The Checker Maven

The World's Most Widely Read Checkers and Draughts Publication
Bob Newell, Editor-in-Chief


Published each Saturday morning in Honolulu, Hawai`i


Contests in Progress:

Composing Championship #65


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Did Marvin Blow The Game?

The Detroit Doublejumpers, lead by their intrepid team captain, Marvin J. Mavin, were at the St. Louis Sports Drome for a contest with the St. Louis Switchers. Marvin was engaged in a First Board match with the Switchers captain, that intrepid French National named Jean Luc Louis Claude Simon Tournevise, otherwise known as "Louie Screwdriver."

"You 'ave made a vehree bad ligne of play," remarked Louie with a curling of the lip and a bit of a sneer. "Maintenant, I will 'ave to show you zee ehror of zis ligne by giving you zee beating!"

Here is how the game had played out so far. Marvin, who was commanding the Red pieces, and Louie, in charge of the White forces, had indulged themselves in this line of the Single Corner:

1. 11-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 12-16 29-25
4. 10-14 24-19
5. 16-20 25-22
6. 7-10 28-24
7. 8-12 32-28
8. 4-8 30-25
9. 3-7 18-15
10. 9-13 19-16
11. 12x19 23x16
12. 10x19 24x15
13. 8-12 15-11
14. 12x19 11-8
15. 7-10 8-3
16. 2-7

This resulted in the following position, with White to play:

RED (Marvin)
(diagram)
WHITE (Louie)
White to Play - Can White Win?
Marvin seemed only slight irritated by Louie's taunts. He simply replied, in his most politically incorrect manner, "Well there, Monsieur Frenchy, you ain't a gonna pull this one off nohow!" Louie looked puzzled. "Ah, I do not un-derstand zis American way of fun-ee talk-ing," he replied, "but I un-derstand 'ow to make of zis game a vic-toree!"

What do you think? Try your luck and skill on these questions:

1. Can White (Louie) find a win in this position? What might it be?

2. Does Red have something up his sleeve, or did Marvin perhaps have a little too much pre-game beer?

3. What do you think of this line of the Single Corner? Did Red play well? Did White?

Watch The Checker Maven for the conclusion of this story, and the answers to all these questions and much more, in a few weeks' time.

French-English Glossary

ligne line, as in "line of play."

maintenant now, as in "now I'll show you!"

tournevis screwdriver.

Note: In this article, we're trying out a different diagram style and using the term "Red" instead of "Black" --- all in response to reader feedback. Let us know what you think.

06/11/05 -Printer friendly version-
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It's Easy When You Know How

A recent addition to the library in our Santa Fe office is an item we've sought for quite some while: W.T. Call's Midget Problems, published in 1913. We think the following quotation from the preface to this little booklet is revealing:

'Are not these little problems easy?

'Yes, when you are looking at the solutions.'

Over the coming months we'll be featuring some selections from this work, which features nothing but problems with two pieces per side, hence the title, Midget Problems. But as the preface warns, these are small only in size, not in challenge.

We'd like to start out with an offering that you might consider trite; and frankly, we'd have to agree, yet there is a method to our madness. It is a setting of First Position, credited to Dr. T. J. Brown of Limerick, who put this forth around the year 1870.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win
There's nothing new or different here, and yet we strongly urge you to try this out. Play it against your computer, or practice it with a strong opponent. How well do you really know First Position? Sometimes a thorough review of a familiar concept is a well-worthwhile exercise, as so often we find our knowledge isn't quite as solid as we would wish to think.

And when you've worked through this setting (you can click here for an animation of Dr. Brown's trunk solution), answer this trivia question, also credited to Dr. T. J. Brown. What is the earliest published example of First Position? Can you name the author and year? If you can, you really know your draughts history.

But before you're done, tell us, if you can, what White's last move might have been, and then draw a conclusion from your answer. (Thanks go to Brian Hinkle for this one.)

As usual, click on Read More for the answers.

[Read More]
06/08/05 -Printer friendly version-
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A Tommie Wiswell Saturday Bonus!

As a special Saturday extra for our readers, we offer this Tommie Wiswell Prize Problem, which is actually somewhat easier than most Wiswell offerings, but certainly no less elegant.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Draw
Forces are even but, to say the least, White does not have a lot of options. Can you save the day for the White team? Give it your best and then click Read More for the solution.

