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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The Lancashire Checker Newsletter

You've read in our companion article about competitive over the board play and excellent beer at the Manchester Draughts Club. The "rest of the story" is the Lancashire Checker Newsletter, published on alternate months, also by Dr. John Reade. This is a professional quality twelve page printed newsletter, with feature articles, news items, commented games, and challenging problems.

The best of this is that the newsletter is available by subscription to anyone who wants it; the annual cost is just 10 pounds in the UK, 15 euros in the rest of Europe, and $20 in the USA. Dr. Reade offers the first two years for the price of one at initial signup. He may be reached by email at Trust us; you won't want to miss out on this fine publication.

Dr. Reade has given us permission to feature a problem from the February 2005 newsletter. It is by American problemist Will H. Tyson, who lived from 1865 to 1928.


White to Move and Win
You will find this of approximately intermediate difficulty, with a nice theme, an instructive solution, and a great opportunity for less experienced players such as the editor of The Checker Maven to go badly wrong. As usual, click on Read More to check your answers.

[Read More]
04/16/05 - Printer friendly version
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Hidden Beauty on a Draughtsboard

Our article title is the subtitle of Melvyn Green's Stroke Problems, a large and grand collection of original compositions by the Salford, England master of the art. Mr. Green has very kindly given us permission to publish one of what he terms the "easier" situations from his book.

Melvyn Green's Stroke Problems - #82

White to Move and Win
Well, easy is relative; try your luck on this entertaining and very pleasing offering. We're sure you'll be delighted, and will want to have your own copy of Melvyn's book; you can contact the webmaster for information on how to obtain it.

Oh, the solution? Click on Read More.... but only if you must!

[Read More]
04/13/05 - Printer friendly version
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Richard Pask's Supplement to Oldbury's Move Over

Grandmaster Richard Pask has completed his supplement to Derek E. Oldbury's classic Move Over, and has very kindly allowed us to offer it here for download.

Move Over (which itself can be downloaded from here) is a true classic, a work that was controversial in its time and which still excites the interest of every two-fisted checker player. Now, Grandmaster Pask has provided insightful commentary on the original text, as well as solutions to the problems at the end of the book--- problems which have proven perhaps somewhat more challenging than Oldbury had anticipated.

Be sure to read Mr. Pask's latest work, which is as much a fine tribute to a great player as it is a superb elucidation of a classic text.

Note: the download at the moment is in "Word" format, meant to be printed on A4 paper, and requiring Jim Loy's checker font to render the title page illustration correctly.

04/11/05 - Printer friendly version
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Here is an elegant problem by an unknown author, as originally published by Tom Wiswell. It is not easy but is worth the effort.


White to Play and Win
Mr. Wiswell called it Masterpiece and we're sure you'll agree when you have it figured out. His solution can be seen by clicking on Read More.

What, indeed, makes a problem a true masterpiece? Is it an elegant solution, a deep or hidden theme, a surprise ending, or other factors? We'll combine today's problem with this short survey asking what you like most in a checker problem.

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04/09/05 - Printer friendly version
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How Times Have Changed

The Checker Maven has reported on the exciting U.S. vs. Great Britain match being played on It's Your Turn at this very moment (April 2005). It's Your Turn is a correspondence style site; players take turns making their moves, just as you would do if you were truly playing by mail.

In fact, many of our readers know that there have been actual mail-based matches between the U.S. and Great Britain. Here's a short article that appeared almost 80 years ago in the September-October 1926 edition of The Morris Systems Checkerist:

Correspondence Match, G. B. vs. U. S.

The following is the score between an English team captained by D. Bryant, and an American team lead by Ray Kemmerer. It will be noted that some of the players have "crossed the bar" since starting the match a few years ago.

Great Britain --- U. S. A.

R. J. Allen 0; A. J. Schmutz 0 drawn 4
D. Bryant 1; A. R. Dosset 2; drawn 1
W. Dixon 0; A. J. Lemense 0; drawn 4
C. Probert 0; W. E. Steere 0; drawn 4
J. Hawks 0; H. D. Kaufman 0; drawn 4
D. Exeter 0; A. Jensen 0; drawn 4
C. McKean 0; F. E. Potts 1; drawn 3
F. F. Smith 1; J. Tonkin 0; drawn 3

Total -- America 3, Great Britain 2, drawn 27. The heat between J. M. Roberts and J. L. Westenberger is not reported as yet.

Times have truly changed. The mind boggles at the prospect of a multi-game correspondence match, played via mail delivered back and forth across the Atlantic by ship. Small wonder the match went on for years and that some players indeed "crossed the bar" during this time.

Today's match is being played in "internet" time and all should be over in weeks, not years. And we certainly hope that no one "crosses the bar"!

The same issue of The Morris Systems Checkerist is full of articles about the 2nd live U. S. - G. B. match, which was in preparation at the time. It makes for interesting reading, and, while today's internet match continues, we'll reprint a few of those old columns here over the next few weeks.

But for the moment, keep up with all of today's action, in internet time, at the official tournament site.

04/09/05 - Printer friendly version
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Yet Two More Easy Pieces

We continue our electronic republication of Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard with this, our third installment. But let's let Willie speak for himself.

