the Mojo Sports Bar in downtown Detroit. Glasses and bottles were everywhere to be seen as the crowd buzzed over a just-completed exhibition match, narrowly and unexpectedly lost by the hometown Major League team, the Detroit Doublejumpers, to the Bridgeport Breeches of the AAA Northeastern League. The match, of course, was viewed on the bar's large-screen TV, and broadcast by the Checker Television Network.

In the final round, Detroit captain Marvin J. Mavin had lost his first-board game to Bosco della Bruggia of the Breeches, costing the Doublejumpers the match. The network commentators thought the game wasn't all that well played; and they felt Marvin had missed a last-ditch draw. Some of the bar patrons agreed with this assessment, but they were in turn opposed by a number of the other patrons, who, as fierce hometown supporters, backed Marvin avidly.

A large group was gathered around a table where a pair of fans were going over the game. One of the onlookers, Johnny Jack Jackson by name, had played some semipro checkers a few years back, and was generally held to be the bar's champion (he would play for a beer and rarely went home sober). Johnny was commenting on the game as the moves were run up.


Johnny Jack Jackson Does the Play-By-Play

11-15 23-18
8-11 18-14

"Most of 'em plays 27-23 or some of 'em plays 26-23. 18-14 is a little different but it's OK. I seen it before from that guy Ed Queensline who plays AA checkers for Morristown out in Jersey."

9-18 24-19
15-24 22-8
4-11 27-20

"Aw c'mon Marvin, you oughtta capture toward the center with 28-19."

10-15

"I wouldda played 5-9 but this ain't so much worse."

... 28-24

"25-22 or maybe 21-17 .... you're givin' Bosco the edge here, Marv!"

6-10

"Now, I'd a played 5-9 right away. I 'spose Bosco was goin' for that element of surprise bit."

... 26-23

"Marvin, you give 'em a little on each move! You still couldda played 25-22. You probably got a loss now, pal."

5-9 21-17
9-14 25-21
15-18 ...

"Marv, I'd say you got a real big problem.... like, you lose!"

... 32-27
18-22 30-26

"Some a you guys wouldda played 30-25 instead, but after 1-6 it ain't so great. It's a two for two and Black gets an even easier win."

1-6

"What a stinko move, Bosco! 11-15 wouldda nailed down the game but now Marvin's right back in there."

17-13
14-17 21-14
10-17 23-18
7-10

"We're headed straight for a draw now."

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Draw

... 18-14

"Marvin, you're a dumb bum! You blew it---- again!"

11-15

"Well, OK there Bosco, you still win just fine, but I kindda like this line: 12-16 14-7 3-10 26-23 10-15 23-18 6-9 13-6 2-9 27-23 17-21 game over."

... 14-7
3-10 27-23
10-14 23-19
6-10 13-9
14-18 9-5
18-23 5-1
23-20 Black Wins.

"So our boy Marvin runs into an early loss but then Bosco plays a bonehead move and puts Marv back in the game. Does he get his draw? Noooo! He's gotta blow it away a second time with that 18-14 move! Ahhh.... it wasn't such a great game anyhow. Exhibitions, they just goof around sometimes instead a playin' serious."

Loud discussion ensued, with some thinking that 18-14 was indeed the best move and others not so sure. But Johnny insisted, and pretty soon little groups around the bar were playing out the variants and wagering a few tall cool ones on the results.

What do you think? Could Marvin have saved the draw? Would you be willing to bet Johnny a beer (or two) on your answer?

Click on Read More when you've decided.

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03/25/06 - Printer friendly version
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A Leak in the Dyke

In 1931, the great checkerist Louis C. Ginsberg wrote what may be his only book on checkers, a little booklet called Principles of Strategy in the Game of Checkers. It was later reprinted by William Ryan, with the addition of an informative and highly entertaining introduction.

