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 #67

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Chases: Problem Contest 66


The chase is on! The traditional fox hunt, now very much out of favor and considered cruel, has for the most part become illegal, and although especially in England it's a centuries-old amusement for the wealthy, perhaps indeed its time has passed.

But in our game of checkers, the chase is alive and well, and forms the theme of the 66th in Bill Salot's long and outstanding series of checker problem composing contests.

Mr. Salot states that, as in the preceding contest, these original, unpublished, strategic dandies are non-strokes, although a shot may ring out occasionally during a wild "chase." Four new problems await you on the contest page. Be sure to try them all and then don't forget to vote for your favorite.

Here's a teaser problem showing off the contest theme. It's by the late grandmaster composer Ed Atkinson, and it's typical of his genius.

Chasing Foxes
Ed Atkinson
White to Play and Win


Chase after the solution, but there's no need to hunt down the results, as you can just click on Read More to see how it's done. Then, on to the contest page!20050904-symbol.gif

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01/14/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Starting Off The Year


We're already almost a full week into the new year 2023 at the time of publication of this column. By now surely you're back to work, school, or whatever your regular activities may be. You've had time to recover from any potential excesses of holiday celebration, and we're in that post-holiday letdown period.

So perhaps an easy checker problem will cheer you a bit and get you on your way to another year of checker enjoyment. Here's one from regular contributors Lloyd and "Gosh Josh" Gordon.

White to Play and Draw


The draw is straightforward but ... well, you'll find out. See how you do with this one and then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/07/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Marvin's New Year's Eve

Marvin and Priscilla

It was an opportunity that only came along a couple of times a year. Marvin J. Mavin, superstar Captain of the Detroit Doublejumpers in the National Checker League, and Priscilla Snelson, CEO of megacorp Rust Belt Holdings, had time off together.

The National Checker League went on a 10-day hiatus during the holiday season, and Marvin was free from team commitments. Priscilla, who seldom took time away from her work, decided to take a week of vacation. As Marvin's finacee, she wanted them to have some precious time together.


Detroit in December doesn't have the best weather, and so they decided to visit Hawai`i. They spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together, staying at the very upscale Hale Ali`i Hotel, enjoying great food, views of the ocean, relaxing spa visits, and sunning on the beach.


But they decided that New Year's Eve should be special. They really hadn't done a lot to celebrate their engagement, even though it had taken place several months ago, and that would be the night. They booked the deluxe option of the famed Crown of Honolulu New Year's Eve dinner cruise, which included champagne, a gourmet filet mignon and lobster dinner, stellar live entertainment, drinks, and beautiful views of the O`ahu shoreline and the midnight fireworks display over Waikiki. It was expensive--- Marvin was heard to remark "How many hundred bucks a ticket did you say?"--- especially as Priscilla also booked a private limo from the hotel to the pier and back.


New Year's Eve came along, and at 9 PM the limo picked up Priscilla and Marvin in front of their hotel. After a smooth and luxurious ride they arrived at the pier just in time for the dockside entertainment put on by a traditional hula halau. Then they boarded the ship and rode the elevator up to the open-air top deck.


Quite a few people were doing just the same. The cruise would, as always, be sold out. Canapes and drinks were immediately availble. Priscilla had a Blue Hawai`i while Marvin tried a local craft beer. Everyone on board seemed content.


At 10 PM sharp the ship left the dock and sailed out into the calm waters of the Pacific Ocean. Dinner was served at once. There were seats assigned; Priscilla and Marvin were seated at a table with couples from Texas, California, Vermont, and even London. The service was impeccable and the cuisine outstanding. A live band played soft jazz during the dinner, which finished with a traditional haupia pudding and Kona coffee.

Dinner ended a little after 11, and the shipboard guests would now have time to take in the views, perhaps enjoy another drink, and prepare for the coming of the New Year.


Priscilla and Marvin were feeling the magic of the evening. The warm and gentle Trade Winds swept the deck, and they strolled about hand in hand, looking out at the dark ocean and the lights of O`ahu beyond. In the distance they could see the island of Moloka`i. Everything was perfect.

Priscilla looked into Marvin's eyes, and Marvin gazed back, and there was an understanding between them. Quietly, they descended a nearby ladder to the deck below, which seemed quite deserted, and where they could be alone together.


