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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It's Your Turn Once Again

The very popular It's Your Turn online play site suffered a serious meltdown on Friday, August 19, 2005. This site, highly rated and highly recommended on our site ratings page, hosts turn-based play, counts among its membership many top-notch players, and offers a number of checker tournaments every month.

Due to a faulty backup strategy, both main files and backups were lost, and the site suffered a 10 day outage before coming back on-line on August 29, 2005. Site operator Patrick Chu spent quite a bit of money to hire a data recovery service, and they did their job well: everything except game moves was fully recovered from the crashed storage devices.

During the crisis, site management provided frequent informational updates. and presented a balanced and forthright viewpoint. They have "confessed" to less-than-stellar business practices vis-a-vis backup and recovery, and have offered to make good on lost membership time due to the site outage.

It's Your Turn has been a great place to play both casual and serious checkers, and members now have a choice: they can castigate Mr. Chu for his faults, and abandon the site; or they can realize that It's Your Turn remains a good place to find a good game.

We ourselves have been critical in the past of the site's unfortunate lack of attention to customer service. We expect that this recent experience may have turned that situation around.

It is our hope, and our recommendation, that if you are a checker-playing member of It's Your Turn, you will stay on as a member and keep playing. There is a real danger of the site losing enough membership to cause serious harm. We would surely not wish to see that happen.

08/24/05 - Printer friendly version
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The 2005 ACF 9th District Tournament

The first three days of August saw unusual action in the gaming rooms of the Four Queens in Las Vegas, Nevada.

No, we're not talking about Blackjack or Texas Hold'Em, though we're sure there was plenty of action of that type elsewhere in the casino.

Nery Cardenas and Ryan Pronk; Tom Jones and John Cardie

We're talking about the 2005 edition of the American Checker Federation 9th District Tournament, organized by California checker stalwart Gerry Lopez. A small but enthusiastic group of players gathered in the City of Entertainment for some serious cross-board action.

Competition took place in two divisions, with these final results:

A Division

Ranking Name State Points Remarks
1. Gerry Lopez CA 10 2005 Cal. and Dist. 9 Champion
2. Nery Cardenas CA 8
3. Ryan Pronk AZ 4 withdrew
4. Bob Murr CO 2

B Division

Ranking Name State Points Remarks
1. John Gibson CA 20
2. Alex Lopez CA 18 first tourney
3. John Cardie CO 16 first tourney
4. Robert Ferguson UT 14 first tourney
5. Tom JonesNV 8 first tourney
6. Paul Stein CA 4
7. Joe ColemanIA 2

Division A Game 1

Position at Note B, Red to Play and Draw

[Event "9th District 2005 Round 2 Game 1"]
[Date "2005-08-01"]
[Red "Ryan Pronk"]
[White "Bob Murr"]
[Result "0-1"]
1. 11-16 23-18 2. 7-11 26-23
3. 3-7 30-26 4. 16-19 (A) 23x16
5. 12x19 24x15 6. 10x19 27-24
7. 7-10 24x15 8. 10x19 32-27
9. 9-14 18x9 10. 5x14 27-23
11. 11-16 22-18 12. 6-9 18-15
13. 8-12 (B) 25-22 14. 16-20 23x16
15. 12x19 15-11 16. 20-24 22-17
17. 14-18 26-22 18. 18x25 29x22
19. 19-23 28x19 20. 9-13 17-14
21. 23-26 (D) 19-15 (E) 22. 26-30 22-18
23. 30-25 14-10 24. 25-22 10-7
25. 4-8 11x4 26. 2x11 15x8
27. 22x15 8-3 (F) 28. 15-11 31-26
29. 1-6 26-22 30. 11-15 4-8
31. 15-10 8-11 32. 10-14 3-7

White wins.
(A) 9-14 would be an alternative here but there is nothing wrong with the actual move.
(B) The losing move. 1-5 should have held the game.
(C) King's Row prefers 1-6 here, but the game is still lost for Red.
(D) Again, KR prefers 1-5 here ...
(E) ... and 22-18 here, but the outcome won't change.
(F) There is little left to say, or play.
Annotations from King's Row.

