The Checker Maven

The World's Most Widely Read Checkers and Draughts Publication
Bob Newell, Editor-in-Chief


Published each Saturday morning in Honolulu, Hawai`i


Contests in Progress:

Composing Championship #66


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Quick As a Bee

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You're likely familiar with the phrase, "quick like a bunny" or "quick as a bunny" meaning, in its imperative form, to tell someone to do something very rapidly. However, that phrase is relatively recent, dating back to only the 1940s according to most sources.

"Quick as a bee" has the same meaning, but is much older; 400 years older, to be exact. It appeared in John Heyward's Proverbs back in 1546. So for today, we'll weigh in on the side of history, and ask you to solve this month's speed problem "quick as a bee." In fact, it's quite easy, and an experienced player will see the solution in about two seconds. Novices should eventually get it as well.

WHITE
20221211-quickas.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:WK1,K2,K10,20,28:B5,12,K19,K23

Do you have the solution already? You can always buzz (1546) or hop (1940s) over to Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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02/04/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Setting the Date: A Marvin J. Mavin Story

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Marvin J. Mavin

The Detroit Doublejumpers of the National Checker League had a weekend lull in their schedule, and Marvin J. Mavin, their superstar captain, was going on a quick vacation with his fiance, Priscilla K. Snelson.

Priscilla, as CEO of the multinational conglomerate Rust Belt Holdings, didn't get much time away from the job. But she had her executive assistant work it all out. The couple would fly out from Detroit mid-day on Friday, arriving in Key West, Florida, late that evening. They could leave Sunday afternoon and be back in Detroit in time for a few hours of sleep before starting the next workweek.

When Priscilla phoned to suggest this to Marvin, he was all for it, and the conversation continued something like this.

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"Gee, hon, that's a great idea! What kinda beer you suppose they got in Key West?"

"Oh, Marvin! Is that all you care about? We'll have a weekend together and can enjoy a break from cold weather. We can go to the beach, eat seafood, and ... we can talk about setting our wedding date."

There was silence on the other end of the phone connection.

"Marvin, did you hear me? Doesn't it all sound grand?"

Now, Marvin truly loved Priscilla, and even though their engagement was pretty much her idea, he did want to marry her. Eventually. It's just that he wasn't exactly in a big rush. He liked his shabby apartment, his old Volkswagen, his tatty clothes, and his free lifestyle. Even though he had a multiyear, multi-million dollar contract, he just wasn't into material things.

Priscilla, on the other hand, owned a small fleet of expensive cars, lived in a very large upscale condo, and dressed to perfection in a designer wardrobe.

Marvin was a bit --- fearful.

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"Uh, yeah, hon, yeah, we can, you know, talk about dates and stuff. I guess."

"Not 'I guess.' I've made all the plans and it just remains to set a date. But we'll talk more about it." With that, Priscilla ended the call.

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The fated weekend came and Priscilla and Marvin flew together in first class to Key West. The weekend started out well, with an oceanside breakfast in their four star resort hotel (Priscilla couldn't find a five star hotel, which would have been her preference). They followed breakfast with swimming and sunning on the beach, a fabulous seafood platter for lunch, and then more time on the beach. It was only after freshening up at the hotel, when they decided to take a walk into the town's historic district before dinner, that Priscilla brought up what she called the "main topic."

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"Well, Marvin dear, what do you think about a June wedding?" Priscilla asked as they began their stroll, hand in hand. "It's very traditional."

"Uh, June ... that's like in five months ... ain't that kinda rushed?"

"Rushed? Marvin, we've been engaged for the better part of a year now. I believe in an appropriate amount of time for an engagement, but I think a year is more than adequate."

"Yeah, but ... "

Priscilla let go of Marvin's hand and stopped walking. "'But' what, Marvin?"

Priscilla's hands were now on her hips. Marvin knew this to be a clear warning sign.

"But ... well you know ... we gotta get everything prepared and stuff ..."

"Everything is already prepared. I've settled on all the arrangements, the guest list, the menus. Everything. And you know that very well."

"I kinda ... like ... uh ... hey, it's fun being engaged. Love to have fun, right?"

Now Priscilla glowered. Not good at all. "Yes, dear, fun is wonderful. But do you know what an engagement is?"

