Front Page J B Hanson-Problem Gem 2009-12-17

Discussion and analysis about certain positions.

Front Page J B Hanson-Problem Gem 2009-12-17

Postby B Salot on Fri Dec 25, 2009 8:14 pm

What do you think of the Hanson Gem that was on the front page for a week beginning 2009-12-17?

Willie Ryan said, in his "Scientific Checkers Made Easy" (1943), "This brilliant gem by the renowned veteran, Jesse B. Hanson of Oakland, California, is easily deserving of first place in my collection."

Richard Pask gave it the honor of being the triumphal finishing touch to his "Key Endings" (2005).

There is no doubt that it is a great problem from many standpoints:

1. It has a natural appearance, suggesting it could arise in a game. In fact it looks more natural than many positions that have been reached in games.

2. It requires applying a mandown grip to win. A mandown winning finish is always a thrill.

3. It involves four isolated pitches in the trunk alone, two by each side. I don't know of another problem that can make that claim.

4. It demonstrates a clever idea in each of its four variations: a shot in the first; a pitch in each of the other three. That's remarkable.

5. It is extremely difficult to solve, not only because of the pitches, but because of the subtle choice that must be made between 2 6 and 2 7 at the 15th move.

6. It is credited to a well recognized, well traveled, great, veteran checker player whose biography has appeared in multiple checker publications, including the 2nd International (1927), the 7th American (ACA) (1929), and Ryan's "Scientific Checkers Made Easy" (1943). He was the long-time "brains" of the Automaton Ajeeb, was a prize winner in every tournament in which he competed, was the last person to win a game from Gonotsky, etc. A problem credited to a name player like him invariably gets the admiration it deserves.

That said, no checker problem is perfect. Third rate problem composers, like me, tend to look for the imperfections in all problem settings with a view toward our own self-improvement. With us, it is seldom a question of the soundness of the solution, but rather of its beauty and originality relative to other great problems. If you were to choose your 10 favorite problems, would you include this one? If not would you include it among your 100 favorites?

Please let me know if you think the following are legitimate imperfections in Hanson's Gem:

1. Although it appears natural, the setting could not have arisen in a game.

2. The finish was previously published. The earliest was probably the following setting by John Drummond in the 1800's. I found it in Farr L. Scott's "101 Checker Strategems" (1947), No. 23.
Image
White to Play and Win: *6 10, 14-18, *21 17, 13-22, *10 15 (not 10 14, *22-25, Draw), 18-23, *15 18, 22-26, 18 27, 26-31, *27 24, 31-26, *24 19, W.W.
Another setting with the same finish appeared as Example 10 (uncredited) on Page 15 of Ryan's "Tricks, Traps & Shots" (1950). In 2007, Alex Moiseyev posted it (also without credit) as Position 1 in the "Strategy and Tactics" section, "Basic Ideas and Themes" topic, on this forum. He said that he liked it. Look it up.

3. Back to the Hanson Gem, in the trunk play, 26 23 at the 7th move is not the only move to achieve the win. Instead, both 16 11 and 16 12 force the same finish.

4. It is possible to set the Hanson Gem back to an earlier stage, and thus make it more difficult. Here is my attempt. Check it for soundness.
Image
White to Play and Win: *30 26, 8-11, *26 22, 9-14, *31 26, 11-16, forms the Hanson Gem.

Now what do you think of the Hanson Gem that was on the front page for a week beginning 2009-12-17?

Bill Salot
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Re: Front Page J B Hanson-Problem Gem 2009-12-17

Postby Jay H on Sat Dec 26, 2009 10:34 am

EXCELLENT post Bill !!!

Thanx !!

Jay H
Aut Inveniam Viam Aut Faciam !!!
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Re: Front Page J B Hanson-Problem Gem 2009-12-17

Postby B Salot on Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:26 pm

I just ran across another publication containing the Hanson Gem. It is Grover and Wiswell's "Let's Play Checkers" (1940), Page 150, Problem No. 63, the first of four problems by Mr. Hanson. Also included there is another brief biography.
Bill Salot
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