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  A view from ACF Player's Representative Richard Beckwith : 2007-12-15

Cub Scouts and Checkers

Earlier this month I gave a presentation of checkers at a weeknight Cub Scout meeting in Chardon, Ohio. I donned my Danny Oliphant-made checker sweatshirt and trotted out my Bob Pike demo board for a 30-minute discussion. The topics I touched on included the following:

General rules, equipment & board colors, etc.
Depth & difficulty of checkers (comparison to chess)
ACF & tournament system; annual youth tournament with prize money
Recognition of nearby World Champion, Alex Moiseyev, and 2008 GAYP match
Strategy Best and worst opening move for red (and white's reply)
Strategy (Part 2) Endings: 1 King vs. 1 King; 1 King vs. 2 Kings
Strategy (Part 3) Checker problems demonstrating basic shots.

In some respects, this was a challenging talk, as the audience had never been introduced to checker strategy before. No one could see a 3-for-1 shot (but appreciated the position once the jumps were made). Also, many beginners overlook the concept of retreating your lone king to a double corner to avoid being immediately pinned by an opposing king. I received many questions throughout the presentation. Some questions were predictable (How long does a game last?), other questions less so, such as:

What's the most number of kings you can get in a game?
How fast can you get a king? [I showed a recent "published play" game I had with Louis Cowie, who had red: 9-13 23-18 6-9 26-23 10-15 30-26 1-6 23-19 11-16 19-1 2-6 1-10 7-30 each player got a king in only 13 moves!]
What happens if you reach the back row [gain a king] and then bring that piece back to the other king row?

For the remainder of the meeting, the kids broke out the boards they brought to play against each other. One of the mothers commented on how quiet and attentive these "normally restless" kids were during the talk. The audience gained an eye-opening appreciation of how difficult checkers really is to play at an expert level.

Read more articles from your ACF Players Representative in the Rep's Corner Archive.

© American Checker Federation 2007
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All checker board images courtesy of Vinco Online Games.