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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At A Stroke

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We didn't think they could do it, but our intrepid Research Department managed to come up with another meaning for the word stroke, to wit: at a stroke, with the meaning of "all at once," such as, "we solved a dozen checker problems at a stroke."

That would be quite a feat, indeed, and of course you just know we're going to present a stroke problem to kick off the month of June.

BLACK
20170317-goethe.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W23,22,K21,18,16,15,11,10,7:BK30,K29,27,26,K20,19,9,3,1.

Can you solve this one "at a stroke" or will it take you longer? Are your powers of visualization up to the challenge? If you find the position difficult, we refer you to the quote at the beginning of the article.

When you've determined the correct moves, clicking on Read More will bring you to the solution--- at a stroke.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/03/17 - Printer friendly version
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A Trap With A Tale 1

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We can bet that this woman has a pretty interesting tale to tell about installing a sink trap. It can be a messy job and a lot of things can go wrong. But it appears she's found a solution in the form of long-lasting plastic components.

Which, of course, brings us to our subject: finding a solution, not for drain problems, thank goodness, but for equally perplexing checkerboard conundrums.

Today we're continuing with our presentation of material from Willie Ryan's fascinating Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard with the first part of something Willie calls A Trap With a Tale. We know you'll find it interesting, as we've discovered some unique things about this study. We'll give the runup without Willie's notes; those will come in later columns, but for now we want to cut to the chase.


1. 11-16 24-19
2. 8-11 22-18
3. 16-20 25-22
4. 9-13 29-25
5. 11-15 18-11
6. 7-16 22-18
WHITE
20170317-ttale1.png
BLACK>
Black to Play, What Result?

W32,31,30,28,27,26,25,23,21,19,18:B20,16,13,12,10,6,5,4,3,2,1.

This one is not so easy and correct play requires what was once called "sticktoitiveness." Can you tell this tale or will you remain trapped in erroneous play? Patience is the watchword. When you're ready, clicking on Read More will indeed tell the tale in the correct manner.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/27/17 - Printer friendly version
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Transcription Error?

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We quickly found out that "Subkow" is one way to transcribe a Russian name that is sometimes rendered as "Zubkov" or "Zoubkov". Since the "S" and "Z" sounds are clearly delineated in Russian, we can only think that here is another story about fanciful transcriptions done by monolingual Anglophone immigration officials who just wanted to write something down and be done with it.

In any case, there are perhaps a half-dozen Subkows in the U.S., and it's quite likely that one or more are related to checkerist William Subkow, who is credited with the following problem circa 1930 or so. It's our Checker School entry for this month.

W. SUBKOW
WHITE
20170306-fp179.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W30,26,25,23,20,19:B17,13,12,11,10,2.

You'll see right away that Black doesn't have much in the way of good moves; that's never a favorable sign. In fact, we'll give you a hint of sorts: There is only one initial move to draw, and that's no transcription error. The solution is a bit on the long side, but it's quite logical, although there are a couple of interesting ways to go wrong for both Black and White.

Can you find the right moves and transcribe them properly, in order to better check them after you click on Read More? That will take you to the solution, several sample games, and detailed explanatory notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/20/17 - Printer friendly version
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The Outdoor Life

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Spring is coming around in the Northern Hemisphere and perhaps, if you've had a long winter, you're thinking about re-engaging in the outdoor life. There's much to do in the great outdoors and every reason to take full advantage.

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While today there's a commercial magazine called Outdoor Life, almost a hundred years ago there was another called The Journal of the Outdoor Life, published by the National Tuberculosis Association. We found it to be quite an interesting general readership journal, promoting the idea that fresh air is good for tuberculosis patients. Of course, medicine has advanced enormously in the last hundred years and some of the ideas in the Journal definitely seem quaint.

Interestingly, the Journal also had a "Games and Indoor Sports" section which contained some excellent checker material. Featuring checkers was fairly common back in that day, but alas, that is no longer the case.

In 1920 The Journal of the Outdoor Life published the following doozy.

BLACK
20170302-tjotol.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W32,27,24,23,13,K7:BK29,25,20,16,15,12,11,5.

Unless you have a sharp pictorial memory, this is not one to solve on an outdoor hike or while sitting around the campfire. Do it at home, after your outdoor activities are over for the day or weekend. You'll definitely need to concentrate and employ your powers of visualization, although the problem is certainly no more difficult than the "medium" category.

When you've finished, camp out on Read More to verify your solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/13/17 - Printer friendly version
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A (Not So) Easy Problem

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On the first Saturday of the month we often have a speed problem, an easy problem, or a stroke problem. Today we have a (not so) easy problem.

BLACK
20170301-notsoeasy.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W30,28,27,26,25,15,14,10:B21,17,12,11,8,5,3,1.