"Sure, it's like when I give you an expensive ring and ... oh, yeah ... "

"Right, Marvin, it's a promise to get married. And that's exactly what you're going to do. In June. Do I make myself clear?"

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But before Marvin could answer, a group of children, most of them in the nine to twelve year old range, came running up to Marvin and Priscilla.

"Hey," one of them said, "aren't you Captain Marvin J. Mavin?" The rest of the children, about seven in all and a mix of boys and girls, all echoed this question.

"Well, yeah, that's me," replied Marvin sheepishly, "but we're like kinda busy right now ... "

Marvin's latter words went unheard. "Captain Marvin, Captain Marvin, can you give us a lesson? Just a quick one, please, please, couldya please?" the children pleaded.

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Marvin looked at Priscilla. Priscilla looked back at Marvin. "Well, go ahead then," Priscilla said. "You've disappointed me. Don't disappoint the children, too. I'll just go back to the hotel and watch the sunset. We'll talk more tonight. A lot more. You can certainly count on that."

Without another word, she turned on her heel and strode off rapidly back in the direction of the hotel.

Was Marvin disappointed and worried? He would save that for later. At the moment, he actually felt a bit of a sense of relief, although that in turn was tinged with a bit of guilt. But the kids were waiting.

"Okay, kids, got a set handy?"

"Over here Captain Marvin," one of them said, and with two others taking one of Marvin's hands each, they led him to the side of the street where there was a checkerboard set up on a little table in front of a shop. "Here you go, Captain Marvin, now teach us!"

"All right then, take a look at this."

Marvin set up the following position.

BLACK
20230128-thedate2.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:WK9,10,11,K16,22:B3,4,15,K18,K29

"Now, this one ain't exactly easy, in fact it's kinda tough but you look like tough kids. Think you can figure it out?"

There were many affirmative replies, and with a lot of chatter among themselves, the children worked on the position. After a few minutes, one of them said, "Captain Marvin, how about this?"


In Marvin's world, checker fans are everywhere, and kids look up to their checker superheroes. It certainly was good of Marvin to spend some time with his young fans, although what he might face when he gets back to the hotel may be less pleasant.

But for now, can you match wits with the youngsters? See how you do and then click on Read More for the solution and the conclusion of our story.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/28/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Beacon Cafe: Frostnip

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The second half of January was typically the coldest time of the year in Bismarck, North Dakota, and 1955 was no exception. It was Saturday, and the temperature at noon had only reached -15F, after an overnight low of -30F, with the same expected the coming night.

At those low temperatures, the air can't hold much moisture, so it was usually sunny and clear. The sun warmed things up a bit, but everyone knew from long experience that after sunset, it would get a lot colder, and quickly.

null
Sal Westerman

Fortunately, there wasn't much of a wind. At about fifteen minutes before one, Sal Westerman, the eldery gentleman who was the unofficial leader of the Coffee and Cake Checker Club, bundled up for his walk to the Beacon Cafe, where the club met every Saturday afternoon.

"Don't forget your sunglasses!" his wife, Sylvia, called out as Sal was just about to open the front door. "There's a lot of glare off the snowbanks!"

"Thank you dear," Sal replied. "I'm all set."

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As Sal went out and walked along, the snow on the sidewalks made the typical high pitched crunch characteristic of really cold weather. By the time Sal had walked the four blocks or so to the Beacon Cafe, his face was feeling a bit numb and his ears were cherry red. Uh-oh ... Sal wore a wool cap under his fedora, but he had forgotten to pull it down over his ears.

He pushed open the door and entered the Cafe. Deana, the proprietress, greeted him as always but immediately noticed his red ears. "Hey, Sal," she said, "do you have frostbite ears?"

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"I'm afraid so," Sal replied, "I forgot to cover them."

Sal took a seat in the big booth at the back of the Cafe. He was a little early and was the first arrival. Deana brought over a steaming cup of coffee. "Warm yourself up, Sal," she said, "but not much we can do about your ears. You'll have to just grin and bear it. Want a couple of aspirin?"

Sal's ears now felt very hot, and were starting to throb. "I think so, Deana, thank you."

