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


Pages: «Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | ...| 118 | 119 | 120 | Next»

The Showdown: A Marvin J. Mavin Story

20230814-steerike.jpg

After the debacle at the Detroit Doublejumpers training camp (see our previous Marvin J. Mavin story), and the subsequent strike by the Doublejumper team, the rest of the National Checker League joined in in a sympathy strike, and they were soon joined by other checker leagues the world around.

20230814-huffer.jpg
Jimmy Huffer

NPL Player's Union President Jimmy Huffer told the media, "We will not stand idly by while the players we represent are abused. We expect that so-called coach to be fired, and the players be given compensation for psychological damage which may have a profound negative effect on their careers. We think $10 million per player is about right."

20230716-chacha.jpg
Charity Chastity Hopkins

"That coach" was Charity Chastity Hopkins, also known to her great dislike as Cha Cha, who had attempted to institute Marine boot camp style disclipline into the Doublejumpers summer training camp. The Doublejumpers' previous season hadn't gone well, and their management wanted a big shakeup. They got one, but not the one for which they hoped.

But they stood their ground, and the management of the other teams stood with them. It was a total impasse. Opening Day came and went, with no checker matches being played. Would the season be completely called off, causing untold financial loss across the country, not to mention great disappointment to the nation's millions of checker fans?

There weren't even negotiations taking place. Days passed and the strike wore on. But then there was a breakthrough.

20230814-trib.jpg

A checker columnist for a small newspaper in Tularosa, New Mexico, wrote that he'd like to see Marvin J. Mavin take on Cha Cha in a checkers match, and if Marvin won, Cha Cha would be dismissed. If Cha Cha won, she would remain as head coach, and while it was suggested that she tone things down a little, either way the strike would come to an end.

The idea somehow gained national attention, and although both NCL management and the NCL Player's Union didn't like it very much, there was a lot of pressure. Even politicians got involved and the President of the United States himself was heard to say, "They need to get on with it. What's a nation without checkers?"

20230814-arena.jpg

So the match was arranged. Cha Cha pressed for a two part match which would mix martial arts and checkers, but that didn't gain any traction, as everyone knew that Cha Cha would give Marvin such a beating he wouldn't be able to complete the second part of the match.

20200813-checkerdrome.jpg

Finally the day came. It was to be a single match played in the Dallas Checkerdrome in front of a sellout crowd of 50,000 checker fans.

In the dugout, Marvin's teammates warned him not to shake hands with Cha Cha. "She'll have you on the ground in seconds," they warned. "Probably even break your wrist, or worse."

"I ain't scared," Marvin replied, but nonetheless, when they met at mid-field, Marvin bowed instead of offering a hand.

"So, we meet, like, you know, mano a mano," he said, grinning.

Cha Cha gave him a look as if she didn't believe her ears. "Mano a mano?" she screamed. "Listen here, Captain Dog Breath, I'm not a mano in case you haven't noticed!"

"Coulda fooled me," Marvin muttered, careful not to be heard. Then aloud he said, "Okay, mano a womano, you like that better?"

"Leave gender out of this!" Cha Cha shouted back. "You better say 'one on one' loud enough for me to HEAR you, and you better say it right NOW!"

"Ma'am, yes ma'am!" Marvin replied, but the note of sarcasm in his voice couldn't be missed. Of course, Marvin had noted there were six very large referees standing in a circle around the two players, ready to intervene if things got out of hand.

20230814-bandw.jpg
Ritchie Bandwidth

The head referee, Ritchie Bandwidth, stepped forward. "People, let's just play checkers, okay? Now, the match is one game. If a draw, a second game, and so on until there is a winner, no matter how long it might go. Take your seats and begin."

"Prepare to die, maggot!" Cha Cha hissed.

Now, there was no doubt Cha Cha was a top player. While in the Marines, she had won the Armed Forces Individual Championship for four years in a row, and then on her re-enlistment, she coached the Marines to four consecutive team championships. When she left the service, she decided on a professional coaching career instead of one as a player. Her severe methods were not appreciated by her teams, but she got results, at least until she reached the NCL and encountered the Doublejumpers.

