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:
Crime Does Not Pay
A little while back we lamented the presence of computer-using cheaters on the major online play sites. We recently came across an article published over 80 years back in the Morris-Systems Checkerist magazine that highlights a similar problem, and how one cheater got what he had coming. We've reprinted the article below.
Illegal Move Proves Boomerang
Falls Into Graceless Trap After Double Move
The desire to win in any form of competitive sport is a very human one. Facing a man who is a degree stronger or more skillful, and submitting to defeat after defeat is a test of character, temper, fortitude--or, reduced to one word, a test of sportsmanship. Occasionally we encounter an individual for whom the hunger of victory is so intense that while he would probably shrink from attempting an unfair or unethical move in other walks of life, he has but meager scruples as to the management of his game, and in order to gain the upper hand resorts to illegitimate tactics. The number of such is of course infinitely small compared with those who would rather be riddled to pieces than surrender their principles of good sportsmanship; but even the insignificant number of sly-hand movers is to be regretted.
Not always, however, is it profitable for the sly-hander to make his moves unseen, and the man who thinks he is "getting away with it" will find now and then that he has dug a pit for himself too deep for escape.
We happened into a rather amusing demonstration of this not long ago while watching a player of good repute in a park exhibition where he was handling a number of boards simultaneously. As the exhibition player went from board to board we noticed that one of his opponents near us advanced a piece as if to test the position, then glanced up to see if he had been observed. When the exhibition player appeared at this board again the opponent made his regular move, but the piece he had advanced a minute before remained where he had placed it. The exhibitionist was plainly surprised. Evidently he had remembered the earlier position. We saw him eye his man with a keen glance, but said nothing, made his move and then went on to the next board.
Later, in the end game, the position on the board was as shown (below).
The exhibition player had the white side. As he passed down the aisle to other boards, the "double mover," seeing himself pursued by the white king, made another illegitimate move, going from 5 to 9, with the thought of preventing white from playing 8-11 (which would then lose to 20-16 --Ed.)
. He scratched his head as if wondering whether his conscience would stand for it. When the checker performer returned to the board he caught the situation at a glance. He raised himself to a straight posture and looked squarely at his man, puzzled for words, but unwilling to embarrass the other while the crowd stood by. Nevertheless, his steady, searching look told the "double mover" he was discovered. Here is a picture of the board after the illegitimate move:
White to Move and Win
Studying the situation carefully the exhibition player smiled inwardly as he became aware that his opponent had unwittingly entangled himself in the coils of a binding trap.
Had the "double mover" been content with his first illegal move he might have gained a draw, but when he repeated his offense, he apparently aroused the wrath of the checker g-ds and brought himself to swift and sorry doom.
How did the Exhibition Player give the "Double Mover" his comeuppance? Solve the problem and click on Read More for the solution.
The Manchester Draughts Club
It's a Wednesday evening, and you've just finished a day at one of the editorial offices of The Checker Maven. You're in the mood for a good game of checkers and you wouldn't mind a beer as an accompaniment.
If you're at our Santa Fe office, you might head out to your favorite cantina for chips and salsa, and a Dos Equis Amber to go along with them, but the only checker competition you'll find is on the internet.
If you're at our Honolulu office, you can catch the live-on-the-beach sunset show on Kalakaua Boulevard, and afterwards maybe have a Hinano at Duke's Barefoot Bar; and you can even play chess at the famed beachfront pavilion at the corner of Kealohilani. But if you want to play checkers, you'd better head back to the office and go online.
If you were in Manchester, England, though, you'd really be in luck. No, The Checker Maven
isn't going to be opening an office there, at least not yet. But even better, Manchester is home to the Manchester Draughts Club
, which meets Wednesday evenings at The Castle
Founded in its present form by Dr. John Reade and Bill McKay in 1990, the club chose The Castle
because of its old-fashioned ambiance, good service, and fine selection of Robinson's Cask Beers. These
draughts players know what enjoyment truly is!
The club was created to provide a venue for casual cross-board play, as a welcome alternative to correspondence play, which had been the only local option for nearly a decade. But under the inspiration of Frank McDonald, the club soon introduced competitive play, which quickly rose to a high level of skill and achievement.
Internally, the club sponsors both 3-move and go-as-you-please (freestyle) leagues and knockout tournaments. Winners from these competitions qualify as challengers for the Lancashire 3-move and freestyle championships each year. As of this writing (April 2005) Frank Bednall is the reigning 3-move champion, while Donald Oliphant holds the freestyle crown. In addition, the club puts on two open tournaments each year, in memory of two former Lancashire players: the Arthur Jones 3-Move Tournament, played in the spring, and the Ronald Bumby Freestyle Tournament, played in the autumn.
