The annual Spring Classic, the World Series of Checkers, was coming up soon for the National Checker League. But first there would be the Division Playoffs, and the Detroit Doublejumpers were facing the surprisingly good Kansas City Kingers for the American Conference title and the right to go on to the World Series.
The Doublejumpers had handily won their Division, but the Kingers had amassed nearly as high a winning percentage in their own Division of the American Conference. In a huge surprise that had oddsmakers scrambling for cover, the Kingers were leading 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 in the best of five playoff series. The Doublejumpers had to win the fifth match in order to force a sudden-death playoff. A tie wouldn't do.
And so the pressure was on as the match opened in the Kansas City Checkerdrome. The Doublejumpers fought valiantly on boards 2 through 5, but those games concluded with a 2-2 score. It was all down to first board, and that meant that the Doublejumper Captain, Marvin J. Mavin, would have to notch a win. Not a draw, but a win.
His opponent, the Captain of the Kingers, was a noted physician who left the University of Kelowna Teaching Hospital for the world of Major League Checkers. Everyone just called him Doctor Sharper because of his sharp wit, sharp play, sharp temper, and sharp elbows.
The game did not look good for Marvin, as he faced the following position.
"Resign now, my boy, or I'll even be generous and offer you a draw," said Doctor Sharper. "Save us both some time. The Kingers have outplayed your soon to be ex-champion team and you might as well just admit it and go drown yourself in beer afterwards."
"Oh, you think so, pill-pusher? Well Marvin J. Mavin ain't done 'til he's done."
"You're done! Ha ha! You have that part right at least!"
"Well I ain't one of your students and you ain't telling me nothing about who's better and who ain't."
"Taken a remedial English course lately?" the Doctor asked. "Sounds like you could use one. And for the record, I would never deal with a patient as non-compliant as you."
"You need a course in manners, sawbones. And maybe checkers, too." Watch this.
So saying, Marvin made his move.
Doctor Sharper seems quite sure of himself. Did Marvin find the winning move? Could you? Cast a sharp eye on the position and look for a sharp continuation, then click your mouse sharply on Read More to see the solution and the rest of the story.
Solution and Conclusion
Marvin played 10-7 and the look on Doctor Sharper's face was first one of surprise, then of shock, and then of dismay. Shaking his head from side to side, he played 11-15 and the game continued as shown below.
10-7*---A 11-15---B 6-10 15-19 10-15 19-23 15-18 23-27 12-8 4x11 2-6 9x2 18-15 11x18 20-24 2x11 24x8 13-17 8-11 17-22 11-15 22-26 15-18 26-31 18-23. White Wins.
A---6-1? 9-14* 12-8 14x7 8x15 7-11 15x8 4x11 1-6 11-15. Drawn.
B---26-23 12-8 11-15 6-10 4x11 10x26. White Wins.
"Gotcha!" Marvin exclaimed. "Now X-ray this or examine that or prescribe whatever. You still lose, Quacky."
Doctor Sharper grimmaced. "You win this time, I'll admit, but you had to have just been lucky ... or relied on a little outside help." Doctor Sharper turned to the referee. "Official! Search this man's hair for a concealed wireless device!"
"You gotta be kidding me!" Marvin said. "I might be whatever but I ain't a cheater and I ain't going to let some wimpy quack with funny looking glasses accuse me!" Marvin stood, balling his fists. Quickly, his teammates ran out from the bench and pulled him back. The Kingers bench started to empty, and things were looking bad until the referee blew her whistle and order returned to the field.
"How can you search him now?" Doctor Sharper shouted at the referee. "His teammates will have concealed the device! My coach will file a protest!"
Although the match and the series were now a draw, and a sudden death playoff was called for, the referee decided that the situation was still too volatile.
"Everyone off the field!" she cried. "I must speak with the Commissioner of Checkers before we go on."
To be continued.
Today's fine problem and solution were kindly provided by grandmaster composer Brian Hinkle. Our thanks go out to Brian.