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 #72


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Who is Your Favorite Checker Book Author?

In the columns of The Checker Maven we rely a great deal on source material from our collection of classic checker books; in fact, you probably know we maintain an extensive and growing page of book reviews (see the link in the right-hand column).

Through the history of the game, many books have been written and many authors have tried their hand, some with great success and others with less spectacular results. And so, we'd like to ask our readers a question: who is your favorite checker book author?

In this survey, we've listed a few of the most prolific and well-respected authors. Which one do you enjoy reading the most? Enter your vote and then compare it with the choices of other readers.

03/12/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Introducing Marvin J. Mavin

We'd like to introduce you to Marvin J. Mavin, the hero of this webzine and the Captain and First Board player for the Detroit Doublejumpers, one of the leading teams in the Central Division of the National Checker League.


Marvin J. Mavin
Captain, Detroit Doublejumpers
Marvin is, of course, a leading professional in the highly popular sport-checkers world, and his team makes it to the playoffs more seasons than not. However, Marvin sometimes gets distracted by his lucrative promotional ad contracts, and he has been known to skip practice in order to shoot spots for his sponsors, Super Slick Shaving Soap and Belcher's Best Lite Lager. And as to that latter product, well, Marvin also sometimes misses practice to bend an elbow with a few of his buddies at the local watering holes. (We recommend that you not emulate this behavior yourself.)

Marvin was a top player on his grade school and high school teams, being named to the All-State squad three years running in his home state of New Jersey. He moved on to collegiate checkers, receiving a full-ride scholarship from the prestigious University of Champions in Mississippi. Following college he was a first-round draft choice of the St. Louis Switchers, who started him out with their Triple-A farm club, the Louisville Leapers of the Southeastern Checker League.

Marvin made the "big show" within a year, moving up to the Switchers, but became a free agent after his two-year contract expired, as he and the Switchers were unable to come to terms, with Marvin asking $12 million a year and the Switchers capping their offer at $8 million. The Doublejumpers then signed him on for $10 million per year plus performance based bonuses. The rest, as we all know, is history.

Join us in the columns of The Checker Maven later this month (March 2005), as Marvin pays a visit to a Detroit grade school and gives a lesson (or perhaps gets a lesson) on the "Fun Shot" in the Single Corner opening.

03/05/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Checker Maven Score Sheets

As a bonus to our readers, we'd like to direct you to some score sheet forms we developed a little while back. They are suitable for single or double-sided printing and are easy to use and logically arranged. Simply download and print to a PostScript capable printer.

You can get them here. Let us know what you think.

Oh...yes, these are for checkers, in case you were wondering!

03/01/05 -Printer friendly version-
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A New and Original Online Play Site

We've come across what must be a fairly new site but one that has really captured our attention. It's called TurnPlay and it's simple, focused, and unique. This site has a lot of promise and we hope that it attracts its share of users. It is sure to appeal to the serious checker player.

You can read our complete review, but very briefly, TurnPlay combines turn-based play and head-to-head play in a manner that is intuitive, appealing, and practical. It's one of the few truly original ideas in on-line gaming that we've seen in a very long time.

TurnPlay is not a site for a casual head-to-head "pickup" game. It is instead a site which you can use to establish games with other players, who don't even have to be members themselves, and then engage in serious play backed by a game moderation system that works the way it ought to, including the use of correct PDN for moves.

In addition, the site allows for setup and play of an arbitrary position, something we have yet to see elsewhere.

Memberships are inexpensive at $20 per year although free guest memberships offer many of the important features, including unlimited play.

Check out the review and then check out the site. And if you like it, support them by joining.

Addendum

We did, by the way, also just now review another site which offers email turn-based play of something they believe to be checkers (although we beg to differ). We won't embarrass them, or us, by mentioning its name in The Maven, but the full review is here if you'd like to see for yourself.

Update

Missing screen shot images for about half a dozen sites on the review page have been restored as of 05 March 2005; our apologies for any inconvenience.

02/25/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Computer Cheating in On-Line Checkers

We received this email today:

"I see a lot of people using a Cheating program for playing checkers on Yahoo. Where are they getting it from? Thanks"

The writer is correct; there are a lot of cheaters that use computer programs to play their games for them; then they actually believe their "wins" and "high ratings" mean something.