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As Deana went back to her counter to get some aspirin and a cup of water, the "boys" --- all but one of them over age 50 --- started to arrive. Tom came in, followed by Dan, Wayne, and Sam. It was going to be a small group today; no doubt the cold weather kept some of the others away.

"Well, look at that," Wayne said, "Sal, you got frostbite ears!" He chuckled, but then added, "Sorry, I know it isn't really funny, but you should see yourself!"

Dan and the others added their own sympathetic remarks, tinged with a bit of teasing humor. Sal took his aspirin and kept drinking his coffee.

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Deana came back to the booth and served coffee to all of the boys, who took the mugs eagerly. "I've got a nice winter treat," Deana said, "I made up some double chocolate fudge bars. They'll really warm your insides! And Sal, I'll give you one on the house just 'cause I feel kind of bad for you."

That was quite a moment. Deana was as good a businesswoman as she was a baker, and seldom gave freebies. However she quickly added, "The rest of you ... you're on your own!" She punctuated the remark with a hearty laugh.

"Well, boys, if Deana buys for me, how can you?" Sal asked. The tradition was that Sal would show the boys a checker problem. If they could solve it, Sal would buy for everyone, but if they couldn't, the boys would buy their own and also for Sal.

"Oh, that's easy," Sam said. "You just buy for us no matter!"

"Well, well, you've got me there," Sal said. "Okay, here's one for you. It's from my Pennsylvania checker pen-pal, Ed."

Sal set up the following position on one of the checkerboards.

BLACK
20221211-cordial.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W6,21,28,32:B10,11,18,K9

"You know, Sal, the red pieces are the same color as your ears!" Dan said. But he didn't get a laugh, as the boys were already deep into analyzing the position on the board.


If you live in cold country, no doubt you know to keep your ears covered and your head warm on those really harsh winter days; and you'd likely rather be indoors with a hot cup of coffee, solving a checker problem. But whatever the current weather at your location, try out Sal's problem and then click on Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/21/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Chases: Problem Contest 66

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The chase is on! The traditional fox hunt, now very much out of favor and considered cruel, has for the most part become illegal, and although especially in England it's a centuries-old amusement for the wealthy, perhaps indeed its time has passed.

But in our game of checkers, the chase is alive and well, and forms the theme of the 66th in Bill Salot's long and outstanding series of checker problem composing contests.

Mr. Salot states that, as in the preceding contest, these original, unpublished, strategic dandies are non-strokes, although a shot may ring out occasionally during a wild "chase." Four new problems await you on the contest page. Be sure to try them all and then don't forget to vote for your favorite.

Here's a teaser problem showing off the contest theme. It's by the late grandmaster composer Ed Atkinson, and it's typical of his genius.

Chasing Foxes
Ed Atkinson
BLACK
20221113-chasing.png
WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W6,10,17,25,27:B3,12,K16,K32

Chase after the solution, but there's no need to hunt down the results, as you can just click on Read More to see how it's done. Then, on to the contest page!20050904-symbol.gif

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01/14/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Starting Off The Year

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We're already almost a full week into the new year 2023 at the time of publication of this column. By now surely you're back to work, school, or whatever your regular activities may be. You've had time to recover from any potential excesses of holiday celebration, and we're in that post-holiday letdown period.

So perhaps an easy checker problem will cheer you a bit and get you on your way to another year of checker enjoyment. Here's one from regular contributors Lloyd and "Gosh Josh" Gordon.

BLACK
20221113-1stof.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W31,30,14,K20:B28,21,6,K23

The draw is straightforward but ... well, you'll find out. See how you do with this one and then click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif

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01/07/23 -Printer friendly version-
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Marvin's New Year's Eve


Marvin and Priscilla

It was an opportunity that only came along a couple of times a year. Marvin J. Mavin, superstar Captain of the Detroit Doublejumpers in the National Checker League, and Priscilla Snelson, CEO of megacorp Rust Belt Holdings, had time off together.

The National Checker League went on a 10-day hiatus during the holiday season, and Marvin was free from team commitments. Priscilla, who seldom took time away from her work, decided to take a week of vacation. As Marvin's finacee, she wanted them to have some precious time together.

