# The Checker Maven

### The World's Most Widely Read Checkers and Draughts Publication Bob Newell, Editor-in-ChiefPublished each Saturday morning in Honolulu, Hawai`i

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### Composing Championship #75 <!-- var today=new Date(); var cend=new Date("08/31/2024"); var one_day=1000*60*60*24; document.write(`Less than \${1+ Math.ceil((cend.getTime()-today.getTime())/(one_day))} days remaining!<br>`); //document.write("Composing Championship Contest 74 Complete, Results posted.<br>"); //document.write("Contest 75 starts July 13, 2024<br>"); //document.write("<a href=\"https://www.bobnewell.net/checkers/contests/2023review.html\">2023 Composing Contests Year in Review</a>") //-->

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### Seeing Stars

"Seeing stars" can have several meanings. If you're out in the country, far from city lights, on a clear evening "seeing stars" means taking in a magnificent heavenly display of millions of stars, covering the sky in brilliant beauty. On the other hand, if you accidentally bump your head on a hard, fixed object, you'll be "seeing stars" in a much different and decidely less pleasant way.

In today's problem, shown below, you'll be "seeing stars" --- star moves, that is. Recall that a "star" move is one that is essential to either win or hold the draw. It's the one and only correct move, and it's annotated with an asterisk, or star. The terms of the problem are "Black to play and draw" but actually star moves--- a number of them--- appear on both sides as Black and White both navigate through a finely balanced position.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:W32,30,20,19,9:B23,12,11,10,7

We wouldn't call this an exciting or elegant problem but it certainly is practical and didactic. Be a star and solve it, then click on Read More to see the solution.

06/01/24 -Printer friendly version-

### Bye For Now

It was May, 1955, and the last Saturday before Memorial Day weekend. In Bismarck, North Dakota, the weather was still on the cooler side with lows around 40F and highs around 60F. But this Saturday was bright and sunny, and Sal Westerman, the unofficial leader of the Coffee and Cake Checker Club, planned to enjoy it to the fullest.

His club met every Saturday afternoon at 1 PM at the Beacon Cafe in the Provident Life Building near downtown Bismarck. But, as was common practice in Bismarck, the club didn't meet during the summer months, as everyone wanted to enjoy the outdoors, tend to their yards, and maybe even go on vacation. So from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, there were no get-togethers.

Deana Nagel

The final session of the season was something of a bittersweet occasion. There was always a good turnout. Lots of skittles, a checker problem or two, plenty of checker chatter, and great coffee and treats provided by the Cafe's proprietess, Deana Nagel, who was one of the best bakers in central North Dakota.

On hand today were Wayne, Delmer, Larry, Louie the Flash, Dan, young Blaine, and even Tom, Ron, and Old Frank. With Sal that made ten and they filled both large booths in the back of the Cafe. Talk was at first about what they'd do over the summer. Wayne was going to work on the family farm; Louie was going to spend time with the latest in his long series of short-lived romantic interests, and so on. Sal said he would be visiting his cousin Maurice in Jamestown for a checker festival being put on by that city.

But when Deana announced from her station behind her counter that the strawberry bars were hot and fresh, everyone knew it was time to turn to the first order of business.

Every week Sal brought along a checker problem. Sometimes it was from All Checkers Digest, sometimes from his checker pen pals, and sometimes from other sources, but the premise was always the same. The "boys" as Sal called the club members (all of whom but Blaine were over 50) would try to solve the problem. If they did, Sal would buy the treats. If they couldn't, they would buy their own plus some for Sal, including an extra for him to take home to his wife Sylvia.

"Sure are, what have you got for us?" Dan said.

Sal laid out the following position on one checkerboard in each booth.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK2,K13,K21,23:BK3,11,15,K22

"There you go," he said, "and seeing as it's about 1:30, how about I give you, say, 45 minutes?"

The boys, who thought Sal was only going to give them half an hour, eagerly agreed and set to work as Deana came around and refilled their coffee mugs.

