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Summary

It is impossible to give complete synopsis on all of the opening formations in the limited space of a few alotted pages. However, a survey of the groups of kindred positions presented will do much to bring an understanding of the various formations in the opening. It is suggested that you devise your own means of studying these formations, and keep the results of your private analyses in a manuscript or notebook. Such a plan will aid in reviewing over lines of play, either for friendly contests or tournament play.

The Importance of Transpositions

A transposition is a position which can be reached from at least two separate orders of moves, as in this early example: (1) 10-15 22-18 15-22 25-18 6-10, (2) 9-13 22-17 13-22 25-18 6-9, forming identical positions. A knowledge of transpositions in the opening phases of a game are invaluable, but assume a role of lesser importance in the late stages of the midgame. The paramount danger is that a stronger continuation can be missed in bringing about a transposition from other openings. In the early stages of any game, this danger is minimized, and transpositional knowledge therefore assumes a role of importance in the final mastery of opening formation. The belief that transposition study is a "shortcut" is unfounded, for in order to know whether it is advisable to direct your line of play toward reaching a transposition from an entirely different opening, you must examine the moves up to that point to see whether or not a stronger continuation is to be had by either side. It follows that you must have a knowledge of other moves in the position. Hence, a knowledge of transpositions is no "shortcut." It cannot supplant other lines of play. It can at best supplement what you may already know about other moves.

Opening Strategy

Whie some openings favor white slightly, others are much stronger. The appearances of these openings are sometimes deceiving. Take for example 10-15 21-17 7-10. Black's first two moves, 10-15 followed by 7-10, are natural moves in sequence, indicating that 3-7 will be played next. Why is black's formation given as weak here, when the same formation arising from 10-15 22-17 7-10 is given as a balanced game? Remember that the strength or weakness of an opening is measured in terms of the strongest immediate reply. Analysis has proven 10-15 21-17 7-10 to be weak, since 17-14 10-17 22-13 (the strongest continuation) leads to a critical midgame, limiting black's defenses. However, from 10-15 22-17 7-10, white cannot play 17-14 with a maximum force, since 10-17 21-14 9-18 23-14 3-7 starts a counter attack on the stranded white piece, made possible by the important man on square 15. The student should endeavor to find out "why" an opening is weak, and "what" the strongest immediate reply is. Much of the information desired is to be found in modern three move text books, but this exercise will lead to a greater understanding upon completion. When you have discovered "why" an opening is considered weak, and "what" the strongest attack is, you can then and only then, understand the underlying reasons for an unusual defensive combination in the opening. I cannot emphasize this approach to understanding too strongly. This concept may be called: The Concept of Basic Analysis: The defense must be analyzed in terms of the attack. In simple terms, first comes the attack, next the defense. To understand the attack is to prepare a defense. However, it is important to note that understanding the defense when playing the attack is of a secondary importance, for in a great number of the weak three movers, the positions are so one-sided that very little understanding is essential with the strong side. To understand an opening, place yourself in the defender's position. Attempt to spot the weaknesses of your position in terms of what attacks may be played. This method may lead to a remarkably high degree of understanding in a very short while. In closing this discussion on defensive and offensive tactics, there is one more point which requires mention. Defend only with the weak side, attack only with the strong side. Do not misplay your position in the opening. If you have an advantage from the opening, it can be sustained through the midgame in almost every case. A great many players pursue an advantage for a few moves, only to throw it away with one move! It can work for you, if you "work" for it! (editor: I've omitted the rest of this chapter, which is short, and is about the midgame)

Editor's afterward

The above is a unique and classic essay on the opening, and it has influenced many checker players. Let's look at one of Chamblee's ideas: The Concept of Opening: The strength or weakness of an opening move is measured in terms of the strongest immediate reply. Now, was Chamblee talking through his hat? Everyone wore a hat, you know. Or was he perhaps saying what you already knew, in fancier language? You may have already known it, but Chamblee was saying that it is very important, probably more important than you knew. Let me continue Chamblee's example of the Octopus: 10-15 21-17 7-11 17-14 10-17 21-14, and now quite a few people play 9-14?, even though they know that the analysts have labeled this a WW. Everyone knows that 11-16 is the draw, and that Red's position will be mutilated, but Red will likely survive anyway. Well, according to Chamblee, we don't judge 9-14 by its superficial good looks either, we judge it by the future, by White's immediate response and how that has been judged by the analysts (and how you judge it after much analysis). If you do that, you will probably find that Red's position will be mutilated here, too, in a somewhat different way, and Red will not likely survive. I would say that if you are one of the people who move 9-14 here, you probably judge moves superficially by their looks, and not by how they will turn out in the future. If you want to improve, you should follow Chamblee's advice. In his telling of the history of checkers, he showed that Two Move didn't supply enough wins. Personally, I would say that Two Move didn't supply enough original games, whether they be draws or wins. I think checkers lives or dies, based upon the interesting, original games that the Masters show us, when they play. Three Move sometimes gives us a lot of draws (not so many as two move), but it still thrives because of the many original games.
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