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Subject: Mini Course 4 - How not to make Mistakes rss

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Introduction
In International Checkers every player starts with 20 pieces. If you can keep the same number of pieces as your opponent, there is basically no reason to worry. This changes if you are falling one piece behind due to a mistake from your side. If you are playing against an experienced player this is usually deadly. Beginning and absolute beginning players - to whom I basically aim in this Mini Course - could gain more by not making mistakes on the board than waiting for an opportunity due to an opponents mistake.

And instead of learning all those nice Shots, Combinations and the most complicated Coups, it is for the beginning player better to learn how not to make the most basic mistakes. To do that, you have to learn to think before you move and think ahead, which are useful credes anyway in International Checkers.

Hint: Try to control your impulses and think at least 5 seconds before you move!

Below are seven categories of Shot Types of the first degree. This means that you immediately benefits from your opponents last move and no deep thinking is required. Besides beginning opponents are more likely to make those mistake moves. By recognizing them immediately, you can easily prevent making them and have an advantage over your opponent, especially if he is a beginner too.

Apart from the "Eye" - or maybe more officially "Gate" - I have given them names, like such exist in Go. Perhaps that will help remembering and recognizing them better.

Note: The diagrams below are not complete positions! Only pieces involved are shown for clarity.

Shot Type #1 - "Hat"
This type of shot is most common - and pretty obvious to spot - and you will encounter the Hat in every game you'll play.



1. 31-27 22x31
2. 36x16



1. 28-22 17x28
2. 33x13

... or ...

2. 33x31

Shot Type #2 - "Anvil"
The Anvil is also quite common, but less visible than the Hat. If you don't encounter them in a game, the threat of it lures anywhere.



1. 34-30 25x34
2. 40x18



1. 31-27 32x21
2. 26x6

Shot Type #3 - "Catflap"
A Catflap is actually a variation on the Hat and starts with a seemingly harmless move by black. I've seen beginning players often making this mistake, especially in Brazilian Checkers or Russian Checkers, where it also exists. And moreover you'll usually fall two pieces behind instead of one.



1. ... 9-13
2. 24-20 15x24
3. 29x18

Shot Type #4 - "House-of-Cards"
It is what is says it is. You think you have a solid formation. Then your opponent removes one checker and the whole structure collapses.



1. 33-29 24x33
2. 35x13

Shot Type #5 - "Eye"
Maybe the simplest of all the Mistake Moves.



Whichever piece black will moves he'll always lose one.

1. 18-13 8-12
2. 13x24

Shot Type #6 - "Jack-in-the-Box"
You think you exchange a piece for a piece and then it seems the exchange wasn't quite right. I've seen above-beginners-level players making this type of mistake. And it is true ... you need a little deeper thinking to spot this one.



1. ... 23-28
2. 32x23 19x28
3. 27-21 16x27
4. 31x33

Shot Type #7 - "Double-Trouble"
This one is maybe my personal favorite. White has two ways to make a shot, but both of them are unfavorable for black.



1. 29-23 19x28
2. 33x13

... or ...

1. 29-23 18x29
2. 33x13

The combination also exists from the lower edge ...



1. 43-38 33x42
2. 48x28

... or ...

1. 43-38 32x43
2. 48x28

... and even on the side edge as you may encounter in one of your future games.



1. 40-34 29x40
2. 45x43

... or ...

1. 40-34 29x40
2. 35x33

... or ...

1. 40-34 39x30
2. 35x33

... or ...

1. 40-34 39x30
2. 25x23

It is obvious that I have chosen for a somewhat complicated position in the example on the edge.

A Word on Notation
I know that the checkers notation isn't easy and something you get to get used to. But I can't get around. The best way is to look at the numbered diagram below and remember where the 10s are, which is the last column but one. Then check where the 5s are, which is the column on the right. Orientate from there to get to the right field.



Exercises
The title of this Mini Course was How not to make Mistakes. In order to learn that, I have come up with some exercises with a twist. The question of each exercise is plain ... Is the suggested move right or wrong? And why or why not? In short you are making a move and you have to judge whether that move is right or wrong. Because your opponent may have the opportunity to make one of the above mentioned seven Shot Types. I hope it will learn you to think ahead. And every now and then deep thinking is required. Good luck!

Note: Not every move is automatically wrong!

Exercise #1

Move 34-29?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! Because of the Hat.

1. 34-29 20-24
2. 29x20 15x35



And you are one piece behind. Way better was ...

1. 30-24 20x40
2. 39-34 40x29
3. 33x4



Exercise #2

Move 38-33?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! A typical Catflap.

1. 38-33 22-27
2. 31x22 18x20



A better move would have been ...

1. 32-28 22x33
2. 38x29



Exercise #3

Move 36-31?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! A deeper variation on the Anvil.

