The Checker Maven

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


Published every Saturday morning in Honolulu, Hawai`i


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January Kickoff

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Did you watch football on New Year's Day? Although we're writing this column weeks in advance, we can tell you for sure that no, The Checker Maven staff didn't watch football on New Year's Day or any other day, although we do admit to having seen a football game on television as recently as 1978. We understand football's great popularity, but it just isn't our thing.

So instead we'll kick off our checker year with a game that dates back even further, to 1908. The game is a bit flawed but nonetheless an interesting over the board contest. Let's have a look.


1. 10-15 23-18
2. 12-16 26-23
3. 16-20 21-17
4. 9-13 17-14
5. 8-12 14-9
6. 5x14 18x9
7. 4-8

7-10 was likely better here, though the text move certainly allows for a draw.


7. ... 24-19
8. 15x24 28x19
9. 7-10

11-15 evaluates to a likely draw and may be best. Deep analysis also evaluates the current position as a probable draw that may be more difficult to find over the board.


9. ... 23-18

22-18 was correct. The edge passes to Black who now might win.


10.11-16 27-23
11.20-24

This unfortunate move turns a probable Black win into a certain White win, and now your New Year's task is twofold. First, correct this last error and give what could have been Black's winning move. Then, continuing on from the text move, show how White wins (it's rather easy). When you've got it, click on Read More to see the solution.

BLACK
20161201-16kick.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,31,30,29,25,23,22,19,18,9:B24,16,13,12,10,8,6,3,2,1.

20050904-symbol.gif

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01/07/17 - Printer friendly version
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New Year's Eve 2016

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Are you thinking checkers or partying today? We realize that this column will appear on New Year's Eve, and you may not have a lot of time for checkers today (sad as that might be). So we'll give you something quite a bit easier than usual this week, and we won't even annoy you with our Javascript clock.

BLACK
20161121-ny2016.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W26,19,16,15,11:BK30,K24,14,12.

Easier? Did we say easier? Actually, it is, and it won't take time away from your celebrations. So work it out, check your solution by clicking on Read More, and then have a happy and safe New Year's Eve.

Happy New Year from The Checker Maven!20050904-symbol.gif

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12/31/16 - Printer friendly version
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Happy Holidays 2016

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The Checker Maven wishes all of our readers the happiest of holiday seasons. Regardless what holiday you might celebrate or how you might celebrate it, we hope this time of year brings you happiness and contentment.

During the holidays perhaps you have a little more free time, but even if you're busier than can be, one can always make time for some checkers. Today we present a study by that renowned player and author, the late Ken Grover; it's quite interesting and should give you plenty of holiday checker enjoyment.

BLACK
20161121-h2016.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W30,28,27,26,22,21,20,18:B16,15,13,11,10,9,7,5.

Can you find a winning line of play? We'll be fair about it: Mr. Grover published one win and the computer found another that was similar but not quite the same. See if you can work it out and then click on Read More to see the solutions.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/24/16 - Printer friendly version
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Coffee and Cake, 2016

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A bit of a holiday season tradition at The Checker Maven has been the presentation of a "coffee and cake" problem. This is the sort of problem that you show to your checker friends and bet them coffee and cake that they can't solve it.

We think this year we have one that will put you in the winner's circle and garner you a nice Saturday afternoon treat at your local café or coffee shop. Let's have a look.

BLACK
20161114-candc16.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W16,14,12,11:B13,6,5,4.

You might initially ask, what's the difficulty? Are those Checker Maven people asking me to just give away some coffee and cake? But when you take a closer look, you'll see that White is mighty short of options. Maybe your friends won't get their coffee and cake so easily after all.

Now, it's only fair for you to try to solve this one first, before you spring it on your unsuspecting friends, don't you agree? So give it your all, and then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/17/16 - Printer friendly version
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Does Cress Make You Well?

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All over the internet and in the foodie and gourmet magazines, you can read about the many and wondrous benefits of watercress. Whether you put it in your salad or use it as a garnish, you're promised untold health benefits, with the idea that cress can indeed make you well.

Of course that leads us to a horrible pun, as we present a position that arose in a game between classic checkerists E. E. Cresswell and J. Wyllie. The problem dates back around 80 years and is our current Checker School entry.

E. E. CRESSWELL - J. WYLLIE
BLACK
20161003-fp175.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W32,28,25,18,17,13:B20,16,10,6,2,1

There's no doubt that Black has the initiative and will try for a win, but White can find a narrow draw. It's not easy, but it's worth your time, as the play is quite instructive. When you've gotten as far as you can, click on Read More to see the solution, a sample game, and copious notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/10/16 - Printer friendly version
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12 Years

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Today The Checker Maven completes a dozen years of no-fail weekly publication, something we modestly believe is a significant accomplishment. We hope we've being doing our share in promoting the great game of checkers, and we do hope to be able to continue publishing for at least a few more years.

