# The Checker Maven

### Reed's Rocket

Given the title of today's column, we'll guess that you were expecting to see a picture of a powerful rocket blasting off from its launching pad. Instead, what you see above is an ingenious device called the Reed Rocket Nutcracker. We suppose that when you have "a tough nut to crack" this device will provide all the cracking power you'll ever need. But for cracking less resistant nuts, perhaps an old-fashioned low-tech nutcracker might do the job without the set-up time the "rocket" appears to require.

Old-time checkerist C. F. Barker was certainly a tough nut to crack, but in Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, Willie describes just how James Reed did exactly that.

"Here is how James P. Reed, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, put the skids under Boston's renowned Charles Francis Barker, in an American Championship match in 1889:

 10-14 21-14 6-10 22-17 9-25 27-24 7-10 29-22 1- 6 17-13 10-14 19-15 3- 7 22-18 10-19 25-22 14-17 24-15---1 14-17 24-19 12-16---A.
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,31,30,28,26,23,18,15,13:B17,16,11,8,7,6,5,4,2.

A---Fatal. 6-9 or 11-16 will draw."

1---Play has been textbook perfect to this point---Ed.

You know what we're going to say now: Can you crack this position, or will you crack up trying? Take a crack at it, and then crack that mouse on Read More to see the powerful solution.

Solution

"The unpredictable Pittsburgher now rocked the spectators, as well as his redoubtable opponent, with this burst of brilliance: 15-10*!, 6-22, 13-9, 5-14, 23-18, 14-23, 26-3, 7-10, 3-7, 10-14, 7-16, 17-21---2, 16-19, 22-25, 19-15, 2-6, 15-11, 25-29, 11-7, 6-9, 7-2, and Barker resigned."---3

2---Other moves, such as 2-6, are little better. From here on out, numerous variant lines are possible and can be explored on the computer---Ed.

3---White can obtain the victory by play similar to the following: 9-13 2-6 29-25 6-9 14-17 28-24 25-22 9-14 22-25 24-19 25-22 19-15 22-25 15-10 25-22 10-7 4-8 7-3 8-12 3-7 12-16 7-11 16-20 32-27 22-25 11-15 25-22 14-18 22-25 31-26 17-22 26x17 13x22 18-23 25-29 27-24 20x27 23x32 29-25 32-27 25-29 27-31 29-25 15-19 25-29 19-23 29-25 23-26 25-29 26x17 White Wins---Ed.

09/17/11 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version