About a year ago, we presented a very difficult setting composed by Brian Hinkle, and just a few top players were able to solve it. This month, Brian has favored us with another of his offerings. It's of a very different nature than last year's, but it's a real teaser, and Brian has composed a little story to go along with it.
The amazing position shown below arose in the 40th and final game of the Go Where You Want World Title Match, played in the year 2012 at the San Francisco Checker Palace.
The match was tied 4-4 with 31 draws and the defending World Champion, Run Fora King (Black) only needed a draw to retain his title against his arch-rival Al X. Noisyev (White), better known as the "Growling Bear of Checkers" for his antics both on and off the checker board.
Early in this game, King played a gambit line in the Old 14th and The Bear responded by immediately giving back the man to obtain the best theoretical position--- at least in his view.
As the midgame progressed, the Bear offered Run a useless king in the single corner on square 29, which he accepted, being true to his name. In the late midgame, the Bear pitched a man in order to crown five White kings --- his patented "bear claw" tactic --- and place them on key squares, thus securing maximum pressure on the exposed Black pieces in the middle of the board.
Under extreme pressure and with the world title at stake, Run Fora King escaped with a draw in this difficult position, leaving the Growling Bear still hungry for the coveted and elusive GWYW World Title.
Were you able to sight solve this or did you have to move the pieces around? How long did it take you to solve it by either method?
Please send your proposed solutions and solving times to Brian Hinkle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brian's solution and commentary will be published in the columns of The Checker Maven in the first part of 2006.
Starting with this article, we're adding FEN notation to our diagrams, at the request of our readers. If you are not familiar with FEN and PDN, a good description can be found on Wikipedia.