[Read More]
06/04/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Rush Hour

Let's stay out of the traffic and have a "rush hour" of a different sort. Can you rush to solve this month's speed problems? Click on the links to show the problem, and start the clock. Go as fast as you can; the train's leaving the station!

Click on Read More to check your solutions.

(We are always in need of speed problems. If you have any that you'd like us to publish, please contact us using the contact link in the left column. We are looking for problems that are much harder than the ones we've been publishing but still easy enough for an experienced player to solve in under five minutes.)

Problem No. 1. Very easy.

Problem No. 2. Easy.

[Read More]
06/04/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Results of the Checker Maven Reader's Survey

Reminder: we have switched to our summer publication schedule, which means we don't always publish a Wednesday edition.

Our thanks to everyone who participated in our recent Checker Maven reader's survey. We received a wonderful response, filled with constructive criticism and excellent suggestions. Overall, you seem to like The Checker Maven!

By far the most asked-for feature was current checker news and annotated games from recent tournaments and matches. This may actually turn out to be the most difficult request to deliver upon, as tournament and match games generally have specific ownership and publication rights and limitations. But we're going to try to recruit a network of volunteer "stringers" and we'll make every effort to provide this type of content in the future. Bear with us; it may take some time to put this together.

Problems proved quite popular; you were about evenly split on whether they were too hard, too easy, or about right. This tells us that our mix is good; but we agree that the speed problems are usually too simple.

Book and computer program reviews have their audience as well, although these appeal to a more focused group. Still, the response certainly indicates that we should continue with this type of material.

The most controversy seemed to be over the Marvin J. Mavin stories. Most folks thought they were at OK or better; a few people really loved them; and others--- well, let's just say that they and Marvin have a bit of a personality clash. The bottom line for us: we'll continue to run these stories but we won't focus on them or publish them more than every month or two.

The "Masked Man" features garnered one negative mention as well; we didn't get a reason but it might be that the quality of the problems in those articles tended to be lower than in the other problem features. We'll run the one or two more that are already in the publication queue, and that will probably be the end of the line unless we can upgrade the caliber.

Various and varied suggestions included requests for: easier to read diagrams, a return to the click-and-type system of commenting on articles, better indexing, and RSS syndication, among others. We plan to work on all of these over the next weeks as time allows.

Publication frequency of once or twice a week seemed about right to most of you, although there were a couple of requests for daily publication! Alas, that just can't be in the cards for the forseeable future.

As we publish this summary, we're completing a half year of regular, on-time, uninterrupted Checker Maven publication. Our thanks to our nearly 1,000 regular readers for making this webzine a success far beyond anything we ever had a right to expect. We'll do our best to continue to please and to be responsive to your suggestions and input.

05/31/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Who's Number One?

As this article goes to press, the battle has been joined to decide who is Number One in the world of British/American checkers and draughts. Alex Moiseyev of the United States is defending his world championship against long-time rival Ron "Suki" King of Barbados. Alex is providing his own colorful daily commentary on the Checker Solutions BBS, and it's not to be missed.

After today's play (27 May 2005) Alex is leading Ron 5 to 2 with 13 draws. This is spirited, fighting checkers - how often do we see 7 out of 20 grandmaster games end in a victory? But no matter who finally emerges from this battle as the present-day Number One, we're seeing checkers at its very best.

(Editor's note, 01 June 2005: Alex wins the match with a score of 8 wins, 3 losses, and 25 draws!)

Right now, though, we want to take you back to an earlier contest for the claim to the title of Number One, a match held in the U.K. in 1958 between the American great Marion Tinsley and the British grandmaster Derek Oldbury. Tinsley walked out the undisputed world champion with nine wins, one loss, and 24 draws. Despite the seemingly uneven score, the match was hotly contested and produced some very fine play.

But the match also produced a few unexpected and memorable errors! Today we'll ask you to take on the persona first of Marion Tinsley and next of Derek Oldbury, as you try to find the move to save the game, in positions unexpectedly lost by these stars of yesterday.