Sal spent the next little while talking with Deana. Other than the checker club, the Cafe was pretty quiet on a Saturday afternoon. Deana told Sal that she had recently broken up with Clyde, her boyfriend, and was looking forward to spending August on the family farm in Gackle, North Dakota. "It'll do me good," she said, "and help me get over that two-timing you know what."

Clyde

Deana always closed down in August to help out with the harvest at home. But Sal was sad to hear about her breakup. She had been with Clyde for a couple of years and was actually thinking about marriage, when she learned he had a girlfriend on the side in Valley City. But then Deana mentioned a big baking competition in Fargo and smiled again, saying, "I'm going to win!"

"I'm sure you are," said Sal, "but hey, it's time to see how the boys did."

Sal went back over to the big booths. "Time's up, boys. Did you get it?"

"We did," Ron said, "and here's how it's done."

Fortunately, the end of the season for the Coffee and Cake Checker Club doesn't mean the end of the season for The Checker Maven, even though we too won't return to the Beacon Cafe for a few months. However, Sal will be around during the summer months with more checker stories and problems. For now, though, compete with the "boys" and see how you do with today's problem. When you're ready, click on Read More to see the solution and the rest of our little story.

05/25/24 -Printer friendly version-

### State Fair: Part 1

"The Iowa State Fair? Seriously?"

"Aw, c'mon Sheila, we both could use a vacation, and it would be a lot of fun."

Mortimer

The speaker was Mortimer Holmes, and Sheila Larkspur, his fiancee, was listening without a lot of enthusiasm. It had been about two years since the events of "The Checker Murders" (as told in previous Checker Maven columns and in the book "Mr. Darcy Plays Draughts"). Mortimer was close to finishing his Ph.D. while Sheila had completed grad school and was now a full-time lab tech for the FBI in Denver. For the past little while they had been sharing an apartment in suburban Littleton. They had yet to set a wedding date; it would probably be after Mortimer finished his doctorate in six months or so.

Sheila

"You really want to go, Mort?" Sheila's expression had softened. It was so hard to say 'no' to Mortimer when he really wanted something, and in turn he never refused her anything.

"It would be fun. There would be rides, and all sorts of great food ... and of course there's the checker tournament."

Sheila smiled. "Of course. You planning to win it?"

Mortimer had been playing at the school club, but he had no illusions. "No, I don't expect to win. The competition is stiff. But I can play in one of the lower classes and still have a good time. And it would be a nice change from summer in Denver."

"Right. Flat landscapes. Waving fields of corn. Lots of flying bugs. Blue Ribbon Beer. The sun bearing down."

Mortimer couldn't hide his look of disappointment.

"But let's do it! I know how much you want to, and I'm game. As long as you agree to Thanksgiving with my parents."

Mortimer hesitated, if only briefly. Sheila's parents were fine, but that brother of hers, Stan, who talked about football 24 hours a day and referred to Mortimer as "the useless wimp" ... oh well. "Done!" he said. "I'll book the tickets."

# # #

There was a direct flight to Des Moines, Iowa, where the Iowa State Fair would take place on the eponymous Fairgrounds. Mortimer, knowing Sheila wouldn't care for his favorite hotel chain, Motel 9, had reserved a room at the much more upscale Diplomacy Suites. It cost about twice as much but at least there was a great breakfast buffet, and they would only be staying a few days.

The morning after their arrival the couple took a rideshare over to the Fairgrounds. Even though it was only the first day of the Fair, there was a large crowd on hand. Mortimer made sure to sign up for the checker tournament right away. He glanced at the list of players, and noticed some big names in the Master's Division. It was going to be very interesting. The tournament would begin tomorrow morning and run most of the day.

But today they would enjoy the Fair. Mortimer took Sheila on at least half a dozen rides, including the Ferris Wheel, and stole a kiss when their car reached the top. They feasted on roast corn, watermelon and BBQ beef, and Sheila even asked for some cotton candy.