Division A Game 2
Notes by Ryan Pronk


Position at Note G, Red to Play and Draw

[Event "9th District 2005 Round 1 Game 1"]
[Date "2005-08-01"]
[Red "Ryan Pronk"]
[White "Nery Cardenas"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
1. 11-16 21-17 2. 9-14 (A) 17-13 (B)
3. 16-19 (C) 23x16 4. 12x19 24x15
5. 10x19 25-21 6. 8-11 27-23
7. 6-10 23x16 8. 11x20 26-23 (D)
9. 14-17 (E) 21x14 10. 10x26 31x22
11. 4-8 22-18 12. 8-11 29-25
13. 7-10 25-22 14. 10-14 18x9
15. 5x14 22-18 16. 14-17 23-19
17. 17-22 13-9! 18. 1-5 (F) 18-14
19. 20-24 19-16 20. 11x20 28x19
21. 20-24 19-16 22. 3-7 16-12
23. 7-11 12-8 24. 11-15 8-3
25. 15-18 3-8 26. 18-23 8-11
27. 24-27 11-15 28. 27-31 15-18 (G)
29. 22-26 18x27 30. 31x24 30x23
31. 24-27 23-18 32. 27-23 18-15
33. 23-18 15-11 34. 18-22

(A) A 3-move opening that usually transposes into
Pioneer lines.
(B) Regarded as inferior because it allows the
powerful 16-19 dyke. Going into Pioneer lines with
25-21 is best. However, if the opening were 12-16,
21-17, 9-14, then this 17-13 (as preferred by Tinsley)
would be best.
(C) Planting the piece on 19, and making for a strong
game - but not in this case!
(D) Really took me by surprise. I was expecting 22-17
which may give white a stronger game. But as they
say, the element of surprise is sometimes good enough
to win!
(E) Is there anything better than this natural move?
(F) Again the previous move really took me by
surprise, but after this 1-5, I could see to the end
of the game.
(G) A nice problem setting for the beginner.

Division B Game 1


Position at Note E, Red to Play and Draw

[Event "9th District 2005 Round 6 Game 1"]
[Date "2005-08-02"]
[Red "Robert Ferguson"]
[White "John Cardie"]
[Result "0-1"]
1. 10-14 22-18 2. 11-15 18x11
3. 8x15 24-19 4. 15x24 28x19
5. 7-11 25-22 (A) 6. 3-8 (B) 22-18 (C)
7. 6-10 19-15 8. 10x19 23x7
9. 2x11 27-23 (D) 10. 1-6 (E) 29-25 (F)
11. 6-10 (G) 25-22 12. 12-16 22-17
13. 9-13 18x9 14. 5x14 23-18
15. 13x22 18x9 16. 22-25 9-6
17. 25-29 21-17 18. 8-12 6-2
19. 10-15 17-14 20. 15-19 2-6
21. 4-8 14-10 22. 19-23 26x19
23. 16x23 10-7 24. 12-16 7-3
25. 8-12 3-8 26. 11-15 8-11

White Wins.
(A) 23-18 would be better here.
(B) 4-8 is stronger; KR thinks 3-8 is quite weak.
(C) 29-25 is better but White already has a strong game.
(D) This moves blows away the win! 29-25 would have won easily.
(E) But Red misses the chance! 14-17 would have drawn.
(F) White gives Red another shot at a draw! 26-22 would have won here.
(G) And for the last time, Red misses the chance to draw with 14-17. Beyond this point there are some sub-optimal moves on both sides, but Red is lost no matter.
Annotations from King's Row.

John Cardie, Winning!

The Checker Maven congratulates Gerry Lopez for not only having organized this event, but taking home the District 9 and California championships!

Champion Gerry Lopez

Our thanks to Bob Murr for photos and games, Ryan Pronk for additional games, and Gerry Lopez for permission to publish.

08/20/05 - Printer friendly version
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Eyes Only

We promised a "summer scorcher" of a stroke problem for August, and we think we've delivered with one that we're calling Eyes Only. When it originally appeared almost 100 years ago, the publication editor challenged readers to solve it by sight alone, without moving the pieces around on the board. The number of readers who reported success was rather small--- just one solitary correspondent claimed a victory.

White to Play and Win
Now, nearly a century later, our challenge to you is the same, but with a modern twist: solve the problem without moving the pieces around on the board --- or on the computer!

When you either have the solution, or have had enough, click on Read More to learn the winning way.

[Read More]
08/13/05 - Printer friendly version
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A Little Summer Housekeeping

The publication of the conclusion of our Did Marvin Blow the Game? story has been delayed a bit, as we're carefully editing the variations on the play of this interesting position. But never fear, you'll soon learn whether our hero Marvin prevailed, or if Louie Screwdriver got the last laugh.

Also, our on-line publication calendar has gotten out-of-date. Look for us to get that fixed up within the next week or so.

Thank you for helping to make The Checker Maven one of the world's most-read checker publications.

08/10/05 - Printer friendly version
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Leo Is On The Team!

The Checker Maven is pleased to note that, following a period of controversy (see our previous editorial on this topic), eminent checker grandmaster Leo Levitt will be playing for the USA in the upcoming 100th Anniversary International Match with Great Britain.

