The Checker Maven

Marvin Takes A Stand

Priscilla K. Snelson

"Marvin, dear, I've made out your action list for you, and I suggest you read it over carefully, as there are many things you're going to have to get done in a relatively short amount of time."

Priscilla Snelson, the CEO of the international conglomerate Rust Belt Holdings, and the fiancee of superstar checkerist Marvin J. Mavin, Captain of the World Champion Detroit Doublejumpers in the National Checker League, was addressing Marvin. As was typical for a Saturday afternoon when the Doublejumpers didn't have a match to play, and weren't on a road trip, Marvin was visiting Priscilla at her highly upscale condo, 6,000 square feet of the ultimate in luxury.

They were in Priscilla's living room, and she had just handed Marvin a sheaf of stapled papers, made up of perhaps 10 sheets, densely printed on both sides.


Marvin, having little choice, accepted the sheaf from Priscilla and started to leaf through it. On each page about 15 items were listed, showing dates, locations, names of participants, and the nature of the "action items" as Priscilla had titled them.

"Gee, hon, there's like, I don't know, a bajillion things here, and I ain't gonna remember like hardly nothing ... "

"That's why you have a list, Marvin, so you can refer to it and not miss something important. And there aren't a bajillion action items. In fact there are only two hundred and thirty. There are twice that many on my list. Oh, by the way, don't bother to tell me how busy you are, as I'm just as busy if not more so, and I certainly won't use that for an excuse."

"Yeah but the World Series is coming up and stuff."

"The Doublejumpers won't be in the World Series this year. Your team won't make Divisional Champs. You had too many top players retire and your management didn't recruit as well as they should have. A lot of fans are upset. No, this year the Cleveland Cutters are going to knock you out. Just as well, as you'll be very busy with our wedding."


Marvin, listening to this, felt his heart sink. He knew it was true; the Doublejumpers just weren't as good as they were in previous years. But to hear it from Priscilla, and to have her say it in such an unfeeling manner, hurt Marvin's feelings.

But Marvin didn't say anything and instead started looking at the list. "Lemme see ... cake tasting ... shoe fitting ... dress fitting ... hey Prissy, what's this about a dress fitting? I sure ain't going to wear no dress!"

"Oh, Marvin, that's my dress fitting, and you need to be there. And don't call me Prissy!"

"Why? You're the one wearing the dress ... "


"That's my handmade Italian gown. It's $100,000 and it has to be adjusted for a perfect fit. Of course you'll want to be there to see how it turned out."

Marvin kept reading. "Makeup evaluation ... that's for you right?"

"It's for both of us."


"Well, of course. You'll want to look your best, and the right makeup will bring out all your good features. It will be subtle, naturally. I've hired a makeup artist who works with top film stars."

"Uh, whatever." Marvin was starting to wonder what he had gotten himself into. Reading along, he came to another item that really got his attention. "What's up with 'hair styling'?" he asked.


"Oh, that. You aren't going to like it, I'm afraid, but it's just how it is. You'll have to have your dreadlocks cut off, and you'll need a completely new hairstyle. I know your hair is kind of a trademark, but you simply can't appear that way at our wedding. Anyhow, you'll get used to the new style and you'll be very happy at how it makes you look. I've selected the close-cropped military look for you."

Marvin J. Mavin

Marvin breathed in and breathed out. Then he put the action list on the coffee table and stood up. "Now look, Prissy, I can do a lotta things. I can listen to you tell me how bad my team is, even though you kinda really hurt my feelings. I can go and see that fancy dress with you. I can get shoes and taste cakes and even put up with makeup and all that stuff. But I will not cut my hair. No sir, no ma'am, I ain't gonna do that! My hair is the real me. My fans know me by my hair and I just won't won't won't won't won't cut it!"

Priscilla put her hands on her hips. Her face turned white as a sheet.

Oh boy, thought Marvin, here it comes.


"You will have your hair cut and styled in a presentable and dignified manner. You will not look like a bum off the street at our wedding. There will be no further discussion of this. You will do as you're told, is that clear?"

Marvin hesitated a moment. "Yeah, Prissy, it's clear. Clear like the sky in a Michigan snowstorm." Marvin hesitated again. Then, without another word, he left the condo.


Four hours later, in a dive bar near his apartment, Marvin, after more beers than he should have had, started to wonder if he had made a huge mistake. He was trying to distract himself with a checker problem, but it wasn't working. He couldn't focus and the beer wasn't the only reason.

White to Play and Draw


Sighing, he paid his tab, picked up his checker magazine, and went back to his apartment to sleep it off. He had no idea what tomorrow might bring, and he really didn't want to find out.

With the wedding just a month away, what will be the outcome? Should we caption this, "Priscilla to play, what result?" Or have we just encountered a situation of "Marvin to play and lose"? Stay tuned to this website for our next installment.

Was Priscilla too hard on Marvin? Was Marvin too stubborn? These are difficult questions, and we suggest for the moment that you just stick with checkers and try to solve the problem that Marvin simply couldn't concentrate on. See if you can find the correct play, and then click on Read More to view the solution. Would that life's problems be solved with just a mouse click!20050904-symbol.gif


This extraordinary problem was sent to us a while back by the late grandmaster problemist Ed Atkinson. Ed called it Six Shooter and had the following remarks.

"This quick problem features six ways to jump, possibly a record.

Solution: 14-10 Bang! Draw.

Black has six ways to capture, three of which draw. The other three lose.

Now 6-15 18-2 or 18-4 Draw.

7-14 17-1 or 18-2 Draw.

22-13 10-12 Draw.

22-15 10-26 White Wins.

22-29 10-12 23-14 17-1 White Wins.

Last, but not least 23-14 25-2 7-14 17-10 White Wins."

Thank you, Ed; you are surely missed by all of us.

05/20/23 - Category: Fiction -Printer friendly version-
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