Back at the hotel Sheila allowed as she had had a much better time than she'd ever expected.

"Tomorrow's the tournament, though," said Mortimer. "I hope you won't be bored."

"Oh, no, I'll watch for a while and then maybe wander around. You said the tournament's double elimination? Then I won't have to ... "

"Aw, honey, don't say it. You won't have to wait long because I'll get knocked out pretty fast, right?"

Sheila smiled. "Never said that!"

# # #

The next day was bright and sunny, and Mortimer and Sheila were at the Fairgrounds at opening time, 9 AM. The tournament would start at 10 AM sharp. Mortimer checked in while Sheila found a seat in a row of chairs close to the playing area.

The tournament was taking place inside a large tent. There were five divisions: Masters, Expert, and classes A through C. Eight players were signed up for the Masters, a dozen for Expert, around two dozen in Class A, and three or four dozen each in Classes B and C, making for nearly 120 players in all. In Iowa, checkers was often serious business. Mortimer would be playing in Class C.

In the Masters, two players were about even odds as the favorites. Sam Stecher was a top amateur player from Dubuque, and Bob Pace of Des Moines was just as highly regarded. It would probably all come down to them.

The tournament began on the dot of ten. There was quite a crowd of spectators. Sheila found the whole thing a lot more engaging than she had expected. Mortimer won his first round game, then lost in the second round, but won again in the third and fourth. Sheila realized he was doing a lot better than he had ever expected, although it would just take one more loss to put him out of the tournament.

There was a break for lunch after the fifth round. Mortimer had won again.

Mortimer and Sheila had a couple of corn dogs and sodas.

Returning to play, Mortimer won in the sixth round and drew in the seventh. He was only one draw away from elimination, but he had made it much farther than he had ever expected.

In the eighth round, the following position came up. His opponent, a fellow from Lindyville named Danny Ziegler, was on move with White. Mortimer wasn't optimistic about making it to the ninth round.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:WK7,11,13,27,31:B5,18,19,22,K30

Meanwhile, the other, smaller divisions were wrapping up. Sam Stecher and Bob Pace were the only ones left standing in the Masters, and so far they had played three draws against each other. The rules stated that with only two players with equal scores left, they would play until someone won a game, thereby taking the title.

Danny

Mortimer's opponent Danny was taking his time, looking for a move that might bring the game to a finish. Mortimer was looking over at Sam and Bob as they played for the Blue Ribbon. That's when it happened.

There was a sharp cracking sound. Bob Pace tumbled back in his seat, his mouth agape, and then slumped to the ground.

There were screams from the crowd and many of them started to flee the tent in a panicked rush. But Sam Stecher just sat, looking with disbelief at Bob Pace's body, blood pooling from the bullet wound in the center of his forehead.

Someone shouted for a doctor, but Bob was already beyond help.

To be continued.

Our original concept, a series of columns on checkers at various State Fairs around the U.S., took a change in direction. The real Iowa State Fair has had a checker tournament for quite a number of years. We wrote to the organizer asking for details to form the basis of our first article, but we never heard back. (We don't seem to have much luck getting Iowans to respond to our requests.) So instead we launched into a purely fictious account of happenings at a purely fictitious Iowa State Fair. It was a great opportunity to reintroduce Mortimer and Sheila in another serialized story. We hope you enjoy it.

But before we move on, what do you think? Would Danny have beaten Mortimer in the position shown above? See if you can figure it out and hopefully you won't be distracted by untoward events such as in our story. When you're ready, shoot your mouse onto Read More to see the answers.

05/18/24 -Printer friendly version-

### Contest 74: 16 Pieces

The 16 piece Barbie tea set above might make a nice gift for a young daughter or granddaughter, or perhaps even for an avid collector of such things. There are also 16 piece china sets, 16 pieces per side in the game of chess, and 16 balls in a game of pool. Most caterpillars have 16 legs, and there are 16 personality types on the Myers-Briggs classification. (You might look that one up and see where checker players might fit in.) Last but not least, there is the "sweet sixteen" birthday tradition, and we should also point out that base 16 (hexadecimal) numbers are very commonly utilized in the world of computers.

