Thinking backwards

Discussion about the strategy and tactics used in the game of checkers. A forum dedicated to the aspects of checkers that are not specifically problem solving.

Thinking backwards

Postby vhabgood on Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:34 pm

I finally found the correct place in my opinion to have this philosophical discussion. I met Dr. Tinsley once in the 90s before he passed. I remember how everyone would always talk about how he could analyze a position in the board and run the game backwards in his head to the start. Therefore, he could literally figure out how the position even arose and several times even catch mistakes that were made leading up to it.
I've often wondered if there was more to this skill and I think I might have figured it out. When a player is starting out in checkers and wants to get better, I typically point them to endgame. I think it is the most important part of every game, and often taken for granted the most.
Consider the fact that computer programs play ridiculously better than they did in the 90s. A huge reason for that is the endgame databases. The search engines themselves haven't changed a whole lot... You could argue the hardware has improved its depth perhaps... But generally the largest change has been in the databases.
Now consider you have perfect knowledge yourself of every possible position 10 pieces or less. Now your midgame gets better because you can begin to strategize for better endings. You may even lure your opponent into more challenging endings because your confidence is high and the odds are higher that your opponent will make a mistake.
Apply this same logic working backwards, more knowledge of midgame makes us better at opening, etc. Perhaps Dr Tinsley spent time mastering the skill for this reason (among others)? Perhaps this should be the practical approach of one who seeks enlightenment of our game? I tend to think so.
Seems like every player is working to see deeper and improve their clarity by not missing things as they look ahead. I'm certainly not suggesting that is not important. I am suggesting that perhaps we should all think a little backwards in our moves and maybe even life.

Tell me what you think!

Very respectfully,
LT Victor C. Habgood II, USN
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Re: Thinking backwards

Postby Alan Millhone on Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:21 am

Hello Victor
An excellent thought provoking article.
Many things to ponder in more depth.
Also, thank you for your service to America.
F. Alan Millhone, President
American Checker Federation
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Alan Millhone
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Re: Thinking backwards

Postby Bill Salot on Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:34 pm


I think the skill of which you speak is akin to, if not the same as, the skill of problem composing, where you take a position of interest, and analyze it backwards to create a better setting for the idea.

I have been doing this a long time and can personally attest to the fact that it does NOT make you a Grandmaster.

The disconnect is that Tinsley had an encyclopedic memory bank of game positions to backward analyze into, thus adding practical value to the endeavor. We backward composers are just having fun. Go to the link below and have some with us.

I once suggested to Tinsley that he was winning too much and ought to switch to "Losing Checkers", the "Give-away" game. He responded that he was better at that game than he was at straight checkers. He said, by pitching an opposing piece into the "doghole", he could lose every time.

Keep up the good work.
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