Uncle Ben's Porch: Tommy Goes to High School

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Tommy Wagner was learning that high school is a scary place for a new freshman.

He had been a star in his central Florida middle school, maintaining top academic status while leading his checker team to a State Championship.

But now he was at a large regional high school, which drew students from all over town, and he was a lowly freshman to boot.

Of course, he wanted a spot on the Checker Team, and he knew he was good, but he'd have to compete with experienced 11th and 12th graders. The Checker Varsity even had a titled Master player on their roster. Tommy knew he would have to play Junior Varsity for at least a year, maybe two.

It bothered him. A lot.

It was a Saturday morning, and he was on his way to Uncle Ben's place. Uncle Ben was the kindly retired professional checkerist who gave Tommy free lessons nearly every week. He wasn't really Tommy's uncle, of course, but everyone just called him "Uncle Ben."

But Tommy didn't want to go this morning. He wanted to stay home and sulk, and would have done that had his mother not chased him out of the house.

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"You've been in a terrible mood these past few days," she had said, "and I don't really like it. Now you get on over to Uncle Ben's and don't keep him waiting! And make sure you're polite when you get there!"

Tommy didn't answer, and let the screen door bang a little too hard on his way out. He even kicked at a garbage can after he had walked a couple of blocks.

Finally he reached Uncle Ben's porch. Hands in his pockets, he shuffled up the steps.

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Uncle Ben, of course, instantly saw that something was wrong, and it wasn't very hard for him to guess what it was.

"Tommy. You need to stop this," he said, in a stern tone that Tommy had never, ever heard from him. It got Tommy's attention.

He took his hands out of his pockets and sat in a chair next to Uncle Ben. He was on the verge of tears.

"I know how badly you want to play Varsity," Uncle Ben said. "We went through the same thing in middle school, remember?"

"Yes ... but ... that was different," Tommy managed to say.

"Different? How so?"

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Coach Schann

"I just captained the State Champion middle school team!" Tommy said. "Why can't Coach Schann see that?"

"I'm certain he does see that," Uncle Ben replied, "but do you realize that he has a titled Master and four ranked Experts on his team right now? Tommy, what's your rank?"

"Class A," Tommy said, almost in a whisper.

"What was that, Tommy? I don't think I heard you."

"Class A, Uncle Ben." Tommy swallowed hard, fighting back emotion.

"Yes, you made Class A at the end of last year. Now, do you suppose you should replace an Expert or a Master on the high school team? Do you expect Coach Schann to just say, here comes Tommy Wagner, I'll put him on the team even though he's lower ranked than everyone else?"

"But I ..."

"Yes, Tommy, you lead your team to victory, and that was a great achievement. You should be proud. But you should not be vain. You're good, but there are others who are better, and you'll have to earn your way up through study and practice."

"I had to do that in middle school! I don't want to do it all over again!"

"But do it you must. And it will be another new game when you get to college in a few years. In this life, we are always earning our way. Nothing worthwhile is given to us for free."

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Uncle Ben poured some lemonade from the waiting pitcher. For a while, neither he nor Tommy said a word. Tommy was obviously thinking about what Uncle Ben had said.

Finally, Tommy broke the silence.

"Time's passing," he said. "I had better get to work if I want to make Varsity in the next year or two."

Uncle Ben just smiled, and turned to the waiting checkerboard. "Very well," he said, "how about taking a look at this position and see what you make of it?"

WHITE
20161129-ft18-3.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:WK31,20,12:BK22,K18,3.

Would you make it to the High School Varsity? How about the Junior Varsity? Solve the problem, then click on Read More to see the solution, a sample game, and fourteen additional examples of this theme.20050904-symbol.gif



Solution

For the solution to the main problem, see example 3 below. The material here comes from Ben Boland's Familiar Themes in the Game of Checkers.

