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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Revised Electronic Edition of 'Checkers Made Easy'

A revised electronic edition of Arthur Reisman's Checkers Made Easy is now available for download in PDF format; see the link in the Download section in the right-hand column. This edition corrects typesetting errors and includes a short section of endnotes with some new analysis. It's well worth getting this updated edition, and the PDF file is now many times smaller and more manageable.

10/07/05 - Printer friendly version
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100 Years of International Matches

This past week, September 26-30, 2005, checker history was made as the 8th International Match between the United States and the United Kingdom took place in Las Vegas, 100 years after the first match was played in Boston in 1905.

That first match was easily won by the U.K. team. But the tide turned thereafter in a westerly direction, as all subsequent matches have been won by the U.S. The score of last week's 100th anniversary match was 71-18 in favor of the Yanks, with 111 draws. The full story can be read on the American Checker Federation web site; there you can also make donations toward the costs of the event, and find out about the forthcoming match book.

American grandmaster and World Champion Alex Moiseyev was unable to play, as were British grandmasters Lindus Edwards and Richard Pask. One can only speculate as to how the results might have differed had these very strong players been in the mix.

Women's World Champion Patricia Breen was on the British squad, as was former Women's World Champion Joan Caws. Ms. Breen soon defends her title against New Zealand's Jan Mortimer in a match that promises to be hard fought, close, and exciting.

The Checker Maven congratulates all concerned: players, officials, organizers, hosts, and visitors. A long, sportsmanlike, and genteel checker rivalry, which brings the highest honor to our game, has added another fine chapter to its history.

10/01/05 - Printer friendly version
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How Fast Can You See?

This month's speed problems are very easy.... but there's a catch. We want you to solve each of them within a five second time limit.

Our infamous clock will start the instant you click on the links below, and we're timing you right down to the millisecond. Test your visualization: how fast can you see?

Solutions can be verified by clicking Read More, though we're pretty sure you won't need much help.

Eye Test #1

Eye Test #2

[Read More]
10/01/05 - Printer friendly version
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The Dodger

At the time that this article achieves publication, it will be near the end of the 2005 baseball season. But, since quite a few of our pieces are written well in advance, we don't know at the moment who the pennant contenders might be.

The Dodgers, of course, were in the running for many a year. We're referring, naturally, to the immortal Brooklyn Dodgers, the "Brooklyn Bums" beloved of many a checker player, including Willie Ryan and, we're certain, Tommie Wiswell.

In fact, today's feature problem is called "The Dodger" though it doesn't have any sort of baseball theme that we can readily discern. Here's the situation:


White to Play and Win
There's what appears to be a fairly obvious solution staring right at you, but there is a "dodge" for Black to avoid the loss and another "dodge" for White to win it nonetheless.

"Dodge" erroneous play, win the pennant for White, and check your answer by clicking on Read More.

[Read More]
10/01/05 - Printer friendly version
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A Wiswell Doubleheader

Today we bring you two Tom Wiswell problems--- a doubleheader--- which bear a certain relationship. If you solve the first one, it will help you with at least one major variant of the second one.

But this doesn't mean that a "Sunday doubleheader" (alas, seldom seen these days) will turn into a "Sunday picnic." Not at all. In fact, when these problems appeared around sixty years back, there was plenty of discussion and controversy. In the end, Mr. Wiswell collaborated with one of the more colorful checker characters ever (next to Willie Ryan): Mr. Julius D'Orio, he of the "triangle" theory of checkers, to come up with a definitive solution.

And, as we shall see, modern computer analysis bears out the solution to what has been called the D'Orio-Wiswell Position.

Game One

White to Play and Win

Did you get that one? Now try this one:

Game Two

White to Play and Win

White is two men up, so it's easy--- until you try it.

When you've played out both ends of the doubleheader, click on Read More for solutions and commentary.

[Read More]
09/24/05 - Printer friendly version
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September 23 is Checkers Day!

Yes, you'll find this on many calendars that list unusual holidays or celebrations --- September 23 is indeed Checkers Day!

