Uncle Ben's Porch

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Tommy Wagner was pretty nervous, uncharacteristically pacing up and down and wringing his hands. "It's my big chance, Uncle Ben, but he's so good!"

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Tommy Wagner

It was a sunny Florida Saturday morning, and as he had done on most Saturdays for the past eight years, Tommy Wagner was on the front porch of Uncle Ben's house. Ben, a retired checker professional, wasn't really Tommy's uncle, but all of his checker students called him 'Uncle Ben' out of respect.

Tommy, a ninth grader, was talking about the upcoming intramural match between his high school Varsity Checker team and the Junior Varsity team. Tommy had already risen to Captain of the Junior Varsity, and so in the match he would have to play a senior, Reynaldo Lopez Garcia, who was the Varsity Captain and a titled Master.

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Reynaldo Lopez Garcia

"Yes, Tommy," Uncle Ben said, "he is good. There's no other way to become a Master. And we both know you haven't reached his level yet, although I'm certain you will one day."

"He's going to kill me," Tommy said. He had stopped pacing and flopped into the porch chair next to Uncle Ben.

"What's the worst thing that can happen?" Uncle Ben asked.

"I don't know ... I'll lose my game against him?" Tommy said.

"Have you lost any games before?"

"Well, sure, but ... "

"Has Reynaldo lost any games? Did I lose any games when I was playing professionally?"

"Yes, of course, but ..."

"Everyone loses games, Tommy. Even Marvin J. Mavin and the very top players. And you never know. Anything can happen. You've got to go in there and play to win. You might win, you might lose. There is no shame in losing to a Master as long as you do your best and especially if you're a good sport about it."

"I know, Uncle Ben, but I really want to show something to Coach Schann and maybe make Varsity next season."

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Coach Schann

"Of course you do, and to do that, what steps should you take?"

"Um ... practice and study?"

Uncle Ben smiled, "Right on the mark. Let's pour a couple of glasses of lemonade and get into today's lesson, then, shall we? I've got an important situation set up on the checkerboard here."

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Tommy smiled back. Win or lose, everything was going to be fine ... and he'd sure do his best to try to win. He turned his attention to the position that Uncle Ben had laid out.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:WK10,K14,20:B5,12,K19,K26

"White to play and draw?" Tommy asked.

"Yes," Uncle Ben said. "Very good. It's known as the McCulloch-Miller Draw, an important drawing technique."

Tommy thought for a while. "Got it, Uncle Ben! Let me show you."

Tommy was able to work this one out. Can you? You don't need to be a titled master to solve it. When you have your solution, click on Read More to see the solution, notes, and several additional examples of the theme.null



Solution

The position diagrammed in our story is No. 1 below. Positions, comments, and lettered notes are by Ben Boland in Familiar Themes in the Scientific Game of Checkers. Numbered notes are by your editor, using the KingsRow computer engine.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:WK10,K14,20:B5,12,K19,K26

1. R. McCulloch, No. 671 G. P. Bk., Jan. 1881. 14-17---1, 26-23, 17-14, 19-24, 10-15, 23-19, 15-10, 24-27, 14-17, 27-23, 17-14---2. The above position is a left-hand draw. There are three types: right-hand, left-hand, and ambidextral (both right and left). For game see Long vs. Horr Match Game 17; page 18, in Oct. 1924, Morris System Checkerist. Also Var. 37 Master Play, Pt. 5.

1---Similar play takes place with 14-18.

2---Returning to the diagrammed position. Black can make no headway.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play, White Draws

B:WK10,K11,13:B4,5,K18,K19

2. Author Unknown, No. 33, Ency. (right-hand). B---4, 5, King 18, 19; W---13, Kings 10, 11. Black to play. White draws. 19-23---1, 11-16, 23-26, 16-11, 26-30, 11-16, 30-25, 16-11, 25-21, 10-7, 18-14, 11-16, 21-17, 16-11.

1---19-24 similar play.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:WK7,13,K16:B4,5,K14,K18

3. James Miller’s Draw, Glasgow Wkly. Hrld., Feb. 27, 1904. B---4, 5, King 14, 18; W---13, Kings 7, 16. White draws. 16-11---A. Play same as No. 2.

A---If White crowns the man on 13, Black wins by Mars (Pos. No. 35 Ency.)---1.

