The Checker Maven

A Good Coach


Our Checker School series has featured several problems and excerpts from Andrew J. Banks' quirky but fascinating book Checker Board Strategy, published back in 1945. Mr. Banks came up with a set of characters, such as Farmer Sneed and Skittle, whom he utilized in short sketches to illustrate various principles related to learning the game of checkers.

Here's a short sketch Mr. Banks entitled A Good Coach.

A Good Coach

Said Aristotle, "The one exclusive sign of a thorough knowledge is the power of teaching." The popular Internationalist, has this power. He usually preferred to demonstrate problems, rather than games. In studying a game is not the student tempted to merely guess at the reasons for the moves? However, in solving a problem, he must think accurately. The Internationalist, without using a board, often solved all the problems in an issue of Wood's Checker Player. With amazing speed, he solved gems that players set up for him; he has mastered over 25,000 problems. Moreover, his teaching ability equaled his great skill.

His method was to tactfully indicate where and why Skittle had failed to solve a problem. Skittle's second attempt consequently was superior to the first; whereupon the Internationalist warmly congratulated him; and this made Skittle energetically try to solve more problems. Encouragement does not make a pupil wiser, but it does enable him to endure correction. Said Mr. Johnson, "The applause of a single human being is of great consequence."

What Skittle learned served him well; he felt that his play was his own---not his teacher's. He received excellent advice and theories, but no set rules. There are no formulas in checker playing---each player must develop his own style. He should remember that study and copy are two different things.

Skittle developed the feel of the game, an observing eye, and new exciting ideas. How did he learn so rapidly? He made mistakes, corrected them; made more, corrected THEM; and repeated this process over and over. Great things are performed not by strength but by perseverence.

In the story, Mr. Banks refers to the "Internationalist." There are several players who were called that. We're not sure who he means. We think it might be Harry Moulding, but we don't know for sure. Can any of our readers shed some light on this?

In any event, here's the problem Mr. Banks provided to go with his little tale.

H. Tonkin
Black to Play and Win


Depending on your skill level, you might need a little coaching on this one. It's quite clever and pleasing. See how you do and then coach your mouse over to Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif


9-14 18x9 11-15 20x11 10-14 9x18 15x31 27-24 31-27 Black Wins.

Mr. Banks claims that if you solved this one, you are in the expert class. Well, maybe. It's an excellent problem and certainly not an easy one, but we wonder if it really reaches the expert level. What do you think? What do you think about Mr. Banks' theory of coaching? We'd love to hear from you at

08/13/22 - Category: Books -Printer friendly version-
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