This one in a way is in two parts. There's the easy part in the beginning, and chances are you'll see that right away, even though White is on the verge of losing a piece. But then there's the second part. You'll see what we mean when you work on solving it. In any event, this little study is a great demonstration of an important winning technique.

Will you find a winning way easily or (not so) easily? This week, we suggest you take as much time as you need, and then click on Read More to see the solution and explanatory notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/06/17 - Printer friendly version
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Canadian Checker Class

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Professor W. R. Fraser was a Canadian champion who also published books and studies on checkers, mostly notably The Inferno of Checkers, in which he used Dante's Inferno as a metaphor. We won't delve further into that interesting literary area today; instead we'll emphasize Prof. Fraser's academic side, by presenting one of his studies from a group Tom Wiswell included in a small collection that Mr. Wiswell called Canadian Checker Class.

BLACK
20170301-fraser1.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W31,30,28,26,25,20,18,14:B17,16,13,12,11,7,5,2.

We'd rate this one as fairly hard, though short of infernal. If you get the first move right and figure out the theme, you'll be able to solve it. Treat this as a professorial homework assignment rather than a descent into Hades, and see if you can get it, then burn your mouse on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/29/17 - Printer friendly version
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Schaefer is the ...

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Was checkerist A. Schaefer in any way connected to the famous, and once family owned and New York based, F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company? It's one of those things that are possible, but doubtful. In any case, Schaefer, like all New York City breweries, left the city many years ago, and is now owned by Pabst, who still operate the brand.

Schaefer used to advertise itself as "the one beer to have when you're having more than one." In all honesty, The Checker Maven doesn't think "having more than one" is always a good idea (we ourselves choose not to drink alcoholic beverages). If you've "had a few" as the saying goes, you're not likely to be able to solve interesting Checker School problems such as the one below.

A. Schaefer
WHITE
20170301-brooklyn.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W28,27,26,22,20,14:B19,15,13,7,5,3.

Black actually looks like he could lose if he's not careful. How is he supposed to win? But there is a way, and it's subtle and pleasing with a key move at a key moment. You won't need "more than one" checker problem today, as this one is very satisifying. Give it a try and then click your mouse --- just once --- on Read More to see the solution, sample games, and detailed notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/22/17 - Printer friendly version
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The Tax Man

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This column appears on April 15, 2017. April 15, in the United States, is the infamous day on which income tax returns are due, along with any money you might still owe. Checker Maven staff get hit pretty hard every year; we certainly hope that you do better, regardless what country you call home.

We have a slight reprieve, as when April 15 falls on a weekend, we're ever so generously allowed until Monday to pay up. So, let's enjoy a checker problem before we face the music two days hence.

BLACK
20170228-taxman.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W31,28,27,24,22,K1:B20,14,13,12,10,7,2.

White is a piece down and it's not looking so good. Would you say it's kind of like the way the tax man hits us with a big bill when we can least afford it? But in this case, White can beat the tax man and break even (try to do that with the IRS)--- no cheating required.

Tax your brain instead of your wallet. The solution is elegant and pleasing, if every bit as hard to find as enough cash to pay that tax bill. See how you do, then file your return by clicking your mouse on Read More to get your refund--- or if not exactly a refund, a look at the solution and some explanatory notes.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/15/17 - Printer friendly version
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Without

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The picture above dates to World War II, when many did without in support of the war effort. Luckily, today, in the free world we generally don't have to do without, as a minimum, the basic necessities.

In checkers, there is "doing without" as well; in today's study, the winning side has to make do without "the move." This is called in textbooks, logically enough, "first position without."

We know that first position is a win with two kings against a king and a man, as long as the side with two kings has the move. But checkers is full of subtle twists, and there are wins in some of these positions without having the move on the stronger side, hence the name "first position without." There are supposedly twenty or so of these exceptions to the general rule. Below you'll find one of them.

WHITE
20170215-without.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W22,K5:BK15,K6.

There are a couple of ways to do this, depending on how White plays. One of them is as proposed decades ago in Dr. Call's book of "Midget" problems. Another line is preferred by our KingsRow computer engine.

Can you find the win here, or will you have to do "without"? See how you do, and then "without" hesitation, click on Read More to see the solutions.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/08/17 - Printer friendly version
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April 1, 2017

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March is over and April has come around again, as it always does, with perhaps a promise of spring. This column is being first published on April 1, 2017, and you might do well to bear that in mind as you take a look at today's checker problem.

BLACK
20170213-2in.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W22,K18,K17,14:BK32,K27,21,13.

We rate this one as very easy. You can solve it in seconds if you get the idea. But it's almost surely impossible if you don't see what's going on.

Are you sharp today? Don't fool around; puzzle it out and then click your mouse on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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04/01/17 - 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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