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Detroit in December doesn't have the best weather, and so they decided to visit Hawai`i. They spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together, staying at the very upscale Hale Ali`i Hotel, enjoying great food, views of the ocean, relaxing spa visits, and sunning on the beach.

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But they decided that New Year's Eve should be special. They really hadn't done a lot to celebrate their engagement, even though it had taken place several months ago, and that would be the night. They booked the deluxe option of the famed Crown of Honolulu New Year's Eve dinner cruise, which included champagne, a gourmet filet mignon and lobster dinner, stellar live entertainment, drinks, and beautiful views of the O`ahu shoreline and the midnight fireworks display over Waikiki. It was expensive--- Marvin was heard to remark "How many hundred bucks a ticket did you say?"--- especially as Priscilla also booked a private limo from the hotel to the pier and back.

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New Year's Eve came along, and at 9 PM the limo picked up Priscilla and Marvin in front of their hotel. After a smooth and luxurious ride they arrived at the pier just in time for the dockside entertainment put on by a traditional hula halau. Then they boarded the ship and rode the elevator up to the open-air top deck.

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Quite a few people were doing just the same. The cruise would, as always, be sold out. Canapes and drinks were immediately availble. Priscilla had a Blue Hawai`i while Marvin tried a local craft beer. Everyone on board seemed content.

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At 10 PM sharp the ship left the dock and sailed out into the calm waters of the Pacific Ocean. Dinner was served at once. There were seats assigned; Priscilla and Marvin were seated at a table with couples from Texas, California, Vermont, and even London. The service was impeccable and the cuisine outstanding. A live band played soft jazz during the dinner, which finished with a traditional haupia pudding and Kona coffee.

Dinner ended a little after 11, and the shipboard guests would now have time to take in the views, perhaps enjoy another drink, and prepare for the coming of the New Year.

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Priscilla and Marvin were feeling the magic of the evening. The warm and gentle Trade Winds swept the deck, and they strolled about hand in hand, looking out at the dark ocean and the lights of O`ahu beyond. In the distance they could see the island of Moloka`i. Everything was perfect.

Priscilla looked into Marvin's eyes, and Marvin gazed back, and there was an understanding between them. Quietly, they descended a nearby ladder to the deck below, which seemed quite deserted, and where they could be alone together.

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Marvin put his arms around Priscilla's slim waist, and she put her arms around Marvin's neck. Slowly they drew together, their lips approaching, feeling the warmth of each other's breath ...

"Hey, Marvin, is that really you?" a loud voice rang out.

The moment lost, Priscilla and Marvin instantly drew apart. "What the ... " Marvin began but the voice, clearly fueled by perhaps one too many Mai Tais, continued.

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"I knew it was you, just knew it!" A figure approached. It was a slightly balding middle-aged haole, a bit on the rotund side, dressed in a very loud and tasteless tourist-style aloha shirt. He was holding a drink in his left hand and reaching out with his right. "Shake," he said, "I'm Ralph Bostich, I play on the Mililani Mills."

Marvin looked at the proferred hand and didn't take it. "The what?" he said.

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Ralph's hand dropped to his side. "You know, Mililani, it's a town in central O`ahu," he said. "Surprised you ain't familiar with the Mills, we're a Short Season A-League team, and we ain't bad at all. No siree, ain't bad at all." He took a sip of his drink. "Anyhoo, whatcha doin' here?" he asked.

It was Priscilla who replied. "We're here for New Year's Eve, what else?" she said, her tone not exactly friendly.

"Well, yeah, I'spose," said Ralph. "But hey, lookee see, Marv, since I met ya and all of that, how's about you take a look at this here little beauty I composed the other day." Ralph fished in his trouser pocket and drew out a scrap of paper. "Here," he said, offering it to Marvin.

WHITE
20221115-jhay.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:WK2,11,17,18,19,K28,29:B6,10,20,22,23,27

Marvin reached over and took it, and gave it a brief glance. "Real nice, Ralphy-boy, real nice. Says right here, J. Hay. Gee, thought your name was Ralph, you musta made a mistake or something, huh?"

