The Checker Maven

Clan M'Millan


What's the reasoning behind the spelling "M'Millan"--- with an apostrophe? Why not spell out "McMillan" or "MacMillan"?

We found that question rather intriguing. We've seen the "M'Millan" variant before and never rightly understood it. But then again, we never really knew why some names are given as "MacMillan" and others as "McMillan."

The Clan MacMillan website set us straight.

It seems that the clan's name has two different spellings in the Scottish Gaelic language, both of them difficult to pronounce in English. There exists a variety of semi-phonetic transliterations. To avoid confusion, the "neutral" variant, "M'Millan," came into use. It's a clever and very clean solution..

Today's checker school problem, attributed to R. G. M'Millan, also offers a clever and clean solution. Can you find it?

White to Play and Win


There should be no confusion here; the position is anything but neutral. After you've worked through it, click your mouse on Read More to see the apostrophic solution, notes, and a sample game.20050904-symbol.gif


As is our practice, lettered notes are taken from Ben Boland's Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers. Numbered notes are by the editor, using Ed Gilbert's KingsRow computer engine and 10-piece endgame database.

20-16---A, 12-19, 26-23, 19-26, 30-23. White Wins---7.

Game: 9-13, 22-18, 10-15, 25-22, 6-10, 23-19, 11-16, 18-11, 16-23, 27-18, 8-15, 18-11, 7-16, 22-18, 5-9---B,1, 29-25, 4-8---C,2, 24-20, 16-19, 18-15---3, 3-7---D,4, 15-6, 1-l0, 32-27, 9-14---5, 25-22, 8-11---6, 20-16, 11-20, 27-24, 20-27, 31-6, 2-9, 28-24, 7-11, 24-20, 11-15. Forms above position. H. Henderson vs. R. G. M'Millan. Game 57, Third Scottish Tournament, 1895.

A---A very neat correction of Game 73, Note A, 1894 Tourney Book.

B---J. Lees suggests the following as better; 4-8, 18-14, 10-17, 21-14, 8-11, 29-25, 3-7. 25-22 1-6, 32-27, 6-10, 22-17, 13-22, 26-17, 11-15, 27-23, 15-l8, 24-20. Drawn. J. Smith.

C---If 16-20, 24-19, 4-8, 18-15, and White is very strong.

D---Perhaps the following, as suggested by J. H. Strudwick, will draw here; 1-6, 25-22, 3-7, 32-27, 9-14, 27-24, 19-23, 26-19, 14-18, etc. Drawn.

1---5-9 is a probable loss. 4-8, as suggested in Note B, is probably best, although 3-7 is also acceptable.

2---Despite Note C, 16-20 is a little better than 4-8, although White still has a big advantage either way.

3---A blunder. 32-27 keeps the win. The text move only draws.

4---3-7 is actually fine to draw and puts the game back into the KingsRow opening book.

5---Black goes astray again. 10-15 was the move to draw. Instead Black again has a probable loss.

6---Black is now completely lost. 2-6 might have retained a ray of hope, though a fairly dim one.

7---A well-executed man-down win. Black loses two men no matter what, for instance 15-19 23-16 14-18 22-15.

10/12/13 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with comments on this article.