20230814-nothing.jpg

Marvin and Cha Cha played five draws over a period of about three hours. The fans were getting impatient for a result and loud boos accompanied the announcement of the last two draws.

The sixth game, though, was different, and looked like it might produce a result.

It was Marvin's move in the following position, and he thought he had some chances.

BLACK
20230821-steerike.png
WHITE
White to Play, What Result?

W:B3,5,K12,K23,K27,K29:W7,14,30,K2,K10,K11

"You're dead meat, Captain Dog Food," Cha Cha said in a stage whisper. "And wait until we get back to training. You'll suffer like you've never suffered before. I'll beat you to a bloody pulp. I'll break both your arms and both your legs. No sleep, no food until every last ounce of insubordination is knocked out of you. It'll be so bad you'll quit because you can't take it any more, and good riddance, too, as you crawl away in agony ... "

"Stuff it," Marvin said, as he reached out and made his move.


Can you defeat Cha Cha and end the strike--- on terms favorable to the players? There's a lot at stake here so the pressure's on. Try your best and remember that Cha Cha can't get to you, wherever you might be. When you're ready click on Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
09/23/23 -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Contest 70: Pawns Beat Kings

20230718-game-of-fox-and-hounds.jpg

Although we have never been much for checker variants, there is an entertaining game called "Fox and Hounds." It can be played on a checkerboard. The fox has to escape the hounds and the hounds have to trap the fox. This is, in turn a variant of the old "Fox and Geese" game with similar rules but played on a board similar to that of Nine Men's Morris.

20230718-foxhounds.jpg

What does this have to do with us? Well, in the 70th iteration of Bill Salot's amazing Checker Problem Composing contests, the theme is "Pawns Beat Kings" and is in many way reminiscent of Fox and Hounds. Can the uncrowned men (hounds) defeat the powerful King (fox)?

There are three great problems on the contest page. Please try them out and then be sure to cast your vote for the one you like best. Meanwhile, here's an example of the theme. It's called Optical Illusion No. 81 and the composer is none other than Bill Salot himself--- at the age of 16! It was published in Elam's Checker Board on January 21, 1946.

BLACK
20230718-feeege.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W8,17,19,23:BK5,K25,K29,K31

You don't need to defeat the mighty King; a draw will do. But can you manage it? Don't be a goose; try to outfox the opposition! When you're done, click on Read More to see the solution. Then, head on over to the contest page.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
09/16/23 -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Return to the Beacon

20190430-beacon.jpg
Beacon Cafe

It was Saturday, September 10, 1955, the first Saturday after Labor Day. And that meant just one thing to Sal Westerman, long time resident of Bismarck, North Dakota.

The Coffee and Cake Checker Club would resume its afternoon meetings at the Beacon Cafe in the Provident Life Building.

Sal was the unofficial leader of the club, which met every Saturday from just after Labor Day to just before Memorial Day, after which there would be a summer break.

Sal loved his club and really missed it during the summer. Although he knew that summers in North Dakota were short, and most club and school activities of any kind were put on hold, still he missed his gatherings with "the boys" as he called his club companions--- all but one of whom were over 50 years of age.

20190421-nagel.jpg
Deana Nagel

He loved the venue, too. The Beacon Cafe was owned and operated by Deana Nagel, a championship baker who always gave the boys a warm welcome and let them occupy the large booths in the rear from 1 PM, just after the lunch rush (lunch in Bismarck was taken at noon without exception), until closing time at 5 PM. There was always plenty of coffee and the greatest baked treats anywhere, all at fair prices.

The tradition was that Sal would bring along a checker problem and the boys would try to solve it. If they got it, Sal bought the treats but if they didn't, they had to buy their own and something for Sal too, and often a couple of extras for him to take home to his wife, Sylvia.

As was usual for what Sal called "opening day" there was a great turnout. Besides Sal, there was Wayne, Delmer, Sam, Dan, Louie the Flash, Tom, Kevin (a.k.a. "Spooler"), Ron, young Blaine, and even Old Frank, who wasn't seen all that often, and was actually younger than Sal.