Principles of Strategy appears to have been the prototype for other similar booklets which never got written, although we can't be quite sure about this. Principles of Strategy, while mentioning the existence of numerous other characteristic formations in the game of checkers, deals exclusively with what are known as "Dyke" formations.

The booklet is a real gem and a welcome addition to the library of any checkerist; it is especially useful at the early intermediate stage of development. In conjunction with Bob Murr's PDN file of the examples contained in this work (see link in the column to the right), today we'll present the full text of two of these examples. Pay close attention to the Example 15 below, as it will help you solve the problem we pose later.

"DYKE" FORMATIONS---EXAMPLE 15

9-13 24-20
11-15 22-17
13-22 25-11
8-15 21-17
4-8 29-25
15-19-A 23-16
12-19 27-23
8-12 23-16
12-19 17-13-B
10-15-C 20-16
6-1-D Drawn

BLACK

WHITE
Position at Note A, White to Move

A---This illustration is given to show when Black can place a piece on 19 with apparently only two pieces in reserve for the defense of the man. There must be a White man on 17.
B---White must remove the man from 17 before going 32-27 to attack the man on 19.
C---Black gains a move, an idea that is utilized in many different games, due to the White man being located on 17. If there was no White man on 17, the man on 19 would be lost to Black by the runoff via 27-23.

Get the idea? Now let's look at a Dyke example that arises in the Single Corner opening:

WHITE

BLACK
Dyke Position with Black to Play

11-15 22-18
15-22 25-18
12-16 29-25
9-13 18-14
10-17 21-14 (diagram above)
16-20 24-19
6-10 25-21
10-17 21-14
2-6 30-25
6-10 25-21
10-17 21-14
1-6 Black Wins.

The White "Dyke" man on 14 is lost as there is no defense against Black's next move, 6-10.

What went wrong here? We've left it to you to find the leak in this Dyke. Can you find White's losing move and correct it? Click on Read More when you have your answer.

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09/10/05 - Printer friendly version
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Did Marvin Blow the Game? (Conclusion)


Marvin J. Mavin and Jean Luc Tournevise
When we left off last time (click here for the first part of the story), St. Louis Switchers star player Jean Luc Louis Claude Simon Tournevise (also known as "Louie Screwdriver") was on the verge of a make-or-break decision in his match with our hero Marvin J. Mavin of the Detroit Doublejumpers. The position is diagrammed below, and resulted from this runup:

1. 11-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 12-16 29-25
4. 10-14 24-19
5. 16-20 25-22
6. 7-10 28-24
7. 8-12 32-28
8. 4-8 30-25
9. 3-7 18-15
10. 9-13 19-16
11. 12x19 23x16
12. 10x19 24x15
13. 8-12 15-11
14. 12x19 11-8
15. 7-10 8-3
16. 2-7

RED (Marvin)
(diagram)
WHITE (Louie)
White to Play - Can White Win?
With a single gleeful motion, Louie took the shot!

16. ... 27-24
17. 20x27 31x15
18. 10x19 3x17

"You sill-ee boy, did you not see zees ... how you say eet ... shot?'" he gloated after this move. "Maintenant, vous etes foutu!"

But the game continued this way:

19. 5-9 17-14
20. 9x18 22x15
21. 6-10 15x6
22. 1x10 25-22
23. 10-14 28-24
24. 19x28 26-23
25. 28-32 22-18
26. 32-27 18x9
27. 27x18 Red Wins!

"First Position, mon cher ami," said Marvin in a matter-of-fact manner. "Uh, in plain old American, you might just say, 'You lose, pal!'"

Louie treated Marvin to his best scowling glare. "I sim-plee cannot un-derstand eet!" he exclaimed. "Zis ligne - it is a no good way to play at Dames. Why I lose eet to zis clune americaine?"

"Ah, Frenchy," responded Marvin in a most politically incorrect manner, "you just gotta learn a little more checkers if you wanna beat Marvin. Ya wanted a draw, ya hadda play like this."

