Checkers – Trading Positions

I’m often conscious while playing of the value of men further towards the king row than in the ‘home’ position.

Take the fictitious example below.  Red has the option to either (A) swap men to get nearer a king, or (B) swap men with white’s man near its king line.

Assuming only moves A and B are in consideration, which would you choose?

For me, choosing move A is pretty tempting.  You’re getting pretty close to a king, which will force white’s man on white’s second row to have to move.

Move B has more subtle benefits, however.

Firstly, the utility of red’s two back men has very little value.  They’re not causing much of a headache in preventing white getting kings.  The best red could hope for is white getting a king to the left behind man ‘B’, allowing red to move its first line man to exchange a king for a man.  Assuming white is a reasonable player, this isn’t very likely.

Secondly, getting nearer to the end of the game, it’s likely red’s men on its first and second row are going to need promotion to kings.  They’re a long way off that.

Thirdly, and most importantly, red has the opportunity to effectively ‘gain’ moves.  Consider white’s man that red can exchange.  At minimum it has cost 2 moves to get to its current position.  Consider red’s man B, which has cost at most 1 move to get to its current position (2 moves once exchange takes place).  If red can exchange men, it has a net effect of having gained 1 move, as the red man on red’s first row moves 2 places (jumping white’s exchanged man).  The likelihood is white’s man could have moved more than 2 places, effectively making the gain greater.

For homework, consider the costs associated with move A.

So when playing, it’s worth considering the value of the pieces you’re moving.

Checkers – 2 against 2 – divide and conquer

I’ve had a number of cases in games where I’ve lost before I even realised it.  This game was lost despite another 10 moves taking place after this board.

Red to move and lose

The problem here?  Division of the red pieces.  There’s no way to force the position of white’s kings to move the two red’s kings together.  If it was white’s move rather than red’s, it may be a different story.  This shows the importance of having ‘the move’.

If you can divide your opponents pieces, especially in this scenario where it’s impossible to seek the double corner, you can use your advantage to back pieces against the edge.  That’s exactly what happened above.

Checkers – Narrow Wins

I’m always conscious of the end goal when I’m playing, and when it comes down to it, it only takes one piece more than your opponent (usually) to win.  Once you’re ahead, by exchanging pieces whilst staying in a good position you can wrap up a game without giving your opponent scope to redress the balance.

Here’s a game where exchanging pieces quickly seals a victory.

White to move and win

Checkers – Favourite Moves

There’s a couple of moves that I always look for to take advantage of. Sometimes it can be the difference between winning and losing.

White to move and win

 

Red to move and draw

Checkers – Strongest opening replies

I’ve been wondering recently about the strongest opening replies. I used the excellent Cake Checkers AI (set to infinity processing) to draw up its strongest replies to me playing black.

12-16, 22-18

 

11-16, 24-19

 

11-15, 24-19

 

10-15, 21-17

 

10-14, 22-17

 

9-14, 24-20

 

9-13, 22-18

Checkers – 2-on-2 How to Win or Lose

Here’s some genuine situations I’ve won or lost and had bitter experience with!

The first situation is a game I lost recently trying to corner a player endlessly moving around the double corner. Despite forcing him out once, I managed to get back into the situation (failing to split up his two pieces successfully) that led to the board below.

White to move and win

The second position is a common trap that can be used to 2-for-1 your opponent, or in this case, win the game.

Red to move and win

I hope you enjoyed these two boards. Please feel free to comment with your own experience.