In the latest of Mr. Bill Salot's ongoing series of checker problem composition contests, we see a different use of 16; Mr. Salot presents us with three problems, each of which contains a total of 16 pieces. These are massive stroke problems and will require great visualization skill to solve without moving pieces on a board. The problems can all be found on the contest page". Be sure to vote for your favorite!

As an introduction to this contest's theme, Mr. Salot sent along this 16 piece beauty from the late and much missed grandmaster composer Ed Atkinson. It's called Tossed Salad.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W7,K11,K12,14,16,K18,22,K28:B2,5,10,13,K17,20,25,K26

Take as long as you wish. Give it at least 16 good attempts before clicking on Read More to see the solution.

05/11/24 -Printer friendly version-

### Jump? How High?

We've surely all heard variants of the dictate, "When I tell you to jump, you're supposed to ask me, 'How high?'" It's usually implied rather than said outright by, perhaps, a mean boss or someone who abuses their authority.

You'll see the relationship to our game of checkers in the problem below (of course without the abuse factor). The question that arises is more one of "Which way?" rather than "How high?" although the second question does also apply.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Draw

B:WK7,18,19,21,23,32:B5,6,9,14,20,28

Get a jump on this one; the solution isn't terribly difficult to find but the play is interesting. When you're ready you won't have to jump your mouse very high to click on Read More to view the solution.

05/04/24 -Printer friendly version-

### World Healing Day

This column will first appear on April 27, 2024, which in 2024 is World Healing Day, a successor to World Tai Chi and Qigong Day. Of course April 27, 2024 has many other celebrations, such as National Devil Dog Day, National Prime Rib Day, Babe Ruth Day, and even National Gummi Bear Day, to name just some. But we like World Healing Day.

Why? Because we like to think checkers can play its own role in world healing. We've seen it in the work of luminaries such as Iqbal Ahmed Salarzai, who conducts international tournaments via the internet; the friendly rivalries between the US and England and now the US and Italy; the presence of international players in major tournaments; and many more examples that show how checkers can pull people together in spirited competition that leads to long lasting friendships among all nationalities, races, and creeds. Great stuff and something the world can use more of.

For World Healing Day we'll present a checker problem of unknown origin that isn't difficult at all, but will perhaps provide a few moments of entertainment and relaxation. Just the right thing to take your mind off whatever's bothering you and promote a bit of your own self-healing on World Healing Day.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W8,K11,K18,K23,29:B4,17,21,28,K30,K31,K32

Solve the problem as best you can, and then click--- ever so gently--- on Read More to see the solution.

04/27/24 -Printer friendly version-

### Marvin J Mavin: The Playoffs

Detroit Checkerdrome

The Detroit Doublejumpers had had a good season. Recall from previous stories that their prior year hadn't been so great and they hadn't even made it into the playoffs. But this year was different. After some drama concerning spring training, new coaches, and an attempt on their superstar Captain's life, all had gone well. Led by the aforesaid superstar, Marvin J. Mavin, the Doublejumpers had made it through the first round of the playoffs and were now up for their Division Championship.

They were facing the Tampa Bay Tinsleys in a best of seven contest, with the winner moving on to the World Series of Checkers. The Tinsleys were a strong team and did very well against the favored Doublejumpers. In fact, the series was tied with three wins each, and it was time for the seventh and final match.

The venue was to be in the hometown Detroit Checkerdrome, in front of a 50,000 strong sellout crowd. Even though reselling was, strictly speaking, illegal, it was heard that tickets were being sold for over \$1,000 in dark recesses on the outside of the Checkerdrome.

The National Anthem was played, the players took their seats, the referee's whistle blew, and the call of "Play Checkers!" reverberated throughout the stadium.