Game---11-15, 23-18, 8-11, 26-23, 10-14, 30-26, 7-10, 24-19, 15-24, 28-19, 12-16, 19-12, 11-16, 18-15, 10-19, 32-28, 6-10, 27-24, 2-6, 24-15, 10-19, 22-17, 4-8, 17-10, 6-15, 25-22, 8-11, 21-17, 9-13, 17-14, 16-20, 23-7, 3-17, 12-8, 17-21, 8-3, 21-25, 3-7, 15-19, 22-17, 13-22, 26-17, 25-30, 31-27, 30-26, 27-23, 26-22, 23-16, 22-13, 7-10, 5-9, 10-15, 9-14, 16-11, 14-17, 15-18, 13-9, 11-7, 1-5, 18-23, 9-14, 7-3, 17-22, 3-7, 5-9, 7-11, 9-13, 11-15, 14-17, 23-27, 22-25, 29-22, 17-26---Forms No. 15.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B20,K21,K29:W22,23.

1. A. Brooks, No. 29 A. D. P. B.---20, Kings 21, 29; W—22, 23. W. W. 23-27, 29-25, 28-24, 25-18, 27-32.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:B3,K22,K28:W12,30.

2. M. H. C. Wardell, No. 929 G. P. Bk. No. 6 Barker’s A. C. P. B---3, Kings 22, 28. W---12, 30. King 4. B. W. 28-24, 4-8, 3-7, 8-3, 7-11, 12-8, 24-20, 8-4, 20-24, 3-8, 24-27.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:WK31,20,12:BK22,K18,3.

3. F. Trimble, No. 35 A. C. R. Vol. 1, 1888 (Chicago Tribune 1878). B---3. K---18, 22. W---12, 20. K---31. B. W. 18-23, 20-16, 22-18, 16-11, 18-15.

Continuation: 11-8 15-19 8-4 3-7 4-8 19-24 8-3 7-11 12-8 24-20 8-4 20-24 3-8 23-27 8x15 24-28 31x24 28x10 4-8 10-7 Black Wins---Editor, with KingsRow computer engine.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:B3,11,K18,K24:W12,30,K15.

4. H. D. Lyman, No. 660 G. P. Bk. B---3, 11, King 18, 24; W---12, 30, King 15. B. W. 18-22, 15-8, 3-7.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:B3,K2,K23:W12,31,K11.

5. F. Dunne, No. 45 His Praxis, No. 261 G. P. Bk. B---3, Kings 2, 23; W---12, 31, King 11. B. W. 3-7, 11-8, 2-6, 8-3, 6-10, 3-8, 10-15, 8-4, 15-11---A, 12-8, 11-15, 8-3, 23-19.

A---Dunne stars this move. Not necessary.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B3,K14,K29:W17,22,K1,K10.

6. E. Bacon, No. 793 G. P. Bk. B---3, Kings 14, 29; W---17, 22, Kings 1, 10. W. W. 10-15, 14-21, 15-11, 21-25, 1-6.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B16,25,K21:W28,30,K23.

7. J. Wyllie, Prob. 161 Vol. 3 D. W. B---16, 25, King 21; W---28, 30, King 23. W. W. 28-24, 16-20, 23-27, 25-29, 30-26, any 26-22.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B4,16,21:W28,30,K23.

8. R. Graham, No. 768 G. P. Bk. B---4, 16, 21. W---28, 30, K---23. W. W. 28-24, 16-20, 23-27---A, 14-17, 30-26, 21-25, 26-22.

A---But 24-19 has also been shown to win.

Pos. arose from Switcher, but see Lees’ Guide Single Corner, Var. 7, note B.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B6,21,K2:W14,30,K5,K9.

9. H. Jacobs, No. 53 S. D. Q. Vol. 2. (From Liverpool Wkly. Mercury.) B---6, 21, King 2; W---14, 30, Kings 5, 9. W. W. 30-26, 6-13, 14-10, 21-25, 26-22, 25-30, 5-9, 30-25, 9-5, 25-18, 10-6.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B9,22,23,K2:W15,18,30,31.