Marvin put his arms around Priscilla's slim waist, and she put her arms around Marvin's neck. Slowly they drew together, their lips approaching, feeling the warmth of each other's breath ...

"Hey, Marvin, is that really you?" a loud voice rang out.

The moment lost, Priscilla and Marvin instantly drew apart. "What the ... " Marvin began but the voice, clearly fueled by perhaps one too many Mai Tais, continued.


"I knew it was you, just knew it!" A figure approached. It was a slightly balding middle-aged haole, a bit on the rotund side, dressed in a very loud and tasteless tourist-style aloha shirt. He was holding a drink in his left hand and reaching out with his right. "Shake," he said, "I'm Ralph Bostich, I play on the Mililani Mills."

Marvin looked at the proferred hand and didn't take it. "The what?" he said.


Ralph's hand dropped to his side. "You know, Mililani, it's a town in central O`ahu," he said. "Surprised you ain't familiar with the Mills, we're a Short Season A-League team, and we ain't bad at all. No siree, ain't bad at all." He took a sip of his drink. "Anyhoo, whatcha doin' here?" he asked.

It was Priscilla who replied. "We're here for New Year's Eve, what else?" she said, her tone not exactly friendly.

"Well, yeah, I'spose," said Ralph. "But hey, lookee see, Marv, since I met ya and all of that, how's about you take a look at this here little beauty I composed the other day." Ralph fished in his trouser pocket and drew out a scrap of paper. "Here," he said, offering it to Marvin.

Black to Play and Win


Marvin reached over and took it, and gave it a brief glance. "Real nice, Ralphy-boy, real nice. Says right here, J. Hay. Gee, thought your name was Ralph, you musta made a mistake or something, huh?"

"Ah well, you know, I uh ... lemme explain ... "

"Whatever, Ralphy, whatever. But you know, we're sorta here on vacation, okay, and we were having a little ... like ... private moment. So how's about you buzz on up back that there ladder and refill your drink. Maybe that'll help you figure out if you're Ralph or J. Hay. And you don't want to be holding an empty drink at midnight, do ya?"

"Uh, yeah, but ... well ... my little checker problem?"


"Oh, that," Marvin said, holding the paper up above his head. "Yeah ... oh ... oops! Too bad about your little checker problem." Marvin had released the paper and the breeze swept it out over the rail where it slowly tumbled down into the ocean. "Sorry 'bout that," Marvin added, "but like I said, we're on vacation, and you're not exactly honest neither. Happy New Year, pal!"

"You ain't ... you ain't very nice," Ralph snapped, but the slur in his voice made it sound weak. Priscilla and Marvin watched him slowly and haltingly make his way up to the top deck.

Marvin looked at his watch. "We still got 20 minutes, hon," he said.

Priscilla smiled, and put her arms back around Marvin's neck.


Well, it seems that Ralph was trying to claim credit for something that wasn't his. Of course, the problem is a nice one, and although Marvin was a bit preoccupied with, ahem, other things, you might wish to give it a try yourself. See how you do and then click on Read More to see the solution.null

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Website Update Complete


The Checker Maven and Bob Newell websites have just undergone major internal updates to ensure the long-term viability of our sites.

There will undoubtedly be some glitches and problems. Please let us know if you come across anything that doesn't work or look right.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.20050904-symbol.gif

12/25/22 -Printer friendly version-
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A Holiday Gift


Editor's Note: At 2,500 words this is a rather long story for a single weekly column. If you don't wish to read it, just skip down to the checker problem towards the end.


Danny shuffled down the street, kicking a stone ahead of him along the sidewalk. It was just an idle kind of thing and he liked to do it, who knows why, but he better not let Dad catch him. Dad said it wore out the shoes too quick and if Danny ever did it again he'd get a right proper licking. Dad said there wasn't money to buy new shoes, on account of him being out of work because of the Depression.

So Danny stopped kicking the stone, and, hands in his pockets, in a half slouch, he continued on his way home. When he turned fourteen last month, Dad made him quit school and go look for a job, except there wasn't much in the way of jobs for a fourteen year old with no experience and not much education.

