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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A Tommie Wiswell Saturday Bonus!

As a special Saturday extra for our readers, we offer this Tommie Wiswell Prize Problem, which is actually somewhat easier than most Wiswell offerings, but certainly no less elegant.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Draw
Forces are even but, to say the least, White does not have a lot of options. Can you save the day for the White team? Give it your best and then click Read More for the solution.

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06/04/05 - Printer friendly version
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Rush Hour

Let's stay out of the traffic and have a "rush hour" of a different sort. Can you rush to solve this month's speed problems? Click on the links to show the problem, and start the clock. Go as fast as you can; the train's leaving the station!

Click on Read More to check your solutions.

(We are always in need of speed problems. If you have any that you'd like us to publish, please contact us using the contact link in the left column. We are looking for problems that are much harder than the ones we've been publishing but still easy enough for an experienced player to solve in under five minutes.)

Problem No. 1. Very easy.

Problem No. 2. Easy.

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06/04/05 - Printer friendly version
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Results of the Checker Maven Reader's Survey

Reminder: we have switched to our summer publication schedule, which means we don't always publish a Wednesday edition.

Our thanks to everyone who participated in our recent Checker Maven reader's survey. We received a wonderful response, filled with constructive criticism and excellent suggestions. Overall, you seem to like The Checker Maven!

By far the most asked-for feature was current checker news and annotated games from recent tournaments and matches. This may actually turn out to be the most difficult request to deliver upon, as tournament and match games generally have specific ownership and publication rights and limitations. But we're going to try to recruit a network of volunteer "stringers" and we'll make every effort to provide this type of content in the future. Bear with us; it may take some time to put this together.

Problems proved quite popular; you were about evenly split on whether they were too hard, too easy, or about right. This tells us that our mix is good; but we agree that the speed problems are usually too simple.

Book and computer program reviews have their audience as well, although these appeal to a more focused group. Still, the response certainly indicates that we should continue with this type of material.

The most controversy seemed to be over the Marvin J. Mavin stories. Most folks thought they were at OK or better; a few people really loved them; and others--- well, let's just say that they and Marvin have a bit of a personality clash. The bottom line for us: we'll continue to run these stories but we won't focus on them or publish them more than every month or two.

The "Masked Man" features garnered one negative mention as well; we didn't get a reason but it might be that the quality of the problems in those articles tended to be lower than in the other problem features. We'll run the one or two more that are already in the publication queue, and that will probably be the end of the line unless we can upgrade the caliber.

Various and varied suggestions included requests for: easier to read diagrams, a return to the click-and-type system of commenting on articles, better indexing, and RSS syndication, among others. We plan to work on all of these over the next weeks as time allows.

Publication frequency of once or twice a week seemed about right to most of you, although there were a couple of requests for daily publication! Alas, that just can't be in the cards for the forseeable future.

As we publish this summary, we're completing a half year of regular, on-time, uninterrupted Checker Maven publication. Our thanks to our nearly 1,000 regular readers for making this webzine a success far beyond anything we ever had a right to expect. We'll do our best to continue to please and to be responsive to your suggestions and input.

05/31/05 - Printer friendly version
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Who's Number One?

As this article goes to press, the battle has been joined to decide who is Number One in the world of British/American checkers and draughts. Alex Moiseyev of the United States is defending his world championship against long-time rival Ron "Suki" King of Barbados. Alex is providing his own colorful daily commentary on the Checker Solutions BBS, and it's not to be missed.

After today's play (27 May 2005) Alex is leading Ron 5 to 2 with 13 draws. This is spirited, fighting checkers - how often do we see 7 out of 20 grandmaster games end in a victory? But no matter who finally emerges from this battle as the present-day Number One, we're seeing checkers at its very best.

(Editor's note, 01 June 2005: Alex wins the match with a score of 8 wins, 3 losses, and 25 draws!)

Right now, though, we want to take you back to an earlier contest for the claim to the title of Number One, a match held in the U.K. in 1958 between the American great Marion Tinsley and the British grandmaster Derek Oldbury. Tinsley walked out the undisputed world champion with nine wins, one loss, and 24 draws. Despite the seemingly uneven score, the match was hotly contested and produced some very fine play.

But the match also produced a few unexpected and memorable errors! Today we'll ask you to take on the persona first of Marion Tinsley and next of Derek Oldbury, as you try to find the move to save the game, in positions unexpectedly lost by these stars of yesterday.

Here's a position from the very first game of the match:

WHITE (Oldbury)

BLACK (Tinsley)
Black to Play and Draw
Tinsley played 5-9? and lost at once to 7-16 12-19 27-24 White (Oldbury) wins. It was a shocking defeat, and The Times of London headlined: 'Sensational' Opening Win In World Draughts Contest. Can you find the line of play that would have secured the draw for Marion Tinsley?

