Marvin J. Mavin
Marvin J. Mavin, superstar Captain of the Detroit Doublejumpers in the National Checker League, was in hot water.
In our previous story, Marvin faced off on Opening Day against Sunny Sunshine, Captain of the Dallas Defiance, and while Marvin won his game, Sunny was offended by some of his remarks. True to her promise, she filed charges with the Commissioner of the NCL, accusing Marvin of Misogynist Microaggression Offending (MMO) and Incorrect Gender Address (IGA). These were serious charges, and Sunny had the full backing of the powerful LTBO (Looking To Be Offended) Movement.
The NCL normally did whatever the LTBO Movement asked, for fear of having the NCL advertisers and sponsors boycotted.
A hearing was swiftly called, and it wasn't long before Marvin sat in the Hearing Room at NCL Headquarters in Belpre, Ohio.
His long-time girlfriend, Priscilla Snelson, sat with Marvin at the Defendant's table.
They were joined by Marvin's legal counsel, Cynthia Worthingsworth.
At the plaintiff's table sat Sunny Sunshine.
Ms. Sunshine's personal legal counsel was Hazel "How High Am I" Hightower.
Joining the Plaintiffs as an amicus curiae was LTBO representative, Tom "Tommy Tom-Tom" Thomas.
Presiding over the hearing was the NCL Vice-President for Legal Affairs, Billie "Bill the Bill" Bilboy.
Mr. Bilboy rapped his gavel and called the hearing to order. "In the matter of Sunny Sunshine vs. Marvin J. Mavin," he announced in grave tones, "charges of MMO and IGA." Mr. Bilboy shook his head and added, "Serious indeed."
Ms. Hightower called Sunny as her first witness. As she was being sworn in, Priscilla looked over at Marvin. "What are you doing? she whispered.
Marvin had his phone out and was busy studying a checker problem. "It's a hard one," he whispered back. "That guy Brian in St. Louis composed it."
"Put that away," Priscilla hissed. "You might be held in contempt!"
"Aw, but I've almost ..."
"Silence in the Hearing Room!" Mr. Bilboy thundered. "One more disturbance from the Defendant's table and I will forfeit the case!"
Priscilla kept silent but Marvin didn't stop working on the checker problem.
Meanwhile, Ms. Sunshine was describing how Marvin had addressed her on Opening Day, explaining that he was disrespectful merely because she was a woman who was successful at checkers, and that until she insisted, Marvin refused to address her in gender-free terms despite her obviously being offended.
Her testimony ended and Ms. Worthingsworth stood up to cross examine.
Suddenly, Marvin leaped up and exclaimed, "Got it!"
Mr. Bilboy was about to pound his gavel when Ms. Worthingsworth said, "Sir, if you would please allow me a word with my client, I believe I can get everything under control."
Mr. Bilboy put down his gavel. "Very well, counselor, but see that this is the last of Mr. Mavin's poor behavior.
Ms. Worthingsworth went over to Marvin and Priscilla. "Look Marvin," she began, but Marvin cut in.
"I've got it! I've got it!" He was so excited he was fidgeting.
"Got what?" Priscilla asked, "your precious checker problem ... when your career is at stake?"
"Well, yeah," Marvin said, "I did solve the problem. See, what you do is ..."
"Never mind that," Ms. Worthingsworth said, "you need to sit down and be very quiet."
"No, no, no, that's not all," Marvin said. "Listen ... "
Marvin whispered in Ms. Worthingsworth's ear. "Oh," she said. "I see."
What did Marvin discover? A solution to the problem or perhaps something more?
This is another of Brian's challengers but we urge you not to try to solve it if you happen to be in a courtroom. Work it out in the comfort of your home and then click on Read More to see the solution and the rest of the story, in which you'll find out what Marvin told his lawyer.[Read More]
Some situations are just plain hopeless. In real life, we still need to carry on and make the best of things. There's no other way.
But over the checkerboard, sometimes it's truly game over. In this respect we're glad checkers doesn't mirror real life. It's a game. A great game, but fortunately, a game.
Here's just such a situation. It looks pretty tough for White, but there is indeed a ray of hope--- a pretty large one, as it turns out.
This one is actually pretty easy. Sometimes when things look down there is a simple answer right in front of us, if only we can see it.
We hope you can find the solution, but in any case you can always click on Read More to see how it's done.[Read More]
It was Saturday, October 29, 1955. That meant that Monday would be October 31. Halloween.