1. 36-31 22-28
2. 32x23 19x28
3. 33x22 18x36




Exercise #4

Move 28-23?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! The Jack-in-the-Box jumps out of the box.

1. 28-23 19x28
2. 32x23 21-27
3. 31x22 17x19



... and you are one piece behind. Better was ...

1. 32-27 21x23
2. 29x7


Exercise #5

Move 48-43?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Right! Especially if the opponent traps into the Eye.

1. 48-43 33-39
2. 34-29 39x48
3. 29-24 48x31
4. 36x7




Exercise #6

Move 32-27?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! Double-Trouble ahead ...

1. 32-27 18-22
2. 27x18 12x41

... or ...

2. 28x17 12x41




Exercise #7

Move 40-34?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! An occurrence of the Hat.

1. 40-34 23-29
2. 34x23 18x20



A possible interesting continuation of the game could have been ...

3. 33-29 34-24
4. 30x10 9-14
5. 10x19 13x31
6. 25x14 3-9
7. 14x3 12-17
8. 3x12 17x8

Just a demonstration how deep a game of International Checkers can be!


Exercise #8

Move 39-33?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! A House-of-Cards collapses.

1. 39-33 19-23
2. 28x19 17x50



A small move can have big consequenses. In International Checkers every move can be your death!

Also note the potential Sticker from the start of the position.

1. 48-42 18-23
2. 27-21 23x34
3. 21x3


Exercise #9

Move 42-37?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! Many conclusions may follow after this Eye, but none of them are favorable for white.

1. 42-37 27-32
2. 28-23 32x41
3. 23-18 41-46
4. 19-13 9-14
5. 18-12 14-19
6. 13x24


Exercise #10

Move 38-33?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! A Catflap.

1. 38-33 22-27
2. 31x22 18x47




Exercise #11

Move 32-28?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! A not uncommon variation of the Anvil.

1. 32-28 16-21
2. 26x17 11x31



And you are three pieces behind.


Exercise #12

Move 21-16?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Right! The Hat seems to be a trap.

1. 21-16 17-21
2. 26x17 12x23
3. 29x20



Black cannot win as the game continues ...

3. ... 8-13
4. 20-14 13-18
5. 14-10 18-23
6. 10-5


Exercise #13

Move 43-39?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! Your formation now seems to be a House-of-Cards.

1. 43-39 25-30
2. 34x14 23x41
3. 14x23 18x47




Exercise #14

Move 31-26?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Right! An Anvil will be followed by a Double-Trouble.

1. 31-26 7-11
2. 26x17 11x33
3. 44-39 33x44
4. 49x20

... or ...

3. ... 34x43
4. 49x20



The alternative was that black had to lose his piece at field 21, which is to be prefered, but still a losing game for black. Play the below scenario if you are interested.

I am seriously considering to offer this exercise to a very experienced local club checkersplayer, since I believe there is a lot more hidden in it than I have shown.

1. 31-26 24-30
2. 26x17 30-35
3. 32-27 7-11
4. 27-22 34-40
5. 44-39 40-45
6. 49-43 35-40
7. 17-12 11-16
8. 12-8 16-21
9. 8-2 21-27
10. 22x31 45-50
11. 39-33 50-44
12. 43-39 44-50
13. 2-35 50-45
14. 35x49



The game could drag on for a while, but I am pretty sure a highly experienced player could end this game - a 5-to-2 motiff - in a win for white.


Exercise #15

Move 33-29?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wrong! A case of a double Hat, but only one of them is right.

1. 33-29 20-24
2. 29x20 15x44



... or the wrong one ...

1. 33-29 19-24
2. 30x19 13x42
3. 31-26 42x31
4. 36x18




Exercise #16

Move 27-21?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Right! The Jack-in-the-Box is followed by a Double-Trouble.

1. 27-21 16x27
2. 32x21 23-28
3. 33x22 18x16
4. 30-24 19x30
5. 34x5

... or ...

4. ... 20x29
5. 34x5



If black thought ahead, he would have answered differently. And if you are playing with clocked time, these are the moments to use it.


Exercise #17

Move 31-26?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Right! A version with the Anvil.

1. 31-26 16-21
2. 26x17 11x44
3. 43-39 44x33
4. 38x7



If black makes the mistake, the game might continue like this ...

4. ... 8-12
5. 7x18 30-34
6. 18-12 6-11
7. 48-43 25-30
8. 42-38 30-35
9. 37-32 35-40
10. 43-39 34x43
11. 38x49


Exercise #18

Move 31-27?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Right! The Eye proves to be a trap, if your opponent enters it.

1. 31-27 28-32
2. 17-12 32x34
3. 12x1





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