Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Discussion and analysis about certain positions.

Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby B Salot on Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:34 pm

Conflicting tastes in checker settings have been periodically expressed in checker literature for at least 120 years.

The latest was on December 30, 2009, when Josh Anderson said, “I like the problems in Wiswell's book more than the ones in Boland's books”. For purposes of selecting front page problems, Josh was clearly making the best choice.

Josh’s statement called attention to two long recognized categories of checker settings. Here are some of the words used to describe the two categories over the years:

-----1------------------------------------2
Boland’s----------------------------Wiswell’s---------------Josh Anderson, 2009
Games------------------------------Compositions
Natural------------------------------Synthetic
Instructive--------------------------Entertaining
Familiar-----------------------------Unusual
Strategical --------------------------Tactical
Complex-----------------------------Profound
Comprehensive---------------------Selective
Multi-variational-------------------Direct
Studies------------------------------Stingers---------------Dr. Louis Schreiber
Positions----------------------------Problems--------------Charles Hefter, 1889
Apples-------------------------------Oranges---------------Ben Boland, 1970

Generalizations are replete with exceptions. The two categories are not mutually exclusive. They overlap. Many excellent settings fit well into both categories. But the point is most settings fall clearly into one or the other.

I corresponded with Ben Boland during the ‘60s and ‘70s. He formally preferred Hefter’s terminology. You may have noticed in all of Boland’s books, he never referred to “problems”. Instead he always described his settings as “positions”, and sometimes called them masterpieces or classics in the “game” of checkers.

He was sensitive to the two categories. He informally called them apples and oranges because they are not comparable. They have different objectives and restraints. Wiswell’s unusual and entertaining “problems” were often composed by manipulating a game setting, but “positions” can never be created from composed “problems”.
.
To better my understanding of the two categories, Boland suggested I read Hefter’s series of articles on the subject. They appeared 120 years ago in the Draughts World, Volume II, November 1, 1889; December 1, 1889; and December 26, 1889. I am missing Volume II. Does anyone know where I can beg, borrow, steal, buy, copy, or confiscate one?

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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby B Salot on Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:03 pm

Josh Armstrong,

Please forgive me for misspelling you last name so badly.

I must have confused you with a checker player of bygone times. Talk about a senior moment!

My error was pointed out to me privately. That''s a good sign. Somebody read what I wrote!

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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby Jay H on Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:00 pm

Hi Bill,
Here is an article from Twentieth Century Checkers by Wiswell, which I am sure you have seen...but, for those who have not....

ImageImage

Sorry about the pages being slightly off kilter...I just got a new computer, with new programs, and am still learning how to straighten things out.....
BTW, Are you sure the Hefter Article you referred to is in Draughts World.....you have written "1889"....Draughts World was not published this early....possibly 1899 ?


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Jay H
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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby B Salot on Tue Jan 05, 2010 8:43 pm

Jay H, Thanks for Tom Wiswell's problem composing article published in 1946. I composed my first in 1945 and my latest in 2010. The span between my first and last may have exceeded Tom's. The difference is that he published thousands of excellent ones, while mine total about a dozen mostly mediocre ones, interspersed by decades of mental block.

I support what Wiswell said about problem composing. If I were to add anything in the nature of an update, it would be:

1. There were more great problem composers than the few he mentioned, and Wiswell would be at or near the top of the list.

2. I agree with his using Slocum problems as examples of "consummately hidden ideas", "solutions not too long or burdensome", and "innocent, natural appearance". I question calling many of them "natural". I think the frequent unfathomability of Slocum problems was unavoidably buried in unnatural configurations. Most of Slocum's settings could never arise in games, but why should they? Their purpose was to entertain, not to employ in a game. Check out the three Slocum's in the CLINCHER series elsewhere in this "Positions" forum, and see if you agree.

3. Wiswell advised composers to have their problems checked by others. The modern way would be to check them against a good computer problem.

4. One final point I would make from personal experience is that problem composing is time-consuming and addictive. Once addicted with it, your potential as a competitive player is limited. Think of the impact that Wiswell would have made if those many thousands of problem composing hours had been heavily spent on games, cooks, and tourneys.

Jay, I recheckedthe note Ben Boland sent me suggesting I look at Hefter's articles in Draughts World. He did specifically refer to Volume 2 and 1889. I understand there was a "New Series" and an "Old Series" of Draughts World. Do you suppose he was referring to the "Old Series"?

Again thanks for the Wiswell reference.

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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby Jay H on Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:38 pm

Hi Bill,
I just purchased a dirt cheap copy of "20th Century Checkers" on Ebay (coincidently.... featuring the Grover J B Hanson match) and saw the Wiswell article, so I just thought I would try out some of my new equiptment with a post....

"Think of the impact that Wiswell would have made if those many thousands of problem composing hours had been heavily spent on games, cooks, and tourneys."....
Very interesting point....which,IMHO, would also apply to all problemists (yourself included !).

Regarding Draughts World......there was a "New Draughts World" published in the 1940's. The original "Draughts World" began publication in 1892. I do not have the "New Draughts World"....but I do have "Draughts World". I do not believe there were any publications with this title.

I'll look this weekend and see if I can find the articles in there,(DW) and try to figure out a way to photo them and post. I cannot scan, as my copy is "bound" very tightly.


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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby B Salot on Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:13 pm

Jay,

Glad to hear you have the Draughts Worlds. I have most of them too, but I am missing Volume 2. I may ask you to look up something now and then. I have a project that could use research help from book collectors.

If you find the Hefter articles, just let me know what volume they are in.

In case you were wondering, I have 20th Century Checkers too. Did you notice Wiswell's article applauded only American authors? Shame on him!

I'll have more to say later about problem composing; always do.

