The Checker Maven

Down On The Farm (Team)

Marvin J. Mavin found himself at Fifty-Third Stadium in Comstock Park, Michigan, playing fifth board for the West Michigan Wompers in a matchup with the Great Lakes Glommers, in the single A Midwest League.

Checker Fans at Fifty-Third Stadium, Comstock Park, Michigan

Yes, that's fifth board and Single A. Just how such a turn of events came about is a bit of a story.

Marvin J. Mavin

It all started when Marvin, the usual Captain and first board player for the Detroit Doublejumpers, an outstanding Major League team, was called into the team manager's office. The manager, tired of Marvin embarrassing the team with his beer-drinking antics, was in the mood of teaching Marvin a lesson. But Marvin had been foolish enough to have had a couple of beers at lunch and started calling his boss a few uncomplimentary names as the boss was attempting to lay down the law.

That's when the manager drew the line. No one, even a star player, had the right to be insubordinate and rude, much less engage in behavior that provided a bad example to the team's younger fans. The manager decided that Marvin should be sent down, not even to the AAA or AA level of Detroit's farm team system, but all the way to the Single A level, giving him time to contemplate the error of his ways. To further ensure that Marvin got the message, he was to play fifth board--- the lowest slot on the team.

Marvin, to say the least, was not very happy. That, his manager told him, was exactly the point. Furthermore, Marvin would remain with the farm team until he improved both his attitude and behavior, or lacking that, was fired altogether.

"You have no more than a month to shape up," the manager said, "or your career in professional checkers is over."

And so Marvin was sitting across the board from Chester Schlockovitz, fifth board player for the Glommers. Chester was a nice enough old guy. He had never risen higher than Single A checkers but somehow had hung on for 35 years or so in the lower rungs of the professional ranks. He wasn't a has-been so much as a never-been, but you had to admire his persistence.

Chester Schlockovitz

Marvin, to his chagrin, was being made to pass a breathalyzer test before each game to ensure that he had been staying away from the beer. The coach of the Wompers, Thaddeus Twizzler, was strict with the players and Marvin's superstar status didn't earn him any slack in Thaddeus's eyes. Marvin would follow the rules just like anyone else and that meant no drinking during the playing season, period. Thaddeus was adamant. "Drinking ain't never done no one no good, and they sure don't play checkers right if'n they do drink," he would often say.

Thaddeus Twizzler

So here Marvin was, facing Chester over the board. "Nice afternoon, city boy," Chester said, "reckon you can beat me at this here game?" It was clear that Chester, in his plain-speaking manner, meant this as a friendly sort of challenge.

Marvin didn't reply; the starting whistle had blown, and Chester, playing Black, fell silent and made his first move. The game played out as shown below.

1. 9-13 22-18
2. 12-16 24-20
3. 8-12 28-24
4. 4-8 18-14
5. 10x17 21x14
6. 16-19 24x15
7. 11x18 26-22
8. 7-11 22x15
9. 11x18 14-10
10. 6x15 23x14
11. 3-7 25-22
12. 1-6 22-17
13. 13x22 31-26
14. 22x31 32-28
15. 31x24 28x3

"Well, how d'ya like them apples!" Chester chuckled cheerfully. "You ain't a bad player for one a them there city fellas!"

16. 6-9 14-10
17. 9-14 29-25
18. 5-9 20-16
19. 12x19 3x12
20. 19-23 12-16
21. 23-27 16-19
22. 27-31?

Marvin, in a brief moment of feeling, looked over at Chester with a sad expression. Chester had played a fine game up to this point, but it was moves such as this that separated the Major Leaguers from the also-rans. Marvin now had a clear win, and he knew it.

BLACK (Chester)

WHITE (Marvin)
White to Play and Win.


Can you match wits with Marvin and find the win, or will you be sent down to the farm team too? Give it your best--- your professional checker career may depend on it--- and then click on Read More to see the solution and the rest of the story. While you're at it, correct Chester's losing move, too.


22. 9-13 instead of 22. 27-31 would have held the draw for Black.

22. ... 25-22
23. 9-13---A 19-24
24. 14-17 22-18
25. 17-22 18-15
26. 13-17 15-11
27. 17-21 11-8
28. 22-25 8-4
29. 25-29 4-8
30. 29-25 8-11
31. 25-22 10-7
32. 2-6 7-2
33. 6-9 11-15
34. 22-25 2-6
35. 9-13 15-18
36. 13-17 6-10
37. 25-29 18-23
38. 31-26 23-27
39. 26-22 10-14
40. 22-25 24-19
41. 25-22 19-15
42. 29-25 14-18
43. 25-29 18x25
44. 29x22 27-31
45. 22-25 15-18
46. 17-22 18-23
47. 25-29 23-26
48. 22-25 26-23

White Wins.

A---31-27 30-25 9-13 25-21 27-32 19-23 32-28 22-18 White Wins.

"Well, it's a fine how-de-doo!" chortled Chester. "But you done won it fair and square!" Chester then shook hands with Marvin and took his leave, shaking his head and talking softly to himself as he left the playing field.

Marvin, despite his win, didn't feel so good about things. Was it delayed remorse for his previous misbehaviors, or could it be a bit of sadness at having won crushingly against a player 30 years older, who never quite made it in the pro ranks, but was still a gentleman for all that? "A win's a win," Marvin muttered morosely, but somehow, he wasn't quite convinced.

07/23/11 - Category: Games -Printer friendly version-
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