The Checker Maven

The Lindyville Checker Club, Part 5

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Saturday morning dawned sunny and cold. It was the kind of morning made for staying in bed late and snuggling under warm blankets.

But at about 8 AM Andrew was out of bed, nudging Samantha. "Come on, sleepyhead, there's a busy day ahead! I want to get to Lindyville when the library opens at ten!

Andrew figured Lindyville to be about an hour's drive, given the likely snow-packed condition of the two-lane road that lead there from Lake City.

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"Look, I know you're tired out from yesterday's excitement ..."

He ducked the pillow that Samantha threw at him, but didn't see the second one coming, and it hit him square in the face.

"Excitement," Samantha muttered, throwing the covers aside and getting out of the bed. "Dusty basement records rooms and a drive through town highlighted by a tour of the Lake City Sausage Factory. Even your old checker magazines would top that."

"Glad to hear you're showing an interest," Andrew said, rubbing his face. "Waffle House for breakfast?"

"Like there's a choice?" Samantha went into the bathroom and closed the door.

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They arrived at the Lindyville Library at about 11 o'clock. "Let me handle this," Samantha said. "You haven't done very well with Miss Victor so far, and she doesn't know me."

"Okay," Andrew said. "I want to see if I can find the site of the old checker club, so I'll just pick you up here in about an hour."

Samantha got out of the rental car and waved as Andrew drove off. Then she turned and faced the Library entrance.

The building was a lot larger than she had expected. Lindyville's population was under two hundred but this looked like a decent-sized library and it was in a rather new-looking building on a generously sized lot.

Samantha pulled open the glass door and entered. The interior was divided into three rooms, two of them quite large, all of them lined with bookshelves around the walls and tables and chairs in the middle.

To her left was what was obviously the checkout and reference desk. And Samantha had no trouble at all recognizing Miss Victor, who was favoring her with a cold glare.

"Haven't seen you here before," Miss Victor said. She was exactly what Samantha had expected: a rather large middle-aged woman with florid features and dark hair pulled back into an untidy bun. Her voice was low and rough. Definitely a smoker, as Andrew had pointed out.

"I'm not from around here," Samantha said.

"Don't have to tell me that," Miss Victor said.

"I ... I'm just visiting."

"Don't get many visitors in Lindyville. None of them come to the Library, either."

"Well, let me be the first!" Samantha said, affecting a bright tone.

It didn't work.

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"Must be here for a reason," Miss Victor said. "You didn't just sort of end up here."

It's time to take this on, Samantha thought. She walked over to the desk and faced Miss Victor.

"Yes, I'm here for a reason," Samantha said. "I came here with Professor Lopez from the University of New Mexico."

Miss Victor's eyes flicked. "Him," she said. "He doesn't listen very well."

"That's as may be, Miss Victor," Samantha said. "But we're doing research, and I would think that as the town's librarian, you'd want to be helpful. Now, surely you know something about the old Lindyville Checker Club. What can you tell me?"

"Nothing. Can't tell you nothing ... er, anything."

"Surely you've heard of it? Surely you know about the murder?"

"That's an old, old story, long done and gone. What are you, one of them ... er... those ... big city troublemakers, trying to make our town look bad? People don't care for that, you know. Outsiders stirring things up, I mean."

There was an awkward silence. "Well, if you can't help me," Samantha finally said, "do you at least have a reference section? You know, someplace where I can do a little research?"

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"Library's full of books," Miss Victor said.

"I meant, you know, the history of Lindyville ..."

"Look around. You're bound to find something. Now if you'll excuse me I have work to do." Miss Victor looked down and started turning the pages of a copy of Vogue.

"I thought your job was ... never mind." Samantha walked off toward the bookshelves.

History is bound to be here somewhere, Samantha thought. I wonder what call number is for local history? No use asking the librarian, that's for sure.

Samantha somehow found herself looking at 790s bookcase. 794.1, books on chess ... 794.2 ... checkers! Maybe there would be something here. Let's see ... Lee's Guide ... Churchill's Compilation ... Checker Magic. The books all looked pretty old and worn, and nothing about a Lindyville Checker Club.

She absently pulled a book from the shelf and leafed through the pages. She replaced it and pulled out another. As she did so, a tattered photocopy fell to the floor. Samantha bent down and picked it up.

It was just a handful of pages stapled together. The title was typewritten. Cudworth's Problem Book, by Bill Cudworth. There was a typewritten note on the cover as well. "Replacement of Lost Original from Lindyville Checker Club".

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Had Samantha hit the jackpot? That librarian had to have known about this. Why didn't she say anything? Samantha was starting to get suspicious.

She stole a glance at the checkout desk. Miss Victor was deep in her "work." With a quick motion, Samantha folded the photocopy in half and stuffed it into her purse. Then she replaced the book she had pulled out, and strode nonchalantly toward the exit, keeping her purse on the side of her body away from Miss Victor.

"I'll be leaving now," she said brightly. "Thank you for all your help."

Miss Victor looked up briefly. "Don't like troublemakers," she said to Samantha's back.

About fifteen minutes passed, when, all of a sudden, an expression of horror came over Miss Victor's face. Moving very quickly for someone of her girth, she got out of her chair and sped across the room to the third aisle from the end, reaching the 794.2 section in seconds. She pulled a book from the shelf and flipped through the pages.

"It's gone!" she exclaimed. "How could I forget about the copy!" She ran toward the exit. "That little thief ..."

The bright sunlight struck her eyes as she pushed the door open and looked up and down the road, but Samantha was nowhere to be seen.

TO BE CONTINUED.



Today's problem can be solved in two different ways. Perhaps you can find them both, but give yourself full credit for finding either one. This is a classic endgame, one that it would do you well to know how to win.

WHITE
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BLACK
White to Play, Black to Win

W:WK32,K31:B28,K23,K22.

See if you can win it, then click on Read More to see the solutions.20050904-symbol.gif



Solution

Here's one way. Variations are possible; use your computer to explore further.

31-27 22-18 27-31 23-19 31-27 19-16 27-31 16-20 31-27 18-15 27-31 20-24 32-27 28-32 27x20 15-19 31-26 19-24 20x27 32x30 Black Wins.

And here's another way. The moves are different but the principles are the same.

31-27 22-18 27-24 23-26 24-19 26-31 19-16 18-15 16-20 15-19 20-24 19-23 24-20 31-27 20-16 23-19 16x23 27x18 Black Wins.

Not quite as easy as the classic 3x2 ending, but in the same vein, and one that all aspiring experts must master.

01/09/16 - Category: Fiction - Printer friendly version
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