20230616-vegas55.jpg

After some prelimary chatter about how the summer had gone, and a few stories from Sal about that big tournament in Las Vegas, the boys were ready to get down to it.

"Let's see what you've got," Tom said.

Sal smiled. "Okay, you asked for it. I've got a different one this time. It's from the Galt Evening Reporter."

"The what?" Wayne asked.

20230809-morris.jpg
Morris Gordon

"The Galt Evening Reporter," Sal replied. "It's a little town in southern Ontario. They have a checker column written by Morris Gordon and he has a setting that he said comes from an actual game he played at the local checker club. Morris and I met in a younger day when I played a tournament in Toronto, and we've stayed in touch on and off over the years. He wrote to me just last week saying as how your club will never get this one, as it's championship material."

The boys groaned in unison. "You're sure making it hard on us, Sal!" Louie the Flash said. But he smiled as he said it.

The large turnout occupied two booths, so Sal set up a board in each booth with the following position

WHITE
20230810-morris.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:WK4,8,12,13,14,17,18,20,21,28,30,31:B1,3,5,6,7,10,11,19,24,K27

As if to spur everyone on, Deana announced from behind her counter, "Chocolate almond nut bars today! Fresh and warm!"

20230809-barz.jpg

Surely the boys heard her, as there were some sounds of contentment. But they were already deeply immersed in studying the position.

20230809-230.jpg

An hour passed. It was 2:30 PM. Sal called "Time!" and everyone looked up.

"We didn't get it," Wayne announced from the table on the left.

"Neither did we," said Dan, who was at the table on the right.

"Well then, boys, let me show you!" said Sal.


This one indeed isn't easy. You will either see it, or you won't. It's a lot of fun, though, and well worth your time. See how you do and click on Read More to see the solution. You'll have to provide your own chocolate almond nut bars, though.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
09/09/23 -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Labor Day 2023

20230717-oldlday.jpg

In the United States and Canada, Labor Day, a day to honor the worker, takes place on the first Monday of September. (In most of the world, it's on May 1 and goes under various names.) The Checker Maven has always respected workers of every category and we believe there is no work, no matter what it may be, that doesn't deserve recognition and appreciation when it is done honestly and with good intent. Hats off to the workers of the United States and Canada!

This Labor Day we turn to a great American problemist of yesteryear, Charles Hefter. His composition is simultaneously practical and elegant. Tommie Wiswell said it may be one of Mr. Hefter's best.

BLACK
20230717-ld23.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:WK8,11,13,14:B2,4,K18,K19

To paraphrase a great modern day American problemist, Brian Hinkle, "Forces are even; it should be easy, right?" Actually, we rate it as moderate in difficulty, just right for a little Labor Day amusement in-between the picnics and the parades.

"Work" it out and then "work" your mouse over to Read More to view the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
09/02/23 -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Checker School: All Kings

20230802-mountain.jpg

The picture above shows the Battle of Kings Mountain from the American Revolution. It was a common thing back in the day for battles to involve locations named for kings, be fought under kings, and at times even fought by the kings themselves. A battle of kings is certainly common in our game of checkers, and in this month's Checker School column, we look at a massive battle of five kings against four.

That would seem to be simple, wouldn't it? After all, the side with five kings has greater forces and ought to win. But it may (or likely may not) surprise you to know that many untrained checker players have trouble with two kings defeating one, and absolutely no idea what to do with three kings against two, let alone the larger arrays of four against three or five against four. You have to know what you're doing and in the larger settings patience and technique make up the order of the day.

Here's a five against four situation. Are you up to winning it?

BLACK
20230802-kmount.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK6,K10,K12,K15,K20:BK26,K27,K31,K32

Give this position a royal effort and then click on Read More to see one possible solution and some additional commentary.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
08/26/23 -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Marvin's Training Camp: 2023

20220723-autrain.jpg
Au Train, Michigan
Traditional Doublejumper Training Camp Site

It was August and time for training camp. Prior to the start of each checker season, the Detroit Doublejumpers, along with all of the teams in the National Checker League, conducted pre-season training camp.

