The Checker Maven

Marvin Returns to St. Louis

Marvin J. Mavin was back in St. Louis on a good-will tour, working in the inner-city schools with disadvantaged children. It was one of his favorite charitable activities and Marvin took every opportunity to further this cause.

But there were other items on Marvin's agenda for this visit. Marvin was scheduled to play an exhibition game at the St. Louis Civic Society Auditorium against the countywide amateur champion, Hinkley B. Dinkley. It was rumored that a number of major league scouts would be in attendance, with their eyes on Mr. Dinkley, who had made such a showing in amateur play that a professional contract was a real possibility. Mr. Dinkley, however, was also considering becoming a tennis pro; tennis seemed to be his real love, even though a major league checker career would be far more lucrative.

It seems, however, that prior to the game, Marvin made an unscheduled and rather prolonged stop--- at St. Louis' landmark Mudvisor Brewery. The press was not allowed to follow Marvin while he took a tour of the brewery, a tour that normally lasts about 30 minutes, though Marvin was not seen to exit the grounds until more than two hours had elapsed. Just what was Marvin doing during all of that time?

But now, Marvin and Hinkley were seated before the checkerboard, shaking hands and exchanging pre-game greetings.

"Ever been to the Mudvisor Brewery, Hink?" asked Marvin.

"Um, the name's Hinkley, and yes, I've been there once or twice. Nothing really special," replied Hinkley.

"Aw, c'mon Hink," Marvin continued, rather oblivious to Hinkley's reply, "they got that Mud Light in there and they give ya samples. Lotsa samples!"

Hinkley declined to reply, as the referee had signaled the start of play. Marvin had Black, and made his opening move.

1. 9-13

Marvin leaned back in his chair, clasped his hands on the back of his neck, and chuckled, "Hey, Hink, thought I'd sorta give you a break, being as how you're an amateur and all!"

Hinkley did not reply but simply moved

1. ... 22-18

"Ah, now we're gettin' serious," said Marvin, and the game continued as follows.

2. 12-16 24-20
3. 8-12 25-22
4. 16-19

Hinkley suddenly sat up straight, staring intently at the board, with an astonished look on his face. He blinked his eyes, blinked again, and continued to stare at the pieces.

"Whaddya lookin....." Marvin started to say, but he abruptly cut off his sentence, and then muttered, "Uh-oh...."

The forced exchanges took place, and then it was again Hinkley's turn.

4. ...23-16
5. 12-19

Hinkley thought for a few more minutes, and then looked Marvin straight in the eye and said, "Marvin, I think your visit to Mudvisor was ill advised," whereupon, Hinkley made his move.

Can you figure out what's going on here? Did Marvin make an error? What move had Hinkley been expecting Marvin to make? How did Hinkley respond?


White to Play, What Result?

Put yourself in Hinkley's shoes and work this all out, then click on Read More for the rest of the story.


Without further pause, Hinkley played:

5. ... 27-23!---E

and the game continued on, with Marvin looking most uncomfortable as successive moves were made.

6. 11-16 20x11
7. 7x16 18-15
8. 4-8 15-11
9. 8x15 23-18
10. 5-9 18x11
11. 1-5---A 31-27---B
12. 9-14 27-24
13. 5-9 24x15
14. 10x19 32-27
15. 6-10 27-24---C

Hinkley, having made this move, looked uncomfortable in turn and was heard to himself mutter, "Uh-oh...."

16. 10-15---D 24-20

Hinkley now looked most relieved, while Marvin continued to play, apparently oblivious to Hinkley's inner drama.

17. 14-18 29-25
18. 9-14 11-8
19. 3x12 20x11
20. 12-16 11-8
21. 16-20 8-4
22. 20-24 4-8
23. 24-27 8-11
24. 27-31 26-23
25. 19x26 30x23
26. 18x27 11x9

White Wins.

"Hink ... you won! You ain't supposed to do that!" Marvin exclaimed. "I'm Marvin J. Mavin and I'm supposed to win!"

"Well, so sorry, Marv," replied Hinkley, "maybe if you lay off the brewery samples next time things might be different." Hinkley was obviously irritated by Marvin's lack of graciousness, but he maintained a polite tone nonetheless.

"Aw, Hink...." Marvin began, but Hinkley quickly interrupted, "And the name is Hinkley!" whereupon he stood up from his seat and left the playing hall, to loud applause from the local fans.

Marvin put his head down on the table, and, as the hall quickly emptied out, was last seen in that position when the janitors arrived to clean up.

Hinkley, on the other hand, was met at the locker room door by scouts from several major league teams, all vying furiously for his attention. Next day, the St. Louis newspapers reported that Hinkley was considering several pro checkers offers, weighing them carefully against his love for tennis.

A---This only makes things worse for Marvin. Better was 15-18 although the game is still a likely loss.

B---32-27 is more accurate.

C---Hinkley makes a major error here. 28-24 preserves the win; while now Hinkley still stands better, Marvin has a draw within reach.

D---But instead, Marvin makes an even bigger blunder and the game is now dead lost. 16-20 would likely have drawn here.

E---At move 4, Marvin's 16-19 loses. 10-15 is required at that point to obtain a draw. This is standard published play, and a player of Marvin's caliber would certainly know better, absent the afternoon's brewery tour.

01/31/09 - Category: Problems - Printer friendly version
You can email the Webmaster with comments on this article.