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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby Jay H on Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:20 pm

B Salot wrote:Jay,

Glad to hear you have the Draughts Worlds. I have most of them too, but I am missing Volume 2. I may ask you to look up something now and then. I have a project that could use research help from book collectors.

If you find the Hefter articles, just let me know what volume they are in.

In case you were wondering, I have 20th Century Checkers too. Did you notice Wiswell's article applauded only American authors? Shame on him!

I'll have more to say later about problem composing; always do.

Bill Salot


Hi Bill,
Anything I can do to help you in any way...do not hesitate to ask !! I'll have a look at my "Draughts World" this weekend...I quickly looked and found a short bio on Hefter, but no problem articles. I'll let you know what I find.
I look forward to your future excellent posts regarding problems, composing, composers, history, et al. GREAT STUFF !!!!!!!

Keep it coming !!!

Regards

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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby jaguar72 on Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:35 pm

Dear Mr. Salot,

Was leafing through Elam's Checker Board March 1949 (that's a mere sixty-one years ago if you're counting...) and in the Poetry Of Checkers section on page 729 problem #3 is credited to Bill Salot... .

The same Bill Salot? Wow, I really hope so!! The problem is B: 4K, 6K, 7K, 13K, 23K, 25K; W: 1K, 3K, 10K, 14K, 15K, 16K. White to move and win.

Haven't tried to solve it yet; probably beyond me anyway.

Quite a coincidence, eh? Rather amazing. By the way, I bought the Elam's (thirty issues or so from '48 through '51) on eBay a few months ago for a pittance and am just getting around to going through them. Money well spent.

V/R,

Gary Jenkins/jaguar72
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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby B Salot on Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:10 pm

Yes, Gary, that was mine. It seems like yesterday. It was just a gimmick that I had fun with.

I remember showing it to a group of players, including Matt Long. He insisted on solving it from the diagram. After 45 minutes, he gave up. One of a problem composer's biggest thrills is to stump a strong player and then proudly demonstrate the trick.

Later I showed it to Ben Boland, and he solved it in about 2 seconds. It all depends on having the right mindset at the outset.

I called it "Bill's Bridge", and Ben said he would put it in his next book on bridge positions, but he never did.

Your computer program will solve it easily, but that would be cheating. Or you could look it up in your ECB. I remember the solution, but would prefer that somebody post it for me.

For those who don't care to set it up, here is the diagram:

BILL'S BRIDGE
Image
White to Play and Win

It should be easy to compose some sister problems. I say that because, since the setting is all kings, it can be set on all four sides of the board. Then in each case, some of the kings can be changed to single pieces without affecting the solution. That would create four different starting points for devising new problems. I never followed through.

By the way, Gary, call me Bill.

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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby jaguar72 on Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:05 pm

Dear Bill,

Thanks for the gracious reply. Ben Boland solved it "in about 2 seconds"?

Ah, well, there you are; talent will out. Supposedly Capablanca could do the same thing with chess problems... .

I'm with you...I don't use a computer for either checkers or chess problems; what would be the point? You are correct: it's cheating. If I can't solve 'em, I can't solve 'em (although I do uncover the solution move by move if I'm stuck; that's cheating as well I reckon).

By the way, if you don't have that issue of Elam's (March 1949) I would be glad to send you my copy. It's in good shape and I have 29 or 30 other issues to keep me occupied (plus half a dozen Draughts World that the seller was kind enough to include in the deal as a surprise. Very nice man). Anyhow, if you would like it, just just send your mailing address to me via PM and I'll have it in the mail forthwith.

Again, thanks for the reply.

V/R,
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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby jaguar72 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:15 am

B Salot wrote:Yes, Gary, that was mine. It seems like yesterday. It was just a gimmick that I had fun with.

I remember showing it to a group of players, including Matt Long. He insisted on solving it from the diagram. After 45 minutes, he gave up. One of a problem composer's biggest thrills is to stump a strong player and then proudly demonstrate the trick.

Later I showed it to Ben Boland, and he solved it in about 2 seconds. It all depends on having the right mindset at the outset.

I called it "Bill's Bridge", and Ben said he would put it in his next book on bridge positions, but he never did.

Your computer program will solve it easily, but that would be cheating. Or you could look it up in your ECB. I remember the solution, but would prefer that somebody post it for me.

For those who don't care to set it up, here is the diagram:

BILL'S BRIDGE
Image
White to Play and Win

It should be easy to compose some sister problems. I say that because, since the setting is all kings, it can be set on all four sides of the board. Then in each case, some of the kings can be changed to single pieces without affecting the solution. That would create four different starting points for devising new problems. I never followed through.

By the way, Gary, call me Bill.

Bill Salot


Dear Bill,

Ah, well, I finally got it! Gimmick or not, it's a beautiful problem with a scintillating solution.

Unfortunately, it took me approximately 7198 seconds longer to solve it than it took Ben Boland.

Don't think I'll give up my day job.

V/R,

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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby Patrick Parker on Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:16 pm

ive seen that on sale...on ebay the whole series
one person had it on ebay for over a year for like 80 bucks or something
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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby jaguar72 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:17 pm

Patrick,

This may have been a different one. There were thirty issues of ECB and the price was, I think, ten or twelve bucks. I was the only bidder. When they arrived, the seller had included (just because he was a good guy) six issues of DW and also a pamphlet by Millard Hopper called The Major Tactics of Checkers. It's quite good. The seller told me the magazines had belonged to his father and he just didn't want to throw them away so he put them on eBay. Good decision.

As I said, money well spent.

V/R,
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Re: Conflicting Tastes in Checker Settings

Postby Patrick Parker on Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:20 pm

i was talking about draughts world.....that the one you meant? from like late 1800 to earl 1900 a picture of a world on cover maybe
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