Marvin quickly reset the pieces to the original diagrammed position and played out these moves:

16. ... 3-8
17. 14-17 21x14
18. 10x17 27-24
19. 20x27 31x15
20. 17-21 8-12
21. 21x30 28-24
22. 30x23 15-11
23. 7x16 12x26 Drawn (White has a man-down draw).

Red

White
Red to Play, White to Draw

(Can you figure out the draw that Marvin and Louie think is so clear? Try it, then click on Read More below to see the solution.)

"Ya see, ya just hadda move your King away, and ya coulda got a nice man-down draw. But ya got a little too greedy fer yer own good," Marvin pontificated.

"Un moment, s'il vous plait," Louie cut in. "Per'aps I play eet 26-22 at move 22 and I will not 'ave zees First Postion of yours?"

"Nah, Louie, that ain't right neither. Lookit...." Marvin replied. He set the pieces back to the original diagrammed position one more time and showed the following play.

16. ... 27-24
17. 20x27 31x15
18. 10x19 3x17
19. 5-9 17-14
20. 9x18 22x15
21. 6-10 15x6
22. 1x10 26-22
23. 10-14 22-18
24. 14x23 25-22
25. 23-27 22-18
26. 27-31 18-14
27. 31-27 14-9
28. 27-23 9-6
29. 19-24 28x19
30. 23x16 6-2
31. 16-11 2-6
32. 11-15 6-9
33. 15-18 Red Wins.

"Zut!" cried Louie. "Encore une fois ... it ees zee First Position! Monsieur Marvin, you make zee connerie on Jean Claude Louis!"

"Louie," Marvin replied, "Face it. Ya just wasn't good enough to outsmart ole Marvin J. Mavin. Now c'mon, let's go across the street and I'll buy ya une biere in the name of amitie internationale!"

Were you able to figure out this tricky situation? Brian Hinkle, who first showed us this interesting play, remarks, "At the initial setting in order to draw White has to run away with the king with 3-8! ... believe it or not! Without prior knowledge I am sure I would have taken the shot and gone up a man (and a king!) with 27-24x as was played out. Isn't this 27-24x the most natural way and a cool win (for Red)? There are two other lines that end up in First Position. So if White gets greedy, White will lose! Red set a trap that would be hard for White to turn down."

Well, whether you yourself solved this one or not, you've also surely earned yourself une biere for trying. We hope you enjoyed looking into this fascinating and instructive position. There is much more to it than we have space to present here, so grab that beer, and use your computer to explore the variant lines.

And, we're pleased to say, our hero Marvin did not blow the game!

French-English Glossary:

maintenant vous etes foutu now you are finished
mon cher ami my dear friend
ligne line, as in "line of play"
Dames French name for checkers, though more often referring to international rules
clune americaine American clown
un moment s'il vous plait one moment if you please
zut drat
connerie best translated here as "trickery"
encore une fois once again
une biere a beer
amitie internationale international friendship

(Accent marks have been omitted throughout. --Ed.)

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08/27/05 - Printer friendly version
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The 2005 ACF 9th District Tournament

The first three days of August saw unusual action in the gaming rooms of the Four Queens in Las Vegas, Nevada.

No, we're not talking about Blackjack or Texas Hold'Em, though we're sure there was plenty of action of that type elsewhere in the casino.


Nery Cardenas and Ryan Pronk; Tom Jones and John Cardie

We're talking about the 2005 edition of the American Checker Federation 9th District Tournament, organized by California checker stalwart Gerry Lopez. A small but enthusiastic group of players gathered in the City of Entertainment for some serious cross-board action.