"Ah well, you know, I uh ... lemme explain ... "

"Whatever, Ralphy, whatever. But you know, we're sorta here on vacation, okay, and we were having a little ... like ... private moment. So how's about you buzz on up back that there ladder and refill your drink. Maybe that'll help you figure out if you're Ralph or J. Hay. And you don't want to be holding an empty drink at midnight, do ya?"

"Uh, yeah, but ... well ... my little checker problem?"

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"Oh, that," Marvin said, holding the paper up above his head. "Yeah ... oh ... oops! Too bad about your little checker problem." Marvin had released the paper and the breeze swept it out over the rail where it slowly tumbled down into the ocean. "Sorry 'bout that," Marvin added, "but like I said, we're on vacation, and you're not exactly honest neither. Happy New Year, pal!"

"You ain't ... you ain't very nice," Ralph snapped, but the slur in his voice made it sound weak. Priscilla and Marvin watched him slowly and haltingly make his way up to the top deck.

Marvin looked at his watch. "We still got 20 minutes, hon," he said.

Priscilla smiled, and put her arms back around Marvin's neck.

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Well, it seems that Ralph was trying to claim credit for something that wasn't his. Of course, the problem is a nice one, and although Marvin was a bit preoccupied with, ahem, other things, you might wish to give it a try yourself. See how you do and then click on Read More to see the solution.null

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12/31/22 -Printer friendly version-
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Website Update Complete

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The Checker Maven and Bob Newell websites have just undergone major internal updates to ensure the long-term viability of our sites.

There will undoubtedly be some glitches and problems. Please let us know if you come across anything that doesn't work or look right.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.20050904-symbol.gif

12/25/22 -Printer friendly version-
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A Holiday Gift

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Editor's Note: At 2,500 words this is a rather long story for a single weekly column. If you don't wish to read it, just skip down to the checker problem towards the end.


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Danny shuffled down the street, kicking a stone ahead of him along the sidewalk. It was just an idle kind of thing and he liked to do it, who knows why, but he better not let Dad catch him. Dad said it wore out the shoes too quick and if Danny ever did it again he'd get a right proper licking. Dad said there wasn't money to buy new shoes, on account of him being out of work because of the Depression.

So Danny stopped kicking the stone, and, hands in his pockets, in a half slouch, he continued on his way home. When he turned fourteen last month, Dad made him quit school and go look for a job, except there wasn't much in the way of jobs for a fourteen year old with no experience and not much education.

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Brody's Sandwich Shop

Danny had finally found work at Brody's Sandwiches. Old Mr. Brody was nice enough, letting Danny take a couple of leftover sandwiches home with him every night, and paying him twenty cents an hour. That was a good wage for a kid, but he had to give it all to his parents to help buy food. Dad couldn't get much work as a day laborer, and Mom didn't have many people anymore who could pay her to wash their clothes.

It was ten hours a day Monday through Friday and eight on Saturday. It was a lot for a fourteen year old and one thing Mr. Brody wouldn't put up with was you missing work. That didn't leave much time for Danny's greatest love, checkers.

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Danny would read the checker columns in the day old newspapers that the better-off people threw away after they were done reading them. Danny couldn't afford a checker set, so he made one up out of bottle caps and a scrap of tarpaper he found in an alley, scratching lines with a penknife to make the squares.

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Every time on the way to and from Mr. Brody's shop, he'd stop for a moment and look longingly in the big display window at Bamberger's Department Store, where among all the fancy Christmas displays they showed this really fine checker set, with those red and yellow Catalin pieces and a real board. Sure, the board was made of pressed cardboard, but still, it was a real one. Danny dreamed of buying the set, but it cost a whopping $3.95. That was twenty hours of his pay, and anyhow he didn't have any kind of allowance. Especially now it was winter when the family needed to heat the apartment at least some on the colder days, and what money didn't go for food went for coal. Danny didn't even mention a $3.95 checker set at home; that would get him a scolding for sure, or worse.

If there would be any Christmas presents, it would be hand-me-down clothes from his older brother, Nate, who was sixteen. Nate worked for a furniture store, helping with deliveries, but there wasn't work for him every day, either. It seemed like the world was on Danny's shoulders. Brody's Sandwich Shop did a steady business and Danny always had work. People had to eat and Mr. Brody didn't overcharge for his sandwiches.