Dmitri

Marvin's opponent on first board was none other than an old foe, Dmitri Tovarischky, who has appeared in some earlier Checker Maven stories. This season Dmitri had come off a five-year ban from professional play due to gambling offenses; however he remained in top championship form and the Tinsleys were willing to overlook his past history in order to obtain his skills for their franchise.

Dmitri looked over at Marvin and commented, "Well Checkers Boy, I am ready to show you what real star player does with lesser opponent. Dmitri is better player. Much better player."

"Lesser opponent, huh? Better player, are you?" Marvin replied. "Checkers Boy, is it? Well Mr. Red Commie, we'll just see who will 'lose game' today."

Dmitri laughed and made his first move.

All of the games were hard fought. Board two and three went to the Tinsleys while board four went to the Doublejumpers and board five was a draw. The score was 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 in favor of the Tinsleys, and it was all down to the game on first board. Marvin was in a must win situation. That would tie the score at 2 1/2 - 2 1/2 in which case the win on first board would give the Doublejumpers the match on tiebreaks. But only a win would do. Even a draw would give the match to the Tinsleys.

BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W22,24,27,32:B7,10,15,20

No doubt about it, Dmitri, anticipating his team's victory, was gloating, even if relatively silently, and it bothered Marvin no end, even though he knew it was a psychological tactic.

"Checkers Boy is finished," Dmitri said in a half-whisper. "No more super star. Dmitri is new superstar. Was always superstar. Game is draw. Checkers Boy is not good enough and cannot win. Now proof of pudding is in eating. Eat pudding, Checkers Boy!"

Marvin was doing his classic fidget, legs bouncing and head shaking from side to side. But his clock was running down and he had little time to spend. He was ready to make his move and ...

Did Marvin find the win, or was it true that Dmitri had a clear draw? What would you have done in such a tense situation with a trip to the World Series of Checkers on the line? Unlike Marvin, you can take all the time you wish and there's no pressure. The problem is actually on the easy side. See what you can do and then click on Read More to see the solution and the surprising conclusion to our story.

04/20/24 -Printer friendly version-

### An April Storm: A Beacon Cafe Story

It was a Saturday afternoon in mid-April, 1955, and in Bismarck, North Dakota, snow had been falling with a vengeance for hours.

Sal Westerman, the unofficial leader of the Coffee and Cake Checker Club, looked out the living room window of his modest home. His club met at the Provident Life Building, which normally would be only about a ten minute walk from his house. But, as was typical for late season snowfalls, the snow was thick and heavy and walking or driving would be hazardous if not downright impossible. But Sal was not one to miss a Saturday afternoon with his checker friends.

Sylvia

He had asked his wife Sylvia if she could give him a ride. Normally she would have been glad to do so but today she said, "I think you had better cancel your meeting. There's always next week and it just isn't worth the risk. It's been snowing all day and there's easily a foot and a half of snow on the ground."

Sal was beside himself. He loved his club with all of that intense passion a true checker fan could muster.

But Sylvia could be right.

It was nearly one o'clock now, the club's starting time, and Sal was still at home. If he was going to walk, he'd arrive quite late. It would likely take at least twenty minutes to get there, maybe longer.

He decided to call the Beacon Cafe and ask Deana, the proprietress, how many of the "boys" (all but one of whom were over 50 years old) had arrived.

Deana

He went over to the telephone in the dining alcove and called the Beacon's number. The phone rang a good eight or nine times before he gave up. Then he decided he'd call Deana at her home in Mandan, North Dakota, just across the Missouri River from Bismarck.

Deana answered on the third ring. Sal explained why he was calling, and Deana confirmed what Sal had expected to hear: the cafe was closed due to the weather. "I was supposed to open at seven, as usual," Deana said, "but it looked really bad out. There wouldn't be much business, what with everyone staying home, and I didn't want to risk driving over from Mandan and back."

Sal said he understood and hung up the phone. He fully agreed, of course, but he still was a bit sad. There would be no club meeting until a week from today.

But then he had an idea.

Every week Sal took along a good checker problem for the boys to solve, and whether or not they could win it determined who would pay for Deana's amazingly good baked treats.

