The Checker Maven

The World's Most Widely Read Checkers and Draughts Publication
Bob Newell, Editor-in-Chief


Published each Saturday morning in Honolulu, Hawai`i


Contests in Progress:

Composing Championship #71


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Three Easy Strokes, Part Three

Here's the last of our "easier" stroke problems, at least in this series. Will you find this one to be a July cruiser, or something more? Solve it, check your solution by clicking Read More, and then prepare yourself --- next month's problem is going to be a summer scorcher.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
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07/16/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Two Easy Pieces: Sixth Edition

Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, presented here in a new electronic edition, is up to the sixth installment. Here's what Willie has to say on page 16 of the book.

EXAMPLE 11
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
'The issue is clearly drawn in Example 11. The white king on square 22 has a strangle hold on black's pieces on squares 13 and 29, but the black king on square 1 is threatening to go 1-5 next, followed in order by 5-9 and 9-14, and then releasing his impounded pieces by squeezing 14-17, thus driving the white king on square 22 from its potent position. The proposition, therefore, is for white to maintain control of square 22 by preventing the black king on square 1 from effectively advancing up to square 14. This is artistically accomplished by the "shift and stem" principle. It's easy to master these tactical "killers" with step-by-step study.
EXAMPLE 12
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
And now we come to one of the most common of all tactical tricks--- the ever useful pinch play. As the term suggests, a pinch is a move that puts pressure on an opposing piece so that it cannot avoid capture, whereas in a "squeeze" play the threatened piece can avoid capture by moving to an adjoining square. All checker strategy is premised on force, carried out by tactical devices, and the pinch and squeeze are two of the most frequently employed weapons of the adroit tactician. Example 12 is a sparkling illustration of a delayed pinch, wherein white eventually forces black to lose a piece (and the game) by a perfectly timed pincer.'

You can check your solutions by clicking on Read More.

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07/09/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Checker-Go-Round

Get on the Merry-Go-Round with this month's speed problems. How fast can you turn them around? The clock is running, can you solve these before your ride is over?

Click on Read More to check your solutions.

(We are always in need of speed problems. If you have any that you'd like us to publish, please contact us using the contact link in the left column.)

Problem 1. Very easy.

Problem 2. Easy.

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07/02/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Fifth Reprise: Two Easy Pieces

Here is the fifth installment of our continuing series from Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard. As always, we're here to listen to the man himself; click on Read More to check your solutions.

EXAMPLE 9

White to Play and Win
'Example 9 is such a simple win that white can polish off black in just three of his own moves; and yet this "pitch-a-piece and block" coup has been muffed even by better class players. At first glance, white appears to have a win by playing 32-28, but black counters with 14-17, 22-13, 7-10, 13-9, 10-14, 19-15, 16-19, 23-16, 12-19, 9-6, 14-18, and steals the piece on square 27 to draw. One of the most fascinating factors in scientific checker play is the element of surpirse. Example 9 features a position that, by ordinary processes of play, can only be drawn; but a jolting pitch (sacrifice) at the right moment changes the complexion of the situation decisively.
EXAMPLE 10

White to Play and Win
White doesn't have the move or opposition to win in Example 10, and there appears to be no way to effect an exchange to get it. This poses the question, "Is there any way white can alter the move in Example 10 without actually making an exchange?" The answer is yes---by the "pitch and grip" idea. The pitch and grip is precisely what the term implies. You pitch a piece and then apply a grip that forces black to lose not only a piece but the move and the game as well. Some of the ideas we have discussed in this chapter occur more often than others in play, but all are equally important to mastery of the game. Usage of all sorts of ideas is what makes checkers a fascinating study and a challenge to one's ingenuity.'

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06/25/05 -Printer friendly version-
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The Last of the Masked Men

Our Masked Man problem series draws to a close with this month's article. We hope you've enjoyed it. Perhaps we can run another similar series sometime in the future.

If you can identify the problemist in the photo below, you're doing really well at this sort of thing.

Now, here's his problem. Our guest problemist gives the terms as White to Play and Win. What do you think?
RED

WHITE
White to Play and Win
Can It Be Done?
White is a man up and by rights ought to win, but can you do it? Can it in fact be done at all?

Check your solution by clicking on Read More. Intended to be of "medium" difficulty, this one packs a surprise. Even if you solve it easily, though, by all means read the commentary which accompanies the solution.

[Read More]
06/18/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Three Easy Strokes, Part Two

We continue again this month with our "summer light" series of easier-than-usual stroke problems with this offering for June, which is, as you will see if you figure it out, a bit mis-labeled. And be forewarned, after this series concludes it's back to the hard ones!

After you solve it click on Read More to check your answer.