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Finally it came around to Christmas Eve. The shop was closing at five and of course wouldn't be open on Christmas. It was a really busy day, and Danny made dozens of deliveries, mostly to folks who had some money and wanted a bag or two of sandwiches for Christmas Eve celebrations.

It started to get pretty cold outside as the afternoon wore on. Danny was on his last round of deliveries and was anxious to get back to the shop and call it a day. He was really looking forward to a holiday, even though he would be a day short next time he got his pay.

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His last delivery was at Mrs. O'Rourke's place. She ordered from Mr. Brody pretty often and seemed to be well enough off. Her husband was a policeman and had steady work at a good wage. But she was always grumpy and Danny didn't like going there. He hoped she would be in a good mood today.

Mrs. O'Rourke lived on the 3rd floor in a big apartment building. There was an elevator but Danny took the stairs after getting scolded by the superintendant, who didn't want his tenants to have to ride in the elevator with "a dirty faced little delivery boy." Danny couldn't figure it. He never had a dirty face. Mr. Brody wouldn't allow it. "My workers have to be clean inside and out," he would always say.

He went around to the back of Mrs. O'Rourke's building and went in by the trade entrance. That was another thing the super had told him he had to do. He went up the back stairwell, taking the steps two at a time, and then pushed open the door to the third floor. Mrs. O'Rourke was in number eight at the other end of the hallway.

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No sooner had he knocked on the door when it opened to reveal the substantial figure of Mrs. O'Rourke standing with hands on hips and a scowl on her face. She was an imposing sight and Danny was scared before she even spoke a word. But speak she did.

"It's about time you came! It's been half an hour since I placed my order! Where have you been, young man? In a back alley smoking, I suppose! Up to no good! Cheating Mr. Brody out of his wages?"

Danny opened his mouth but didn't know what to say. In any event, Mrs. O'Rourke went on, "Well, give me my sandwiches before they get even older and less fresh! What are you waiting for?"

Danny quickly passed over the last bag in his possession. Mrs. O'Rourke snatched it away roughly. Danny was again about to speak when Mrs. O'Rourke handed him three one dollar bills and slammed the door.

"But ... but ... " Danny sputtered to the shut door. "Eight sandwiches comes to two dollars ... "

Danny knocked on the door again, but there was no answer. What to do? He started down the hallway and then stopped in front of the stairway. "I know what I'll do," he said to himself, and hurried back to Mrs. O'Rourke's apartment.

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He didn't dare knock on the door again for fear of a scolding worse than the last one. So, as he had planned, he slipped the extra dollar under the door. The crack at the bottom was just large enough for Danny to push the dollar bill all the way through.

Then Danny got out of there as fast as he could.

It was about ten to five when Danny got back to the shop. By then it was fully dark outside.

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Mr. Brody

"Ah, Danny, there you are," Mr. Brody said, an odd look on his face, gazing directly at Danny. Now, Danny had seen that look before and it always meant that Mr. Brody had something pretty important on his mind. "Step back into the office, please, I need to talk to you."

Danny's heart skipped a beat and he felt his pulse start to pound in his head. Was he going to get fired? He couldn't. He needed this job. What would he tell his parents? What would his Dad do? Danny started to shiver.

"Come on, son," Mr. Brody said, "I want to close the shop soon."

Without waiting, Mr. Brody went through the door in back of the service counter that led to the tiny kitchen where the sandwiches were made. Just in back of that was an equally tiny and very cluttered office.

Danny followed, willing his legs to move, the ceiling swimming above his head, feeling as if he were going to black out. The kitchen was deserted. The sandwich makers, Manny and Irving, had already gone home.

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Mr. Brody's office just had a filing cabinet, a desk, two chairs, and a telephone. Mr. Brody took the seat behind his desk and motioned to Danny to sit in the remaining chair, a rickety old straight-back on the front side of the desk.

Danny sat down, keeping to the front edge of the chair. He couldn't get his body to move any farther back.

"Mrs. O'Rourke called me," Mr. Brody said in a matter-of-fact tone. "Twice, in fact. I got off the phone with her just a few minutes before you came in."