Now, every Saturday except during the summer and major holidays, the Coffee and Cake Checker Club met at The Beacon Cafe in the Provident Life Building in Bismarck, North Dakota. Bismarck was a very traditional, home-town sort of place, and holidays were celebrated with enthusiasm.
So Deana Nagle, the proprietor of the Beacon and the best baker in a dozen counties, decided that on Saturday she'd give free coffee to anyone in costume. She couldn't do it on Sunday, when the Beacon was closed, or on Monday, when folks had to wear work clothes, so Saturday was it.
There's nothing a hometown likes more than something for free, and all Saturday morning, customers in various types of costume came in for free coffee. Of course Deana was as good at business as she was at baking, and as she expected, a lot of customers bought her baked treats. Deana had even dressed up herself--- as a baker, of course!
But the afternoon would be slower. Some folks still had leaves to rake and yards to prepare for winter, and important chores like that weren't put off in a town like Bismarck. Still, the Checker Club would be there. Would they wear costumes? Deana didn't know what to wish for. The "boys" of the Club (all of them over 50) drank a lot of coffee and ate a lot of baked goods. It would be quite a bit of free coffee to hand out. On the other hand, the boys were good natured and usually left tips in addition to all the goodies they bought.
One o'clock rolled around and the first one through the door was Sal Westerman, the leader of the Club. Sure enough he was dressed as a college professor, in an academic gown and wearing a mortarboard. It suited him well, Deana thought as she poured him a cup of coffee and returned his greetings.
Next in was Wayne.
He was dressed as a farmer. Deana thought that hardly qualified, as Wayne grew up on a farm north of town. But he got his free coffee anyhow.
Then Dan came in. He was costumed as a cowboy--- not much of a costume in western North Dakota, but still, he was in the spirit of the day.
Next was Louie, appearing as the comic book character Flash (Louie's nickname was itself "Flash").
Sam then appeared, in a clown suit.
Finally there was Tom, appearing as a football player (Tom had played football in college).
That was a lot of free coffee already, and when Sal laid out the checkers on a board in the big booth at the back, and announced, "This is a tough one from my checker pal Brian in St. Louis," Deana knew the coffee would have to keep flowing.
"I've got raisin pumpkin bars today," Deana announced, and there were grins all around. She knew she'd be selling a good dozen of them in a little while, as the boys would each have one and some of them would take a couple home for their grandkids.
But for the moment, the concentration was intense. Deana sat back and relaxed. Half an hour passed and Sal called "Time!" She heard Wayne say, "We can't get it. You win, Sal. Show us."
She watched as Sal began to move the checkers and explain the solution.
You don't have to dress up in Halloween garb to solve this problem, unless, of course, you wish to do so. Costume or no costume, see how you do with this one. In the spirit of Halloween, it's "scary" hard! But don't be scared off. Try to find the win and when you're ready, click on Read More to see the solution and explanatory notes. Who knows, you might win a (virtual) raisin pumpkin bar.[Read More]
Election Day in the United States is not far off, and The Checker Maven urges all of our eligible American readers to get out and vote, whether by mail, in-person, or however it works in your particular place of residence. We're not going to express any opinions on how you should vote. Cast your vote as you see fit, but definitely vote!
The story below may perhaps be taken as a bit of a cautionary tale. It is of course purely fiction but may highlight what can happen when the wrong person gets elected ... something for which the voters are directly responsible.
Marcy Baloner was a United States Senator from a state quite distant from the nation's capitol. (She was the older cousin of Mary Baloner, whom we met in another Checker Maven story some years ago.)
Now, Senator Marcy wasn't quite the brightest lightbulb in the chandelier, and she wasn't the most stable person, either. In fact, some of her critics called her "Crazy Marcy" because of the way she acted during Congressional hearings. She was always outraged over something and didn't hesitate to express her emotions.
Little known to those outside of her advisory circle was that each morning, her staff briefed her on what she ought to be outraged about on that particular day. They even had assigned outrage themes to the days of the week, much like the old Mickey Mouse Club had daily themes. For instance, Monday was Gender Identity Outrage Day; Tuesday was Evil Capitalism Outrage Day, and so on.
At nine o'clock on a Thursday morning, Senator Marcy sat down in her conference room for her daily briefing. "What have we got for today?" she asked her assembled staff.