More words are superfluous, so we will only say that the leadership of the American Checker Federation, spearheaded in this instance by Dr. Richard Beckwith, ACF President Alan Millhone, and Gerry Lopez, acted with honor in according Mr. Levitt the place on the United States team that he so richly deserves.

Congratulations and thanks are due all around to those who in the end upheld the best principles of our game. We recall Dr. Martin Luther King's famed expression, "It's always the right time to do the right thing" and we are proud that our ACF leaders did exactly that.... the right thing.

08/08/05 - Printer friendly version
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Faster Than a Speeding --- Turtle?

This month we're making good on our promise (or was it a threat?) to come up with speed problems that are much more challenging than the ones we've been offering so far. You're not likely to solve these at sprint speeds, hence this month's title caption!

Toe up to the starting line and click below to display the problems and start the clock. Good luck! You can check your solutions by clicking on Read More. Afterwards, click here to cast your vote for the type of speed problems you prefer.

(This article has been edited subsequent to original publication due to valuable reader input. As a result you have three problems instead of two!)

Problem One (very hard for a timed problem)

Problem Two (medium difficulty, original erroneous diagram corrected)

Problem Three (quite hard, as originally published)

[Read More]
08/06/05 - Printer friendly version
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A Small Change

We're making a small change to our publication schedule, partly in response to our recent reader survey. Readers thought our present once or twice a week publication schedule was fine, with most readers saying they visit the site more or less weekly.

So, in order to maintain consistency and predictability year-round, and to help manage our publication workload while still providing quality content, we're going to a permanent Saturday-morning schedule. We're dropping our Wednesday editions in favor of providing more on Saturdays.

This means that during summer and holiday periods, you'll still see a weekly Saturday article. During the regular parts of the year, you'll see at least one article and possibly two or three, as our time, energies, and backlog allow.

We hope this small change will prove pleasing, and invite your comments.

07/31/05 - Printer friendly version
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In the Grand Manner

We spent a pleasant interval at our Honolulu office, where we made quite a bit of progress on our "electronic classics" projects. But now we're back in Santa Fe, and, lo and behold! The Santa Fe Opera performance season is in full swing!

Along with the Grand Old Game, there is little that is as wonderful as Grand Opera, performed by a truly world class company such as we are privileged to have here in Santa Fe.


White to Play and Win
To celebrate this summer's opera season, we turn, as one might expect, to Tom Wiswell, and a fine problem he captions In the Grand Manner. Give it a try and see if you don't think it, too, is world class. Then, click on Read More to verify your moves, and try out a thematically-related "bonus" problem.

Just a word of caution: today's problem is "grand" in terms of difficulty as well as content. If you solve it, congratulations --- you might wish to reward yourself with a front row seat at the Santa Fe Opera!

[Read More]
07/30/05 - Printer friendly version
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The Checker Maven is Looking for Stringers

One of the most asked-for items in our recent user survey was annotated games from recent events. We've earlier remarked that delivering on this will not be easy, and so we're looking for volunteer "stringers" among our readership and elsewhere.

Now, we know that up-to-the-minute tournament results and standings are generally posted on the Checker Solutions BBS (see link at left), or on specific websites. We're not looking to compete or "double up" in this area, and we're not looking to publish games, play, or analysis without proper permissions and clearances. We know that in a number of cases, game scores are kept in reserve for contributors.

However, having said all that, if you're in a position to provide us with timely news, play, or commentary from checker events, and doing so wouldn't be in conflict with what we've stated above, your contributions would be heartily welcomed. Full credit would be given, and in return you can have any share you want of our subscription fees. (Let's see, we learned in school that any number times zero is ....)

We hope to hear from you!

07/27/05 - Printer friendly version
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Welcome to Checker School

Our May Checker Maven Reader's Survey demonstrated to us the popularity of our electronic republications of classic checker literature, and contained suggestions to publish more as time permits. In response to these requests, we're inaugurating a new series that we're calling Checker School. This will, over time, amount to new electronic editions of Ben Boland's classics Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers, and Familiar Themes. These are seminal works that prove as valuable today as they did when they were published over six decades ago. Now, these books contain much complex material, so a complete reissue will likely take many months if not years, but we're working at it!

Let's get started with a delicate endgame of a very practical nature. Class is in session!

N. Currie

Black to Play and Draw

Click on Read More for the solution, a runup to the position, and additional notes and quotes from Famous Positions.

(Editor's Note: the color diagrams will return as soon as we work through our article backlog.)

[Read More]
07/23/05 - Printer friendly version
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i. Original material is Copyright © 2004-2018 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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