The Checker Maven



We all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. There were the porridges that were too hot, and too cold, and just right. There were the chairs that were too big, and too little, and just right. And there were the beds that were too hard, and too soft, and just right.

Brian Hinkle has sent us a checker problem that he calls Goldilocks, because it requires just the right moves at just the right time: not too soon, and not too late.

White to Play and Win


As Brian told us, "White is a man up and has a king, so it should be easy, right?" But of course, it's anything but. This is a master-level problem whose solution eluded many an expert player.

Whatever your skill level, though, this problem rewards careful study and the solution is very pleasing. We know you'll love it when you see it. First, though, do the best you can, and when you've done not too much, and not too little, but just the right amount of study--- be sure to click on Read More to see the solution.null


The solution and notes are by the composer, Brian Hinkle.

*23-18---A 27-31---B *18-14 9-18 *26-23---C 18-27 28-32 3-8 32-23 8-12 10-7---D 12-16 7-2 16-20 2-7 20-24 *23-27 24-28 27-32 31-26 7-10 26-23 10-15 23-26 15-18 26-31 18-22 White Wins.

A---Almost everyone first tries the natural 26-22? to run away from the hungry king but after 27-31 22-17 9-13 17-14 31-26 23-18 26-22 14-9 22-6 9-2 white has two kings but doesn’t have the move. White needs to trade off a king for a piece to get the move back but the kings are too far apart ... draw!

B---9-13 26-23 27-31 28-24 31-26 24-19 26-31 18-15 White Wins.

C---Sacrificing this second piece is the only way to win.

D---23-19? is tempting but after 31-27 10-7 27-32 it's First Position without the move and a draw.

The Checker Maven thanks Brian for the opportunity to publish this brilliant composition. In an email to Brian, master player Albert Tucker said it was one of the most hidden wins he'd ever seen. The problem baffled a number of master players and problemists. And yet ... your Editor managed to solve it, which indeed makes for an interesting story.

As most of our readers know, your Editor is at best a below-average wood pusher with highly marginal playing and analysis skills. How, then, could he solve a problem that foiled truly skilled players and analysts?


The best way to express it is "tradecraft." The problem had to have a tricky solution, so the quest became not a straightforward search for a win, but instead, a search for unusual "problem like" moves. The situation after 23-18 looked interesting or "problem like" if you will, and that led to finding the problem's unique and unusual solution.

There's one major thing wrong with such an approach: it doesn't work in over-the-board situations. One certainly doesn't look for tricky, "problem like" moves when playing a real game. And so in the end, solving checker problems in such a manner may be a way to practice "tradecraft" but it won't result in improved playing skills.

09/22/18 - Category: Problems - Printer friendly version
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