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  A view from ACF Player's Representative Richard Beckwith : 2012-07-14

Pioneer Opening Analysis

Question: After 9-14 22-17 11-16 25-22, now what is best move for red….8-11, 16-20, or 16-19? The checker literature features different moves.

Dr. Beckwith answers: Yes, opinions are mixed. Richard Pask recommends 8-11 in Solid Checkers. Richard Fortman wrote that 16-19 has been favored by Marion Tinsley. 16-20 seems disfavored. The answer may come down to which game you know and like best. I’ll present here what I think are the best continuations. I had this landing against Pat McCarthy in the 7th International Match (2001) – revisiting these games will shed some light on this.

Option #1 (8-11)

Against Pat, I continued with 8-11 22-18 16-20 18x9 5x14 29-25 11-15 25-22 7-11 17-13 4-8 is a good common landing favoring white, and it helps red to know some key moves against various attacks to draw (Kear’s p. 329 V. 19 and other texts), although Master players are usually familiar with the lines to play draws. Note that 24-19 is held back in this game, although 24-19 can be worked in to angle for other Pioneer lines.

Option #2 (16-20)

Pat McCarthy played this 16-20 on me and taught me a nice, lesser-known transposition. The game started: 11-16 21-17 9-14 25-21 {same opening landing} 16-20 30-25 {A} 8-11 22-18 5-9 {B} 24-19 11-15 18x11 7x16 26-22 9-13 22-18 now into a standard Bristol-Cross draw.

{A} Playing 16-20 first instead of 8-11 gives white this good 30-25 option to try and coax Dunne’s win. If white doesn’t play 30-25, then game will likely return back into an Option #1 line.

{B} A good move. 4-8 is wanted, then 18x9 5x14 {red should try 6-22, ACFB #260 p. 9} 26-22 11-16 24-19 8-11 22-18 1-5 18x9 5x14 25-22 11-15 29-25 transposes into Dunne’s Win, which may continue 15-24 28-19 7-11 17-13 11-15 22-17 15-24 23-19 to a WW.

Option #3 – (16-19)

This is OK and perhaps more restrictive (provided you know a little something about it), but it hasn’t been a personal preference for me since I know Pioneer pretty well (given it is useful from a wide variety of openings) and grew up with it more than Double-Corner Dyke. However, a case could be made here as the best defense if you play:

9-14 22-17 11-16 25-22 16-19 23x16 12x19 24x15 10x19 17x10 6x15 21-17 1-6 {with white, I prefer to meet the common 5-9 27-24 1-6 or 2-6, and white has good winning chances with 22-18} 29-25 5-9 17-13 {or 17-14 is a N. Banks draw} 7-10 25-21 8-12 27-24 4-8 {avoiding weak 9-14 22-18} to a published draw (such as in Solid Checkers) with side variations available.

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

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