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 #70


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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

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09/16/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Labor Day 2023

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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

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09/02/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Checker School: All Kings

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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

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08/26/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Maybe

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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

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08/05/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Contest 69: Kingless Draws

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The picture above represents what we suppose to be the components of what the seller calls a "Crowned Kingless Table Lamp." We have no idea what that means. The seller was asking a high price, so this must be something quite in demand in whatever circles Crowned Kingless Table Lamps have currency.

In our game of checkers, however, "kingless" has a different meaning, although we won't even try to associate "crowned" in this context. Bill Salot brings us once again a series of kingless problems in his latest problem composing contest, #69 in the series. A unique feature is that all of the positions are drawn when properly played.

As a nice example, here is a problem called Hot Spot, composed by Roy Little. It won 2nd place in Contest 45 a few years back.

Hot Spot by Roy Little
BLACK
20230621-hotspot.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W5,17,21,22,23,26,31:B2,6,7,8,10,14,15,16

Give this one a try (you can see the solution by clicking on Read More) and then head over to the Contest Page for four more excellent problems with the same theme. And don't forget to vote for your favorite!20050904-symbol.gif

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07/15/23 -Printer friendly version-
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A Tricky One

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The magician above is indeed full of all sorts of tricks and we might well call her a "tricky one" although likely she would rather be known by the more formal designation of prestidigitator.

Often in the early part of each month we present a "speed" problem--- something for you to solve as quickly as you can. Such problems generally fall into the "easy" category. Today, though, we have a "tricky one" sent along (with analysis) by regular contributors Lloyd and "Gosh Josh" Gordon of Toronto. Is it as full of tricks as the magician above? You'll have to decide for yourself.

BLACK
20230404-tricky.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W14,17,18,20,21,22,23,25,30,32:B5,6,7,9,10,11,12,13,16,19

Although the problem terms are for White to find the draw, see if you can also hold the draw for Black. Unless you're an upper-level player you may not solve this one speedily, but some effort will be well rewarded. When you're ready to see the solution, though, there's no trick; just click on Read More.20050904-symbol.gif

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06/03/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Changing and Exchanging

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When traveling abroad, do we change currency or exchange currency? Or do we change currency at a Currency Exchange? We can probably say that's all a matter of semantics.

Not so much so, though, in our game of checkers. If you solve the twin problem below, sent to us by regular contributors Lloyd and "Gosh Josh" Gordon of Toronto, you'll see what we mean.

BLACK
20230328-changew.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W15,K18,30,32:B7,21,23,K27

WHITE
20230328-changeb.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W15,K18,30,32:B7,21,23,K27"

These are not terribly difficult. The Black win is especially easy, and as for the White win, we've practically given it away. Find the solutions--- time yourself if you want an extra challenge--- and then exchange your mouse position with Read More (or should we say change your mouse position to Read More) to see the solutions.20050904-symbol.gif

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05/13/23 -Printer friendly version-
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More Pictures: Problem Composing Contest 68

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Is there such a thing as too many pictures? Evidently so. The photo above shows an art display that hardly accords with accepted practices. It's overcrowded and the pictures aren't well positioned.

The previous entry in Bill Salot's outstanding series of checker problem composing contests featured problems that had a visual aspect--- they were works of art in both the visual and ludological senses. For our current contest, Mr. Salot has continued with that theme. Too many pictures? Hardly! We're sure everyone will welcome this new trio of dual-artform problem settings.

The contest problems themselves can be found, as always, on the contest page. We hope you'll drop by, give the problems a try, and of course cast your vote for the one you like best.

As a lead-in, we present a problem by the late Roy Little, which he called Mr. X. It was the winner of Contest 11 back in June, 2013.

BLACK
20230322-mrx.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK2,K6,15,17,22,24:B8,10,11,18,K19,K25,K28

Solve this one, click on Read More to check your solution, and then visit the contest page!20050904-symbol.gif

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05/06/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Pictures At An Exhibition: Problem Composing Contest 67

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Pictures at an Exhibition, composed in 1874 by Modest Mussorgsky, was originally a suite of ten piano pieces linked together by a "Promenade" theme, intended to represent the experience of walking through an exhibition of the paintings of artist Viktor Hartmann at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia. The compositions were orchestrated in 1922 by Maurice Ravel, and this is the version that is most well known today.

We have something similar in checkers, and in this, the 67th Problem Composing Contest sponsored by Bill Salot, we'll see an exhibition of checker art that is visual as well as artistic in play quality. To illustrate this, here is one that Bill calls WreckTangle and credits to former World Champion Alex Moiseyev, who created it independently. However, it happens that Ed Atkinson was the original composer; he called it Pandora's Box.

BLACK
20230115-paae.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W10,14,17,19,23,26:BK15,K21,K25,K30

Bill notes that there are other famous images on a checkerboard, such as the Picture Frame arising from games in Boland's Famous Positions, Page 187. Bill goes on to remark that there are numerous other patterns published in various checker problem books.

In this month's contest, Bill features three "art works" so to speak (alas, not ten as in the original "Pictures at an Exhibition"). They can be found on the contest page. Be sure to try them out and then vote for your favorite.

The solution to WreckTangle (or Pandora's Box, if you will) can be seen (after you've tried to solve it, of course!) by clicking on Read More. We hope you enjoy it and all of the contest problems.20050904-symbol.gif

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03/18/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Hopper: A Speed Problem

20230115-hopper.jpg

It's quite early for the Easter Bunny (Easter 2023 is on April 9) and somewhat late for Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rabbit (January 22). So let's look at a little math problem instead:

"Chris is training Hoppity, her pet rabbit, to climb stairs. It will hop up one or two stairs at a time. If a flight of stairs has ten steps, in how many ways can Hoppity hop up the this flight of stairs?"

Oh, wait, this is a checker column. Well, in fact regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon have sent along a "speed" problem they call "Hopper" so it seemed like something about a rabbit would be an appropriate lead-in. And no, the problem has nothing to do with the late GAYP master Millard Hopper.

The problem itself is a lot of fun, and of course the layout of the pieces, not to mention the problem's title, give a huge hint. It's certainly not a hard problem and can be quickly solved with just a bit of visualization. As we're fond of saying, top players will see it at once while the rest of us may require a few more seconds, or maybe even a minute or so.

WHITE
20230115-hopper.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W12,15,16,20,21,30:B6,7,14,22,K27

It doesn't matter what category you may fall in, whether top flight professional or enthusiastic novice. See how fast you solve it and then hop your mouse to Read More to jump to the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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03/04/23 -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 2004-2023 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.

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