British Draughts Federation

Week 007: May 4th 2001 by George Miller

Completing the Deck

For a number of years the Checker / Draughts community have been debating the soundness of those ballots that have been excluded from the 3-Move Deck.  This deck, or set of openings, is used in all major tournaments and has had very little change since the original 137 openings were "agreed" in 1931.  Only one ballot has been removed from the deck, whereas eight have been added.  The original selection was made very quickly and without deep analysis, erring on the "safe" side.  This has resulted in eleven candidates for inclusion, the deck being settled once and for all by January 2002.  I will summarise the candidates below.

The "Wilderness" Group

This group includes 9-13, 22-18, 11-16; 9-13, 23-18, 11-16; 11-16, 22-17, 9-13.  These openings often run into one another and have been used in mail play since the mid 1980's.  In the early matches white found numerous attacks, forcing black to find the key defences.  The openings stand as testimony to those early pioneers in that the defences remain intact, whilst offering a plethora of opportunities for white to score - truly a fine set of 3-movers, sound but difficult to handle!

The Gemini Ballots

The openings 10-14, 22-17, 11-16 and 10-15, 23-19, 11-16 can easily run into the same landings.  These openings definitely favour white offering several attacks.  There are transpositions into sound published play on "approved" ballots again giving players opportunity.

Two Old Favourites

The openings 11-16, 23-19, 16-23 and 9-13, 22-18, 10-14 were doing the rounds at the turn of the 19th century and have been at the heart of many a mail match of recent years.  There are many attacks, but each has been defended successfully.  These ballots offer excellent endgame opportunities with a variety of approach lines.

The Bland

10-14, 22-17, 11-15 and 9-13, 23-19, 10-15 offer little in the way of criticality.  The attacks are straightforward, although there is some scope towards the ending.  Anyone well versed in the ID Mail ty booklets of the 1990's should have no problem in drawing these.

The Sublime

I was tempted to place this opening in the Bland category, 12-16, 24-20, 10-15 has had an interesting history over the last four years.  I knocked out the main defence, using the correction to good use in my match with Jerry Childers.  The "approved" defences gave white many wining chances and were riddled with errors.  This was the interesting time to play the strong side and a nervous time for the defender.  However Nigel Proffitt showed that the simple 8-12 gave black a tenable game and although white has several tries the ballot is not as critical as once thought.  The 9-13, 24-20, 11-16 ballot is packed with problems.  There are two main attacks after the "mandatory" 23-18 with perhaps 27-24 being the most potent.  Recent mail matches have cast doubt on one defensive resource but black has the luxury of another to save the day.

I will show a trunk game for each ballot starting with 9-13, 23-19, 10-15 next week!

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