This was an especially big thing for the Doublejumpers. Having been world champions for several years running, in the previous season they hadn't even made it into the playoffs.

20230716-fired.jpg

There were a number of reasons. A couple of key players had retired, and Doublejumper management hadn't done well at recruiting. The General Manager ended up getting fired, as did the Head Coach, and it was a close call for the Assistant Head Coach, the Openings Coach, the Endgame Coach, and the Tactics Coach.

20230716-chacha.jpg
Charity Chastity Hopkins

The new Doublejumper Head Coach was a woman named Charity Chastity Hopkins, a descendant of the infamous checker pedant of the late 19th century, Harvey L. Hopkins. She had a reputation for being tough and strict. The press referred to her as "Cha Cha Hopkins," much to her dismay. But no one called her that to her face. Ms. Hopkins was an accomplished kick boxer and a black belt in karate in addition to a well-known checker coach.

There had been a few changes in the Doublejumper lineup, but Cha Cha was determined to bring the team back to their old glory and she would do so by any means necessary, including physical intimidation.

Training usually took place at a resort near the appropriately named town of Au Train, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. But not this year.

20230716-baracks.jpg

Cha Cha had located an old military barracks and had it cleaned out and outfitted. When team members assembled in Grand Rapids for their usual charter flight to Au Train, instead they were greeted by a school bus. They were told to stow their own luggage and board the bus.

It was a long ride to the barracks. All the players thought they were going to Au Train. The coaches on board didn't tell them otherwise, and in fact barely spoke. Cha Cha was not present on the bus.

20230716-yellie.jpg

The players arrived at the barracks late at night. Before they even had a chance to look around and realize where they were, Cha Cha had boarded the bus and yelled, "You have one minute to get off my bus and line up at attention on the yellow footprints!"

Sure enough, taking a page out of military boot camp, Cha Cha had had a yellow footprints painted in front of the barracks.

20050222-marvinjmaven.jpg
Marvin J. Mavin

The team looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders. The team captain and hero of these stories, Marvin J. Mavin, shrugged his shoulders along with the rest. There were a few mumbles but everyone left the bus.

"Faster, faster!" Cha Cha shouted. "On the footprints NOW!"

The ten players moved toward the footprints at an uncertain pace.

"I said MOVE IT!" Cha Cha screamed.

Marvin, as Captain, turned to her and said, "Hey, look here Coach, this ain't no way to ... "

20230717-boot.jpg

There was a blur of motion and before he could say another word Marvin was flat on his back on the concrete with Cha Cha's boot bearing down on his chest.

"You got a problem obeying orders, Mister?" Cha Cha said. "Well you better get over it. I don't care if you're Captain. Right now you're something that a dog chewed and spit out, do I make myself clear?"

"I ... " Marvin began, having trouble catching his breath.

"You'll address me as 'Ma'am' whenever you open that mouth of yours. Now, did I or did I not make myself clear?"

20230716-dmjh.jpg

Marvin, who had watch Full Metal Jacket some years ago, had the presence of mind to reply, "Ma'am, yes ma'am."

"Now LINE UP!"

Cha Cha stepped back. Marvin rolled over, coughing, and stumbled to his feet. He joined the others at the yellow line.

"Stand at attention!"

It was the beginning of the team's worst nightmare. After being held at attention until they were all weary, they were made to carry their luggage into the barracks where two long rows of beds were set up dormitory style. By then it was two o'clock in the morning.

20230716-wakeup.jpg

But the team didn't get to sleep late. At five o'clock reveille sounded over loudspeakers in the room.

"Up and at it!" Cha Cha commanded from the dormitory door. "Problem practice in three minutes. Beds made and assemble in the practice room in two!"

The weary team quickly did as they had been told and took seats in a room across the hall which had a sign that said "PRACTICE."

