The Checker Maven

What's Your Speed?

Here's a double-barrel offering which combines a more-or-less "regular" problem with a quickie. Let's start here, in a position that looks very bad for the White team.


White to Play


You can check this out any way you like and see that it's a White loss; the best try seems to be 25-22 after which play would probably go something like this:

25-22 14-18 22-17 18-22 17-14 15-19 14-9 16-20 9-5 23-18 21-17 18-15 Black Wins.

But instead suppose White tries 28-24, giving this position:


Black to Play and Win


Can you find a Black win here? There is a move that looks like an instant win, yet, surprisingly enough, allows for a quick White draw. But that's the subject of the 'speed' portion of our problem.

First find the Black win above (there are two possible answers), and then click below to launch the speed problem and start our timer, which monitors your speed as carefully as the radar device depicted above. Click on Read More for the answers and a little about the problem's background.

We won't impose a time limit for this one; after all, we don't want you to get a speeding ticket.

Speed Problem (fairly easy)


Regular Problem

If Black isn't too greedy and avoids falling into the 16-20 draw trap (as in the speed problem, see below), the following play illustrates a straightforward Black win:

6-9 13-6 2-9 24-20 16-19 20-16 23-18 31-26 19-24 16-11 24-27 11-7 27-31 26-22 9-13 7-3 31-26 Black Wins.

Another way for Black to win is this:

14-18 24-20 16-19 21-17 19-24 17-14 15-19 25-21 18-22 14-9 23-18 21-17 18-15 9-5 15-10 29-25 22-29 17-14 10-17 13-9 6-13 20-16 Black Wins (according to KingsRow).

(Thanks to Brian Hinkle for sending this alternate solution, developed with the KingsRow computer engine.)

Speed Problem

Though 16-20 looks like an immediate win of a piece for Black, the startling reply 21-17! nails down the draw for White after 14-30 31-26! 20-27 26-1 Drawn.

Perhaps Black didn't watch his speed and played too fast?

This problem originally appeared in a checker magazine in 1950, with the terms White to Play and Draw, based on Black playing 16-20 after White's initial 28-24, as per the speed problem. The error never seems to have been corrected in later editions of the magazine, and Black's winning 6-9 or 14-18, as per the regular problem, was apparently overlooked.

02/04/06 - Category: Problems - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with comments on this article.