Brody's Sandwich Shop

Danny had finally found work at Brody's Sandwiches. Old Mr. Brody was nice enough, letting Danny take a couple of leftover sandwiches home with him every night, and paying him twenty cents an hour. That was a good wage for a kid, but he had to give it all to his parents to help buy food. Dad couldn't get much work as a day laborer, and Mom didn't have many people anymore who could pay her to wash their clothes.

It was ten hours a day Monday through Friday and eight on Saturday. It was a lot for a fourteen year old and one thing Mr. Brody wouldn't put up with was you missing work. That didn't leave much time for Danny's greatest love, checkers.


Danny would read the checker columns in the day old newspapers that the better-off people threw away after they were done reading them. Danny couldn't afford a checker set, so he made one up out of bottle caps and a scrap of tarpaper he found in an alley, scratching lines with a penknife to make the squares.


Every time on the way to and from Mr. Brody's shop, he'd stop for a moment and look longingly in the big display window at Bamberger's Department Store, where among all the fancy Christmas displays they showed this really fine checker set, with those red and yellow Catalin pieces and a real board. Sure, the board was made of pressed cardboard, but still, it was a real one. Danny dreamed of buying the set, but it cost a whopping $3.95. That was twenty hours of his pay, and anyhow he didn't have any kind of allowance. Especially now it was winter when the family needed to heat the apartment at least some on the colder days, and what money didn't go for food went for coal. Danny didn't even mention a $3.95 checker set at home; that would get him a scolding for sure, or worse.

If there would be any Christmas presents, it would be hand-me-down clothes from his older brother, Nate, who was sixteen. Nate worked for a furniture store, helping with deliveries, but there wasn't work for him every day, either. It seemed like the world was on Danny's shoulders. Brody's Sandwich Shop did a steady business and Danny always had work. People had to eat and Mr. Brody didn't overcharge for his sandwiches.


Finally it came around to Christmas Eve. The shop was closing at five and of course wouldn't be open on Christmas. It was a really busy day, and Danny made dozens of deliveries, mostly to folks who had some money and wanted a bag or two of sandwiches for Christmas Eve celebrations.

It started to get pretty cold outside as the afternoon wore on. Danny was on his last round of deliveries and was anxious to get back to the shop and call it a day. He was really looking forward to a holiday, even though he would be a day short next time he got his pay.


His last delivery was at Mrs. O'Rourke's place. She ordered from Mr. Brody pretty often and seemed to be well enough off. Her husband was a policeman and had steady work at a good wage. But she was always grumpy and Danny didn't like going there. He hoped she would be in a good mood today.

Mrs. O'Rourke lived on the 3rd floor in a big apartment building. There was an elevator but Danny took the stairs after getting scolded by the superintendant, who didn't want his tenants to have to ride in the elevator with "a dirty faced little delivery boy." Danny couldn't figure it. He never had a dirty face. Mr. Brody wouldn't allow it. "My workers have to be clean inside and out," he would always say.

He went around to the back of Mrs. O'Rourke's building and went in by the trade entrance. That was another thing the super had told him he had to do. He went up the back stairwell, taking the steps two at a time, and then pushed open the door to the third floor. Mrs. O'Rourke was in number eight at the other end of the hallway.


No sooner had he knocked on the door when it opened to reveal the substantial figure of Mrs. O'Rourke standing with hands on hips and a scowl on her face. She was an imposing sight and Danny was scared before she even spoke a word. But speak she did.

"It's about time you came! It's been half an hour since I placed my order! Where have you been, young man? In a back alley smoking, I suppose! Up to no good! Cheating Mr. Brody out of his wages?"

Danny opened his mouth but didn't know what to say. In any event, Mrs. O'Rourke went on, "Well, give me my sandwiches before they get even older and less fresh! What are you waiting for?"

Danny quickly passed over the last bag in his possession. Mrs. O'Rourke snatched it away roughly. Danny was again about to speak when Mrs. O'Rourke handed him three one dollar bills and slammed the door.

"But ... but ... " Danny sputtered to the shut door. "Eight sandwiches comes to two dollars ... "

Danny knocked on the door again, but there was no answer. What to do? He started down the hallway and then stopped in front of the stairway. "I know what I'll do," he said to himself, and hurried back to Mrs. O'Rourke's apartment.


He didn't dare knock on the door again for fear of a scolding worse than the last one. So, as he had planned, he slipped the extra dollar under the door. The crack at the bottom was just large enough for Danny to push the dollar bill all the way through.

