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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Simple Elegance

Complex stroke problems are fun, and crowded middle game positions can be a challenge, but there is little to compare with the sheer, simple elegance of a well-composed 2x2 end game problem. Here is a real classic, attributed to G. H. Slocum.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win

When you've solved this, we think you'll agree that there is genuine charm in such a compact position, requiring just the right play. Click on Read More to see the main line solution as originally published long ago.

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09/17/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Two Not-Quite-So-Easy Pieces

We've been slowly but surely republishing Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard in a brand new electronic edition, and we've been referring to the introductory problems in the book as "Easy Pieces."

Well, some readers have pointed out that not all of these problems have been exactly easy, and that they've been getting harder as they go. So, this month, we're abandoning any pretense of ease of solution, and again letting Willie speak for himself. Try the problems and check your answers by clicking on Read More. As usual, the Black side is shown in regulation Red.

They may not be easy, but they certainly are good!

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win

"A little logic should make the issue clear in Example 13. Black is a piece ahead, but the white king on square 11 is pressing (chasing) an attack from the rear. The natural course for black is to avoid capture by going 16-20, white chasing 11-16, black running 19-23, white pursuing 16-19, and there you have it---black seemingly must lose the piece on 23 or 24. That's the apparent outcome of the situation, but actually black can win in five of his own moves by trapping white on a two-way double or 'optional take.' The one thing to keep foremost in mind, when you are a piece ahead and your opponent is threatening to retrieve it, is to look for an idea that will make the retrieve fatal!"

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

"One does not master mathematics by studying trigonometry, solid geometry, or analytics at the start. The would-be mathematician must first ground himself in the basic study of addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division before he can cope with the abstract phases of advanced mathematics. Similarly, one cannot become an adept checker strategist without extensive training in the art of tactics. Look at the three-by-three ending in Example 14, by the well-known American problemist, Paul R. Semple, of Martins Ferry, Ohio. Can you take the white pieces, and without moving a piece, win in ten moves by executing a 'throwback two-for-one'? If you can't, don't divert your study to any other phase of the game until you can see through these snap traps in the twinkling of an eye!"

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09/10/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Autumn is Coming On Fast

Autumn is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere, and it will be here faster than we might wish. Can you solve our September speed problem as fast as you might wish?

After you've worked out the answer, click on Read More to verify your solution. We're giving you a much easier problem after August's brain twisters.

By the way, we're desperately short of good speed problems (which is why we only have one today). We have a number of bad speed problems, but they won't do! If you have nice some favorites, please send them our way.

September Speed (fairly easy)

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09/03/05 -Printer friendly version-
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School Bells Ring, and Children Sing ...


... it's back to checker school again!

Throughout the USA and Canada, and much of the western world, school bells are ringing and children are heading back to school after the long summer vacation. No doubt checker practice will quickly begin in earnest as all of the elementary school, middle school, and high school checker teams prepare for battle in the upcoming checker season.

It seems appropriate, then, that we continue our ongoing Checker School series with another installment from Ben Boland's classic Famous Positions. In this lesson, we'll look at Wardell's Position, which is akin to First Position, but the win is obtained without the winning side having "The Move." Unclear? Well, pay attention in class!

M.H.C. Wardell
Red

White
White to Play and Win

When you've tried the problem, click on Read More to see Mr. Boland's solution, a game run-up, and some great notes and commentary.

Extra (non-checker) points if you can give the source for "School Bells Ring and Children Sing" and quote the rest of the jingle.

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09/03/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Eyes Only

We promised a "summer scorcher" of a stroke problem for August, and we think we've delivered with one that we're calling Eyes Only. When it originally appeared almost 100 years ago, the publication editor challenged readers to solve it by sight alone, without moving the pieces around on the board. The number of readers who reported success was rather small--- just one solitary correspondent claimed a victory.
RED

WHITE
White to Play and Win
Now, nearly a century later, our challenge to you is the same, but with a modern twist: solve the problem without moving the pieces around on the board --- or on the computer!

When you either have the solution, or have had enough, click on Read More to learn the winning way.

