A huge crowd had gathered at Manhattan Square Garden to see the National Checker League match between the Detroit Doublejumpers and the New York Draughtsmen, two of the top teams in the league. The Doublejumpers would be lead as usual by their intrepid captain, Marvin J. Mavin.
But what was not so usual is that the Draughtmen would be lead by an incredible young checker prodigy, who had recently burst upon the scene, turning pro at the age of 17 and moving at once to the top ranks: Marvin tonight would face checker sensation Mary Baloner.
Marvin was more than a little put out. "A teenage girl for crying out loud!" he muttered, but not very loudly; he had been warned by his management that comments about age or gender were completely out of place, as checkers was a democratic sport open to all based solely on ability. Still, Marvin really, really wanted to win tonight.
"She's not even old enough to drink beer!" he said, but again, not loudly enough to be heard.
And now, there she was, standing opposite him as the last strains of the National Anthem echoed through the arena.
"Hey, Mavstah!" she exclaimed as they took their seats and waited for the arena announcer to introduce the teams and players. "Whaddya think about playin' a itsy-bitsy little girl, huh? Yeah, I know whatcha think. But youse gonna get your---" But before she could describe what was going to happen to Marvin, the announcer introduced them, and then the referee signaled for the games to start.
Mary gave Marvin a wink and a grin and made her first move, and the teams settled down to their play.
After Marvin made this move, Mary looked quite surprised. She looked up at him and said, "Oh, a wise guy, is ya, Mavhstah? A normal playah woulda played 22-18 but you ain't normal, is ya?" And then she laughed and turned her attention back to the checkerboard.
But Marvin thought he knew what he was doing. Despite Mary's superstar status, he knew that she wouldn't have experience in many of the offbeat lines of play, and he thought to get an advantage by taking the game into less familiar territory.
"Heh, heh, heh, fancy-schmancy," Mary said. "But I seen it all comin'."
Mary looked up at Marvin once again. "I thought youse was gonna play 29-25, Mahvstah. Whaddya doin, tryin ta confuse me or sumthin? Well it ain't gonna work against Mary Baloner!"
Marvin didn't reply. Was he holding his breath a little, waiting to see how Mary would respond to this move?
Marvin breathed a sigh of relief and spoke for the first time during the game. "Well, little Missy, you may think you are some sort of checker rock star, but this game is mine."
Now it was Mary's turn to be silent, a look of consternation gathering on her face as Marvin made his next move.
Can you beat Mary at her own game, so to speak? Do you know what move she should have played to hold the draw? See if you're as good as Marvin; find the winning move, and fix Mary's unfortunate error while you're at it. Then click on Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.
Conclusion and Solution
A---18-22 or 18-23 would have drawn.
Mary resigned the game and offered Marvin a handshake. The Draughtsmen had lost the match to the Doublejumpers by a score of three to two. Marvin accepted Mary's handshake. He stood up to go but Mary grabbed his forearm and stopped him for a moment as she said, "OK, Mavstah, dat was a good win and I gives ya credit. So how abouts we go grab a couple beers, huh?"
Marvin was astounded by this offer, and astounded himself even more with his reply, as he said in a firm voice, "Um, Missy, you are underage and are asking me to aid you in an illegal activity. I'm sorry, but I can't and won't do that. I advise you to go home and have a glass of milk instead."
For the first time in as long as he could remember, Marvin had turned down a beer--- and was happy about it to boot.
The Checker Maven wishes to reiterate that underage drinking is illegal, and providing alcohol to minors is a serious offense that will likely result in well-deserved jail time.