Danny's mouth opened wide and he couldn't help starting to stutter. "M.. M.. Mrs. O'Rourke called?" he barely managed to say.

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"Yes, Danny, she did. She told me she had accidentally given you an extra dollar and that you ran off with it as quick as could be. She said that you are a dishonest boy and that if I didn't fire you and have the police take you in, she'd spread the word that Brody's Sandwiches hired crooked delivery boys. Do you know what that would do to my business?"

Danny couldn't muster an answer, and Mr. Brody went on, "It would be very harmful, Danny. People don't care much for Jewish merchants, and they care a lot less for ones that aren't honest. You have no idea what it's like."

"S ... so ... am I going to jail?" Danny manfully managed another full sentence, but he was more frightened than ever.

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"Well, Danny, I haven't quite finished my story. I told you Mrs. O'Rourke called twice. The second time, she told me she found the dollar bill slipped under her door, and that you didn't steal it after all. She did say I should scold you for not counting the money in front of her, but I'll bet as soon as she paid you, she closed the door on you. Am I right?"

"Y ... yes sir, she did. Closed it kinda hard, too, 'cause she was mad on account of it took half an hour to get her sandwiches. When I saw there was a dollar over, I knocked on her door but she didn't answer, so's the only thing I coulda done was put the dollar under the door."

"I'm not surprised. I've delivered to her myself a few times, and she isn't really very nice. But, Danny, I think what really counts here is that you were honest and you did the right thing."

"Then I ain't fired and I ain't going to jail neither?"

"No, not at all. In fact, I have a Christmas bonus for you. I was going to put an extra two dollars in your pay but now I'll make it three dollars. What do you think about that?"

"Three dollars! Gee whiz, Mr. Brody, that's a lot of money!"

"You deserve it. And there's another thing. I need your help with something."

Wouldn't you know it, Mr. Brody had put a copy of The American Checker Player magazine down on his desk.

"Mr. Brody, I didn't know you cared about checkers," said Danny.

"Oh, I really enjoy a good game," Mr. Brody replied, "and some days after I close the shop, if business was good I go over to Benny's Bar for nickel beers and a few games with the gang over there. Benny runs a bar where Jewish people are welcome. But I know you're fond of checkers too, seeing the way you save those scraps of newspaper with the checker columns on them. So here, what about this little problem in this week's magazine. Maybe you can help me solve it.

WHITE
20221112-xgift.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:WK1,6,K10,14,18,20,22,K24,31:B3,5,12,K13,15,17,K25,26,K27

Danny took a look. "Golly Mr. Brody, it seems kinda like really hard. But maybe ... lemme see ... oh, yeah, sure ... now look, Mr. Brody ... "


Although life always brings its trials, we hope that your holidays will be filled with nothing but the joys of the season, no matter what holiday you do, or don't, celebrate. Perhaps the checker problem above will give you some extra enjoyment. Match wits with Danny and see if you can solve it, then click on Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/24/22 -Printer friendly version-
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Beacon Cafe: Holiday Travels

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It was December 17, 1955, the Saturday before Christmas weekend, and in Bismarck, North Dakota, the Coffee and Cake Checker Club was about to have its final get-together before the holiday break. The club, informally led by Sal Westerman, met every Saturday at 1 PM from just after Labor Day to just before Memorial Day, only taking a break over Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas through New Year's Day, and Easter weekend. Their venue was the Beacon Cafe in the Provident Life Building, where proprietress Deana Nagel baked up the best treats anyone could ever ask for.

null
Sal Westerman

It was just after one and Sal was sitting in the big booth in the back with the "boys" (all but one of whom were over 50). There were Dan, Sam, Wayne, Louie the Flash, who all showed up nearly every weekend, and also Tom, Ron, Kevin the Spooler, Delmer, seldom-seen Frank, and even young Blaine. It was a great turnout and they spilled over into an adjacent booth.

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All the preliminary chit-chat was about the coming holidays. A number of the boys would be going back home to the farm to visit with family. Young Blaine would be going to see his parents up in Minot. Louie the Flash was going all the way to Minneapolis to see an old girlfriend of his. But it was Sal who was taking the longest trip of all.

Yes, Sal, at age 73, would be going with his wife Sylvia to Washington D.C. to visit their daughter Joyce.

