Sam Sloan's Book

General Discussion about the game of Checkers.

Sam Sloan's Book

Postby Bill Salot on Fri Dec 04, 2015 7:38 pm

Sam Sloan suggested I post this and request comments:
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I have given up waiting for the forum so here is my article on checkers.
I have written the enclosed article about checkers which I plan to publish in my book tonight. I welcome any comments and corrections you may have. You are also welcome to post this article on the checkers forums.
I plan to publish this article and book tonight or tomorrow, so if you do have any comments, please provide them as soon as possible.
Sam Sloan
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How to Be a Winner at Checkers
Basic Rules and Tested Techniques for Winning Play
by Fred Reinfeld
Introduction by Sam Sloan

Checkers is probably the world's best known board game. In America, more than 100 million people have played at least one game of checkers. In England, the game is known as Draughts. There are 150 varieties. In America, most African-Americans play Spanish checkers or “pool”, which features flying kings. In Eastern Europe and Holland, checkers is played on a 10x10 board. In Canada, it is sometimes played on a 12x12 board.
This book by Fred Reinfeld is concerned with Go As You Please or GAYP Standard American Checkers.
The checkers tactics that add up to a winning game – from that shrewd opening to the last triumphant jump – are all revealed in this book by Fred Reinfeld. Mr. Reinfeld shows how the unsuspected complexity of checkers makes possible subtle strategies that you can turn to your advantage.
With his usual clarity, Mr. Reinfeld demonstrates winning tactical play at each stage of the game. He depicts various standard openings (the Glasgow opening, the Souter opening, the Kelso group, etc.) and points out the traps that each affords. He describes the techniques of the mid game, including the “breeches” at the corner block, and numerous three-for-two and two-for-one shots. And he paces out the closing moves of the game - how to make the kill or how to gain a draw against the odds.
Mr. Reinfeld's book enables you to enjoy checkers more than ever – both helping you understand the game and by making you a consistent winner.
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Edgar Allen Poe had a theory that apparently simple and obvious things are very difficult to fathom …. Poe even went so far as to apply this theory of the deceptively obvious to checkers, which he maintained in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” was a harder game than chess. The very simplicity of checkers, with all the units having similar powers, was, in his opinion, what made the game so difficult. The margin of victory was necessarily small, so that, as Poe put it, “The result” would depend on “some strong exertion of the intellect.”
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I played checkers as a child. The last time I ever played, the girl next door, Susan Knight, defeated me several games in a row. As I was the Virginia Junior Chess Champion at the time, I could not figure out how a mere girl could beat me at checkers. She won every a game, so it was not a fluke. I remember her father, Sherwood Knight, telling her before the games, “Just do what I told you to do.” Ever since, I have been wondering what he told her, as that enabled her to win all the games.
After that, I forgot about checkers until the 2011 Mind Sports Olympiad in Beijing China. There was a checkers competition going on with the top players from all over the world, alongside with competitions in chess, Chinese chess, go and bridge. I was there as a spectator having just competed in the World Championship of Chinese chess in Jakarta Indonesia and the World Memory Championships in Guangzhou China.
During this competition, Alexander Shvartsman, a former world champion of several varieties of checkers or draughts, was giving a simultaneous exhibition to almost a hundred checkers players, although not all at the same time. I asked him if he could write a book on this, as I am a publisher of books on games, such as go and chess. He said he had a friend working on such a book and would be in contact with me.
Michael Layevskiy, a former Russian now living in the USA, loaned me several books in Russian on draughts, especially books on problems and their solutions. This made me aware that there is a vast literature on the subject, which has largely been ignored.
Most of the recent publicity about checkers has been about competitions to determine whether checkers has been solved. What these competitions have established is that the best checkers playing computer, Chinook, can defeat the best human. This was not absolutely decided because the best human player, Marion Tinsley, who had not lost a game in many years, lost a game to Chinook. The competition did not finish because Tinsley died before the last games could be played, with almost all of the games being draws.
The programmer of Chinook, Jonathan Schaeffer, has written a book about this, “One Jump Ahead Computer Perfection at Checkers”, ISBN 9780387765754
In America, most players play Go As You Please checkers, or GAYP. It has been proven that if the computer has the first move, the computer cannot be beaten, so with best play it is a draw. In order to avoid draws, tournament checkers is played with the drawing of lots or by ballot for the first three moves. Several possible combinations of the first three moves are excluded because they have been believed to lead to forced wins or forced losses. So, there have been 137 possible combinations of the first three moves allowed in competitive play. Recently several combinations of the first three moves previously believed to be a loss have been shown to be a draw with best play, so they have been added to the list of allowable moves, so there are now 145 combinations allowed for the first three moves.
While Standard American checkers has been thought of an American game, most of the top players nowadays are European. There are now two world championships, the Go As You Please or GAYP champion and the Three-Move Ballot champion. Recently 3-Move World Champion Michele Borghetti of Livorno, Italy earned right to challenge Sergio Scarpetta for the GAYP World Title in 2016.
There is the question of whether checkers has been solved. http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070716/ ... 16-13.html A website states that checkers has been solved by computer. However, I do not believe this to be true. One game that has been solved is tic-tac-toe also known as Noughts and crosses. I solved it as a child. A more difficult game is Nim, where a player can take as few or as many items off a heap and whomever is forced to take the last one loses. There is a formula using binary numbers that can be used to solve this game, showing the best move by the player if he has a win and also showing the best defense by the player if he does not have a win. The best defense is one that gives the opponent the best chances to lose the game.
By this standard, checkers has not been solved. However, Checkers is solved for positions up to 10 pieces. In chess, the positions for up to 7 pieces have been solved. Since checkers has only twelve pieces on each side and there are only two kinds of pieces, it is likely that checkers will be truly solved eventually. However, chess will probably never be solved, at least not in this century.
Incidentally, I have some authority on this subject because I was one of the original partners in a computer chess program that eventually became the current computer world chess champion. I was not able to continue in the partnership due to other obligations, but my partner, Don Dailey, did eventually win the Computer World Chess Championship in 2013. Tragically, he died three days before his program Komodo won the world championship.
The author of this book, Fred Reinfeld, is best remembered as the author of chess books. However, he wrote books on many other subjects, such as coin collecting, stamp collecting and paper money collecting. Fred Reinfeld was born on January 27, 1910 in New York. His father was from Poland. His mother was from Romania. Although Fred Reinfeld is now remembered as a writer about chess and other subjects, he was also a strong player. In the 1950 USCF Rating List he was rated number 6 in the United States with a rating of 2593. He defeated Reshevsky twice and Fine once in tournament games and drew World Champion Alekhine in the grandmaster tournament in Pasadena 1932, the strongest tournament ever played in the Western United States.
After that, Reinfeld only played in a few other chess events. He spent the rest of his life writing about the game, not playing it.
Reinfeld wrote more than one hundred chess books, including “How to be a Winner at Chess”. In his day, almost all young chess players started off on his books. Nowadays, his books are mostly out of print because they were written in descriptive notation.
A little known fact is Fred Reinfeld had a real job working in the post office. He did not make his living entirely from chess.
Fred Reinfeld died in East Meadow, New York on May 29, 1964.
Sam Sloan
Bronx, New York
USA
December 4, 2015
Bill Salot
 