Then Danny got out of there as fast as he could.

It was about ten to five when Danny got back to the shop. By then it was fully dark outside.

Mr. Brody

"Ah, Danny, there you are," Mr. Brody said, an odd look on his face, gazing directly at Danny. Now, Danny had seen that look before and it always meant that Mr. Brody had something pretty important on his mind. "Step back into the office, please, I need to talk to you."

Danny's heart skipped a beat and he felt his pulse start to pound in his head. Was he going to get fired? He couldn't. He needed this job. What would he tell his parents? What would his Dad do? Danny started to shiver.

"Come on, son," Mr. Brody said, "I want to close the shop soon."

Without waiting, Mr. Brody went through the door in back of the service counter that led to the tiny kitchen where the sandwiches were made. Just in back of that was an equally tiny and very cluttered office.

Danny followed, willing his legs to move, the ceiling swimming above his head, feeling as if he were going to black out. The kitchen was deserted. The sandwich makers, Manny and Irving, had already gone home.


Mr. Brody's office just had a filing cabinet, a desk, two chairs, and a telephone. Mr. Brody took the seat behind his desk and motioned to Danny to sit in the remaining chair, a rickety old straight-back on the front side of the desk.

Danny sat down, keeping to the front edge of the chair. He couldn't get his body to move any farther back.

"Mrs. O'Rourke called me," Mr. Brody said in a matter-of-fact tone. "Twice, in fact. I got off the phone with her just a few minutes before you came in."

Danny's mouth opened wide and he couldn't help starting to stutter. "M.. M.. Mrs. O'Rourke called?" he barely managed to say.


"Yes, Danny, she did. She told me she had accidentally given you an extra dollar and that you ran off with it as quick as could be. She said that you are a dishonest boy and that if I didn't fire you and have the police take you in, she'd spread the word that Brody's Sandwiches hired crooked delivery boys. Do you know what that would do to my business?"

Danny couldn't muster an answer, and Mr. Brody went on, "It would be very harmful, Danny. People don't care much for Jewish merchants, and they care a lot less for ones that aren't honest. You have no idea what it's like."

"S ... so ... am I going to jail?" Danny manfully managed another full sentence, but he was more frightened than ever.


"Well, Danny, I haven't quite finished my story. I told you Mrs. O'Rourke called twice. The second time, she told me she found the dollar bill slipped under her door, and that you didn't steal it after all. She did say I should scold you for not counting the money in front of her, but I'll bet as soon as she paid you, she closed the door on you. Am I right?"

"Y ... yes sir, she did. Closed it kinda hard, too, 'cause she was mad on account of it took half an hour to get her sandwiches. When I saw there was a dollar over, I knocked on her door but she didn't answer, so's the only thing I coulda done was put the dollar under the door."

"I'm not surprised. I've delivered to her myself a few times, and she isn't really very nice. But, Danny, I think what really counts here is that you were honest and you did the right thing."

"Then I ain't fired and I ain't going to jail neither?"

"No, not at all. In fact, I have a Christmas bonus for you. I was going to put an extra two dollars in your pay but now I'll make it three dollars. What do you think about that?"

"Three dollars! Gee whiz, Mr. Brody, that's a lot of money!"

"You deserve it. And there's another thing. I need your help with something."

Wouldn't you know it, Mr. Brody had put a copy of The American Checker Player magazine down on his desk.

"Mr. Brody, I didn't know you cared about checkers," said Danny.

"Oh, I really enjoy a good game," Mr. Brody replied, "and some days after I close the shop, if business was good I go over to Benny's Bar for nickel beers and a few games with the gang over there. Benny runs a bar where Jewish people are welcome. But I know you're fond of checkers too, seeing the way you save those scraps of newspaper with the checker columns on them. So here, what about this little problem in this week's magazine. Maybe you can help me solve it.

