The Checker Maven

Baseball Season: The Horror Of It All

This year's baseball season is well underway, and we're certain that old-time checkerist Harvey L. Hopkins would be horrified. Mr. Hopkins, you'll perhaps recall, was an attorney in Chicago in the late 1800s, and published a checker pamphlet called Home Checker Companion: Our Boys at Home.

We've teased a lot in our columns about Mr. Hopkins' pedantic, moralistic approach to checkers; we've even made him a part of the back-story to the alternative reality of Marvin J. Mavin's world. In his little booklet, he put forth the thesis that going to baseball games was a rather unsavory activity, perhaps even leading to a life of crime! How much better it would be if "the boys" stayed at home and played checkers, under close parental supervision, to be sure.

We can't deny that staying home and playing checkers is a good thing. Neither can we deny that parental supervision is equally good. But as fans ourselves, we have trouble with Mr. Hopkins' theory about the evils of baseball. Still and all, it's a fact that Mr. Hopkins was a skilled checkerist, and today's problem (which Mr. Hopkins attributes to Ralph D. Banks) is a clever and instructive study.


Black to Play and Win


It's a common occurence: Black, being a piece up, should win handily, but his position is cramped and demonstrating the win over the board is necessary. Can you do it, solving by sight alone? Never mind that ball game, you've got a checker problem to work out! Do your best and then click on Read More to see the solution.


There are numerous variations to this solution, which we haven't shown here. You can investigate further with a computer program or a checker partner. We've opted to show the solution Mr. Hopkins published, as it is quite a gem.

21-25 22-26 25-30 26-22 30-25 22-26 25-21 26-22 29-25!---1 22x29 21-17 23-19---2 15x24 28x19 17-14 19-15 20-24 29-25 24-27 15-11 27-31 25-22 31-27 11-7 14-10 7-3 27-23 3-8 10-15 22-17 23-18 and Black wins with "the move."

1---Returning the extra piece but, looking well ahead, ensuring the win.

2---The second part of the winning strategy, making an exchange to enable an eventual win with "the move."

If you were able to solve this one, count yourself among the more skilled checkerists in your circle. You might even reward yourself with a ticket to a ball game!

05/09/09 - Category: Problems -Printer friendly version-
You can email the Webmaster with comments on this article.