The Checker Maven

Did Marvin Blow the Game? (Conclusion)

Marvin J. Mavin and Jean Luc Tournevise
When we left off last time (click here for the first part of the story), St. Louis Switchers star player Jean Luc Louis Claude Simon Tournevise (also known as "Louie Screwdriver") was on the verge of a make-or-break decision in his match with our hero Marvin J. Mavin of the Detroit Doublejumpers. The position is diagrammed below, and resulted from this runup:

1. 11-15 22-18
2. 15x22 25x18
3. 12-16 29-25
4. 10-14 24-19
5. 16-20 25-22
6. 7-10 28-24
7. 8-12 32-28
8. 4-8 30-25
9. 3-7 18-15
10. 9-13 19-16
11. 12x19 23x16
12. 10x19 24x15
13. 8-12 15-11
14. 12x19 11-8
15. 7-10 8-3
16. 2-7

RED (Marvin)
WHITE (Louie)
White to Play - Can White Win?
With a single gleeful motion, Louie took the shot!

16. ... 27-24
17. 20x27 31x15
18. 10x19 3x17

"You sill-ee boy, did you not see zees ... how you say eet ... shot?'" he gloated after this move. "Maintenant, vous etes foutu!"

But the game continued this way:

19. 5-9 17-14
20. 9x18 22x15
21. 6-10 15x6
22. 1x10 25-22
23. 10-14 28-24
24. 19x28 26-23
25. 28-32 22-18
26. 32-27 18x9
27. 27x18 Red Wins!

"First Position, mon cher ami," said Marvin in a matter-of-fact manner. "Uh, in plain old American, you might just say, 'You lose, pal!'"

Louie treated Marvin to his best scowling glare. "I sim-plee cannot un-derstand eet!" he exclaimed. "Zis ligne - it is a no good way to play at Dames. Why I lose eet to zis clune americaine?"

"Ah, Frenchy," responded Marvin in a most politically incorrect manner, "you just gotta learn a little more checkers if you wanna beat Marvin. Ya wanted a draw, ya hadda play like this."

Marvin quickly reset the pieces to the original diagrammed position and played out these moves:

16. ... 3-8
17. 14-17 21x14
18. 10x17 27-24
19. 20x27 31x15
20. 17-21 8-12
21. 21x30 28-24
22. 30x23 15-11
23. 7x16 12x26 Drawn (White has a man-down draw).


Red to Play, White to Draw

(Can you figure out the draw that Marvin and Louie think is so clear? Try it, then click on Read More below to see the solution.)

"Ya see, ya just hadda move your King away, and ya coulda got a nice man-down draw. But ya got a little too greedy fer yer own good," Marvin pontificated.

"Un moment, s'il vous plait," Louie cut in. "Per'aps I play eet 26-22 at move 22 and I will not 'ave zees First Postion of yours?"

"Nah, Louie, that ain't right neither. Lookit...." Marvin replied. He set the pieces back to the original diagrammed position one more time and showed the following play.

16. ... 27-24
17. 20x27 31x15
18. 10x19 3x17
19. 5-9 17-14
20. 9x18 22x15
21. 6-10 15x6
22. 1x10 26-22
23. 10-14 22-18
24. 14x23 25-22
25. 23-27 22-18
26. 27-31 18-14
27. 31-27 14-9
28. 27-23 9-6
29. 19-24 28x19
30. 23x16 6-2
31. 16-11 2-6
32. 11-15 6-9
33. 15-18 Red Wins.

"Zut!" cried Louie. "Encore une fois ... it ees zee First Position! Monsieur Marvin, you make zee connerie on Jean Claude Louis!"

"Louie," Marvin replied, "Face it. Ya just wasn't good enough to outsmart ole Marvin J. Mavin. Now c'mon, let's go across the street and I'll buy ya une biere in the name of amitie internationale!"

Were you able to figure out this tricky situation? Brian Hinkle, who first showed us this interesting play, remarks, "At the initial setting in order to draw White has to run away with the king with 3-8! ... believe it or not! Without prior knowledge I am sure I would have taken the shot and gone up a man (and a king!) with 27-24x as was played out. Isn't this 27-24x the most natural way and a cool win (for Red)? There are two other lines that end up in First Position. So if White gets greedy, White will lose! Red set a trap that would be hard for White to turn down."

Well, whether you yourself solved this one or not, you've also surely earned yourself une biere for trying. We hope you enjoyed looking into this fascinating and instructive position. There is much more to it than we have space to present here, so grab that beer, and use your computer to explore the variant lines.

And, we're pleased to say, our hero Marvin did not blow the game!

French-English Glossary:

maintenant vous etes foutu now you are finished
mon cher ami my dear friend
ligne line, as in "line of play"
Dames French name for checkers, though more often referring to international rules
clune americaine American clown
un moment s'il vous plait one moment if you please
zut drat
connerie best translated here as "trickery"
encore une fois once again
une biere a beer
amitie internationale international friendship

(Accent marks have been omitted throughout. --Ed.)

White's Man-Down Draw

King's Row, using its endgame database, evaluates the position at -1, a dead draw, and gives this admittedly computer-like draw continuation:

24. 6-10 24-19
25. 5-9 26-23
26. 9-14 19-16
27. 10-15 16-11
28. 1-5 11-7
29. 5-9 7-2
30. 14-17 23-26
31. 17-21 26-30
32. 15-19 30-26
33. 19-24 22-18
34. 13-17 26-30
35. 17-22 2-6
36. 9-13 18-14
37. 24-27 14-9
38. 27-31 6-10
39. 31-27 10-14
40. 27-31 14-10 etc., drawn.

08/27/05 - Category: Games - Printer friendly version
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