If you're a checker player and you've somehow never heard of this, there's a reason. The origin of Checkers Day lies not in the game of checkers, but in the fact that on September 23, 1952, Richard M. Nixon, then a candidate for Vice-President of the United States, gave his famous "Checkers" speech. "Checkers" was the name of the Nixon family dog; perhaps that is why September 23 is also "Dogs in Politics" day.

But let's set the politics aside, and celebrate Checkers Day in our own way ... with a few games of checkers, perhaps a little coffee and cake, and plenty of fun!

09/23/05 - Printer friendly version
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Oh ... we didn't really mean that kind of stroke, but actually this kind:


White to Move and Win

Can you bring the solution to the "fore" with this month's somewhat easier stroke problem? Click on Read More to see if your solution is up to "par"!

[Read More]
09/17/05 - Printer friendly version
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Simple Elegance

Complex stroke problems are fun, and crowded middle game positions can be a challenge, but there is little to compare with the sheer, simple elegance of a well-composed 2x2 end game problem. Here is a real classic, attributed to G. H. Slocum.


Black to Play and Win

When you've solved this, we think you'll agree that there is genuine charm in such a compact position, requiring just the right play. Click on Read More to see the main line solution as originally published long ago.

[Read More]
09/17/05 - Printer friendly version
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Today is Bob Murr Day!

Today we're recognizing another major contributor to the work of The Checker Maven. Bob Murr, expert checkerist from Colorado Springs, has helped us in many ways on many occasions, with feedback, corrections, new material, and on-site reporting.

To accompany today's Checker Maven articles, Bob has provided us with PDN files for both Ryan's Tricks, Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard as well as Ginsberg's Principles of Strategy in the Game of Checkers. You can find these in the new PDN section of our Downloads category, as listed in the column to the right.

Our thanks to Mr. Murr for his continued support of The Checker Maven and the great game of checkers!

09/10/05 - Printer friendly version
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A Leak in the Dyke

In 1931, the great checkerist Louis C. Ginsberg wrote what may be his only book on checkers, a little booklet called Principles of Strategy in the Game of Checkers. It was later reprinted by William Ryan, with the addition of an informative and highly entertaining introduction.

Principles of Strategy appears to have been the prototype for other similar booklets which never got written, although we can't be quite sure about this. Principles of Strategy, while mentioning the existence of numerous other characteristic formations in the game of checkers, deals exclusively with what are known as "Dyke" formations.

The booklet is a real gem and a welcome addition to the library of any checkerist; it is especially useful at the early intermediate stage of development. In conjunction with Bob Murr's PDN file of the examples contained in this work (see link in the column to the right), today we'll present the full text of two of these examples. Pay close attention to the Example 15 below, as it will help you solve the problem we pose later.


9-13 24-20
11-15 22-17
13-22 25-11
8-15 21-17
4-8 29-25
15-19-A 23-16
12-19 27-23
8-12 23-16
12-19 17-13-B
10-15-C 20-16
6-1-D Drawn


Position at Note A, White to Move

A---This illustration is given to show when Black can place a piece on 19 with apparently only two pieces in reserve for the defense of the man. There must be a White man on 17.
B---White must remove the man from 17 before going 32-27 to attack the man on 19.
C---Black gains a move, an idea that is utilized in many different games, due to the White man being located on 17. If there was no White man on 17, the man on 19 would be lost to Black by the runoff via 27-23.

Get the idea? Now let's look at a Dyke example that arises in the Single Corner opening:


Dyke Position with Black to Play

11-15 22-18
15-22 25-18
12-16 29-25
9-13 18-14
10-17 21-14 (diagram above)
16-20 24-19
6-10 25-21
10-17 21-14
2-6 30-25
6-10 25-21
10-17 21-14
1-6 Black Wins.

The White "Dyke" man on 14 is lost as there is no defense against Black's next move, 6-10.

What went wrong here? We've left it to you to find the leak in this Dyke. Can you find White's losing move and correct it? Click on Read More when you have your answer.

[Read More]
09/10/05 - 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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