In a moment Cha Cha entered. "Who gave you permission to be seated?" she said loudly. "Stand up!"

The players got out of their seats.

"Ten-hut!"

After Cha Cha had eyed everyone to ensure they were in the proper stance, she commanded, "Team, be seated!"

"Now," she continued, "we will start every day in this room. You will assemble here at 5:05 AM sharp, with beds made to military standard and stand at attention until I arrive and instruct you to take your seats. You will then solve a checker problem. You will have five minutes. If you solve the problem you may proceed to the mess hall where you will be allowed up to ten minutes for breakfast. If you fail to solve the problem, you will instead do ten minutes of push-ups. Do you understand?"

A weak chorus of "Ma'am, yes ma'am" ensued.

"I can't HEAR you!"

The team responded more loudly.

"I still can't HEAR you!"

This time the team shouted.

"That's better." Cha Cha turned on a projector and the following problem appeared on a screen at the front of the room.

BLACK
20230717-bcamp.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W9,10,11,21,32:B3,13,K15,28

"Write your solution on the sheet of paper in front of you. Team, BEGIN!"

Marvin, as well as the rest of the team, sat there befuddled. What was going on here? These were top professionals, a couple of them with multi-million dollar contracts. Did Cha Cha really think this method of training was going to work?

But Marvin was hungry and didn't want to do push-ups, so he tackled the problem.

"Lemme see ... " he muttered, "if you ..."

"NO TALKING! You there, Captain Dog Food, you will solve the problem silently!"

"Ma'am, yes ma'am," Marvin said, as loudly as he could.


Fortunately you can solve this problem without the stress of a drill instructor shouting at you. You WILL try it. You WILL click on Read More to see the solution!20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
08/19/23 -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Sal and Sylvia's Anniversary

20190421-norm2.jpg20200102-sylvie.jpg

Sal and Sylvia's wedding anniversary was coming up in a couple of days, and Sal still didn't know what to give her as an anniversary gift.

It was 1955 and the place was Bismarck, North Dakota. Sal Westerman was an elderly retired gentleman who was the unofficial leader of the Coffee and Cake Checker Club, which met every Saturday from Labor Day to Memorial Day at the Beacon Cafe. But this was August and the club was on summer break.

Sal and Sylvia had a great summer. They traveled to Las Vegas, where Sal played in the North American Checker Tournament, and Sylvia enjoyed shopping and shows. They visited relatives around North Dakota, and spent some time at the lake cottage they rented every year for a couple of weeks.

August always left Sal anxious for the coming of Labor Day and a new season of Club meetings, but it also left him anxious about his anniversary. It was just so hard to know what to get for Sylvia.

20210411-patterson.jpg

Of course he planned a nice dinner at the upscale restaurant in the Patterson Hotel. On the day itself, he'd be sure to call the florist and have a dozen roses delivered right to the house. But what to get for a gift?

For past occasions such as Valentine's Day and previous anniversaries, he had given perfume, items for Sylvia's needlework, face creams, and all sorts of other things. He even gave a gift certificate once, but somehow that hadn't seemed very personal.

20230712-cawfee.jpg

At breakfast, the morning of the day prior to their anniversary, Sylvia poured some coffee and sat down across from Sal at their kitchen table.

"We've been together for many years," she began, "and I know you. You're fretting about an anniversary gift."

Sal thought to deny it, but fooling Sylvia just wasn't possible. They knew each other too well.

"I suppose so," he said. "I want to get you something nice, but I just never seem to come up with very many ideas. More perfume? More face cream? A new sewing machine? I just don't know."

Sylvia leaned forward and crossed her arms on the table. "How about this, Sal? We don't give each other any gifts this year. Oh, sure, if you want to go to the Patterson for dinner, that's wonderful, but no gifts, no flowers, okay? That will take the pressure off of both of us. You know I usually get you a checker book, but you have so many of them I'm afraid I'd just end up buying you a duplicate like I did last year. How about we make it easy on ourselves?"

"I suppose so," Sal said, "but somehow it just doesn't feel right."