Competition took place in two divisions, with these final results:

A Division


Ranking Name State Points Remarks
1. Gerry Lopez CA 10 2005 Cal. and Dist. 9 Champion
2. Nery Cardenas CA 8
3. Ryan Pronk AZ 4 withdrew
4. Bob Murr CO 2

B Division


Ranking Name State Points Remarks
1. John Gibson CA 20
2. Alex Lopez CA 18 first tourney
3. John Cardie CO 16 first tourney
4. Robert Ferguson UT 14 first tourney
5. Tom JonesNV 8 first tourney
6. Paul Stein CA 4
7. Joe ColemanIA 2

Division A Game 1
White

Red
Position at Note B, Red to Play and Draw


[Event "9th District 2005 Round 2 Game 1"]
[Date "2005-08-01"]
[Red "Ryan Pronk"]
[White "Bob Murr"]
[Result "0-1"]
1. 11-16 23-18 2. 7-11 26-23
3. 3-7 30-26 4. 16-19 (A) 23x16
5. 12x19 24x15 6. 10x19 27-24
7. 7-10 24x15 8. 10x19 32-27
9. 9-14 18x9 10. 5x14 27-23
11. 11-16 22-18 12. 6-9 18-15
13. 8-12 (B) 25-22 14. 16-20 23x16
15. 12x19 15-11 16. 20-24 22-17
17. 14-18 26-22 18. 18x25 29x22
19. 19-23 28x19 20. 9-13 17-14
21. 23-26 (D) 19-15 (E) 22. 26-30 22-18
23. 30-25 14-10 24. 25-22 10-7
25. 4-8 11x4 26. 2x11 15x8
27. 22x15 8-3 (F) 28. 15-11 31-26
29. 1-6 26-22 30. 11-15 4-8
31. 15-10 8-11 32. 10-14 3-7

White wins.
(A) 9-14 would be an alternative here but there is nothing wrong with the actual move.
(B) The losing move. 1-5 should have held the game.
(C) King's Row prefers 1-6 here, but the game is still lost for Red.
(D) Again, KR prefers 1-5 here ...
(E) ... and 22-18 here, but the outcome won't change.
(F) There is little left to say, or play.
Annotations from King's Row.

Division A Game 2
Notes by Ryan Pronk

White

Red
Position at Note G, Red to Play and Draw


[Event "9th District 2005 Round 1 Game 1"]
[Date "2005-08-01"]
[Red "Ryan Pronk"]
[White "Nery Cardenas"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
1. 11-16 21-17 2. 9-14 (A) 17-13 (B)
3. 16-19 (C) 23x16 4. 12x19 24x15
5. 10x19 25-21 6. 8-11 27-23
7. 6-10 23x16 8. 11x20 26-23 (D)
9. 14-17 (E) 21x14 10. 10x26 31x22
11. 4-8 22-18 12. 8-11 29-25
13. 7-10 25-22 14. 10-14 18x9
15. 5x14 22-18 16. 14-17 23-19
17. 17-22 13-9! 18. 1-5 (F) 18-14
19. 20-24 19-16 20. 11x20 28x19
21. 20-24 19-16 22. 3-7 16-12
23. 7-11 12-8 24. 11-15 8-3
25. 15-18 3-8 26. 18-23 8-11
27. 24-27 11-15 28. 27-31 15-18 (G)
29. 22-26 18x27 30. 31x24 30x23
31. 24-27 23-18 32. 27-23 18-15
33. 23-18 15-11 34. 18-22

Drawn.
(A) A 3-move opening that usually transposes into
Pioneer lines.
(B) Regarded as inferior because it allows the
powerful 16-19 dyke. Going into Pioneer lines with
25-21 is best. However, if the opening were 12-16,
21-17, 9-14, then this 17-13 (as preferred by Tinsley)
would be best.
(C) Planting the piece on 19, and making for a strong
game - but not in this case!
(D) Really took me by surprise. I was expecting 22-17
which may give white a stronger game. But as they
say, the element of surprise is sometimes good enough
to win!
(E) Is there anything better than this natural move?
(F) Again the previous move really took me by
surprise, but after this 1-5, I could see to the end
of the game.
(G) A nice problem setting for the beginner.

