In a way, a motif is the end of a draughts game or composition: the fight is over, but can be still
extended by the 'losing party', hoping that the opponent will make a mistake. A motif may also
be seen as a short version of an end game: less pieces and moves.
A motif is often used as the start of composing a draughts problem. In addition, a motif may be
used to add a sharp ending to a draughts composition that stem from a combination.
A number of illustrative examples is given below, ordered by number of pieces. In all these motifs,
white is able to win in only one straightforward manner.
For each motif an example of a draughts composition from the Showroom is given, together with
the frequency of the motif in the TurboDambase.
Searching for more motifs? Take a look into the MotifMine!
Naturel Opposition Lock-up 45=D50
L: Of course, there are 45 or 50 possibilities, in which the white man or king may end. This is quite an
obvious motif, but when a game is won in this way or a composition has such an ending, one will be very
The total number of compositions that end in a naturel are 8007 (cf. the Timoneda motif with 8263),
of which 4205 as man and 3802 as king naturel, respectively.
there are great differences on where the white man occurs, from only 10x for square 15 upto some 300
for square 37!
In the case of a king naturel, square 31 is the least popular, only 8x, whereas the edge squares, as expected,
occur the very most, i.e. from 104x on square 15 upto 249x on square 49.
Click here for a complete statistic overview of the naturel. Subject for further investigation?
Example: van der Klis-R
M: Again, there are a lot of possibilities, although a number of these will have several ways for white to win.
R: Black has a man, but loses if it is to move. The white king may also be a man. Excluding the
Timoneda motif (see below), which also ends in this way, there are 934 compositions with king, but only
47 with man on square 50 are found. Example: van den Berg-M
Long-line Trombone Magnet
L: With black on move, the black king is captured (also named 46/5 motif). The kings may be
interchanged, i.e. a so-called 5/46 long-line motif. It's quite understandable that the motif shown
here occurs about ten times more often (6516x) than the 5/46 variant (692x).
M: Again with black to move, the black king is trapped by both its own piece and the white man
that blocks the escape square of the black king. This motif occurs with the black king on the squares
47 (1x), 48 (1x), 49 (11x). With the black king on square 50, although no trombone anymore, 115x!
R: With black on move, white is able to capture the black king.
Two sharp variants, therefore two diagrams!
This is the most popular motif for draughts problemists (formerly known as Guerra, years earlier
ascribed to Canalejas): there are 8440 compositions of this beautiful motif in TurboDambase.
Quite understandable: that one white king is able to win from three black man, allowing to sacrifice
much more white men in the composition leading upto this winning ending.
On the contrary, as far as we know, no draughts game has ever ended in this position!
L: The winning moves if black plays 1-7. M: Idem if black plays 6-11. Example: Voormans-L
N.B. This motif also contains, during the unfolding, many motifs of a white king versus two black men!
Just take a look again. All these intermediate positions, therefore, are also very useful for a sharp
ending of a draughts composition. Examples of these and the lock-up 45/50 have been given above.
R: May be considered as a cousin of the Timoneda motif: the white king is also here able to win in a
sharp way from three black men. Alternatively, the white king can also be positioned on the squares
7, 12, 18 and 23 (not on 45, as that doesn't result in a sharp ending). Number of compositions known
is 42, of which the majority with the king on square 1 (37x), which is not surprising. Example: Kieboom-L
Question: "Are there other motifs known wherein one king does win sharply from three men?"
Answer, of Rob Spijkers: "In my Motif Mine, there are 250 other examples, but not always sharp.
Three sharp examples are given below."
Blankenaar (1895) Blonde (1798) Duursma (1942)
Examples showing how a white king with the support of two men can control a black man, breaking
through to the king.
Maurice Vervloet Commard
L: The black man is able to break through to king on square 48 or 49, but is captured by 28-37 or 28-44.
E. St. Maurice, Le Jeu de Dames 1903.
M: Idem dito: the white king moves in this case to square 26 or 44. C.G. Verfloet, Revue des Jeux 1890.
R: Beautiful and subtle, how the black king is captured. L. Commard, 1823.
Marchal Dijkstra Scheijen
This trio demonstrates how the white king forces black to break through to king on the desired square,
in order to be able to catch the black king. H. Marchal (1921), O. Dijkstra (2009), J.H.H. Scheijen (1968).
Bolzé Moureau Duursma
L: J.F. Bolzé created this beautiful motif in 1901! The white king must hold for a moment in order
to stop yhe black man.
See also the Draughts working place # 25 by Johan Konings, who extended this motif.
M & R: Two other examples of the Bolzé motif. C. Moureau (1939) en S.W. Duursma (1943).
Blonde Manoury Zadacha
L: Black breaks through the king, but is subsequently locked-up by white.
M: White offers its man and can so lock up the black king.
R: Black on move: white now locks up two black kings!
Question: "Seems quite popular in Russia. Who knows other lock-up variants of this type?"
The three variants, dependent upon the way black will playing, with black on move.
L: Black tries to promote man 18.
M: Black succeeds to promote man 19 , but will be blocked by its own man on square 45.
R: Idem dito, but black chooses at the end for promotion of its man 45 to king.
L: Black is able to get a king, but is catched eventually by white.
A. Sosin 1930. Example: Spijkers-R
R: A similar event as Sosin's motif, but on a quite different way!
D. van den Berg, De Problemist August 2011. Example: Spijkers-L
The MotifMine ('MM'): explanation
Has been constructed in the 90's by Rob Spijkers* and counts nowadays even
more than 56,000 motifs, that gradually will be digitalized. A 'gold mine' of
motifs, not that well-known by draughts players and problemists.
It is agreed with Rob to place the motifs collection, step-by-step, in digital
format (> 35,000 present already) in order to make it available on-line.
In this way, the MotifMine will become broadly available!
In first instance through the website, later-on may-be also through TDbase.
In the meantime, you may make use of his MM to check if a motif is known or not, when TurboDambase
doesn't give an answer. More than 60% of the MM is available on-line. For the other 40%, simply send an
e-mail, email@example.com, containing the motif in the desired code.
For example, enclosed Timoneda motif has the code: 3001 01.06.25(--) = -- (02):
#BP#BK#WP#WK [3 black men, 0 black king, 0 white king, 1 white king],
the square numbers of the black men, the square numbers of the black kings in between
brackets [-- if, as in this case, there is no black king], the square numbers of the white men
[again -- as there is no white man], and, finally, the square of the white king.
Extra info is very wellcome, e.g. author, date, solution and first date of publication,
in order to be able to add new motifs to the 'MM' collections!
* With the help of Johan Konings and Kees van de Ruit, ánd the motif collections of Zonnenveld en de Zwart.
Finally, thanks to Ad de Hoon, who came in 2015 with the triggering remark: "I miss the motifs on the website."
Canalejas -> Timoneda
Guerra -> Timoneda