The Checker Maven

Marvin At The World Series: Part One


The Detroit Doublejumpers had done it again. Led by their captain, Marvin J. Mavin, they had made it to the top of the American Division of the National Checker League, and were playing the National Division winner, the Los Angeles Leapers, for championship honors in the World Series of Checkers.

The Spring Classic was set at the best four out of seven, and the Doublejumpers and the Leapers had won three each. In the seventh match, the lower four boards had split at 2-2 with only the first board game left to be decided.

Tension was high in Doublejumper Park, all 60,000 fans on the edges of their seats.

Marvin needed to win this game and bring the crown to the Doublejumpers. It was a very big deal. A draw wouldn't do, for in that case, there would be a sudden death playoff the next day, consisting of five-minute speed games between the team captains. The first captain to win a game would carry home the championship on behalf of his or her team.

Marvin J. Mavin

Marvin was one of the best, if not the best, at checkers played at the professional time control of two hours per game. He was good enough, but not tops, at speed checkers.

The opposing captain, Hyun-Mi Park, never lost at speed checkers. Never.

Hyun-Mi Park

Ms. Park had originally played for the North Korean National Team, but at an exhibition match in Los Angeles, she had defected and was granted political asylum in the United States. It was a bold and courageous act, and in fact Ms. Park was now protected by a full-time security detail.


Ms. Park had gone on to join the ranks of professional checkers, and before long had risen to the captaincy of the Leapers.

However, Marvin, at least at the moment, didn't care about any of that. He just had to focus on winning this game. And he had a strong position.

Black to Play and Draw


He didn't think Hyun-Mi, who was on move, could find a draw. Or maybe he was just hoping she couldn't. He just desperately wanted this to be over so he could celebrate with a few beers.

Hyun-Mi was a model of concentration. She, too, knew what was at stake. The clock continued to tick down but her focus was unbroken. Finally, she uttered a soft, "Danggeun!" and made her move.

How would you do if the stakes were so high? Would you be able to find a draw? Unlike Hyun-Mi, you have as much time as you wish. When you're ready, click on Read More to see the solution and the rest of the Part One.null


1. 3-7---A 9-5 2. 17-22 5-1 3. 22-26 6-2 4. 7-11 2-7 5. 11-16 7-11 6. 16-19 11-15 7. 19-23

Drawn. If 15-18 or 15-19 then 26-31.

A---Every other move loses. We'll only show one example of how Black can go wrong.

1. 17-22 6-10 2. 22-26 9-6 3. 26-30 10-15 4. 12-16 6-2 5.30-26 2-6 6. 16-20 15-19 7. 3-7 32-27 {6-2 only draws} 8. 26-31 27-23 9. 31-26 23-18 10. 26-22 18-14 11. 22-17 14-9 12. 17-14 9-5 13. 14-18 5-1 14. 18-22 1-5 15. 22-18 5-9.

Black is trapped. 7-11 19-15 or 18-22 6-10. White Wins.

Marvin watched as Hyun-Mi made the only drawing move, 3-7. He knew then that he wasn't going to win. After several more moves, Hyun-Mi offered a draw. Marvin, hoping that lightning would strike or some other miracle would occur, would have rather played on, but he knew there was no point and it would just further delay his seeking a beer.

Marvin and Hyun-Mi shook hands, the latter fixing Marvin with her trademark steely gaze, undoubtedly learned during difficult days in North Korea. "Until tomorrow," she said, with no hint of humor in her voice. The advantage was now hers and she knew it.

They walked off the field to the roaring cheers of the fans. When Marvin reached the Doublejumper dugout, his coach was waiting for him.

"Quarantine," the coach said. "Starting right now."

"But coach ..." Marvin objected. "I ..."


"Forget about your beer. You need to be fresh and ready tomorrow. It's going to be hard enough as it is."

Marvin was immediately surrounded by Doublejumper staff and teammates, and unceremoniously escorted to a hotel room, where there was no minibar and someone posted outside the door "just in case."


Our story will conclude next month.

05/30/20 - Category: Fiction -Printer friendly version-
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