Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Discussion and analysis about certain positions.

Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby B Salot on Sun Nov 08, 2009 5:13 pm

I love checker problems.

I have some questions and comments on those that have been appearing on the ACF home page since 2004. I appreciate them all. They are very good. Most of them are not just very good; they are great.

Is this the best place to raise questions and make comments about them?

The flavor of the problems selected for the ACF home page has changed over the years. Were they selected by different persons?

Who is selecting them now?

What are the selection criteria?

Most, if not all of them, have been published, but the publications were seldom identified. Why not?

Most of them were credited to persons now deceased. Is problem composing no longer encouraged among the living?

I am not criticizing; just inquiring as to the state of the art. I have been away from it for a while.

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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby Jason Solan on Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:45 pm

Actually Josh a couple people at the Ohio tournament mentioned that they were glad the problems were being updated again. I too am thankful for the work you do, it's nice to see the problem change with consistency again. A lot of time the people that visit this site are not vocal on the study of checkers (problems,games,analsys,etc), but I know a lot of people look at it.

I believe Archie Marcotte was the first person to post problems for the site, but I'm not 100% positive. I know Archie was doing it when I took over the site, but I can't speak for when Lisle or Clint had the site. I believe it was originally called "Archie's Problem of the Week".
Alex Moiseyev took over for a while doing problems, under the guise of of "Mr. Checkerist". Recently Josh has volunteered to take over the problems (now called "Jolt Checker Problems") and has done a very good job of finding good problems on a regular basis.
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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby william on Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:38 pm

Hey Josh!!!!

Don't fool yourself! I am convinced that there are more people out there who await new publications from you. I am always peeking to see if there has been a new post from you or not on ACF site. Keep up the good work , and don't forget ... it's a bit like everything , the old time tried stuff is the stuff which pleases most.
Keep it up

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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby Alex_Moiseyev on Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:30 pm

I agree with William - if i don't look for solutions, it doesn't mean I don't look at problem :lol: The most important thing in such publications is regularity. But I also should say that I am completely satisfy with your choice and quality of problems you selected, even though they represent sometimes different type of problems I am in favor.
I am playing checkers, not chess.
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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby tommyc on Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:35 pm

AGHH...........Like any good house-wife/husband will tell you its only noticed if you DONT do it!!!!
Always read "Cannings Compilation 2nd Edition" every day.
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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby B Salot on Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:22 pm

Wow! I see there have been 95 views of forum messages stemming from my questions. That is more than just you and me, Josh.

I'll bet there are even more views of each problem that you post on the home page. I hope more viewers will let you know what they think of your selections.

Josh, you frequently mentioned your school. Are you a student or teacher? If a student, I strongly recommend that you keep your academic studies ahead of your checker activities until you graduate. Don't try to emulate Tinsley, who played one or more major matches or tourneys in every year but one (1953) during all the time he was in college from freshman through PhD level.

You asked if I had a problem to share. Yes, I have many. They cover many types, from many sources, over many years, with many associated stories, although I may have to dig for some of my favorites. I have conversed, corresponded, or corroborated with many great problemists in bygone days. If you want help keeping the home page problems going, I would be honored to offer whatever I can.

William Docherty is probably right when he says the old time tried stuff pleases most. But Alex Moiseyev says he sometimes favors a different type of problem. In the past, I asked many people what they would like to see most in a checker problem. Some had no preference. Others provided suggestions. Now I would like to ask current viewers the same question. Everyone, what are the attributes of a superior problem, in your opinion?

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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby B Salot on Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:30 pm

I am starting a list of the most admired attributes of great checker problems. No checker problem will ever have all of the attributes, but I expect great ones will have several.

Josh, I'll credit you with identifying the first attribute:
1 - Practicality (Josh Armstrong)

Practicality will be favored by many, including me, for the reasons you stated. The ultimate practicality would be in problems that arise in favorite lines of play. Slightly less practical would be problems that only have ideas that could arise in favorite lines of play. Then, following in decreasing order of practicality, would be problems or ideas that could arise in games that are less likely to be played; or only in unsound games. Least practical would be problems or ideas that are unlikely or impossible to be reached in games at all.

Thus practicality has to be linked to games. To find problems known to be practical, one has to study games, problems linked to games, or standard positions. That limits the choice significantly.

Take a very practical idea that arises in a game. Problem conposers cleverly try to "improve" the setting to hide the idea. Often the new setting is extremely impractical, while the original idea remains practical. Evidently, in the minds of composers, practicality of setting is not the most important attribute of checker problems. What is?

Tom Wiswell said most of his problems were from games. I asked him what he meant. He meant the ideas, not the settings.

As a child, Newell Banks solved problems set up by his father. They may not all have been practical settings, although the ideas probably were.

Dr. Tinsley is said to have studied Gould's Problem Book while sitting on a porch swing without the aid of a board. What attribute attracted him to Gould's problems?

Dr. T. J. Brown specialized in 2x2 problems, and A. C. Hews specialized in giant strokes. Their work was often not high on the practical scale, but attained some popularity based on what?