Division B Game 1

White

Red
Position at Note E, Red to Play and Draw


[Event "9th District 2005 Round 6 Game 1"]
[Date "2005-08-02"]
[Red "Robert Ferguson"]
[White "John Cardie"]
[Result "0-1"]
1. 10-14 22-18 2. 11-15 18x11
3. 8x15 24-19 4. 15x24 28x19
5. 7-11 25-22 (A) 6. 3-8 (B) 22-18 (C)
7. 6-10 19-15 8. 10x19 23x7
9. 2x11 27-23 (D) 10. 1-6 (E) 29-25 (F)
11. 6-10 (G) 25-22 12. 12-16 22-17
13. 9-13 18x9 14. 5x14 23-18
15. 13x22 18x9 16. 22-25 9-6
17. 25-29 21-17 18. 8-12 6-2
19. 10-15 17-14 20. 15-19 2-6
21. 4-8 14-10 22. 19-23 26x19
23. 16x23 10-7 24. 12-16 7-3
25. 8-12 3-8 26. 11-15 8-11

White Wins.
(A) 23-18 would be better here.
(B) 4-8 is stronger; KR thinks 3-8 is quite weak.
(C) 29-25 is better but White already has a strong game.
(D) This moves blows away the win! 29-25 would have won easily.
(E) But Red misses the chance! 14-17 would have drawn.
(F) White gives Red another shot at a draw! 26-22 would have won here.
(G) And for the last time, Red misses the chance to draw with 14-17. Beyond this point there are some sub-optimal moves on both sides, but Red is lost no matter.
Annotations from King's Row.


John Cardie, Winning!

The Checker Maven congratulates Gerry Lopez for not only having organized this event, but taking home the District 9 and California championships!


Champion Gerry Lopez

Our thanks to Bob Murr for photos and games, Ryan Pronk for additional games, and Gerry Lopez for permission to publish.

08/20/05 - Printer friendly version
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A Great Shot, But Can You Win The Ending?

(We are taking a short break and so this really is our last Wednesday column until September. Saturday columns will of course continue without interruption.)

On this "Anything Can Happen" Wednesday, we bring you a game played by guest author Ingo Zachos in a recent matchup on the It's Your Turn on-line game site. Capitalizing on an error by his opponent, Ingo finds a thrilling shot--- and then still has to demonstrate the win in the endgame! We've interspersed Ingo's own interesting comments and analysis with our own, which are due to running the world-class King's Row program at 15 minutes per move.

Ingo Zachos - Raymond Faircloth
It's Your Turn January 2005
with commentary by Ingo Zachos

1.11-15 23-18
2.8-11 27-23
3.4-8 23-19
4.10-14 19x10
5.14x23 26x19
6.6x15

I know 6.7x14 is the fashion, but I was inspired by Game 7 of the GAYP World Championship of 1956, Wiswell- Fraser, after reading International Checkers and Draughts.

6...19x10
7.7x14 24-19
8.11-16 31-26

Here Fraser played 8...19-15 and after 9.16-19 22-17 10.14-18 25-22 11.18x25 29x22 12.12-16 22-18 13.16-20 17-14 14.9-13 14-10 15.19-23 18-14 16.2-7 31-26 17.7-11 26x19 18.11x18 he played 19-16 and lost, thus: (18...32-27 19.18-22 19-16 20.8-12 16-11 21.12-16 28-24 22.22-25 21-17 23.13x22 30x21 24.22-26 21-17 25.26-31 10-7 26.3x10 14x7 27.1-6 7-3 28.6-10 3-7 29.10-15 7-10 30.16-19 27-23 31.19x26 10x19 32.20x27 19-23 is given by Dr. Fraser as drawn.) 19.18-23 16-12 20.8-11 10-7 21.3x17 21x14 22.1-6 12-8 23.13-17 8-3 24.17-21 3-8 25.23-27 8x15 26.6-9 32x23 27.9x27 28-24 28.27-31 24-19 29.20-24 15-18 30.24-28 19-16 31.28-32 18-22 32.32-27 16-12 33.5-9 22-17 34.27-23 12-8 35.23-19 8-3 36.19-15 3-7 37.31-27 7-2 38.15-10 17-22 39.27-23

9.16x23 26x19
10.8-11!?