Black to Play and Win


Danny took a look. "Golly Mr. Brody, it seems kinda like really hard. But maybe ... lemme see ... oh, yeah, sure ... now look, Mr. Brody ... "

Although life always brings its trials, we hope that your holidays will be filled with nothing but the joys of the season, no matter what holiday you do, or don't, celebrate. Perhaps the checker problem above will give you some extra enjoyment. Match wits with Danny and see if you can solve it, then click on Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/24/22 -Printer friendly version-
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Beacon Cafe: Holiday Travels


It was December 17, 1955, the Saturday before Christmas weekend, and in Bismarck, North Dakota, the Coffee and Cake Checker Club was about to have its final get-together before the holiday break. The club, informally led by Sal Westerman, met every Saturday at 1 PM from just after Labor Day to just before Memorial Day, only taking a break over Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas through New Year's Day, and Easter weekend. Their venue was the Beacon Cafe in the Provident Life Building, where proprietress Deana Nagel baked up the best treats anyone could ever ask for.

Sal Westerman

It was just after one and Sal was sitting in the big booth in the back with the "boys" (all but one of whom were over 50). There were Dan, Sam, Wayne, Louie the Flash, who all showed up nearly every weekend, and also Tom, Ron, Kevin the Spooler, Delmer, seldom-seen Frank, and even young Blaine. It was a great turnout and they spilled over into an adjacent booth.


All the preliminary chit-chat was about the coming holidays. A number of the boys would be going back home to the farm to visit with family. Young Blaine would be going to see his parents up in Minot. Louie the Flash was going all the way to Minneapolis to see an old girlfriend of his. But it was Sal who was taking the longest trip of all.

Yes, Sal, at age 73, would be going with his wife Sylvia to Washington D.C. to visit their daughter Joyce.

Joyce Westerman

"You're not going by airplane?" Frank asked. "Those airplanes get you there fast nowadays. You can get to D.C. the same day, if you leave early enough. Well, almost the same day. I think you get in at two in the morning or something. One of our Senators does that sometimes."


"No airplanes for me," Sal said. "I like my feet on the ground, thank you. We're going by train. Taking the Empire Builder to Chicago and another train to D.C. from there."

"Gee, Sal, how long will that take?" Louie the Flash asked.

"About three days all together. Two nights on the train. We paid for sleeping compartments so it will be a nice relaxing trip."

"And three days back again? That's six days!" Louie continued.

"Yes, but I'll be back just in time for our next meeting on January 7. Couldn't miss that, you know. We leave tomorrow so there will be plenty of time for a nice visit."

"You going to all those museums?" Ron asked.


"We sure are, and we won't miss a tour of the White House, either. Joyce is taking two weeks off of work and she'll show us around." Joyce was a lawyer at Dark, Darker, and Darkest, a prominient Washington law firm. She worked long and hard and had plenty of vacation time stored up.

"Going to do any checkers?" Frank inquired.

"Sure am. There's the "Day After Christmas" tournament and I'll be playing. Did I show you boys the flyer? It has a neat problem in it and I was going to see if you could solve it today."


Deana, who always picked her moment carefully, said in a loud voice from behind her counter, "Cinnamon fruit bars today! A real holiday treat!"

The boys all smiled. "Well, Sal, let's see it!" Dan said.

Sal pulled a colorful flyer from his pocket. "Here it is, then," he said, and set it up on a checkerboard on each of the two tables. "See how you do! How about --- say --- an hour?"

The boys nodded their heads. Deana came over with the coffee pot to give everyone refills while the boys started to discuss the following position.

White to Play and Draw


"Should be easy, right?" Sal said. "After all, only three per side!"

"Easy, sure, that's what you always say," groused Wayne, but everyone was already focused on the checkerboards, deep in thought.

We don't know what you'll be doing for the holidays. If you're in North America, train travel isn't what it used to be, and air travel surely isn't a lot of fun any longer. If you're in Europe, the trains are certainly a good option. But whether you plan to travel near or far, or stay at home, we hope you'll match wits with the boys at the Beacon and see if you can solve today's problem. When you're ready, travel your mouse over to Read More to see the solution and the rest of the story.20050904-symbol.gif

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It's A Trap


There are all sorts of traps in life. You can get trapped into smoking (that's apparently what the photo above is all about, although it's hardly obvious). You can get trapped in a dead-end job. You can get trapped in a bad relationship or social situation.

As we well know, there are traps in checkers, too. Can you get trapped into becoming a checkers addict, if there is such a thing? Maybe. That's beyond our realm of knowledge. But over the board traps? They're legion.