1---13-9 18-15 16-12 (avoiding the breeches) 15-10 7-11 14-18 Black Wins. Delaying the crowning attempt doesn't work either: 16-11 18-22 13-9 22-18 9-6 5-9 11-16 (avoiding the 18-15 exchange) 18-15 7-2 (avoiding the breeches) 4-8 16-20 (16-11 8-12 is just a losing trade while 6-1 allows the dangerous 8-12) 14-10 6-1 9-14 and Black should easily win.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:B4,5,26,K19:W13,14,K11

4. J. Miller, No. 2318 Glasgow Wk. Herald, Feb. 1904. B---4, 5, 26, King 19. W---13, 14, King 11. White draws. Crown man on 14, post on sq. 7 draw as No. 1.

BLACK
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WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:B4,5,K18,K22:W10,13,21,K11

5. A. McHardy, No. 24 in his Relative Pos, No. 1127. B---4, 5, Kings 18, 22; W---10, 13, 21, King 11. W. D. White must play 21-17 then 18-14, 10-7, 14-21, 7-3, 22-18, 3-7. Drawn. ---Los Angeles Times.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:B8,20,K22,K26:W28,29,K11,K15

6. J. Dougherty, No. 25, R. P. (Los Angeles Times). B---8, 20, Kings 22, 26; W---28, 29, Kings 11, 15. B. D. (Aug. 1, 1926). Black draws by 22-17, letting White Jump.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:B20,K30,K31:W28,29,K13,K19

7. A. McHardy, No. 40, Relative Pos. B---20, Kings 30, 31; W---28, 29, Kings 13, 19. B. D. 30-26, 13-9---A, 31-27, 9-14---B, 27-23, 19-15, 26-22, 14-10, 23-26, 15-19, 22-17.

A---19-15, 26-22, 15-10, 31-26. Drawn.

B---29-25, 27-23, 19.15, 26-22. Drawn.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:B20,K17,K22:W28,29,32,K15

8. A. McHardy, No. 21, Relative Pos. B---20, Kings 17, 22 ;W---28, 29, 32, King 15. B. D. 22-26, 15-18---A, 17-21, 18-15, 26-23, 15-10, 21-17, 10-6, 17-22, 6-9, 22.17, 9-13, 17-22. Drawn.

A---32-27---B, 17-22, 15-19, 22-17, 27-23, 17-22. Drawn.

B---15-19, 20-24, 29-25, 26-23, 19-26, 17-21. B. W.

BLACK
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WHITE
WHITE to Play and Draw

W:B4,5,24,K26:W21,K10,K12

9. A. McHardy, Pos. 22, A. C. M. B---4, 5, 24, King 26; W---21, King 10, 12. W. draws. 21-17, 24-27---A, 17-13, 27-32, 10-7---B, 26-23, 12-16, 23-18, 16-11, 18-14, 11-16. Drawn.

A---26-23, 12-16, 23-18, 17-13, 24.27, 16-11. Dr.

B---10-15, 26-23, 12-16, 4-8, 16-12, 23-19. B. W.

For further information see A. McHardy’s "Relative Positions," also see "Checker Chronologues" by H. C. Newland. Settings relative to these positions and those which run into or come from, can be found: "Merry Pos." A. C. M., Vol. 12, No. 7 and 8, July-August, 1932; "Barker’'s Triangle" and the "Merry Barker Divide" is in Vol. 15, Nos. 5 and 6, May-June, 1935; "Affiliates of Barker’s Triangle," Vol. 15, Nos. 7, 8, July-Aug. 1935; "Miller’s Draw," Vol. 16, Nos. 3 and 4, Mar.-Apr. 1936; "McCulloch’s Draw," Vol. 17, Nos. 3 and 4, Mar-Apr. 1937; Continued in Vol. 17, Nos. 5 and 6, May-June, 1937.

To secure the draw, White must:

1. Leave the man on 13.

2. Keep Black off squares 10 and 15.

3. Prevent Black from advancing the man on 4.

Joseph Maize comments on No. 4 by J. Miller in the "Pittsburgh Dispatch" of March 14, 1914: "This problem will establish the principle that under certain conditions, easily ascertainable, end-games of this nature can be drawn with the move either in the right-hand or the left-hand system." Maize called this draw "by recurring check."


Uncle Ben's Porch is a fanciful and purely fictional depiction of the retired life of Ben Boland. The project is ambitious and errors are inevitable. If you find something that needs correction, please help out by letting us know. Mahalo!

07/27/19 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version
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