On the Banks of the Jordan

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The banks of the Jordan River are fabled, from the days of biblical history right down to the present. The connection with checkers? Well, none, really, except that whenever we hear "banks of the Jordan" we think of the famous Jordan-Banks championship match, which although of biblical proportions, took place during the relatively modern days of November, 1914.

Played in Kansas City, Missouri for the then-fabulous prize of $1,000, the games were memorable and indeed commemorated in a fine match book. Let's take a look at the very first game, which was played after suitable fanfare and ceremony.

Banks had Black and Jordan had White. The 2-move ballot was 10-14 24-20.


1. 10-14 24-20
2. 11-15 22-18
3. 15x22 25x18
4. 6-10 26-22
5. 8-11 27-24

The game continued from here and went on to an eventual draw, as might be expected. But what if White had played 5. ... 28-24 instead? Would that have been a mistake, or just one of several alternatives?

5. ... 28-24 would have led to the following position.

WHITE
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BLACK
Black to Play, What Result?

B:W18,20,21,22,23,24,27,29,30,31,32:B1,2,3,4,5,7,9,10,11,12,14

Would Banks have been able to bank on a win in this case? Of course, Mr. Banks never had to cross that particular Jordan, but it would certainly have been interesting. See what you make of it and then cross your mouse over to Read More to see the solution.null



Solution

This turns out to be a Black win. We'll show one possible winning path. Many variations are possible depending on White's play. Use your computer to explore further.


6. 10-15 29-25
7. 7-10 23-19
8. 14x23 27x18
9. 3-7 31-27
10. 1-6 27-23
11. 9-14 18x9
12. 5x14 22-17
13. 15-18 32-27
14. 18-22 25x9
15. 6x22 21-17
16. 22-26 23-18
17. 26-31 27-23
18. 11-15 18x11
19. 7x16 20x11
20. 31-27 23-18
21. 27x20 17-13
22. 20-24 18-15
23. 10-14 30-25
24. 14-18 25-21
25. 18-23 13-9
26. 23-27 9-5
27. 27-31 5-1
28. 31-26 1-5
29. 26-22 5-9
30. 2-7 11x2
31. 22-18 2-6
32. 18x11 21-17
33. 24x15

Black Wins. An interesting example of a common checker phenomenon: A seemingly innocent move leads to sure loss, but it isn't obvious for quite a few moves. We hope you enjoyed this little walk through alternative history.

01/09/21 - Category: Problems - Printer friendly version
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