In today's Checker School column, we'll have a look at what John T. Denvir, an older-day checker writer who is either famous or infamous depending on the account you read, calls Trap No. 36 in his book, John T. Denvir's Traps and Shots, published in 1894.

Black to Play and Win


This is quite an interesting one and we hope you'll give it a good try. Will you be trapped into spending a lot of time looking for the solution? We can't really say; all we know for sure is that clicking on Read More will take you to the solution, and not lead you into a trap.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/10/22 -Printer friendly version-
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American Checker Federation Election


The American Checker Federation (ACF) is having its most important election in decades, as its long-time president, Alan Millhone, has decided to retire from the post. Mr. Millhone has been a major figure in the Anglo-American version of the game, both in America and abroad, but now a successor will be elected.

The candidates are Kim Willis and Victor Habgood. The Checker Maven sent both candidates interview questions, and they are presented here in the order received.

If you are an ACF member, be sure to vote. If you're not a member, consider joining to promote organized checkers in the United States and beyond.

Victor Habgood

Tell us something about yourself.

41 years old, grew up in Oklahoma. Now I live in Brazil, IN. Started playing checkers competitively at 15 and began tournaments at 16. I am a retired Naval Officer that served over 7 deployments and was promoted 8 times in my career. I have two kids (14 and 12). I love church and being a part of a community that is making a difference in people's lives every day.

Tell us about your interest in checkers.

I love playing competitively online and in tournaments. I have been working on artificial intelligence approaches to the game for about 6 years now. I haven't had anything huge come from it yet, but I have some really cool ideas.

What qualifies you to be ACF President?

Leadership from the military and from being a business owner. I also am one of those that has been somewhat pushed to the side, as many
other members feel.

What's your vision for the future of the ACF?

I think it is bright! There are still lots of people within the ACF that are motivated to make a difference. These efforts are just lacking in direction and coordination. I think we need to master the online world. Everything from marketing, videos, website, tournaments, and more. We have to build a solid foundation of people who are going to move the needle. We need to organize them and then take that to make concrete action plans. Also, we need to be transparent to our members and potential members about what we are doing and why. We want to attract as many as possible.

Anything you wish to add?

I don't have anything personal against Alan or Kim. I think Alan did the best he could and that wasn't always easy. I would rather focus on the future and making checkers fun again! Imagine jumping online over a weekend and playing in digital tournaments with real money (fairly regulated) with hundreds of players from all over. Those types of things are really possible and will happen if I am lucky enough to be elected. I feel that I represent a large variety of people and represent our best chance at taking the ACF to the highest levels possible. I pray for everyone that this game brings peace and joy that it was meant to to all of you!

Mr. Habgood, thank you for your responses.

Kim Willis

Tell us something about yourself.

I am from the small town of Barnett Missouri. I was born in 1957 and was a very shy child.

Tell us about your interest in checkers.

I remember when I was still little we would go and visit my papa and granny. Being the first born I was always running around with my papa. I was always going with papa no matter wherever he went. He would take me with him and the one place he would take me was the local barber shop. I never knew why, because papa never needed a haircut, as he was almost bald. But he would go anyway.

One day as we were going to the barbershop i asked him why he went there and he said because he liked the conversations and the checker games. I just giggled. I would sit on his lap and watch while I had a soda pop or a sucker. I would watch him win game after game. i really hated when we had to go home. But I knew I would get to come back during the summer and stay for a week or two.

One time I got to stay two weeks with papa and be his sidekick. As he did for years, he would feed the animals, get all his chores done and then say, come on Kimmy let's go. We'd jump in the old truck and off we would go to the barbershop, and there would be these farmers sitting in the barbershop waiting to play checkers.

It happened one day a little boy came in the barbershop with his papa, saw the old farmers playing checkers, and wanted to play a game. So papa said to me, okay Kimmy, you want to play? I said yes and then I got to play this little boy. But my papa said you's better win or you're walking home! I lost. My papa then said, you better get walking. I cried and went out the door to start walking home. But papa wasn't really going to make me walk. He told me to get in the truck and we headed home.

Papa then asked me if I liked playing. I said yes, but I hated losing. I wanted to win. That was the first lesson papa taught me. If you lose you need to get back up and try again, for the game of checkers has many lessons to teach, so never give up.

That was a time I will never forget. It has been a part of my life. When my papa passed away, checkers became just a memory.