10.9-13 trying to avoid the rapid advance of White's single corner side, is better, but I underestimated the power of the man on 15. (King's Row thinks any of 2-6, 1-6, 2-7, 8-11, 9-13, or 3-7 are about equal. --Ed.)

10...19-15
11.11x18 22x15
12.12-16

I also calculated 12.2-7 28-24! but there seemed to be equality with less chances of a tactical surprise. (The idea was the trick 12...15-10? 13.14-17 21x14 14.9x18 to a neat win.) 12.3-8?! would be a minor variation because of 15-10 and the piece on 10 is very disturbing. (In fact, Kings's Row agrees that 3-8 is weak. --Ed.)

12...15-11?!
13.14-17!?

Sometimes masters say they calculate 50 moves ahead. Well, here I already saw the final position of this game in my mind very clearly and knew it was won.

13.1-6 as indicated by the programs, might be better, but during the game I evaluated it as drawn.

(Editor's note: King's Row thinks 12. ... 15-11 is inferior, though not an outright loss, and prefers 30-26 or 25-22. But King's Row disagrees with our author over 13.14-17, rating the resulting position as a draw. As our author points out 1-6 is preferred but the game is still far from a win.)

13...21x14
14.9x18 30-26?

Believe it or not, this is already the fatal mistake.

WHITE

RED
Red to Play and Win

(Editor's note: let's pause here. Ingo is about to play an exciting shot. Can you spot it? And if you can, are you able to demonstrate the win after the shot is complete? When you've figured it out, click on Read More to see the rest of the game.)

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06/22/05 - Printer friendly version
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Did Marvin Blow The Game?

The Detroit Doublejumpers, lead by their intrepid team captain, Marvin J. Mavin, were at the St. Louis Sports Drome for a contest with the St. Louis Switchers. Marvin was engaged in a First Board match with the Switchers captain, that intrepid French National named Jean Luc Louis Claude Simon Tournevise, otherwise known as "Louie Screwdriver."

"You 'ave made a vehree bad ligne of play," remarked Louie with a curling of the lip and a bit of a sneer. "Maintenant, I will 'ave to show you zee ehror of zis ligne by giving you zee beating!"

Here is how the game had played out so far. Marvin, who was commanding the Red pieces, and Louie, in charge of the White forces, had indulged themselves in this line of the Single Corner:

1. 11-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 12-16 29-25
4. 10-14 24-19
5. 16-20 25-22
6. 7-10 28-24
7. 8-12 32-28
8. 4-8 30-25
9. 3-7 18-15
10. 9-13 19-16
11. 12x19 23x16
12. 10x19 24x15
13. 8-12 15-11
14. 12x19 11-8
15. 7-10 8-3
16. 2-7

This resulted in the following position, with White to play:

RED (Marvin)
(diagram)
WHITE (Louie)
White to Play - Can White Win?
Marvin seemed only slight irritated by Louie's taunts. He simply replied, in his most politically incorrect manner, "Well there, Monsieur Frenchy, you ain't a gonna pull this one off nohow!" Louie looked puzzled. "Ah, I do not un-derstand zis American way of fun-ee talk-ing," he replied, "but I un-derstand 'ow to make of zis game a vic-toree!"

What do you think? Try your luck and skill on these questions:

1. Can White (Louie) find a win in this position? What might it be?

2. Does Red have something up his sleeve, or did Marvin perhaps have a little too much pre-game beer?

3. What do you think of this line of the Single Corner? Did Red play well? Did White?

Watch The Checker Maven for the conclusion of this story, and the answers to all these questions and much more, in a few weeks' time.

French-English Glossary

ligne line, as in "line of play."

maintenant now, as in "now I'll show you!"

tournevis screwdriver.