20230712-seerz.jpg

"Try it, okay?" Sylvia said. "You can always buy something for me later on if you still think you must. Now please stop fretting and spend some time enjoying your new checker magazine instead of rummaging through the Sears Roebuck catalog." A copy of the latest edition of All Checkers Digest had come in the mail the previous day and Sal hadn't even looked at it yet, something that Sylvia couldn't have failed to notice.

all checkers digest
20211031-allchecks.jpg

After they had finished breakfast, Sylvia went off to her sewing circle and Sal retreated into his den. The new magazine was full of great games and problems, and even photos from the North American Checker Tournament. Sal was thrilled to see his own photo included! But then his attention turned to the following problem.

BLACK
20230716-salsyl.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W12,K14,15,K17,19,23,24,27,K32:B1,4,5,7,18,20,K21,26,K29

However, fate intervened. Sal realized if he didn't get going, he would be late for a doctor's appointment, and that was a bit of a sore point. Sylvia had been after him to get his annual checkup, and Sal had kept putting it off. Finally Sylvia made an appointment for him, and Sal knew he had better show up.

He didn't realize what he was in for. Sylvia apparently had told the doctor to give Sal "the works" and it was the most thorough exam Sal could ever remember having. He was even sent over to St. Alexius Hospital for x-rays and blood work. "You'll get the results tomorrow," the doctor told him. "We'll call you."

That was all the doctor said, and it left Sal a little uneasy.

Of course he told Sylvia all about it, and she only said that she was happy that Sal had kept his appointment.

The next day came, and it was anniversary day. Sal still hadn't gotten back to his checker problem. He seemed to have substituted worry about all the medical tests for worry about a gift for Sylvia. For her part, Sylvia didn't say anything further.

20221112-oldphone.jpg

Finally in mid-afternoon the phone rang. It was the doctor. Sal rushed to the phone.

"Well, Sal," the doctor said, "I'm happy to say that all your tests showed normal and you're in good health for someone of your age. I'll see you again in a year."

Sal thanked the doctor and hung up. He related the news to Sylvia, who simply smiled and said, "Wonderful news, dear."

Dinner reservations were at 6:30. Sal and Sylvia both dressed in their Sunday best and even called for a taxi to take them to the Patterson. But Sylvia noticed that Sal was still a bit uneasy.

20230712-shrimpy.jpg

It wasn't until the shrimp cocktails were served that Sal admitted that he still felt it was a bit wrong for him not to give Sylvia a gift.

Sylvia reached across the table and took Sal's hand in hers. "Sal, dear, you've missed something important."

"What's that?" Sal asked.

"You're in good health. The doctor told you so this morning. I'm doing well, too. So we have the greatest gift of all, one that we've had for so many years. We have the gift of each other." She squeezed Sal's hand and continued to hold it.

20230712-haznd.jpg

Was that a tiny tear in the corner of Sal's eye? Sal didn't say anything in reply. He just put his other hand over their two joined hands and held on.20050904-symbol.gif


We can hardly imagine a nicer anniversary for Sal and Sylvia. Not surprisingly, Sal forgot all about checkers for the moment. That leaves it to you, our reader, to solve that problem from All Checkers Digest on his behalf. It's quite a good one. See what you can do and then click on Read More to reveal the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
08/12/23 -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Maybe

20230621-wld.jpg

There's an old adage that when a politician says "yes" it means "maybe" and when a politician says "maybe" it means "no." There's a ring of truth to that, unfortunately.

Would that politics could be like checkers. When you win, you win. When you draw, you draw. And when you lose, you lose. There's no "maybe" about it.

But take a look at this position. It's not quite a "speed" problem but an experienced player will solve it quickly.

WHITE
20230621-maybe.png
BLACK
Black to Play, What Result?

B:W28,26,24,23,22,19:B15,14,13,12,11,10

Maybe Black can win. Maybe Black can't win. Maybe Black can draw. However, there is a definite answer; we're just leaving it to you to work out. However, it's a sure thing--- not a "maybe"--- that clicking on Read More will show you the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
08/05/23 -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

We Got Problems

20230621-wegot.jpg

In regular life, problems are, well, a problem, and we don't want too many of them. But in the game of checkers, it's another story altogether.