Her Chief of Staff replied, "Well, Thursday is Microaggression Outrage Day. The St. Louis newspaper's checker column has a checker problem by Brian someone or other, and it's filled with microaggressions."
Senator Marcy thought for a moment. "St. Louis? Is that in my constituency? Where is St. Louis, anyhow? Did they vote for me in the last election?"
The Chief of Staff, accustomed to such questions, replied calmly, "No, Senator, St. Louis is in Missouri. You represent ..."
"Oh, right, of course," the Senator replied. "Well, anyhow, what's my stand on this?"
"Brian refers to the checkers as 'men' and 'kings.' Obvious microaggressions. Your position is that checkers is a misogynistic, racist game that has no place in America."
"Oh, racist, too?" the Senator said. "That sounds great. I can get really mad. Two things at once to yell at people about."
"Well, Friday is Racism Outrage Day, but I see no problem in advancing that to Thursday and combining it with Microaggression Outrage Day," the Chief of Staff said. "After all, Brian also calls the checkers Black and White, and he even dares to capitalize White!"
Marcy shook her head. "Terrible, terrible. Something must be done about checkers! Maybe I should introduce a bill. Like, eliminate the teaching of checkers in the schools and substitute something else. Except I don't know what."
"You can make your usual point about Mindful Woke Pronouns," the Chief of Staff suggested.
"Oh ... is that my usual point? You would know better than I would," the Senator said. "Write a speech for me and tell me when I should yell and frown and throw stuff. It's going to be a great day. And make sure the networks and newspapers all cover it."
"I'm on it, Senator," the Chief of Staff said. Gosh, but how she loved her job, working with such a distinguished Senator.
Brian's outrageous checker problem is show below, and we hope you're not too offended or outraged yourself to give it a try. Brian says it's about 7 out of 10 in terms of difficulty, and he notes that some skilled solvers are having a little trouble with it.
When you're outraged enough to see the solution, click on Read More to see the winning moves and composer's notes.[Read More]
The Checker Maven runs on a modest budget and occupies a modest space in a modest building. Your editor's quarters, above, reflects our every-inch-counts working environment.
Every so often we run an "Editor's Choice" column. These don't follow any particular schedule or theme and are not part of one of our ongoing story series. They are simply a presentation of a checker problem or situation that we've found interesting, instructive, or both. Generally it's something from our library but at times it's a contributed problem.
We've always admired the work of past problem great Fausto Dalumi and today we reprint one of his problems from something like 90 years ago. We think it's as fresh and interesting today as it was way back when.
Whether you attempt this problem in a small and crowded space or a large and spacious palace makes no difference. It's a nice problem either way. Mr. Dalumi noted that every White move is a "star" move.
Space out your efforts (or crowd them in at your choice) and see if you can find the solution. When ready, do allow room to click your mouse on Read More to see how it's done.[Read More]
In one of our recent Checker School columns, we met Mr. Hatley, his son Ned, and Farmer Sneed, all characters in Andrew J. Banks' charming 1945 book Checker Board Strategy. Today, Mr. Hatley and Ned return. Mr. Hatley is telling his son about the first checker book ever published in English. Mr. Hatley then goes on to show Ned a long series of instructive problems that we suppose are in the spirit of that early book rather than necessarily contained therein.
In the reading room of the Rare Book Section of the Library of Congress sat a short elderly man. He put on his horn rimmed glasses and squinted his dark eyes as he spoke to his son.
"Ned, I want you to see the first checkerbook printed in English," said Mr. Hatley, pointing to a small rare volume, "Guide to the Game of Draughts," by William Payne, Londdon, England.
"Why father, it was published in 1756." Ned counted some 50 games and 38 problems.
"Look at the quaint old English!" he exclaimed.
You will find some of Payne's problems in practically every checkerbook.
One of the problems that Mr. Hatley showed Ned on that day, some 75 years ago, was the one below, credited to A. E. Clow of Ontario.
Mr. Hatley also gave Ned a second example in the same vein, credited to David Kirkwood way back in 1875.
How would you do as Mr. Hatley's student? You don't need to journey to the hallowed halls of the Library of Congress; you can solve these in the comfort of your own home. See how you do and then click on Read More to see the solutions.[Read More]
It seems as though this young lady has taken a deliberate tumble into a pile of autumn leaves, a fall into fall, if you will. We wonder if she has tumbled to something here, as she looks relaxed and content.