20200924-joyce.jpg
Joyce Westerman

"You're not going by airplane?" Frank asked. "Those airplanes get you there fast nowadays. You can get to D.C. the same day, if you leave early enough. Well, almost the same day. I think you get in at two in the morning or something. One of our Senators does that sometimes."

20221112-ebuilder.jpg

"No airplanes for me," Sal said. "I like my feet on the ground, thank you. We're going by train. Taking the Empire Builder to Chicago and another train to D.C. from there."

"Gee, Sal, how long will that take?" Louie the Flash asked.

"About three days all together. Two nights on the train. We paid for sleeping compartments so it will be a nice relaxing trip."

"And three days back again? That's six days!" Louie continued.

"Yes, but I'll be back just in time for our next meeting on January 7. Couldn't miss that, you know. We leave tomorrow so there will be plenty of time for a nice visit."

"You going to all those museums?" Ron asked.

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"We sure are, and we won't miss a tour of the White House, either. Joyce is taking two weeks off of work and she'll show us around." Joyce was a lawyer at Dark, Darker, and Darkest, a prominient Washington law firm. She worked long and hard and had plenty of vacation time stored up.

"Going to do any checkers?" Frank inquired.

"Sure am. There's the "Day After Christmas" tournament and I'll be playing. Did I show you boys the flyer? It has a neat problem in it and I was going to see if you could solve it today."

20221112-fruitbars.jpg

Deana, who always picked her moment carefully, said in a loud voice from behind her counter, "Cinnamon fruit bars today! A real holiday treat!"

The boys all smiled. "Well, Sal, let's see it!" Dan said.

Sal pulled a colorful flyer from his pocket. "Here it is, then," he said, and set it up on a checkerboard on each of the two tables. "See how you do! How about --- say --- an hour?"

The boys nodded their heads. Deana came over with the coffee pot to give everyone refills while the boys started to discuss the following position.

BLACK
20221112-bholi.png
WHITE
White to Play and Draw

W:W7,9,14:B1,K15,21

"Should be easy, right?" Sal said. "After all, only three per side!"

"Easy, sure, that's what you always say," groused Wayne, but everyone was already focused on the checkerboards, deep in thought.


We don't know what you'll be doing for the holidays. If you're in North America, train travel isn't what it used to be, and air travel surely isn't a lot of fun any longer. If you're in Europe, the trains are certainly a good option. But whether you plan to travel near or far, or stay at home, we hope you'll match wits with the boys at the Beacon and see if you can solve today's problem. When you're ready, travel your mouse over to Read More to see the solution and the rest of the story.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/17/22 -Printer friendly version-
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It's A Trap

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There are all sorts of traps in life. You can get trapped into smoking (that's apparently what the photo above is all about, although it's hardly obvious). You can get trapped in a dead-end job. You can get trapped in a bad relationship or social situation.

As we well know, there are traps in checkers, too. Can you get trapped into becoming a checkers addict, if there is such a thing? Maybe. That's beyond our realm of knowledge. But over the board traps? They're legion.

In today's Checker School column, we'll have a look at what John T. Denvir, an older-day checker writer who is either famous or infamous depending on the account you read, calls Trap No. 36 in his book, John T. Denvir's Traps and Shots, published in 1894.

WHITE
20220903-trap.png
BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:B1,2,3,6,8,9,10,12,15,23:W19,21,22,24,26,27,29,30,32

This is quite an interesting one and we hope you'll give it a good try. Will you be trapped into spending a lot of time looking for the solution? We can't really say; all we know for sure is that clicking on Read More will take you to the solution, and not lead you into a trap.20050904-symbol.gif

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12/10/22 -Printer friendly version-
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The Checker Maven is produced at editorial offices in Honolulu, Hawai`i, as a completely non-commercial public service from which no profit is obtained or sought. Original material is Copyright 2004-2023 Avi Gobbler Publishing. Other material is the property of the respective owners. Information presented on this site is offered as-is, at no cost, and bears no express or implied warranty as to accuracy or usability. You agree that you use such information entirely at your own risk. No liabilities of any kind under any legal theory whatsoever are accepted. The Checker Maven is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Bob Newell, Sr.

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