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08/13/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Faster Than a Speeding --- Turtle?

This month we're making good on our promise (or was it a threat?) to come up with speed problems that are much more challenging than the ones we've been offering so far. You're not likely to solve these at sprint speeds, hence this month's title caption!

Toe up to the starting line and click below to display the problems and start the clock. Good luck! You can check your solutions by clicking on Read More. Afterwards, click here to cast your vote for the type of speed problems you prefer.

(This article has been edited subsequent to original publication due to valuable reader input. As a result you have three problems instead of two!)

Problem One (very hard for a timed problem)

Problem Two (medium difficulty, original erroneous diagram corrected)

Problem Three (quite hard, as originally published)

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08/06/05 -Printer friendly version-
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In the Grand Manner

We spent a pleasant interval at our Honolulu office, where we made quite a bit of progress on our "electronic classics" projects. But now we're back in Santa Fe, and, lo and behold! The Santa Fe Opera performance season is in full swing!

Along with the Grand Old Game, there is little that is as wonderful as Grand Opera, performed by a truly world class company such as we are privileged to have here in Santa Fe.

Red

White
White to Play and Win
To celebrate this summer's opera season, we turn, as one might expect, to Tom Wiswell, and a fine problem he captions In the Grand Manner. Give it a try and see if you don't think it, too, is world class. Then, click on Read More to verify your moves, and try out a thematically-related "bonus" problem.

Just a word of caution: today's problem is "grand" in terms of difficulty as well as content. If you solve it, congratulations --- you might wish to reward yourself with a front row seat at the Santa Fe Opera!

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07/30/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Welcome to Checker School

Our May Checker Maven Reader's Survey demonstrated to us the popularity of our electronic republications of classic checker literature, and contained suggestions to publish more as time permits. In response to these requests, we're inaugurating a new series that we're calling Checker School. This will, over time, amount to new electronic editions of Ben Boland's classics Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers, and Familiar Themes. These are seminal works that prove as valuable today as they did when they were published over six decades ago. Now, these books contain much complex material, so a complete reissue will likely take many months if not years, but we're working at it!

Let's get started with a delicate endgame of a very practical nature. Class is in session!

N. Currie
WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

Click on Read More for the solution, a runup to the position, and additional notes and quotes from Famous Positions.

(Editor's Note: the color diagrams will return as soon as we work through our article backlog.)

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07/23/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Three Easy Strokes, Part Three

Here's the last of our "easier" stroke problems, at least in this series. Will you find this one to be a July cruiser, or something more? Solve it, check your solution by clicking Read More, and then prepare yourself --- next month's problem is going to be a summer scorcher.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
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07/16/05 -Printer friendly version-
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Two Easy Pieces: Sixth Edition

Willie Ryan's classic Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, presented here in a new electronic edition, is up to the sixth installment. Here's what Willie has to say on page 16 of the book.

EXAMPLE 11
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
'The issue is clearly drawn in Example 11. The white king on square 22 has a strangle hold on black's pieces on squares 13 and 29, but the black king on square 1 is threatening to go 1-5 next, followed in order by 5-9 and 9-14, and then releasing his impounded pieces by squeezing 14-17, thus driving the white king on square 22 from its potent position. The proposition, therefore, is for white to maintain control of square 22 by preventing the black king on square 1 from effectively advancing up to square 14. This is artistically accomplished by the "shift and stem" principle. It's easy to master these tactical "killers" with step-by-step study.
EXAMPLE 12
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win
And now we come to one of the most common of all tactical tricks--- the ever useful pinch play. As the term suggests, a pinch is a move that puts pressure on an opposing piece so that it cannot avoid capture, whereas in a "squeeze" play the threatened piece can avoid capture by moving to an adjoining square. All checker strategy is premised on force, carried out by tactical devices, and the pinch and squeeze are two of the most frequently employed weapons of the adroit tactician. Example 12 is a sparkling illustration of a delayed pinch, wherein white eventually forces black to lose a piece (and the game) by a perfectly timed pincer.'

You can check your solutions by clicking on Read More.

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07/09/05 -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.


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The Unknown Derek Oldbury

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