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The Opening by Maurice Chamblee, from Checkers and the Experts (1949) edited and typed by Jim Loy

Understanding the opening is the first important step on the road to success in checkers, but oddly enough a neglected study for a majority of beginners. The reader's closest attention is therefore invited to the methods and concepts presented herein.

The Development of the Modern Style of Play: Three Move Restriction

The Go-As-You-Please Era (1838-1863) -- Although the game was popular in Great Britain prior to 1838, the first book published in English dating back to 1756 (Payne), the first period in the development of the game is generally associated with James Wyllie, sometimes called the "father of draughts." Between the ten year period ending in 1847, Wyllie played five matches with Andrew Anderson, the strongest player of his time. Wyllie lost the first four matches, and won the last, which proved him to be a much stronger player. The Herd Laddie, as he was called, did more in his time to popularize the game than any other man in the history of the game.
[Loy's comment: Wyllie lost the 1847 match]

The period between 1838 and 1863 resulted in a vast exploration of the go-as-you-please openings, such authors as Drummond and Anderson hastening the development. It was inevitable therefore that the system used would in time become inadequate for serious competition. When in 1863, James Wyllie and Robert Martins played the same game 21 times in a 40 game match, it became apparent to all that a restriction was needed to broaden the scope of playable openings and to prevent recurrence of the Wyllie vs. Martins stalemate. A new system was needed to prevent the players from adhering to the same old lines of play in important contests.

The Two Move Era (1863-1929) -- Under the Two Move Restriction, a total of 43 out of the possible 49 openings, based on black's seven opening moves and white's seven replies, were adopted for serious competitive play. Of the six openings eliminated, two were obviously losses (9-14 21-17 and 10-14 21-17), the other four openings barred openings as they are sometimes refered to, were at the time considered unplayable, i.e., 11-16 23-19; 12-16 23-19; 9-14 23-18; and 10-14 23-18. (editor: the players play two games, both sides of an opening chosen at random)

During this second period of the game's development, two international matches were played between America and Great Britain, as well as countless number of matches involving such greats of the board as James Ferrie, Richard Jordan, Robert Stewart, Charles F. Barker, Alfred Jordan, Sam Gonotsky, Newell Banks, not mentioning numerous others. This system too was in time to become inadequate. The point was soon to be reached after which Two Move Restriction would fail to produce a sufficiency of wins in tournament play. A protracted heat between Asa Long and Victor Townsend in the 5th ACA tournament (1922) resulted in a 22 game no-decision. Later in 1928, Sam Gonotsky and Mike Lieber played a 40 game match resulting in 40 draws! The final blow came in the 7th ACA tournament (1929) as a result of a protracted heat between Edwin F. Hunt and H. B. Reynolds. After this incident, the popularity of the Two Move Restriction vanished in the United States, although the English and Scottish Draughts Associations have continued to recognize two move as the tournament style of play. Three Move Restriction (1934-) -- The Modern Style of Play -- Prior to the 8th ACA tournament in 1934, a project was started to investigate the tenability of the various three move openings. A friendly series of games between Asa Long and Edwin Hunt, resulting in a tie, did much toward moving this project along. Finally, 138 three move openings were chosen upon the recommendation of a special committee, and were used for the first time in the 8th ACA tournament. Of this 138, two of the so-called barred openings were included (9-14 23-18 and 10-14 23-18), having been found as perfectly tenable openings. Since that time, only one of the 138 openings has been found unsound for practical play, the opening being 10-15 22-17 9-14. This refutation came about through the efforts of Wm. Ryan, who submitted the winning play to the rules committee at the 9th ACA tournament (1937), whereupon the opening was eliminated from the list.

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