Donald Oliphant, 3-Move Lancashire County Champion, and Melvyn Green, Challenger
Photo by Sue Reade
But the club doesn't stop with just that. Lancashire County enters two teams for the British Counties Championship each year, and the Lancashire South team is staffed by the Manchester Draughts Club. Lancashire South won the championship in 2003, and is through to the second round thus far this year (2005).
Lancashire South (Manchester) Win the 2003 British Counties Championship
From left: Matthew Eke, John Reade, Donald Oliphant, Melvyn Green, Eddie O'Gara
Photo by Sue Reade
Dr. Reade extends his invitation to checkers and draughts players who find themselves in the Manchester area on a Wednesday evening to ring him at 0161-643-2985 and arrange for a few games at The Castle
. The club plays from opening at 7:30 PM until closing at 11:00 PM, and you're certain to find top-notch competition and the best of British beer.
To be sure, chips and salsa in Santa Fe is fine fare, and the sunset show on the beach in Waikiki is a great experience, but compared with quality over-the-board draughts play and a few pints of Robinson's, you know what our choice would be.
The Checker Maven thanks Dr. John Reade for providing text and photos as the basis of this article.
The Lancashire Checker Newsletter
You've read in our companion article about competitive over the board play and excellent beer at the Manchester Draughts Club. The "rest of the story" is the Lancashire Checker Newsletter, published on alternate months, also by Dr. John Reade. This is a professional quality twelve page printed newsletter, with feature articles, news items, commented games, and challenging problems.
The best of this is that the newsletter is available by subscription to anyone who wants it; the annual cost is just 10 pounds in the UK, 15 euros in the rest of Europe, and $20 in the USA. Dr. Reade offers the first two years for the price of one at initial signup. He may be reached by email at email@example.com. Trust us; you won't want to miss out on this fine publication.
Dr. Reade has given us permission to feature a problem from the February 2005 newsletter. It is by American problemist Will H. Tyson, who lived from 1865 to 1928.
White to Move and Win
You will find this of approximately intermediate difficulty, with a nice theme, an instructive solution, and a great opportunity for less experienced players such as the editor of The Checker Maven
to go badly wrong. As usual, click on Read More
to check your answers.
Hidden Beauty on a Draughtsboard
Our article title is the subtitle of Melvyn Green's Stroke Problems, a large and grand collection of original compositions by the Salford, England master of the art. Mr. Green has very kindly given us permission to publish one of what he terms the "easier" situations from his book.
Melvyn Green's Stroke Problems - #82
White to Move and Win
Well, easy is relative; try your luck on this entertaining and very pleasing offering. We're sure you'll be delighted, and will want to have your own copy of Melvyn's book; you can contact the webmaster
for information on how to obtain it.
Oh, the solution? Click on Read More.... but only if you must!
Richard Pask's Supplement to Oldbury's Move Over
Grandmaster Richard Pask has completed his supplement to Derek E. Oldbury's classic Move Over, and has very kindly allowed us to offer it here for download.
(which itself can be downloaded from here
) is a true classic, a work that was controversial in its time and which still excites the interest of every two-fisted checker player. Now, Grandmaster Pask has provided insightful commentary on the original text, as well as solutions to the problems at the end of the book--- problems which have proven perhaps somewhat more challenging than Oldbury had anticipated.
Be sure to read Mr. Pask's latest work, which is as much a fine tribute to a great player as it is a superb elucidation of a classic text.
Note: the download at the moment is in "Word" format, meant to be printed on A4 paper, and requiring Jim Loy's checker font to render the title page illustration correctly.
Here is an elegant problem by an unknown author, as originally published by Tom Wiswell. It is not easy but is worth the effort.
White to Play and Win
Mr. Wiswell called it Masterpiece
and we're sure you'll agree when you have it figured out. His solution can be seen by clicking on Read More
What, indeed, makes a problem a true masterpiece? Is it an elegant solution, a deep or hidden theme, a surprise ending, or other factors? We'll combine today's problem with this short survey asking what you like most in a checker problem.
How Times Have Changed
The Checker Maven has reported on the exciting U.S. vs. Great Britain match being played on It's Your Turn at this very moment (April 2005). It's Your Turn is a correspondence style site; players take turns making their moves, just as you would do if you were truly playing by mail.
