The Checker Maven

Grant vs. M'Guire

General Ulysses S. Grant

Everyone knows about the great American general Ulysses S. Grant, who fought on the side of the Union in the American Civil War. However, we can find no record of a Confederate general named M'Guire or McGuire. The only reference our research department was able to uncover was of a physician, Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire, who served with the Confederate army and who was in fact present at the famed Battle of Gettysburg. However we can't find any indication that Dr. McGuire's unit ever faced any of General Grant's units in combat, and we're even more certain that they never met in person over the checkerboard. General Grant went on to be President of the United States, and Dr. McGuire went on to become a contributor to the first of the Geneva Conventions.

Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire

Today's Checker School position, which is taken from an actual game between someone named Grant and someone named M'Guire, certainly didn't involve the two Civil War personages mentioned above; and the game actually took place in 1893, some 28 years after the end of the War Between the States. It's a small "set piece" battle which is of considerable practical interest.


Black to Play, White to Draw


Can you align the troops such that the Black and White armies fight to a draw? Sound the bugles and beat the drums, then work out the solution before clicking on Read More to charge over to the solution, a sample game, and notes.


The solution, sample game, lettered notes, and closing remarks come as usual from Ben Boland's Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers. Numbered notes are from computer analysis with Ed Gilbert's KingsRow engine and 10-piece endgame database.

7-11, 24-19, 8-12, 28-24, 11-16, 22-18*---1, 14-23, 24-20---2. Drawn.

Game: 11-15, 23-19, 8-11, 22-17, 9-14,25-22, 6-9, 17-13, 14-18---A, 13-6, 18-25, 29-22, 2-9, 22-17, 9-14, 27-23, 5-9, 17-13, 15-18, 13-6, 18-27, 32-23, 14-18, 23-14, 10-17, 21-14, 1-17, 19-15, 11-18, 26-22, 18-25, 30-14, 7-10, 14-7, 3-10---B, 31-26, 4-8, 26-22, 10-14, 24-19, 8-11. Forms above position, at 3rd move. A. J. MacDonald, Draughts World, Vol. 4, Oct. 1894.

A---The Souter refused, what result? A. J. M.

B---The play ended here, forming No. 230 in the Draughts World, a few are added to show where it merges with the above.

1---19-15 dooms the man on 22 without compensation and loses as follows: 19-15 16-20 24-19 16-20 24-19 20-24 15-10 24-27 10-7 27-31 7-3 31-26 Black Wins.

2---White recovers his man and the draw is assured. Note that after 23-27 11-16 there is no First Position win here for White, as the man on 19 is easily driven away.

The above game was given by "P. B." (Peter Bennett), then Editor (of the Problem Section) of the Draughts World, under "A Coincidence" and compared it to his own No. 336 in the Providence Journal, Dec. 3, 1893: Black, 2, 5, 9. White, 21, 26, 27. Black to play and draw, as above colors reversed: 2-7*, 27-23, 7-11, 23-19, 9-14, 26-22, 5-9, 22-17, 11-15. Drawn. Both MacDonald's and Bennett's positions were published same month and year. MP. B." then compared it to a variation of a problem by David Gourlay, Dec. 4, 1880, Weekly Herald, now No. 515 Gould's Problem Book; B-4, 6, 11, 18. W-13, 17, 20, 24. White to Play and Win. 17-14, 4-8, 24-19, 18-22, 19-16 (14-9 wins here), 6-10, 14-7, 8-12, but "P. B." overlooked the Grant-M'Guire Position which is No. 105, Gould's Problem Book.

The above position was a finish of a game between Messrs. Grant and M'Guire. Also see "Familiar Themes" Page 7.

When driving a King out of the "Double Corner," if there are other pieces on the Board, it is sometimes necessary to know which Square the King will come out on. The only two Squares by which it can leave are (6 or 9 and 24 or 27) in different systems; and discarding all but the three pieces concerned, there is always an odd number in one system or the other.

Rule: When it is your turn to play, note which system contains the odd number; the King is forced out on to the Square situated in that system.

02/21/09 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version
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