10. S. E. Cousins, No. 1496 D. W. Vol. 30, 1907. B---9, 22, 23, King 2; W---15, 18, 30, 31. W. W. 15-10, 9-13, 18-14, 13-17, 14-9, 17-21, 9-5, 22-25, 5-1, 25-29, (2-6, 31-26), 1-5, 29-25, 31-26, 23-27, 26-22, 25-18, 10-6.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:B5,12,K10,K11:W13,20,K2,K3.

11. R. A. Davis, No. 28 Stearns Port., Vol. 2. B---5, 12. K----10, 11. W---13, 20. K---2, 3. B. W. 12-16, 2-7, 11-2, 20-11, 2-6---A, 11-88, 5-9, 8-4, 10-15.

Same Pos. may be found Col. Rev. No. 21 Spayth’s Ck. Plyr. author not given. Thirkell in D. W. shows same play, correcting J. P. Grey who left Pos. as drawn from game.

A---Now No. 4 Spayth’s Game of Drs. 1863. I came across same setting in one Var. of my No. 24 New Ckgram. I continued (Col. Rev.) 23-18, 30-26 (22-25, 18-22, 25-29 31-27), 31-27, 22-26 (Can’t exchange), 28-24, 26-30, 18-22. B---3-8, 5-9, 8-12, 10-15, 11-8, 15-11, 8-4, 11-7. P. Thirkell.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B13,16,20,K27:W21,28,K11.

12. B. Oldman, No. 4185 New Castle Chron. Apr. 7, 1922. B---13, 16, 20. K---27. W---21, 28. K---11, 14. W. W. 14-18, 16-19, 11-16, 19-23, 22-25, 27-31A, 16-19, 23-26, 19-23, 26-30, 21-17, as above. A---27-32, 16-19, 23-27, 19-24, 27-31, 25-22. This Pos. may also be found: H. Egan, No. 679 D. R. Vol. 3. At 2nd move with 11 on 15: Simpson and Schaefer, Gem 196 D. W. Vol. 11, 1898; 18-22 is played to win. When 15-11 would be same as above.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B21,28,K2,K29:W30,32,K1,K10.

13. A. J. Heffner, Prob. 5 His A. C. P., No. 24 Dunne’s Praxis. B---21, 28, King 2, 29; W---30, 32, Kings 1, 10. W. W. 1-5, 29-25, 5-9, 25-22, 9-13, 22-18, 30-26, 21-25, 13-9, 25-30, 9-5, 30-23, 32-27, 23-32, 10-6. Compare to page 17.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B2,21,K18:W10,16,26,K17.

14. D. Robertson from an old clipping. No sol. given. B---2, 21, King 18. W---10, 16, 26, King 17. W. W. 26-22, 18-25, 16-11, 25-29, 17-22, 21-25, 11-8, 25-30, 8-4, 30-25, 4-8.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W28,K27,K15:BK26,12,20.

15. A. Inglis No. 432 Banks’ Ckerist. 15-10, 13-17, 10-14, 17-21---A, 14-17, 21-25, 27-31, 26-30---B, 17-22, 25-29, 31-27, 30-25, 28-24, 25-18, 32-27. A---17-22, 28-24, 26-30, 14-17. W. W. B---26-23, 17-22, 25-30, 28-24. W. W. Game No. 420 Bank’s Checkerist, page 160, Vol. 4, July, 1926. Played in Scotland 1909.

GERM

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B20,K21,K29:W24,31,K27.

Ency. sets J. Sinclair. B---20. K---21, 29. W---24, 31. K---27. W. W. 31-26, any 26-22.

Uncle Ben's Porch is a purely fictional recreation of the retirement years of the great checkerist and checker writer Ben Boland. It is a complex and error-prone project. Please help out by letting us know if you find any errors in the text above.

01/14/17 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version
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