Marvin J. Mavin, superstar Captain of the Detroit Doublejumpers in the National Checker League, was once again at a New Year's Eve party at the swank condominium home of his girlfriend, Priscilla Snelson. As was the case last year, Priscilla, who was a C-level executive at Rust Belt Holdings, invited only the elite of the elite, a sophisticated, moneyed crowd of influential executives, politicians, business magnates, and even a couple of Hollywood stars.
And Marvin. Who felt very uncomfortable. His idea of luxury consisted of a few cans of beer enjoyed while relaxing on a couch in front of the TV, clad in a sweatshirt and cut-offs. That wasn't going to happen at this upscale party.
Of course everyone present was passionate about checkers, the undisputed national sport, and so Priscilla had organized a little competition. Party-goers were invited to bring along a checker problem and attempt to "stump Marvin." The first one to do so would win a $4,000 bottle of French champagne, provided by Priscilla from her vast collection of rare wines.
"You can buy a lotta beer for four grand," was all Marvin had to say. But when Priscilla told him to do something, he did it, and there was no further discussion.
During the evening, Marvin was presented various problems by the party-goers. He solved them all with little difficulty. Of course, his success was aided by the fact that Priscilla had told her serving staff not to give Marvin anything stronger than tomato juice, as she didn't want a repeat of last year's embarrassments (see previous Checker Maven story).
When the clock struck eleven, Priscilla's little contest was winding down, and would end just before the New Year rang in. No one had yet claimed the bottle of 1955 Champagne Krug Clos d'Ambonnay. But then Suzette Slinky (the stage name of a very famous Hollywood movie star) sashayed up to Marvin and batted her eyelashes at him. Putting her hand lightly on his arm, she said, "Hey, big boy, wanna try a real checker problem?"
Now, Marvin and Priscilla had been in a relationship for quite a few years, and Marvin loved her dearly. But Marvin, being a guy like most guys, found someone like Suzette, well--- a little hard to resist. He smiled sheepishly and said, "Uh, sure, beautiful, whaddya got for me?"
Did Priscilla overhear him, or did her expression harden just a little, or did she turn in his direction for some other reason?
Suzette reached into her dress, such as it was, and pulled out a small slip of paper. "Here's something sweet for you, Marv," she said, as she ever so slightly touched her hip to his.
"Perfume," Marvin said, taking the paper from her hand and holding it near his nose. Their fingertips touched briefly. "Uh, yeah, I mean, a checker problem, right?"
"Sure is, Captain Marvin," she cooed. "You think you can solve my problem?" She put her arm around Marvin's waist and drew him closer.
Priscilla's expression, if had not changed before, surely changed now. She started across the room toward Marvin.
"Solve your problem?" Marvin said. "Oh, yeah, honey, I can ..."
"That's enough, Marvin," Priscilla snapped. "And as for you, Miss Slinky Hussy, you can leave right now!"
"Marvin, are you going to let her talk to me like that? Won't you protect me?" Suzette said, pulling Marvin even nearer and pouting at Priscilla.
"Hey, Prissy, you shouldn't ..." Marvin began, but he was immediately interrupted.
"OUT! NOW!" Priscilla pulled Marvin away from Suzette's grip and held him by his collar. "OUT! OUT! OUT!"
"Well, if that's how you are, Priscilla, and Marvin, if you're too afraid to say anything ..."
"I'm leaving," Suzette said, "don't worry. And don't think this won't be in the Movie Star Tattler tomorrow morning! You'll see, Miss Priscilla."
Priscilla kept her grip on Marvin's collar until Suzette made her exit and her stunned guests returned to their drinks and conversation. Then she dragged Marvin out to the kitchen, opened the service door, and propelled him into the corridor. Still holding on to him tightly, she called for the service elevator, shoved Marvin inside, and closed the door.. Through the door he heard, "Call yourself a taxi. You're not coming back to my place."
The elevator descended to the ground floor and Marvin stumbled out. Another door led him to an alleyway where he promptly tripped over some debris and landed in a pile of trash.
He started to shiver. It was cold in the alley, and just then he realized he had left his cell phone in his coat in Priscilla's hall closet.
Oh well, there was a bar he knew of nearby, where he could have a couple of beers and drown his sorrows. The bartender would get him a taxi. He would make up with Priscilla in a few days, although he knew it wouldn't be easy, and he would have to grovel ... a lot.
It was only very late the next morning when, alone in his apartment, Marvin awoke and found that Miss Slinky really had given him a checker problem on that perfumed slip of paper, one that she had gotten from her Uncle Brian in St. Louis.
Solution and notes are by the author of this problem, the master composer Brian Hinkle.
18-23*---A 3x10 22-18*---B 31-26 24-20 26-31 20-16 29-25 16-12*---C 25-29 12-8 29-25 8-3 25-22 18-15 10-14 23-18 14x23 19x17 White Wins.
A---22-17? 3x10 19-23 30-25*---D. Drawn.
B---This innocent move incarcerates the three Black kings in a 2 for 1 prison.
C---Watch out! The natural 16-11? allows Black to pitch 10-15 19-10 31-26 23-27 26-23. Drawn.
D---29-25? 23-27* 25-29 18-14* 10-15 24-20 31x24 28x10. White Wins.
Our thanks to Brian for sending us yet another of his fine problems.