We think you'll be quite content, too, after solving this month's speed problem, provided by regular contributors Lloyd and Josh Gordon of Toronto.
We'd rate this one as "very easy" for most experienced players, and good practice for the rest of us. Don't take a fall; see how quickly you can solve it, then click on Read More to verify your solution.[Read More]
Excitement and electricity were in the air, for today began the new season of the National Checker League. Each and every team was hopeful, their eyes set on unseating the World Champion Detroit Doublejumpers and claiming the crown for themselves.
It would take a lot of good checkers and maybe a few breaks to accomplish that, but the Pennant Race would soon be on.
No team was more optimistic than the Dallas Defiance, led by their new captain, a young lady who went by the name of Sunny Sunshine. She was a bit, shall we say, theatrical, but she had earned her team captaincy by showing skill and daring at the checkerboard.
Today, in the Dallas Checkerdrome, she would face Marvin J. Mavin, superstar leader of the aforementioned World Champion Detroit Doublejumpers.
The Checkerdrome was packed with a sellout crowd of over 50,000 rabid Dallas fans. Soon the players and umpires were introduced and the teams stood at attention in front of their dugouts for the playing of the National Anthem.
Then the players took the field, and the season was on!
But where's this Sunny lady? Marvin asked himself as he stood in front of first board, his playing position. His opponent seemed to be missing--- oh, you've got to be kidding me! he thought.
For here came Sunny Sunshine, riding a unicycle in from the outfield! The crowd roared its appreciation and Sunny waved and blew kisses and she made her way toward first board.
She rode straight up to Marvin, jumped down from her unicycle, and cast it aside as she offered Marvin a handshake.
"Pleased to meet you, Marvster!" she said. "Ready to get your pants handed to you?" As attendants cleared the field of the unicycle, Sunny laughed and slapped her knees, and the crowd laughed with her.
Marvin, for once, was speechless.
"Lost your voice, Marvster?" she asked as she did lively dance steps over to her side of the board. "Doesn't matter. Won't change anything. But you're going to look pretty silly without pants!"
Finally Marvin spoke. "Oh yeah, well you're going to ... "
"Ah, watch what you say, Marvster," Sunny interrupted, "wouldn't want to get charged with Misogynist Microaggression Offending, now, would you?"
Marvin stopped mid-sentence. MMO would be a very serious thing indeed, and could even tank his career. The National Checker League had become very careful about staying on the good side of the LTBO (Looking To Be Offended) Movement.
"Hey," he finally said, "how about we just, you know, compete over the checkerboard?"
"You're on," Sunny said, "that's just what I had in mind." She grinned. "But I'd still hang on to your pants."
Before Marvin could either attempt a reply or realize that he had best stay silent, the whistle blew and the call "Play checkers!" resounded through the stadium.
The game was a tough one and for the most part it went on in silence. Finally Marvin, playing White, felt he had an advantage in a very complicated and unusual position.
But at that moment, Marvin forgot himself. "Well there girl, looks like I just might win this one and keep my pants." Marvin, thinking he had been very clever, chuckled.
"What did you call me?" Sunny exclaimed. "Did you call me girl?" She stood up behind her board, hands on her hips.
Marvin replied, "Well, yeah, uh, I mean you are a ... you know ... "
Sunny interrupted. "After a remark like that you still think you're going to win?"
"Well, look here young .... um, person, I got eight men to your seven, even though you got a lotta kings ..."
"Men," Sunny said in a clearly derisive tone. "And Kings. It figures. You know what this game is called in French and German? Bet you don't because you're not exactly educated. It's called Jeux de dames and Damenspiel--- the game of Queens. So don't you ever call me girl or any sexist term again. From now on you'll either call me Ms. Sunshine or Queen Sunny, is that clear?"
"Uh, yeah. Clear as Sunshine on a Sunny day. Well then, Queen Sunny, watch this."
Marvin made his move. Sunny quickly sat back down and studied the board, a frown on her face.
What will happen next? Can Marvin pull off a win? How will Sunny react? Is Marvin in hot water?
Solve the problem as best you can and then click on Read More for the solution and some answers to these questions.[Read More]
It's here! Grandmaster Richard Pask's fifth and concluding volume of his Logical Checkers series is now available for free download here, or from the Richard Pask page as linked in the right-hand column. (Earlier download problems have been resolved.)
Over 300 pages in length and filled with diagrams, the book provides the crowning touch to this unprecedented series of instructional volumes, designed to take the player from novice to expert, fully prepared for master level studies.