Here's a position from the very first game of the match:

WHITE (Oldbury)

BLACK (Tinsley)
Black to Play and Draw
Tinsley played 5-9? and lost at once to 7-16 12-19 27-24 White (Oldbury) wins. It was a shocking defeat, and The Times of London headlined: 'Sensational' Opening Win In World Draughts Contest. Can you find the line of play that would have secured the draw for Marion Tinsley?

Now let's leap ahead to Game Seven. Here's the situation:

WHITE (Tinsley)

BLACK (Oldbury)
Black to Play and Draw
Oldbury, to everyone's surprise, played 4-8 and lost to 19-16 12-19 24-15 10-19 23-16 8-11 16-7 2-11 26-23 11-16 28-24 White (Tinsley) wins. What would have been the course of action for Oldbury to get the draw?

Click on Read More to see how your play stacks up.

[Read More]
05/28/05 -Printer friendly version-
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A Not-So-Mysterious Stranger

The May installment of our ongoing "Masked Man" series will give our readers a bit of a reprieve, and a chance to perhaps actually guess the identity of our featured problemist.

As in previous months, your task is to identify the problem composer pictured above, and solve his checker problem, given below.
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw
Black is a man up, but about to lose (at least) one of the members of his armed forces. We'd rate this problem as at least medium in difficulty.

Check your solutions by clicking on Read More.

[Read More]
05/25/05 -Printer friendly version-
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A Prize Problem - Well, Kind Of

A little while back we came into possession of a number of 1950-era issues of California Checker Chatter (CCC). The checker scene in California certainly seemed to be active in those days; the magazine talks of clubs in Oakland, Santa Monica, and other places around the state.

Out of those yellowing but fascinating pages from the past we've chosen our topic for today: the CCC "Prize Problem" for November, 1948. But, subsequent to publication, the "star" line was found to be faulty, and the problem flawed.

The original premise was this.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
The problem composer, a Mr. Hawkins, had proposed 3-7 15-19 7-11 18-23 11-16* to a White win. But we'd best remove the star from that last White move, because a Mr. K.D. Hanson came along and showed a draw for Black. Here's the situation after 11-16.
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw
Can you take the "prize" out of "prize problem" and find the Black draw?
Click on Read More to check your solution.

[Read More]
05/21/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Three Easy Strokes: Part One

Our title, predictably, doesn't refer to an easy par-three golf hole, but to our desire to present a short series of stroke problems that, frankly, aren't quite as difficult as some of our earlier offerings.

Try your hand at this first one and decide for yourself if it's a spring breeze; then click on Read More for the solution.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Move and Win
[Read More]
05/18/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Minority Rules

We're really pleased to present this stunning Tom Wiswell problem. As usual, it is not easy, but it is elegant, entertaining, and instructive, and illustrates the depth and scope of our game of checkers. The setting is below; we think this is among the finest problems we've put forth to date.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
There isn't a misprint here, and you didn't read it incorrectly. The premises are indeed White to Play and Win, despite being a man down. Now, White has two kings and Black is cramped, but we're not to find a draw for White, but a win.

Solve it if you can, and then click on Read More for the surprising solution.

[Read More]
05/14/05 -Printer friendly version-
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i, as a completely non-commercial public service from which no profit is obtained or sought. Original material is Copyright 2004-2022 Avi Gobbler Publishing. Other material is the property of the respective owners. Information presented on this site is offered as-is, at no cost, and bears no express or implied warranty as to accuracy or usability. You agree that you use such information entirely at your own risk. No liabilities of any kind under any legal theory whatsoever are accepted. The Checker Maven is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Bob Newell, Sr.

MAVEN, n.:

An expert or connoisseur, often self-proclaimed.


Articles


Numbered Board and Notation

Book Reviews

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Program Reviews

A Mind Sport for the Common Man

Learning Checkers

The Unknown Derek Oldbury

Rediscovering Checkers

Regulation Checker Sets

Marvin's World

Downloads


Richard Pask Publications

Reisman: Checkers Made Easy

Clapham Commons Draughts Book

Grover/Wiswell: Let's Play Checkers

Bob Murray's School Presentation

Jim Loy Publications

PDN collections

Oldbury: MoveOver

Reinfeld: How to Win

Ginsberg: Principles of Strategy

3-Move-Deck