The Study Of Problems

By Lochiel
Source: The American Checker Monthly of September 1921.

It is the unanimous opinion of good players that problem study is a very necessary part of a draughts-player's training. Problems are important because the ability accurately to estimate the strength or weakness of any position in cross-board play may be cultivated and perceptibly increased by the systematic study of critical end-games. Such positions should be thoroughly, learned by the novice, as they frequently occur in one form. or another and are not easily carried to a successful issue.

The beginner's chief shortcoming is his inability to estimate the possibilities of a position unless it arises in exactly the same setting in which he has seen it before; while in actual play any position must be quickly appraised and the win or draw maneuvered for.

It is suggested that the novice study problems in the following manner until his perception bas been trained to the point that he can recognize the fundamental principle of a position in the many forms in which it may appear.

Exercise 1
Try to solve the problem. If you fail, play the solution through, then in review divide the problem into a series of positions. Record the position after several moves have been made. Let the solution to your new problem (thus formed) commence with same important or starred move. Begin the next lesson at that move, and each day record the position at a later point, until the original problem can be taken at any stage of its solution and its terms forced without hesitation.
Exercise 2
To fix the solution firmly in mind write the move-numbers trom memory after closing the book. If at first this is difficult, try the following method: Set up the position on the board, but without moving a piece write down the move-numbers for as many moves ahead as you can calculate. Then play up to that point and repeat the process. This exercise will increase your foresight in actual play.
Exercise 3
Re-set the problem with colors reversed and play it against an opponent, permitting him to vary as he thinks best.
Exercise 4
Discover the basic idea of each problem. That is all important. Then endeavor by the addition or subtraction of a piece or pieces to utilize the same principle in a different setting of your own. This exercise will impress the idea on your memory.
Exercise 5
Classify all problems studied into groups according to their basic principles - then compare the separate problems in each group and note the different ways in which the same or similar ideas are concealed.
Exercise 6
Study problems in which a piece is sacrificed for position, and remember in draughts everything depends upon position. Specialize also on problems where one side plays with a man down, as such usually require exact play to win or draw.
Exercise 7
Examine all notes to problems, choosing those positions for study which have the approval of accomplished players and compare all corrections and improvements with the original play. Problem controversies are always highly instructive - notably so when talented critics are concerned.