In fact, many of our readers know that there have
been actual mail-based matches between the U.S. and Great Britain. Here's a short article that appeared almost 80 years ago in the September-October 1926 edition of The Morris Systems Checkerist
Correspondence Match, G. B. vs. U. S.
The following is the score between an English team captained by D. Bryant, and an American team lead by Ray Kemmerer. It will be noted that some of the players have "crossed the bar" since starting the match a few years ago.
Great Britain --- U. S. A.
R. J. Allen 0; A. J. Schmutz 0 drawn 4
D. Bryant 1; A. R. Dosset 2; drawn 1
W. Dixon 0; A. J. Lemense 0; drawn 4
C. Probert 0; W. E. Steere 0; drawn 4
J. Hawks 0; H. D. Kaufman 0; drawn 4
D. Exeter 0; A. Jensen 0; drawn 4
C. McKean 0; F. E. Potts 1; drawn 3
F. F. Smith 1; J. Tonkin 0; drawn 3
Total -- America 3, Great Britain 2, drawn 27. The heat between J. M. Roberts and J. L. Westenberger is not reported as yet.
Times have truly changed. The mind boggles at the prospect of a multi-game correspondence match, played via mail delivered back and forth across the Atlantic by ship. Small wonder the match went on for years and that some players indeed "crossed the bar" during this time.
Today's match is being played in "internet" time and all should be over in weeks, not years. And we certainly hope that no one "crosses the bar"!
The same issue of The Morris Systems Checkerist is full of articles about the 2nd live U. S. - G. B. match, which was in preparation at the time. It makes for interesting reading, and, while today's internet match continues, we'll reprint a few of those old columns here over the next few weeks.
But for the moment, keep up with all of today's action, in internet time, at the official tournament site.
Yet Two More Easy Pieces
We continue our electronic republication of Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard
with this, our third installment. But let's let Willie speak for himself.
White to Play and Win
'Like all other tactical schemes, the delayed smother play can occur on other parts of the board with varying arrangements of the pieces. Example 5 shows a natural-looking ending in which white can neatly bottle up black's pieces in just five moves, by a delayed double corner "jam." Examples 4 (published in a previous article --Ed.
) and 5 illustrate but two types of the smother play; there are several other varieties including blocks, freezes, lock-ups, and the smother pinch. Indeed, checker ideas are as numerous as words, and each one has a meaning of its own, and a special adaptability in the course of scientific play.
White to Play and Win
The situation on the right (actually above --Ed.
) is still another member of the smother family. To press home the win in Example 6, white must actually coordinate the germs of two different tactical ideas, employing the smother as the winning device and using the seesaw shift (as in Example 11) (to be published by July 2005 --Ed.
) as the timing element by which the smother is executed. When two or more tactical ideas are woven into a procedure of force, we call it a "combination." positions are always popping up in play where it is necessary to grapple with a dozen or more ideas in order to force a scientific win, or obtain a delicate draw!'
Solve the problems and check your solutions by clicking on Read More.
WCC Platinum Programs/Cake Manchester Databases Soon To Be Available
PLEASE NOTE: The download links and CD offers in this article are obsolete and no longer valid. As of October 2021, you can get Martin Fierz's programs and databases from his website. You can get WCC Platinum from archive.org.
Gil Dodgen's WCC Platinum II and III checker playing computer programs are now available for the cost of duplication and shipping. Testing was a complete success and we are ready to take orders. Please read our special web page for further information, prior to contacting us.
We are also pleased to be able to distribute Martin Fierz's compact 8-piece endgame database
, which runs with his Cake Manchester
and also with Ed Gilbert's King's Row
. This will also be available elsewhere
for free download, and that is far and away the preferred option for all concerned. But, if you don't want to or can't download it, you will be able to get it from us on 4 CDs for just the cost of duplication and shipping. Watch here for timing of availability and details on ordering.
Please note: The Checker Maven maintains strict neutrality and impartiality. Our distribution of checker software and databases is intended as a service to the checker playing public, and must not be construed as making any kind of statement as to the claims or relative merits of any particular program or database. Such statements are made by us only in the context of a published review or evaluation.
Speeding Into Spring
Spring is here, it's April, and time for our more-or-less monthly selection of speed problems. Remember, the clock is running. How fast are you?
(two ways to solve, easy and very easy)
(easy to medium)
Click on Read More for the solutions.
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.