Someone who has contributed immensely to our game is Richard Pask, and to celebrate the "12" theme, we're taking a position that arises from Ballot 12 in his upcoming book, Complete Checkers. (It will be published by us most likely in spring 2017.)

BLACK
20161203-12fix.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W12,19,20,24,29,30,31,32:B3,4,6,8,9,11,13,17.

Black has just blundered with 2-6 instead of the "star" move given in the Complete Checkers text, 17-22. How does White bring home the win? We suppose you ought to get 12 minutes to solve it, or 12 attempts, or something of the sort, but just do the best you can. Then, you can click on Read More once (not 12 times) to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/03/16 - Printer friendly version
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Thanksgiving Weekend 2016

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We've always written about how we love the Thanksgiving holiday, a holiday that unites everyone. No matter what your race, religion, color, or political leanings, giving thanks is an American tradition that we can all support.

On this wonderful weekend we usually try to feature a problem from a great American composer or great American players. Today we'll look at a position that arose in a match game between two of the all-time greats, Walter Hellman and Maurice Chamblee.

WHITE
20161010-tg16.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W31,30,28,27,22,21,15:B19,16,13,9,8,7,5,3.

Black is a piece up, and you'd think he should win handily. But it isn't as easy as all that. Can you find the right line of play that will carry Black to victory? You may be surprised!

Find the way to the laurel wreath, and then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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11/26/16 - Printer friendly version
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A New Approach

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We often look for a new approach, a new way to do things. Sometimes that new way is better, sometimes not; and sometimes, it doesn't really make any difference. Is it an improved way or just another way? The answer is not always clear.

In today's installment from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, we continue looking at situations arising from the Kelso opening. Here's the run-up, without additional commentary.

10-15 22-18 15x22 25x18 6-10 18-14 10x17 21x14 9x18 23x14 1-6 29-25 12-16 26-23 16-19 24x15 11x18 28-24 8-11 24-19 4-8 31-26 6-9 19-15 11-16.

BLACK
20161010-neworold.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw
W:W32,30,27,26,25,23,15,14:B18,16,9,8,7,5,3,2.

To make this a little easier (as the ensuing play is complex), we'll note right away that Teschelheit's classic Master Play gives a line with 15-10 for White to draw. Willie says he has something new, and gives 26-22 as the only move to draw. And so we simply pose the question: Who is correct? Willie, Teschelheit, both, or neither?

We urge you to explore the play for a while, and then take the old approach of clicking on Read More to see the different lines of play and the answer to our question.20050904-symbol.gif

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11/19/16 - Printer friendly version
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And The Winner Is ...

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This column will appear just after the U.S. Presidential election, but the time of writing (eight weeks in advance of publication), the polls made it too close to call, so we can't even guess who won.

But that lead us to the idea of publishing one of those highly irritating "What Result?" problems (but not even close to matching the irritation caused by the just-concluded political season).

BLACK
20160926-winneris.png
WHITE
White to Play, What Result?

W:WK30,25,22,18,17,K10:B21,K19,13,K11,9,2.

Were you able to call the election? Can you find the result of this problem, and identify one candidate with White and one with Black?

Give it a go and then click on Read More. We think you'll find the solution both satisfying and appropriate.20050904-symbol.gif

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11/12/16 - Printer friendly version
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Get Out and Vote

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In the United States, the Tuesday after this column appears is election day and Hillary and Donald are going head to head with the White House as the prize. We're writing this column some weeks in advance, so we don't know the current state of the polls, but we can safely say that this is the most, um, unique presidential election in many a year.

We urge you to get out and vote for the candidates of your choice. The right to vote is also a responsibility. Please do cast your ballot as your conscience dictates.

In checkers, going "head to head" over the board can also be quite a contest, although even as checker enthusiasts we have to admit that the stakes are somewhat lower, thankfully, than those in a Presidential election. No polls, no talking heads doing endless analysis of incredibly fine points, and, hopefully, no rancor, but instead just the enjoyment of the game.

Here's an actual "head to head" game, played long ago by Berry Mitchell and Chas. Hefter. (The actual players are not depicted below.)

20160918-htoh.jpg

1. 11-15 23-19
2. 8-11 22-17
3. 4-8 17-13
4. 15-18 24-20
5. 10-15

11-15 is better; White now gets an edge.


5. ... 19-10
6. 7-14

6-15 may be the better choice of jumps.


6. ... 26-23
7. 11-15 28-24
8. 8-11

Loses. 2-7 is correct.


8. ... 30-26
9. 2-7

6-10 is better; Black's situation is now even worse.


9. ... 26-22
10. 3-8 23-19
11. 7-10
BLACK
20160918-htoh.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W32,31,29,27,25,24,22,21,20,19,13:B18,15,14,12,11,10,9,8,6,5,1.

The win isn't terribly hard to find; would it be that all the problems the next President will face were as easy! Elect your best line of play and then vote with your mouse on Read More to verify your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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11/05/16 - Printer friendly version
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i. Original material is Copyright © 2004-2017 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.


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