Can anyone help me fill out the list of most admired attributes of great checker problems? Thanks.
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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby B Salot on Sat Nov 14, 2009 4:35 pm

Josh,

Oh man! What a surprise! I don't have a copy of Wiswell's "The science of checkers and draughts", so I never knew about this.

The problem was first published in the "Scorpion Club" column in Elam's Checker Board, April 1962, Page 5260, where the scribes gave it a full page story. I believe a problem receives more attention when it is accompanied by comments. Wiswell and Ryan never missed an opportunity to comment on problems.

This one was originally called "Traveling Man" because the piece on 28 had to traverse a circuitous route with two detours in 8 consecutive moves. Wiswell apparently changed the name to avoid giving away the solution.

I used to look for other problems where one piece has to travel a long path, preferably narrow and around obstacles. There are probably many such problems. For example, look at the ACF cover problem dated 2007-03-22. In it, the piece on 28 must travel farther, including one sequence of more than 8 consecutive moves of the same piece.

There are probably many such "long journey" problems. ACF cover problems dated 2006-12-21 and 2007-01-25 qualify, as do various settings of Second Position, Third Position, and the Fugitive King. I am looking for more to add to the collection.

I believe these "long journey" problems are difficult to "sight solve" because you have to look so far ahead. Does all of this suggest another attribute of favored problems?

Bill Salot
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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby B Salot on Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:26 pm

The current cover problem (2009-11-14) "Clincher" encouraged me to concoct a kin to "Clincher".
Although a crumby composer, I sure can alliterate.
Show us your successful solution soon, so as to save some struggling solvers from the embarrassing stigma of surrendering to a silly sight solver.
CLINCHER KIN
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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby william on Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:25 pm

Thanks for sharing the clincher with us ,

as for the solution , to this one , the 2 for 2 works on king or man move after 14-10 etc ...

greetings

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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby B Salot on Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:34 pm

I wonder how many published problems end up with that same mandown 3-piece win.
There can't be but so many ways to get there.
I would appreciate seeing some others.
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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby B Salot on Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:14 pm

Colleagues:

I found five very old published problems that culminate in the same mandown win discussed above. Here are two of them.

CLINCHER ANCESTOR
Alonzo Brooks before 1945
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White to Move and Win

There is no need to post the solution to CLINCHER ANCESTOR (my name for it). It is easy and essentially the culmination of the current (2009-11-14) ACF home page cover problem called CLINCHER (Wiswell's name for it). I bring up CLINCHER ANCESTOR simply to demonstrate that original problem settings seldom have original finishes.

I found CLINCHER ANCESTOR in Wood's Checker Player, November 1945, Page 42, Problem C. It was part of an article on "Holding Two With One". The article reportedly had been "taken from Nathan Rubin's column in the Mercury" several years before. The article called the problem an "elemental setting", and said, "The student should readily see the solution". It likened the mandown win to "the prongs of a fork that allows no escape".

What I am leading up to is that the same article had a Problem F, which also ended with the same "fork", but was very different from those shown here so far. I'll call it "CLINCHER STROKE", which is a big hint. The article called it "Startling".

CLINCHER STROKE
Herbert Morrall before 1945
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White to Move and Win

Since Herbert Morrall played in the First International (1905), I suspect his setting is VERY old. I wish I knew when and where CLINCHER ANCESTOR and CLINCHER STROKE were first published.

Who will be the first to post the solution to CLINCHER STROKE, and save me the trouble?

I'll show you three more CLINCHER relatives later. I am saving the best for last.

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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby B Salot on Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:21 am

John,
Thanks for the quick solution to CLINCHER STROKE. I'll bet you didn't need the help of a computer.

Josh,
I sent you two e-mails with a suggested problem for the home page. Did you receive them? If not, send me an e-mail to wjsalot@comcast.net and I'll try again.

Bill Salot
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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby B Salot on Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:37 pm

Colleagues:

Continuing the series of checker problems that culminate in the same mandown win, here is another. It appeared as Problem E in the same article where CLINCHER STROKE and CLINCHER ANCESTOR were found. The article credited it to "an unknown composer". Countless problems have been published under that nom de plume. There are so many that I suspect "Unknown" was the most prolific composer of all time.

So I will call this one CLINCHER UNKNOWN. It looks as if it could arise in a game. The article said that it "utilized what might be called an approach-forcing system", which, to me, means "delayed action!" That is the only hint that I will give you.

CLINCHER UNKNOWN
by "Unknown" before 1945
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White to Move and Win

Be first to post the solution, and I'll show you another difficult setting with the same finish. I have only two more. You should not need a computer to solve any of them.

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Re: Questions on ACF Home Page Checker Problems

Postby tommyc on Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:52 pm

Think ive seen that 1 b4 Bill nice one.........20-16 8-12 (forced as k2522 1612 wins a man for white) 32-27 12x19 2723xx etc end ing with the white KIng having the move on the single and the Red King in the single corner ww.
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