It was the end of summer, and Sal had really missed the weekly gatherings of the Coffee and Cake Checker Club. Saturday afternoons just weren't the same without stopping by the Beacon Cafe for a couple of hours of checker fun with the rest of the boys. But summers in Bismarck, North Dakota were short, and most indoor activities knocked off from about mid-June until after Labor Day.
On the last Saturday of August, 1955, Sal just couldn't resist grabbing a checkerboard and a checker magazine and driving over to the Beacon. He didn't expect anyone else from the Club to be there, but he'd be content to enjoy some of Deana's coffee and cake on his own. Deana was the proprietor of the Beacon and her desserts were the best in town.
He sat down in a small booth and was soon occupied with a cup of coffee and some of the games and problems in the August edition of All-Checkers Digest.
He was deep into an article about the big July tournament in Las Vegas, which had drawn over a thousand players from all over North America, when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
"Hey, what are you doing here?" a voice said.
Sal looked up, and well, if it wasn't Louie from the Club!
"Could ask you the same," Sal said with a grin.
"I was painting the guest bedroom all morning," Louie said, "and my wife told me, 'Go treat yourself to something at the Beacon.' Well, couldn't pass that up now, could I?"
"Deana's got chocolate chip bars," Sal said. "Want to buy me one, Flash?" Louie had somehow gotten the nickname "Louie the Flash" and it had stuck.
"Me buy you one?" Louie replied. "Come on, dig a problem out of that there magazine and we'll see who buys!"
Sal chuckled. "Just happens there's one in here from my pal Brian," he said. "Coffee and cake on you when you can't win it?"
"Coffee and cake on you when I do win it," Louie said. But he wasn't really so sure. Brian always sent Sal problems, but the ones that he had published in a major checker magazine with nearly a million readers were usually pretty tough.
"Well, then, Flash old boy, here you go."
Sal set up the following position on his board.
After a few minutes, Louie said, "You gotta be kidding me."
"Can't do it, can you?" Sal said. But then he noticed Louie's big grin. "What's the deal with the smile, Flash?"
Louie started to move the checkers.
Did Louie find the problem too hard or to easy? He probably wouldn't be grinning if he hadn't solved it. How about you? Will you grin or frown? See what you can do and then click on Read More for the solution and the conclusion of the story.
Problem composition, solution, and lettered notes are all by Brian Hinkle. Thank you Brian!
"The Black king on 18 is chasing the White men!" Louie pointed out.
14-9* 18-14 4-8*---1 14-5---A 8-11 15-18 12-8*---B,2 3-12 11-16 12-19 24-22 5-9---C 28-24! 9-5---D 24-19 5-9 19-15 9-14---E 22-26 14-7 26-22 and White Wins even though Black has an extra king---3.
A---14-7 8-11 7-16 12-10 White Wins.
B---The powerful White kings on 12 and 11 must swap themselves in for lowly Black men.
C---Black has 2 kings against 1 White king but will still lose the game!
D---9-14 24-19! 14-7 19-15 White Wins.
E---If Black delays again with 9-5 then 10-6 5-9 6-1 9-14 15-10! 14-7 1-6 and White forces Black to take his medicine!
1---Moving either of the pieces on 9 and 10 will only draw---Ed.
2---Did you anticipate this stellar move?---Ed
3---An amazing finish. While the White king on 22 holds two Black pieces at bay, the humble man on 15 will trap Black's other king---Ed.
"That was sure a nice one," Louie said. "No wonder All-Checkers Digest published it."
"Okay, Flash, you win," Sal said. Sportsman that he was, Sal got up and went to Deana's service counter to order two pieces of that delicious chocolate chip bar and refills on their coffee.
And although you'd never get him to admit it out loud, Sal didn't mind buying today. He was just happy to have stopped in at the Beacon and had the good fortune to share a nice off-season checker moment with his pal Louie the Flash.