I grew up, got married, had children and raised them, and life went by without checkers until in the late 80s. This was the time of the internet and computers, and I started going online. I discovered Vinco Online Games and I re-entered the world of checkers. I would go into the checker room everyday and watch players play. I later became a system operator or monitor.

I met a lot of checker players and found many went to checker tournaments. Then I met Ron Suki King and he would ask me to play. Of course he just stomped me. Then he said he would teach me.

I was hooked. I remember him teaching me simple things. But then he said I should go to the Nationals in Niagra Falls. So I went. I never won a game, and I found I was the only woman there. Many told me to go home as this was a man's game and I had no place there.

That's when I made my mind up to learn more about the game, as it had re-opened my childhood memories. I have since attended many tournaments.

What qualifies you to be ACF President?

I am running for this position because I believe we all have a mission and mine is to be an advocate for this game, and to be there for every person, no matter what age, no matter where you're from or the color of your skin.

What's your vision for the future of the ACF?

When i came into the ACF there were many members, but now our numbers are declining, and we need to get busy. We must talk, invite others, and help those who are teaching. I want to be take the lead, to be the voice, to be there if needed, to give information, as I do now as Players' Representative. And it's not just for master players. It's for every player, all over the world. We need to connect and join together to keep the game of checkers alive.

We also need more referees for tournaments. We need to have regular Zoom meetings with District Managers. We need open communication channels to help to get more members. For those who are teaching our game we help them to expand, increase, and spread their knowledge.

We must work on youth participation. We have a few that are teaching the youth, but I want us to get together and work on the problem of getting kids into the game.

Anything you wish to add?

I want everyone to know that I will do all I can, and that I will always be there for each and every one of you.

My Platform

  1. To be there for ALL players.
  2. To help with information for those who teach our game.
  3. To be available to everyone.
  4. To promote the game.
  5. To never leave anyone behind, whether past, present, or future players; children, new adults just starting, and senior players.

Ms. Willis, thank you for your responses.

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18th Anniversary


Today The Checker Maven celebrates 18 years of weekly publication with never a missed deadline. We had planned to stop after 10 years, then 15, and now we'll go as long as we can, hoping to at least reach 20. We're getting older (and can feel it!) but so far, so good.

Of course none of this would ever happened without you, the reader, and we thank you for your loyal support over these many years. We'll do our best to continue to bring you what we (perhaps not so humbly) think ranks among the world's finest checker entertainment.20050904-symbol.gif

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999: An 18th Anniversary Special


There are various meanings and significances for the number 999. For one thing, it's the emergency phone number in Great Britain and some other places. Another UK related but much less important usage was as the name of a London punk-rock band quite some while ago.


Perhaps of greater interest is that 999 is a so-called Kaprekar number. An adapted version of the Wikipedia definition of a Kaprekar number is as follows: "A natural number in a given number base is a Kaprekar number if the representation of its square in that base can be split into two parts that add up to the original number." So, quite trivially 999 squared in base 10 is 998001, which can be split into 998 and 001, which add up to 999. Simple!


We'll omit the more fanciful descriptions of 999 as an "angel number" and instead tell you why we've chosen this title for today's column, which features a very special problem by grandmaster composer Brian Hinkle. It has nine pieces per side, or 9x9, and of those pieces, 9 are kings, hence, 9x9x9 or 999.

Here's the position.

White to Play and Draw


Brian would prefer no spoilers, so we won't say anything further, not even whether it's easy, medium, or hard (although, since it's from Brian, "easy" would surprise us). See how you do with it. Take 999 seconds, 999 minutes, or however long you wish. Try 999 different approaches. But certainly you only need to click your mouse once--- not 999 times--- on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

[Read More]
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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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Numbered Board and Notation

Book Reviews

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A Mind Sport for the Common Man

Learning Checkers

The Unknown Derek Oldbury

Rediscovering Checkers

Regulation Checker Sets

Marvin's World


Richard Pask Publications

Reisman: Checkers Made Easy

Clapham Commons Draughts Book

Grover/Wiswell: Let's Play Checkers

Bob Murray's School Presentation

Jim Loy Publications

PDN collections

Oldbury: MoveOver

Reinfeld: How to Win

Ginsberg: Principles of Strategy