The Checker Maven

Men Against A King


The painting above depicts the future King of England, Richard the Lionheart, surrounded by Saracens and engaged in fierce battle. It was around the year 1187 and the time of the Third Crusade. Will the men win against the King? Certainly not, as Richard would survive to become King about two years later.

Looking through the lenses of our modern era, the Crusades certainly were controversial and perhaps even mentioning them is less than politically correct (something about which we don't generally spend a lot of time worrying). But there shouldn't be any such controversy over our game of checkers, and so today we'll consider a different setting of "men against a King."

Although we haven't presented an episode in some little while, for years we've been publishing columns based on Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard. We're nearly at the end with only a couple of columns left to go.

Today's entry derives from Willie's A Trap With A Tale, and he of course calls it Men Against A King. Here's the run-up. It's from a game Willie played as Black against the great Sam Gonotsky, who had White. It's a really fine game and a pleasure to play over.

1. 11-16 24-19
2. 8-11 22-18
3. 16-20 25-22
4. 9-13 29-25
5. 11-15 18x11
6. 7x16 28-24
7. 10-14

Certainly doesn't lose, but 5-9 and other moves likely make for an easier draw.

7. ... 22-18
8. 6-10 18x9
9. 5x14 25-22
10. 1-5 19-15
11. 10x28 22-17
12. 13x22 26x10
13. 16-19 23x16
14. 12x19 21-17

Gonotsky played this clever move (21-17), instead of 27-24 to regain the piece, going a man down but gaining a strong position.

15. 19-24 17-13
16. 4-8 10-6
17. 2x9 13x6

Black is a man up but Willie notes "it looked as if my goose were cooked, with General Gonotsky having what appeared to be an impenetrable king row."

Here's the position:

Black to Play, What Result?


Is Willie's goose cooked, or can Black save the game? This is another one that is anything but easy, but it's well worth your time and effort (although you're not going to cook Gonotsky's goose). Let it simmer for a while and then light up Read More with your mouse to see the solution.null


It's a draw. Willie's goose isn't cooked, maybe just singed a little.

18. 5-9 6-2
19. 9-13 2-6
20. 3-7

13-17 loses.

20. ... 6-9

Or 6-2, with similar play.

21. 7-10 9-6
22. 10-14 6-9
23. 14-17 9-14
24. 17-21 14-18

It looks bad for Black despite being a man up.

25. 13-17 18-23

Willie's play here is 30-26 21-25 18-22 winning back the man. We diverge and follow variants of the computer line. Numerous possibilities present themselves and we urge you to explore further on your own.

26. 17-22 23-18
27. 22-25 18-22
28. 25-29 22-26
29. 29-25 27-23
30. 8-11 23-19
31. 24-27

Black must now return a man as 29-25 loses.

31. ... 31x24
32. 20x27 32x23
33. 28-32 23-18
34. 32-27 26-31
35. 27-23 19-15
36. 23x14 15x8

A clear draw.

We know this was tough, but the game in total is really a great one, and we hope you liked it.

04/20/19 - Category: Books -Printer friendly version-
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