In our ongoing Checker School series we've often stressed the importance of solving checker problems. But you don't need to just take our word for it. The following interesting passage appears in Andrew J. Banks' eclectic book, Checker Board Strategy. The author is Willie Gardner, a reknowned player and analyst from days past, and was first seen in the publication North American Checker Board.


Problem Solving

Problem solving is, in my opinion, the real science of draughts playing. In the study of problems one finds the greatest pleasure that the game affords, and at the same time insensibly imbibes all the requisites, analytical and constructive, that make the draughts player.

The study of the openings takes a second place in the education of the student. It is beneficial to the extent that the student may learn in an hour, from a compiled analysis of any opening, such traps and snares to avoid as would take him months, or probably years, to find unaided. However, in what position is the student who has crammed his head full of Sturges', Bowen's and Janvier's compilations, but has neglected the endings, when he finds himself with the winning side of First, Second, Third and other positions of the sort, and unable to effect the win? Such a player is celebrated for his great knowledge of the book; he is on a high pinnacle of fame, and the fall in his case is tremendous, sometimes greater than he can recover from. To play draughts well, and to find real pleasure in the game, I advise problems.

Sturges' collection is, perhaps, the best to begin with, and Gould's Book of Problems. Those with about four pieces on a side are my own especial favorites---long winded affairs, evolving the science of end-play. The two-to-two catch problems, though often brilliant, very rarely occur in play, hence their educational value is not so great. As to the crammer, what pleasure has he, with his mighty and extensive knowledge of every possible variation, when playing a game? He is simply automatic, if his opponent play so and so he knows the book reply, and there he sits, waiting for the other fellow to fall into some cut and dried loss, when he emits a mirthless chuckle, and remarks, so and so shows that to be a loss.

If the other fellow, however, gets off the beaten path, and wins, then Mr. Bookman cries, "I never saw that before! Where can I get some play on it?" Problem work is required throughout the game of draughts; its aid is required to win, and by its aid many an apparently hopeless game can be saved. Often I have heard the remark anent an old noted problemist, one of England's finest players in his day, that he never knew when he was beaten.

The end game student evolves from his every day practice his own natural systems of opening; this is the system that, I believe, brought forth the three greatest players the world has yet seen---Anderson, Wyllie, and Martins.

Willie Gardner


Interesting advice, and in accord with Grandmaster Alex Moiseyev's advice, "No opening books for the first thousand games!"

So let's solve a problem taken from Mr. Banks' book (he did not list the composer). This one is extremely easy.

BLACK
20230621-nota.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:B6,10,14,15,20:W13,21,22,23,24

How about one that's a little bit harder? This is from the same book and is attributed to Willie Ryan.

WHITE
20230621-nota2.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:B5,7,12,16,17,20:W13,15,18,23,26,27

The problems are clearly at the beginner level, but as usual we invite more advanced players to see if they can solve them at a glance. Players of any level will of course have "no problem" clicking on Read More to see the solutions.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
07/29/23 -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Sal's Big Tournament

20230616-vegas55.jpg

Sal was looking forward to his trip to Las Vegas all summer, and the time had come. He and his wife, Sylvia, would fly from Bismarck down to Denver and then catch another plane to Las Vegas. It was expensive but they decided to splurge instead of spending a couple of days on the bus or the train.

20230616-slot55.jpg

While Sylvia was looking forward to shopping and shows, and perhaps a few pulls on the slot machines, Sal was going to play in the 1955 North American Checker Tournament. Given that he was the reigning North Dakota state champion, he qualified for the Masters Division. That would likely mean he'd have a couple of matches with Grandmasters and the odds were definitely against his winning the Division. But Sal was fine with that. He just wanted to play and enjoy the experience.