Note: In this article, we're trying out a different diagram style and using the term "Red" instead of "Black" --- all in response to reader feedback. Let us know what you think.

06/11/05 - Printer friendly version
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The Fun Shot in the Single Corner Opening: Conclusion

(Please see our previous article for the first part of this story.)

BLACK

WHITE
White to Move - and Win?
Billie stood confidently in front of the big demonstration board at the front of the crowded auditorium, squinting his face and waggling his tongue. The audience was cheering and chanting, "Billie! Billie! Billie-Billie-Billie!" Then Billie made his move. It was----

26-22.

Was that a smug look on Marvin's face? Could our hero possibly be thinking, well, less than charitable thoughts about getting even after being heckled by Billie and some of the others? Would Marvin J. Mavin do such a thing?

Marvin smiled, and said, rather loudly, "Hmmph. Well, son, that was a logical move, but unfortunately, it won't get you a win!"

Billie seemed taken a bit aback. He thought for a moment, remembering his teacher's instructions to be "on your best behavior," and then replied with a snicker, "Wanna bet, beer belly?" There was a ripple of laughter from the audience, although clearly the adults in charge seemed rather unhappy with this turn of events.

"Well, young man, I imagine I had better teach you a lesson," said Marvin in his most authoritarian tone.

The game then continued along, with Marvin and Billie moving the pieces about on the demonstration board:

17x26 31x22 1-6 28-24 4-8 23-19 6-10 19-16 8-11 16x7 2x11 24-19 9-14 32-28 5-9 27-23 11-15 30-25 15x24 28x19 9-13 25-21 13-17 22x13 29-25 13-9 25-22 9-6 22-18 21-17 18x27 17-13 Drawn.

(Click here for animation.)

"And now, my fine little friend, what do you think?" asked Marvin.

"Uh, I, well, uh, ya know, I 'spose mebbe it's like, ya know, a draw or sumthin'.....," stammered Billie.

"And INDEED IT IS! It's a DRAW!" exclaimed the hero of the Doublejumpers. "Shall I show you how you should have played it?" he added.

Billie's face had that "I'd rather be anywhere but here" look, and the crowd didn't seem very happy, either.

"Of COURSE you want to know!" continued Marvin. He reset the pieces (to the state diagrammed at the beginning of this article) and then showed the following play (neglecting, of course, to attribute this winning line to the KingsRow computer program):

28-24 1-6 24-19 9-13 19-15 17-21 15-11 29-25 26-22 25x18 23x14 13-17 31-26 6-9 14-10 9-13 26-23 17-22 10-7 22-25 7-3 5-9 23-19 2-6 3-7 9-14 19-15 13-17 7-10 6-9 27-23 25-29 10-6 9-13 6-9 White Wins.

(Click here for animation.)

"It's not a simple win, and White has to play it correctly, but the win is there IF you are good enough to figure it out!" Marvin concluded. But Billie had slunk back off the stage, muttering to himself something about how computers make funny-looking moves.

Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly) there was no applause. The young audience was filled with frowns and sullen looks. Their school champion, Billie, had been shown up by Marvin. Now, at first one by one, and then a few at a time, and finally in large groups, the audience began to silently exit the auditorium. In just a few minutes, there was no one left but Marvin, a few teachers, and the Principal, Mr. I. B. Cylindrical. This latter august personage went up to Marvin, shook his hand, and said, "Um, yes. Well. Um, thanks. Yes, thanks. For visiting our school. Um, the children, yes, the pupils, well. It's clear how much they admire you."

There was a long, quiet pause. "Um, seems cold for April, don't you think? Yes, um, cold. It feels chilly in here." Mr. Cylindrical continued with a few more equally apt remarks as he accompanied Marvin out of the auditorium. Marvin then said his farewells and crossed the parking lot, where his 1973 Volkswagen Beetle was waiting to take him to the nearest bar.

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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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