A 'Maid of the Mill' Surprise

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Above, a group of Morris Dancers are performing Maid of the Mill at a festival in Newcastle. Maid of the Mill spans many genres: dance, art, literature ... and draughts.

In our ongoing serialized story, Three Move Opening: A Checker Romance, our protagonist made an unfortunately timed reference to the Maid of the Mill opening. Today, we'd like to offer something quite substantial in the play of that opening.

The following is based on the 15th game of the 2014 World Championship Go As You Please match between Sergio Scarpetta (Black) and Ron King (White). The game, as played, ended in a draw, but there was an interesting winning possibility for Black.


1. 11-15 22-17
2. 8-11 17-13
3. 15-18

Forms Maid of the Mill.


3. ... 23x14
4. 9x18 21-17
5. 10-15 25-21

24-20 is definitely better, but it isn't clear that this move loses.


6. 4-8 26-23
7. 18-22 24-19
8. 15x24 28x19
9. 11-16

Back into the KingsRow opening book with a pull for Black, but not clearly a win.


9. ... 27-24
10. 8-11 24-20
11. 7-10 32-28
12. 3-7 28-24
13. 11-15 20x11
14. 7x16 24-20

23-18 also draws.


15. 15x24 20x11
16. 12-16 11-8

Loses; 23-18 should draw.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W31,30,29,23,21,17,13,8:B24,22,16,10,6,5,2,1.

Mr. Scarpetta didn't find the win. Can you? We realize that's a lot to ask, and in fact it's a very difficult problem, but the solution is as surprising as it's good, and we think that any effort you put into this problem will be amply repaid. So do try it, and then click on Read More to see the answer.null



Solution

The following play is rather long, with many variations possible; use your computer to explore it further. But give yourself full credit if you found the surprising key first move.


17. 24-27!

An amazing move.


17. ... 31x24
18. 16-20 24-19
19. 10-14 17x10
20. 6x24 8-3
21. 24-28 23-19
22. 28-32 3-8
23. 32-27 8-11
24. 20-24 19-16
25. 27-23 16-12
26. 22-26 12-8
27. 24-27 11-16
28. 26-31 8-3
29. 31-26 16-11
30. 27-31 3-8
31. 5-9 13x6
32. 2x9 8-12
33. 9-13 12-16
34. 1-5 16-20
35. 26-22 20-24
36. 22-18 11-16
37. 18-14 16-20
38. 13-17 24-28

Seeking the double corner.


39. 17-22 20-16
40. 5-9 28-24
41. 23-27 24-28
42. 22-26 30x23
43. 27x18 16-20
44. 9-13 20-16
45. 13-17 28-24
46. 17-22 24-19

Not 24-28 31-27; a subtle technique, well worth knowing, to deny White the double corner.


47. 22-26 16-11
48. 26-30 19-16
49. 30-26 16-12
50. 26-22 11-7
51. 31-27 7-3
52. 27-24 3-7
53. 24-20 12-8
54. 18-15 7-2
55. 14-10 8-3
56. 15-11

Black Wins.

There's a lot here and you might like to view the Animated Game.

Our computer analysis is due to KingsRow and its 10-piece endgame database, provided courtesy of Ed Gilbert.

04/28/18 - Category: Problems - Printer friendly version
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