The plane trip took the better part of a Saturday, giving Sal just a little time before play began on Sunday afternoon. There would be one round on Sunday, two on Monday through Wednesday, and one on Thursday morning, or eight rounds in all. It was a long tournament and it always attracted several thousand players. There were over 200 registered for the Masters Division alone.

20230616-55buffet.jpg

Sal and Sylvia had time on Saturday to enjoy one of the famous Las Vegas buffets. They hadn't planned on a show as it just seemed like too much. After dinner, Sylvia tried the slot machines while Sal went back to their hotel room to study a few opening lines in final preparation for the tournament.

The couple had a light lunch the next day and then Sal signed in at the tournament hall. It was quite a sight, with over a thousand checkerboards set up around the vast auditorium. The Masters would play in a segregated area at the front of the hall, with seating set up for spectators behind the velvet ropes and golden stanchions.

20230616-gm.jpg
English Grandmaster Barrington Bennington

Play began. Sal was matched with a highly rated English grandmaster in the first round, and Sal lost one and drew one. He was pretty happy with his results and later told Sylvia so. She in turn had won $100 (a lot of money in 1955) at the slots, and decided to go shopping at a fancy boutique.

The tournament was "Swiss System" meaning winners play winners and losers play losers. Sal had an easier time of it on Monday and won all four of his games. On Tuesday he had tougher opponents and won three and drew one. It got even tougher from there. On Wednesday he won two and drew two. But he went into the final round on Thursday with nine wins, only one loss, and four draws. That gave him 22 out of a possible 28 points and he found himself in 4th place, with one master and two grandmasters ahead of him with 24, 26, and 26 points respectively.

Sal didn't have a chance for first place. But he did have a chance at 3rd place. Mostly, though, he didn't want to get knocked out of 4th place. He really needed to win both of his games to get 3rd, and that wouldn't be easy, as he was matched up against Bob "Newboy" Bertollin, a Master from Chicago who was very close to achieving Grandmaster.

20230616-newboy.jpg
Bob "Newboy" Bertollin

Sylvia, having done enough shopping and seen enough shows, decided to buy a ticket for the gallery and watch the final games. That pleased Sal no end and he felt he would play better with her supporting him.

And indeed, in the first game, that's what happened. Sal played brilliantly against Newboy, and perhaps Newboy didn't take Sal seriously enough--- but Sal won the game.

Newboy was pretty shocked, but he was a good sportsman and congratulated Sal in a sincere manner. He did, however, tell Sal that he was determined to win the next game. That's fine, Sal thought, I'm just as determined.

The game was very hard fought, and Newboy held an advantage. It finally came down to the following position.

BLACK
20230621-newboy.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W9,21,23,24,28,31,32:B2,5,7,10,12,14,15

Sal wasn't going to win, and he knew it. But a draw would get him a tie with Newboy for third through fourth place, and $375 in prize money, a huge amount that would pay for the trip to Las Vegas and then some.

Sal thought for quite a little while. Finally, taking a look at his clock and realizing he had to make a move ... he did.


How would you do against that very talented player who everyone calls "Newboy"? Can you find the draw that would win Sal the prize money? (Alas, you won't get any prize money from us, but you'll certainly feel good about finding the solution.) Give it a go and then click on Read More to see the solution and the rest of today's story.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
07/22/23 -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with your comments on this article.

Pages: «Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | ...| 118 | 119 | 120 | Next»

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.

MAVEN, n.:

An expert or connoisseur, often self-proclaimed.


Articles


Numbered Board and Notation

Book Reviews

Game Site Reviews

Program Reviews

A Mind Sport for the Common Man

Learning Checkers

The Unknown Derek Oldbury

Rediscovering Checkers

Regulation Checker Sets

Marvin's World

Downloads


Richard Pask Publications

Reisman: Checkers Made Easy

Clapham Commons Draughts Book

Grover/Wiswell: Let's Play Checkers

Bob Murray's School Presentation

Jim Loy Publications

PDN collections

Oldbury: MoveOver

Reinfeld: How to Win

Ginsberg: Principles of Strategy

3-Move-Deck