As a sample of the new book's content, here's an illustrative game leading to a problem position, with Mr. Pask's commentary.
Illustrative Game 150: 9-13 24-20; 10-14 22-18; 5-9 27-24; 6-10 25-22; 1-5?! (although impossible to criticize in general terms, analysis has shown that this should be avoided, with 10-15! preferred) 31-27!; 14-17 (10-15? 23-19; 14-23 27-18!; 7-10 26-23; 3-7 30-25 is a quick win scored by Pat McCarthy over Ken Lovell) 21-14; 10-17 29-25; 17-21 18-14; 9-18 23-14; 11-15 27-23; 8-11? White to Play and Win.
15-18 and the resultant 3 for 3 would have drawn. Can you find the White win? Of course, as would be expected in an advanced study, you may not find it easy. For the solution, download the book and refer to page 167.
Now that this landmark series is concluded, we plan to prepare and publish a comprehensive single-volume edition of all five parts of Logical Checkers, a mammoth book with over 1,000 diagrams and likely running above 800 pages. An electronic version will as always be provided completely free of charge. The trade paperback print edition is estimated to cost around $30.00, although that has yet to be finalized. The book will take quite some time to bring to press, but look for it in the latter part of 2021.
The Checker Maven thanks Grandmaster Pask for the honor of continuing to publish his work and for his unparalleled generosity in providing it to the checker playing public completely free of charge.
Saturday, September 10, 1955: It was the first Saturday after the Labor Day weekend. For Sal Westerman, a retired actuary in Bismarck, North Dakota, the day held special meaning, for at 1 PM, the Coffee and Cake Checker Club would resume its weekly meetings after the summer break.
Sal missed those get-togethers at the Beacon Cafe in the Provident Life Building. It was the highlight of the week for the elderly gentleman. Oh, he understood that during the all-too brief North Dakota summers, pretty much every organized indoor activity came to a stop so that people could enjoy the long hours of daylight and spend time outdoors. But he missed his club nonetheless.
His wife Sylvia sensed his eagerness and served an early lunch so that Sal could be on his way and not be a minute late. Sal walked much faster than usual from his home to the Beacon that afternoon, and arrived a full five minutes early.
When Deana, the proprietor and the best baker in a dozen counties, greeted him, he felt a warm flow of contentment. Looking to the back of the Cafe, he was even more pleased to see that a few of the boys (all of them at least 50 years old) were already in the big booth that the Club always used. Delmer, Dan, Wayne, and Larry were on hand, and look! even Tom was present.
There were greetings and handshakes all around, and by one o'clock two more members had arrived: Louie and Ron. It was a great gathering and Sal couldn't have been more pleased.
"Welcome back, boys!" he said. "I hope you all had a great summer and are ready for some checkers!" There were words of assent all around and Larry and Louie even gave out a little cheer. But it was Wayne who asked the inevitable question.
"What've you got for us today?"
"Oh," Sal chuckled, "a real nice one from Ed." Ed was Sal's checker penpal way out east in Pennsylvania. "Ed says you have to find 18 star moves to solve it."
"18 star moves!" Dan exclaimed. "That's darn tough!"
Behind her counter, Deana, sensed her moment. She was as good at marketing as she was at baking. "Zucchini chocolate chip bars today," she said. "Fresh and hot."
"Sounds great!" Sal said. "I'll be happy to have the boys buy me a couple when they can't win this one!"
"Says who!" exclaimed Tom. "Lay 'em out, Sal!"
Sal set up two checkerboards, one in the big booth and one in the adjoining booth. With such a great turnout, one board would hardly be enough. He arranged the pieces in the following position.
"Golly," Dan said, and then added, "gee."
"Since you have to find 18 star moves, I'll give you some extra time," Sal said. "How about half an hour?"
There was a great clamoring of disagreement. "An hour!" Louie demanded. "Play fair!"
"Okay, an hour. But not a minute more!" Sal looked over at Deana. "We're going to need a lot of coffee," he said.
"Gotcha covered," came the reply but the boys paid no attention. They were already deeply engrossed in Ed's problem.
We're certain you're glad the Club is finally meeting again, and no doubt you'd like one of those zucchini chocolate chip bars. Can you solve the problem and win one (virtually, of course)? Take as much time as you like. Put a pot of coffee on the stove and try to work it out; then click on Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.[Read More]