The Checker Maven

Henderson's Shot

As we continue our regular columns taken from Willie Ryan's Tricks Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, this month we come to a situation that's a bit different. This time, Black plays a move that is good enough to draw, but only if he can find a spectacular shot--- of the checker variety, that is!

Here's Willie once again to tell us how it all takes place.

"Scotland has given birth to many of the World's great draughts players. Among them was Hugh Henderson of Muirkirk, who emigrated to America in 1910, settling down in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He won the American Championship tournaments of 1912 and 1915, and for many years edited a widely read checker column in the Pittsburgh Leader, in which he revealed an immeasurable amount of original scientific play. The Henderson Shot, which we reproduce here, is one of his best-known examples of superscientific play.

10-15 17-14 7-10
23-18 6-9 14-7
12-16 24-19---A 3-19
26-23 15-24 32-28---3
8-12 28-19 2-7---B
30-26 11-16 21-17
16-20 25-21 7-10*
21-17 1-6---2 29-25.
9-13 19-15 See the

Black to Play and Draw


A---Black has a well-known one-move knockout if white tries 23-19 here, since 13-17! wins at once---1.

B---After this move, black's only out is via the Henderson Shot. Instead of 2-7, black has an easier road to a draw by 9-14!---4, 18-9, 5-14, 22-17, 13-22, 26-1, 19-26, 31-22, 16-19, 1-5, 12-16, 5-9, 4-8, 9-14, 8-12. L. C. Ginsberg."

1---Either 19-10 17-21 24-19 (other moves are possible but also lose) 21-30 26-23 11-15 18-11 9-25 29-22 7-14 Black Wins, or else 22-6? 1-17 19-10 7-30 Black Wins---Ed.

2---2-6 is preferred by the computer, who now thinks White has a tangible, though certainly not decisive, edge.---Ed.

3---Instead, 18-15 looks quite strong for White. The text move allows Black to get back in the game on the next move---Ed.

4---The computer finds that 4-8, among others, also draw. Of course, some draws are much easier to find over the board than others---Ed.

Black has made life difficult for himself. Can you help him out by finding the shot that leads to a draw? The play is not easy, but it can be done. Take a "shot" at it and then aim your mouse at Read More to see Willie's solution.


"Continue: 10-15*!, 18-11, 20-24!, 27-20, 4-8!, 11-4, 6-10, 20-11, 9-14, 23-16, 14-30, 11-7, 12-19, 7-2 (26-23, 19-26, 7-3, 10-15 etc., ends in a draw), 30-23, 4-8, 10-14, 8-11, 23-26*, 22-18, 14-23, 31-22, 23-26, 11-15, 19-23, 15-18, 26-30, 18-27, 30-26, 22-18, 26-23; a draw. Hugh Henderson."

Certainly a spectacular and hard-earned draw for Black, who, if he had only listened to Willie at Note B above, would have had a much easier day. The advice of the great masters is well worth following!

Additional computer analysis for this column was done with Ed Gilbert's King's Row engine, with his 10-piece endgame database, running on Martin Fierz's Checkerboard.

10/18/08 - Category: Books -Printer friendly version-
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