The Checker Maven

June 18: A Nutty Day in History


Today's column appears on June 18, 2016, and we found an interesting Hawaiian connection to this date, which lead to a rather tenuous checker connection. But first, a little background is in order.

You probably didn't know that the macadamia nut is named after Scotsman John Macadam, who was born in 1829, but if you've ever visited Hawai`i you'll be familiar with the flavor and texture of this iconic item.

The macadamia nut was first brought to Hawai`i in 1881 by William Herbert Purvis, but the reintroduction in 1892 is usually taken to be the beginning of commercial production. Brothers Edward Walter and Robert Alfred Jordan planted their trees on Wyllie Street in Nu`uanu Valley on, you guessed it, June 18 of that year. Upon reading the name "Robert Alfred Jordan" we immediately thought of the great checkerist Alfred Jordan, but of course that was another person altogether.

Still, we continued with that nutty line of thinking and tried to recall the "nuttiest" checker problems we've ever seen. In the end we decided on this one.

White to Play and Win


Why is this a "nutty" problem? Actually, it's a really good one, and White needs to find several "star" moves. It just struck us that the board position looks, well, nutty, and not something you're likely to see very often, if ever, in over the board play. Is the problem "nutty" or merely a "tough nut to crack"?

Don't go nuts; just work out the solution and then click on Read More to see the not so nutty solution.20050904-symbol.gif


31-26* 11-16 15-10* 7x14 22x15 8-12 25-21*---A 16-20 15-10 14-18 10-14 White Wins.

A---25-22 only draws.

The solution looks deceivingly simple but it's indeed a "tough nut." We hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoy one of our favorite Hawaiian treats, chocolate covered macs. Healthy? No! Delicious? Yes!


Our reference source on the history of macadamia nuts in Hawai`i was "Macadamia Nuts in Hawai`i: History and Production" by Gordon T. Shigeura and Hiroshi Ooka, College of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawai`i, 1984.

06/18/16 - Category: Problems -Printer friendly version-
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