RED

WHITE
White to Play and Win
[Read More]
06/15/05 -Printer friendly version-
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It's Easy When You Know How

A recent addition to the library in our Santa Fe office is an item we've sought for quite some while: W.T. Call's Midget Problems, published in 1913. We think the following quotation from the preface to this little booklet is revealing:

'Are not these little problems easy?

'Yes, when you are looking at the solutions.'

Over the coming months we'll be featuring some selections from this work, which features nothing but problems with two pieces per side, hence the title, Midget Problems. But as the preface warns, these are small only in size, not in challenge.

We'd like to start out with an offering that you might consider trite; and frankly, we'd have to agree, yet there is a method to our madness. It is a setting of First Position, credited to Dr. T. J. Brown of Limerick, who put this forth around the year 1870.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win
There's nothing new or different here, and yet we strongly urge you to try this out. Play it against your computer, or practice it with a strong opponent. How well do you really know First Position? Sometimes a thorough review of a familiar concept is a well-worthwhile exercise, as so often we find our knowledge isn't quite as solid as we would wish to think.

And when you've worked through this setting (you can click here for an animation of Dr. Brown's trunk solution), answer this trivia question, also credited to Dr. T. J. Brown. What is the earliest published example of First Position? Can you name the author and year? If you can, you really know your draughts history.

But before you're done, tell us, if you can, what White's last move might have been, and then draw a conclusion from your answer. (Thanks go to Brian Hinkle for this one.)

As usual, click on Read More for the answers.

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06/08/05 -Printer friendly version-
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A Tommie Wiswell Saturday Bonus!

As a special Saturday extra for our readers, we offer this Tommie Wiswell Prize Problem, which is actually somewhat easier than most Wiswell offerings, but certainly no less elegant.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Draw
Forces are even but, to say the least, White does not have a lot of options. Can you save the day for the White team? Give it your best and then click Read More for the solution.

[Read More]
06/04/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Rush Hour

Let's stay out of the traffic and have a "rush hour" of a different sort. Can you rush to solve this month's speed problems? Click on the links to show the problem, and start the clock. Go as fast as you can; the train's leaving the station!

Click on Read More to check your solutions.

(We are always in need of speed problems. If you have any that you'd like us to publish, please contact us using the contact link in the left column. We are looking for problems that are much harder than the ones we've been publishing but still easy enough for an experienced player to solve in under five minutes.)

Problem No. 1. Very easy.

Problem No. 2. Easy.

[Read More]
06/04/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Who's Number One?

As this article goes to press, the battle has been joined to decide who is Number One in the world of British/American checkers and draughts. Alex Moiseyev of the United States is defending his world championship against long-time rival Ron "Suki" King of Barbados. Alex is providing his own colorful daily commentary on the Checker Solutions BBS, and it's not to be missed.

After today's play (27 May 2005) Alex is leading Ron 5 to 2 with 13 draws. This is spirited, fighting checkers - how often do we see 7 out of 20 grandmaster games end in a victory? But no matter who finally emerges from this battle as the present-day Number One, we're seeing checkers at its very best.

(Editor's note, 01 June 2005: Alex wins the match with a score of 8 wins, 3 losses, and 25 draws!)

Right now, though, we want to take you back to an earlier contest for the claim to the title of Number One, a match held in the U.K. in 1958 between the American great Marion Tinsley and the British grandmaster Derek Oldbury. Tinsley walked out the undisputed world champion with nine wins, one loss, and 24 draws. Despite the seemingly uneven score, the match was hotly contested and produced some very fine play.

But the match also produced a few unexpected and memorable errors! Today we'll ask you to take on the persona first of Marion Tinsley and next of Derek Oldbury, as you try to find the move to save the game, in positions unexpectedly lost by these stars of yesterday.

Here's a position from the very first game of the match:

WHITE (Oldbury)

BLACK (Tinsley)
Black to Play and Draw
Tinsley played 5-9? and lost at once to 7-16 12-19 27-24 White (Oldbury) wins. It was a shocking defeat, and The Times of London headlined: 'Sensational' Opening Win In World Draughts Contest. Can you find the line of play that would have secured the draw for Marion Tinsley?

Now let's leap ahead to Game Seven. Here's the situation:

WHITE (Tinsley)

BLACK (Oldbury)
Black to Play and Draw
Oldbury, to everyone's surprise, played 4-8 and lost to 19-16 12-19 24-15 10-19 23-16 8-11 16-7 2-11 26-23 11-16 28-24 White (Tinsley) wins. What would have been the course of action for Oldbury to get the draw?

Click on Read More to see how your play stacks up.

[Read More]
05/28/05 -Printer friendly version-
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i, as a completely non-commercial public service from which no profit is obtained or sought. Original material is Copyright 2004-2023 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.

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