Three Move Opening: A Checker Romance
Part Seven: Finale
It was already after 11 PM, and Reggie wondered if it was too late at night to call Katie. He had figured her to be the early to bed type and it didn't seem like it would be a very good idea to disturb her if she were already asleep.
But then again, she had left him multiple messages and texts. Wouldn't it be better to call tonight rather than wait until morning?
Reggie's decision was made for him. Just then, he heard his coach calling his name. The match must be over, and Reggie, as captain, had to deal with closing ceremonies and accept the winning team's trophy.
Weymouth had won a decisive victory over home club Lyme Regis, but both teams seemed in a good mood. There were sportsmanlike handshakes all around, a few brief comments by the winning and losing coaches, and then it was off to the bus for the ride home.
No way Reggie could make a phone call on the bus, at least not one that demanded privacy. He didn't want to think about the kind of long-lasting ribbing he'd get if the other players listened in.
The bus didn't get back to Weymouth until well after midnight. Reggie was able to get a ride back to his room with one of the other players. By the time he unlocked his door, it was one in the morning. No way he could call now.
But there was no way to sleep, either. Reggie, exhausted, didn't even bother to change his clothing. He just lay down on his bed with the lights out and his mind racing, playing over dozens of prospective conversations with Katie. Then, at about five o'clock, an idea came to him. Why hadn't he thought of it before? He quickly turned on his computer and went to work.
By about eight, he had found what he knew had to be there. Exhausted, he fell into an uneasy slumber in front of his open laptop.
Fortunately, he hadn't closed the window blinds, and bright sunlight coming directly through the window woke him at about ten. He had already missed his first class, and would have to hurry to get to his Chaucer class! Again, he was frustrated; Katie would already be at school with her phone set to silent.
Reggie didn't bother to change his clothes or even wash his face. He just grabbed his backpack, threw his books in it, and ran out to the bus stop. He might just make it if a bus came by soon enough.
Luck was with him. He only waited a few minutes before a bus arrived at his stop. Was this a good omen?
He fidgeted in his seat all the way to the college, attracting a disapproving stare from an older woman laden with shopping bags. But Reggie didn't care. There was only one person he wanted to please today.
Maybe it was lack of sleep. Maybe it was all the emotional ups and downs Reggie had been through. Or maybe it was something else, some undefined thing within Reggie that caused the next set of events to happen. Afterwards, Reggie would wonder about it himself, never quite finding the answer.
He was barely in time for class. Everyone was already seated as he came into the classroom, just as the minute hand on the clock touched the top of the hour. Katie, focused on the front of the room, didn't notice.
"No knight's costume today, Mr. Pastor?" said Dr. Rowan, staring at Reggie. "Frankly, I am surprised you returned to my class, even if only barely on time. And you do look a bit disheveled."
Dr. Rowan turned his gaze to the front row of seats. "Miss Walton, what do you think of Mr. Pastor's appearance today? Would you have preferred him in his knight's garb again, ready to defend you with his trusty sword?"
Katie, surprised, started to turn red. But it was Reggie's reaction that surprised her and everyone else in the room.
Reggie came to his feet, a look of determination in his eyes.
"That's enough, Dr. Rowan!"
Dr. Rowan, taken aback, stopped in mid-sentence.
"You have no right to treat students the way you do! You will apologize to Miss Walton at once for the way you humilated her during our last class!"
Dr. Rowan finally was able to speak. "You're telling me to apologize? You, a mere student, are judging a professor?"
"I may be a mere student, but either you apologize or you answer to me!" Reggie balled his fists and took a couple of steps forward.
"Mr. ... Mr. Pastor ... are you threatening me?" Dr. Rowan's voice was uneven, and he had started to tremble, even if only slightly.
Reggie stepped back and relaxed his hands. Then he smiled. "Threaten you, Dr. Rowan? Why, I would never do such a thing. I'm merely instructing you in what it would be in your best interests to do."
Reggie paused for a moment, looking around the room. The students all seemed to be awaiting his next words.
"You see, I did some checking this morning. I found that there have been a long series of complaints against you for abusive behaviour in the classroom. I don't think another such complaint would help your bid for tenure."
Dr. Rowan was now trembling even more noticeably.
"What do you think, Dr. Rowan? I'm sure we'd all like to know."
Katie had had just a blank expression on her face, but now it had turned into a bit of a smile. She turned to Dr. Rowan and said, "Yes, Professor, I'd like to hear what you have to say as well."
"Um ... well ... uh ... " Dr. Rowan began, "Yes, that is ... I mean ... Miss Walton, I apologize for ... uh ... you know, embarrassing you last time ... and ... um ... it won't happen again."
"It certainly won't," Reggie said, taking his seat and opening his book.
Class was over and Katie and Reggie decided to walk the half mile to Weymouth Beach so they could sit and talk privately, away from the campus hubbub.
"I'm sorry for what I put you through," Reggie said. "I only meant well but I just seemed to mess things up."
Katie uncrossed her legs and leaned toward Reggie. Even in the sheltered corner they had located, between a couple of buildings, a cool breeze reached them. "And I over-reacted," she said. "Can I blame it on genetics? A bit of a temper runs in my family. But I'm sorry too."
They sat in silence for a few moments. Then Katie said, "I can't believe how brave you were in front of Dr. Rowan! How did you ever have the courage to stand up to him? And to defend me, no less!"
"I don't know," Reggie said, and it was the truth. "Maybe ... I just couldn't let him make you cry again. He had no right."
"You know, there's probably some trouble ahead," Katie said. "At the least, he'll give you poor marks in the class. Maybe me too."
"I don't think so." Reggie hesitated. "Of course, it's hard to be certain, but you ought to see his record. He even faced a board of inquiry once. I don't think he's going to push this. And I think we're both going to get top marks. It will be his way of buying our silence."
"And I had thought so much of him. He seemed so intelligent."
"I'm sure he is. But that's no guarantee of being a good person."
"It's chilly." Katie moved closer to Reggie and took his arm. "So, you've tried Maid of the Mill and Laird and Lady, without much luck, but you've surely earned yourself another try. What will it be?"
Reggie, both surprised and delighted by the sensation of Katie sitting close enough so that their hips touched, thought for a moment.
Then, he took a sheet of paper from his backpack, wrote something on it, folded it and handed it to Katie.
Katie turned the paper over in her hands a couple of times, looked up at Reggie, and finally unfolded it.
"Why ... 11-15! That's not a complete opening ... oh!"
She looked into his eyes and smiled. "11-15. Old Faithful."
Reggie nodded, and oddly enough, he wasn't even all that surprised when she leaned closer and kissed him.
Although for once Reggie has something on his mind besides draughts, here's the run-up to an interesting situation.
11-15---A 23-18 9-14---B 18x11 8x15 22-17 4-8 26-23 7-11 23-19 5-9 30-26 9-13---C
A---Old Faithful, of course.
B---Into a variant of the Cross (not that Katie is cross any longer).
C---15-18 or 3-7 would be correct. This move loses.
This isn't a particularly hard problem. We wonder if Reggie could solve it while he's --- let's say, otherwise occupied? Possibly. It all depends what he's concentrating on most.
But how about you? Distraction free, do you have faith in being able to find the winning play, or will it cross you up? When you've given it a good try, cross your mouse over to Read More, which will always faithfully lead you to the solution.
19-16 12x19---D 27-23 13x22 23x7 2x11 25x2 White Wins.
D---11-20 26-23 13-22 25-4 White Wins.
We hope you enjoyed this serialized story. Our next serial, The Last Checkerist, is tentatively scheduled to begin toward the end of 2018 or in early 2019.