Australians Bob and Norma Meadley come from the very small town of Narromine in New South Wales, where Bob pursues his hobby of draughts (checkers) and Norma volunteers at the local library. "Narromine" doesn't refer to a "narrow mine," as you might think, but instead is derived from a word in a native Australian language which means "honey people."
The Meadleys have sent us a most unusual book, you might say a honey of a book, with permission to distribute it gratis to the checker community. It's a book they've worked on for quite a long while, pulling together a rambling, eclectic combination of materials ranging from articles on the history of checkers (draughts) to rare newspaper clippings and photos and documentation of James "The Herd Laddie" Wyllie's visit to Australia and New Zealand.
Mr. Meadley sent me the following fascinating notes about the book's cover (shown above):
"Now a little bit of history about that old board. When I was in my mid 20s I went over to the grand old man of Australian Chess Problems and he was only 3 years away from dying in 1968. He gave me the board which consists of timber strips held together by canvas cloth. It dates to the late 19th century from when he was a young man (born 1880) and played chess in rural NSW. The patina is untouched but I did have to reglue some new canvas on one rotted part. The three boxes of draughts men (left; all black and white) are 'Dreadnaught Products'; 'The National Games Draught Men' (right); an unnamed set on a fine board just called 'Draughts'(middle); and finally 'Marquis Plastic Moulded Draughtsmen' (2nd row left). The scattered red and black men are mine from my teenage years where we played in the railway workshops."
The book is lovingly assembled and runs to more than 300 pages. It will provide hours of checker entertainment and amazing insights and information. You can get it here.
Of course no Checker Maven column is complete without a checker problem, and so we've selected this one from the book.
You'll find this on page 143 of the book, but alas, without solution. Is this a "honey" of a problem? See what you think by trying to solve it, but it's a sweet thing to realize that clicking on Read More will show you the winning way.
The problem is quite nice and turns out to be fairly easy.
15-18---A 26-22---B 17x26 30x14 4-8 19-16---C 11-15 16-12 8-11 14-9 11-16 9-6 16-19 6-2 19x28 27-23 28-32 2-7 32-27 7-10 27x18 10x19 to a draw.
A---Either this or lose a man at once.
B---But White wins a man with a 2-for-1 anyhow. Now what can Black do?
C---Alternatively 14-9 8-12 9-5 11-16 19-15 16-19 to a draw.
Many thanks to Bob and Norma for sending us their unusual and entertaining book!