It's pretty sad, isn't it? We can only hope that some day, these folks might get a life and realize that there is no shame in losing with grace and sportsmanship, and that relying on your own skills and accepting the results is what makes a true winner.

[Read More]
02/23/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Happy 90th Birthday, Mr. Richard Fortman!

Living checkers legend Richard "Dick" Fortman celebrated his 90th birthday on February 8, 2005. Mr. Fortman's checker career is nothing short of fabulous, as champion player, skilled analyst, and famed writer. You can send your birthday greetings to rlf111 at webtv.net.

02/12/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Solutions and Follow-Ups from January, 2005

January's feature problem was Coffee and Cake, a classic from the early Willie Ryan days. Click on the link to review the problem and see the animated solution. Did you win it?

Also last month, we updated our review of the Blondie24 computer program. Click on the link, and then take a look at the animated game between Blondie and Simple Checkers to see how surprisingly well these two fare over the board.

And finally, we've done a complete rewrite of our article, So This Is Checkers?, as we've come across a lot of supplementary information about interesting checker variants both old and new.

02/05/05 -Printer friendly version-
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So This is Checkers?

(This article was rewritten on 09 February 2005 due to newly found information affecting its accuracy.)

Take a good look at the image below. It's an artist's conception of a serious checker game in a rural grocery store. Nice drawing, but the artist was clearly not a checker player.

However, the game these two are playing in fact could be one of two (or maybe even more, but we know of two) little-known checker variants, one of them quite old and the other quite modern. The game also looks a lot like (but isn't quite) several other unusual variants.

Do you know what variants would be an exact match? Can you name a few also-rans that don't quite make it?

Click on the picture to see a larger version; then come back and click on Read More for the solution.


[Read More]
01/19/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Carol Joy Cole: A Friend to the Checkers World

Carol Joy Cole, a retired librarian in Flint, Michigan, is known nationally and internationally as a backgammon club and tournament organizer, equipment and book supplier, and veteran backgammon player. What is not as well known is that in recent years, Carol has been a friend to the checker playing community, helping out with the difficult task of obtaining true "regulation" red and white checkers. Carol, through her Backgammon Boutique has up to now been providing us with solid color red and white checkers from Denmark, and "swirly" red and white checkers from Crisloid.

These have been fine items, though the "swirly" checkers are not strictly regulation, and the Danish checkers are a bit on the thin side. Now, Carol has improved her offerings by obtaining Roger Blaine's special order stock of genuine solid color Crisloid red and whites, in both 1.25 and 1.50 inch diameter sizes.

I splurged on both of these sets, and they are wonderful. The color and manufacture is uniform and the "feel" of the pieces is great. These are true regulation checkers, and an excellent value at $20 for the small and $30 for the large, plus $4 for shipping. Get them while they last!



Click on picture for full-size version
Carol has gone out of her way to serve checker players, even though it's a small market and not likely to bring her much return. Carol is always helpful and courteous and ships promptly with no fuss or ado. Carol, on behalf of checker players everywhere, please accept our thanks!

You can reach Carol through her web site, as linked above, or by email at cjc@tir.com.

01/16/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Checker Hall of Fame to Close as Walker Resigns Positions

On January 10, Charles Walker announced the forthcoming closing of the International Checker Hall of Fame in Petal, Mississippi, as well as his resignation as President of the World Checkers Draughts Federation and other posts which he had held. The announcement can be found on the American Checker Federation website.

On January 11, Mississippi newspapers published this article about Walker's January 7 arrest and indictment on Federal money laundering charges. The charges are tied to a series of companies operated by Walker, including the International Checkers Hall of Fame.

Prominent checker personalities and officials have been quick to point out the outstanding contributions made over a period of decades by Mr. Walker to the game of checkers. He has been a tireless promoter and organizer and has worked hard on behalf of the checker-playing community.

The charges against Mr. Walker are serious indeed. But let's not forget that in America, a man is innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Walker deserves fair consideration and a fair trial. And no matter the outcome, his record of service to the checker world will always stand.

February 1, 2005 update: additional news stories can be found here.

01/15/05 -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 2004-2024 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