Posts: 341
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Re: Sam Sloan's Book

Postby George Hay on Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:53 am

Hi Sam and Bill, first I am puzzled as to why it is so difficult to get on the ACF Forum! This cannot be good for the game of checkers!

I like the introduction a lot, but I have two minor corrections:

1. The computer (Chinook) cannot be beaten in GAYP from the starting position, not just from having the first move!
2. The current number of three-move openings is 156.
http://www.usacheckers.com/156openingdeck.php

Above is the most official link I could find proving 156 openings.

I look forward to purchasing this book, Sam, you made your first sale! :)

--George Hay
George Hay
 
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Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Re: Sam Sloan's Book

Postby tgf on Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:39 pm

Michael Layevskiy, a former Russian now living in the USA, loaned me several books in Russian on draughts, especially books on problems and their solutions. This made me aware that there is a vast literature on the subject, which has largely been ignored.

The author seems to be ruefully unaware of many checkers books printed in other countries, the article spends much time on Chinook and whether "the game is solved" .
I would advice Mr. Sloan to visit http://checkersusa.com/books/ first, browse through various rooms, especially the History and Bibliography section, to get a better sense of the subject.
tgf
 
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Location: Los Angeles

Re: Sam Sloan's Book

Postby Bill Salot on Tue Dec 08, 2015 5:44 pm

I am posting this for Sam:

My book on checkers just came out five minutes ago. You can see it here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/487187740X

I am committed to publishing at least one more book on checkers. After that it will depend on reception and sales.
You are welcome to post this to the forums, if you wish

Sam Sloan
Bill Salot
 
Posts: 341
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 10:57 am

Re: Sam Sloan's Book

Postby George Hay on Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:02 pm

I ordered How to Be a Winner at Checkers by Fred Reinfeld from the above Amazon link. :)

--George Hay
George Hay
 
Posts: 806
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:41 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Re: Sam Sloan's Book

Postby George Hay on Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:18 pm

I did get a chance to thumb through How to Be a Winner at Checkers by Fred Reinfeld, and this Ishi Press edition looks like the old library book version, as compared to the retail paper back version How to Win at Checkers by Fred Reinfeld. The chapter sequence is different as the former book puts the opening at the end of the book,while the latter book puts the opening towards the front of the book. In both books books, the opening traps chapter is placed right before the opening survey chapter. The featured examples are essentially the same for both books, although sometimes with colors reversed. The written explanations are original in each book, and that is a surprise to me. The diagrams in this new edition of How to Be a Winner at Checkers do not look good, with sometimes the black pieces being hard to see, and sometimes impossible to see. This is in stark contrast to First Book Of Chess also published by Ishi Press, where the diagrams are excellent. The diagram problem may be overcome by cross checking to the e-book edition of How to Win at Checkers

http://www.bobnewell.net/filez/reinfeld2ndedition.pdf

The two main editions of Fred Reinfeld's checker writings are now in print, the old library book version published by Ishi Press, and the retail paper back version published in e-book by the Checkermaven.

--George Hay
George Hay
 
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