Now let's leap ahead to Game Seven. Here's the situation:

WHITE (Tinsley)

BLACK (Oldbury)
Black to Play and Draw
Oldbury, to everyone's surprise, played 4-8 and lost to 19-16 12-19 24-15 10-19 23-16 8-11 16-7 2-11 26-23 11-16 28-24 White (Tinsley) wins. What would have been the course of action for Oldbury to get the draw?

Click on Read More to see how your play stacks up.

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05/28/05 - Printer friendly version
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A Not-So-Mysterious Stranger

The May installment of our ongoing "Masked Man" series will give our readers a bit of a reprieve, and a chance to perhaps actually guess the identity of our featured problemist.

As in previous months, your task is to identify the problem composer pictured above, and solve his checker problem, given below.
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw
Black is a man up, but about to lose (at least) one of the members of his armed forces. We'd rate this problem as at least medium in difficulty.

Check your solutions by clicking on Read More.

[Read More]
05/25/05 - Printer friendly version
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A Prize Problem - Well, Kind Of

A little while back we came into possession of a number of 1950-era issues of California Checker Chatter (CCC). The checker scene in California certainly seemed to be active in those days; the magazine talks of clubs in Oakland, Santa Monica, and other places around the state.

Out of those yellowing but fascinating pages from the past we've chosen our topic for today: the CCC "Prize Problem" for November, 1948. But, subsequent to publication, the "star" line was found to be faulty, and the problem flawed.

The original premise was this.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
The problem composer, a Mr. Hawkins, had proposed 3-7 15-19 7-11 18-23 11-16* to a White win. But we'd best remove the star from that last White move, because a Mr. K.D. Hanson came along and showed a draw for Black. Here's the situation after 11-16.
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw
Can you take the "prize" out of "prize problem" and find the Black draw?
Click on Read More to check your solution.

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05/21/05 - Printer friendly version
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Three Easy Strokes: Part One

Our title, predictably, doesn't refer to an easy par-three golf hole, but to our desire to present a short series of stroke problems that, frankly, aren't quite as difficult as some of our earlier offerings.

Try your hand at this first one and decide for yourself if it's a spring breeze; then click on Read More for the solution.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Move and Win
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05/18/05 - Printer friendly version
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Minority Rules

We're really pleased to present this stunning Tom Wiswell problem. As usual, it is not easy, but it is elegant, entertaining, and instructive, and illustrates the depth and scope of our game of checkers. The setting is below; we think this is among the finest problems we've put forth to date.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
There isn't a misprint here, and you didn't read it incorrectly. The premises are indeed White to Play and Win, despite being a man down. Now, White has two kings and Black is cramped, but we're not to find a draw for White, but a win.

Solve it if you can, and then click on Read More for the surprising solution.

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05/14/05 - Printer friendly version
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Two Easy Pieces, Fourth Installment

As we continue our electronic republication of Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard we wish to thank those readers who pointed out typos in the original book. We also recognize there are some readers (your editor at times among them) who don't think these pieces are all that easy! But we'll let Willie carry on.

EXAMPLE 7

White to Play and Draw
'Take a good look at this simple little two-by-two setting. If that white piece on square 14 could speak up, he'd probably lament, "Woe is me. I can't move to the left, and I can't move to the right, and the black monarch (on square 25) is advancing to put me to flight." White's king on square 32 is seemingly too far away to save the endangered piece on 14, but thanks to the old reliable "sideboard seesaw" idea, example 7 has a happy ending. A thorough grounding in simple tactical tidbits, like the "sideboard seesaw," will soon put a novice in the advanced player's class. It's the flair for small details in basic study that makes the proficient player.
EXAMPLE 8

Black to Play and Draw
As we have already stressed in previous examples of "ideas at work," the novice should avoid associating any idea with only one or a few situations, because all ideas have a wide range of scientific application, and the seesaw is no exception. Example 8 highlights an early phase of the most common of all seesaw situations, the single corner hold. Black must move 11-16, then 19-15, 16-20; now white crowns the piece on 18, returns to square 6, and then plays 15-10, threatening to win by 10-7 next. All this is part of the general plan, with black, just in the nick of time, imprisoning white in the single corner.'

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05/11/05 - Printer friendly version
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Rule, Britannia!

The history making first ever United States-Great Britain internet match is drawing to a close, and the British team has scored a solid victory. With nine out of ten boards reporting, the score is Great Britain 7 wins, 2 losses, and 27 draws. No matter the results of the tenth board, Great Britain has won the match.

The British team was lead by solid performances by Jan Mortimer (three wins) and team captain Lindus Edwards (two wins). The only U.S. wins to date were both scored by the young American star Ryan Pronk.

Complete details can be found on the official web site. In addition, Jim Loy has been annotating the games and posting them on the message boards at the It's Your Turn site (free registration may be required to view these).

The Checker Maven congratulates the Great Britain team on a very fine victory.

05/09/05 - 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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