White to Play and Win
'Like all other tactical schemes, the delayed smother play can occur on other parts of the board with varying arrangements of the pieces. Example 5 shows a natural-looking ending in which white can neatly bottle up black's pieces in just five moves, by a delayed double corner "jam." Examples 4 (published in a previous article --Ed.) and 5 illustrate but two types of the smother play; there are several other varieties including blocks, freezes, lock-ups, and the smother pinch. Indeed, checker ideas are as numerous as words, and each one has a meaning of its own, and a special adaptability in the course of scientific play.

White to Play and Win
The situation on the right (actually above --Ed.) is still another member of the smother family. To press home the win in Example 6, white must actually coordinate the germs of two different tactical ideas, employing the smother as the winning device and using the seesaw shift (as in Example 11) (to be published by July 2005 --Ed.) as the timing element by which the smother is executed. When two or more tactical ideas are woven into a procedure of force, we call it a "combination." positions are always popping up in play where it is necessary to grapple with a dozen or more ideas in order to force a scientific win, or obtain a delicate draw!'

Solve the problems and check your solutions by clicking on Read More.

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04/06/05 - Printer friendly version
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Single-Game ELO Calculations with Exact USCF Formula

This form calculates the estimated changes in an ELO rating,
for a single game, using the exact, not the approximate, USCF formulas. The rating is still estimated, though, because the USCF calculations consider an entire tournament at once, is done in two passes and requires the complete tournament cross-table.

If an event is half-K, check the appropriate box; likewise if all of your
prior tournament games were wins or losses, check the matching box.

Prior rating
Prior number of rated games
Opponent's rating
Half-K event?
All losses in prior rated games?
All wins in prior rated games?

04/03/05 - Printer friendly version
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WCC Platinum Programs/Cake Manchester Databases Soon To Be Available

Gil Dodgen's WCC Platinum II and III checker playing computer programs are now available for the cost of duplication and shipping. Testing was a complete success and we are ready to take orders. Please read our special web page for further information, prior to contacting us.
We are also pleased to be able to distribute Martin Fierz's compact 8-piece endgame database, which runs with his Cake Manchester and also with Ed Gilbert's King's Row. This will also be available elsewhere for free download, and that is far and away the preferred option for all concerned. But, if you don't want to or can't download it, you will be able to get it from us on 4 CDs for just the cost of duplication and shipping. Watch here for timing of availability and details on ordering.

Please note: The Checker Maven maintains strict neutrality and impartiality. Our distribution of checker software and databases is intended as a service to the checker playing public, and must not be construed as making any kind of statement as to the claims or relative merits of any particular program or database. Such statements are made by us only in the context of a published review or evaluation.

04/02/05 - Printer friendly version
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Speeding Into Spring

Spring is here, it's April, and time for our more-or-less monthly selection of speed problems. Remember, the clock is running. How fast are you?

No. 1 (two ways to solve, easy and very easy)
No. 2 (easy to medium)

Click on Read More for the solutions.

[Read More]
04/02/05 - Printer friendly version
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USA vs. Great Britian Internet Challenge

Team matches in checkers between the United States and Great Britain began almost exactly 100 years ago, in 1905, when the British team defeated the Americans in a convincing manner. Since that time, there have been six more such matches, with the Americans gaining the edge; and an eighth match will take place this fall in Las Vegas as a 100th anniversary celebration of this fierce yet friendly rivalry.

But, very recently on the time scale of a full century, the internet has come on the scene and has offered all sorts of opportunities for checker play, of every type and quality (see our site reviews for a rundown on this). Last year, a team match called USA vs. the World was played out at the It's Your Turn play site (the games are documented and annotated at Jim Loy's web site). The teams were ad hoc and the level of play varied widely, but it was a great match overall.

Now, the historic US-Great Britain rivalry is about to be taken up on the internet, and for this matchup, the teams are staffed with top notch, championship grade players. The US team, captained by Yunior Lopez, will have in its lineup stars such as world champion Alex Moiseyev and living legend Richard Fortman. Not to be outdone, the British team, captained by Lindus Edwards, will field players of the caliber of mail-play champion George Miller, and special guest Jan Mortimer, who this fall will challenge Patricia Breen for the women's world championship.

The match begins at the It's Your Turn site on April 4. The games will be 3-move restriction and played postal-style with three days allowed for a move. Complete details can be found at the official web site for the match, and you can follow the results there as they come in.

This promises to be a history making, not-to-be-missed match. Put a few tall ones in the refrigerator and tune in at the official web site!

03/31/05 - 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.

Checker Articles and Features

Numbered Board and Move Notation

Book Reviews

Game Site Reviews

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A Mind Sport for the Common Man

Learning Checkers

The Unknown Derek Oldbury

Rediscovering Checkers

Regulation Checker Sets

Marvin's World


Checkers Made Easy

Move Over

Richard Pask Page

How to Win at Checkers

Principles of Strategy

PDN Files

3-Move Deck

Bob Murr Teaches Checkers

Let's Play Checkers

Clapham Draughts Book


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