Sal got out the telephone book, checked a number, and made another call.

"Dan?" he said when the call was answered. "Hey, you probably figured the club wouldn't meet today."

"Right, no way I'm going out in this weather," Dan said.

"Just as well, Deana didn't even open the cafe today," Sal said. "But listen, take down this checker position."

"Uh, sure," Dan said, "let me get pencil and paper."

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W9,12,16,18,22:B2,3,11,14

Dan quickly returned and Sal gave him the details and terms of the position. "So, I'm going to call Wayne and Ron. How about you call Louie the Flash and Old Frank? I'll ask Wayne and Ron to make a couple of calls too. That way we can contact everyone, and you all can still have a problem to work on. You'll have to provide your own coffee and treats, though. Then around four thirty I'll call you boys back with the solution."

Dan

"Sounds like fun," Dan said. "None of us really wanted to miss out on the club today, but this is a great idea."

As the afternoon passed the snow kept falling. It was a good thing, Sal thought, that he had an agreement with a neighboring lad to shovel his sidewalks and back driveway. That wet snow was going to be really heavy, and on the radio they were predicting two feet before the storm ended sometime after midnight.

Sal went and got himself a cup of coffee and settled down in his nice warm living room with the latest issue of All Checkers Digest. It wasn't going to be a bad afternoon after all.

Wherever you may be we hope you're not encountering a massive snowstorm. But if you are, we further hope that you are safe at home. No matter your current environment, we invite you to solve along with the "boys." Don't let the problem snow you; find the solution and then let your mouse fall on Read More to see the solution.

04/13/24 -Printer friendly version-

### The Long Pitch

Who doesn't love sitting through a long sales pitch or marketing meeting? Honestly we can't think of anyone who would be particularly thrilled by the idea. We certainly aren't and we're glad the The Checker Maven staff doesn't have to deal with anything like that.

Of course, we've just given you a giant hint to the solution of today's Checker School problem! Have a look.

WHITE

BLACK
Black to Play and Win

B:W10,K16,21,28,30:B13,K18,19,K23,26

This one isn't so difficult to begin with, and with that big giveaway in the title, you shouldn't take "long" to solve it, or at least that's the idea we're pitching. When you're ready, click on Read More to see the snappy solution.

04/06/24 -Printer friendly version-

### Revenge! Part 3

Marvin J. Mavin

The atmosphere was taut and tense in a small conference room in the Portland Checkerdrome. Marvin J. Mavin, in the company of several uniformed police officers and an FBI agent, was staring at a tablet screen with a live video connection to his wife Priscilla's condo back in suburban Detroit. Marvin's nemesis, Charity Chastity "Cha Cha" Hopkins, had gained entry to Priscilla's condo and had captured her and tied her to a kitchen chair. Cha Cha was now brandishing a long bayonet and was holding it at Priscilla's throat.

"Say goodbye to your skanky rich wife," came Cha Cha's voice from the tablet's speaker, "I'll give you thirty seconds starting right now."

Marvin could see Priscilla quivering with fear, the edge of the knife touching her throat.

"No ... no ... wait!" Marvin said. "Can't we like figure this out?"

"SWAT's three minutes out," one of the officers whispered after muting the sound on the tablet. "Hold her off. You know how to talk to her." The officer turned the sound back on."

"Any tricks and you won't even get your thirty seconds," Cha Cha said, "and that's now down to twenty seconds."

There was a roaring in Marvin's head as he confronted a situation that went beyond his worst nightmares. But suddenly the roaring ceased and Marvin said, "Look, can you give it a couple of minutes? I got something to say."

Cha Cha Hopkins

"Ten seconds," Cha Cha replied, "unless it's really good."

"I can get you your old job back," Marvin said. "Just let me get the coach in here."

"I'll get him," one of the officers said and hurried out of the room.

"What are you talking about?" Cha Cha said. But the knife move an inch or two away from Priscilla's throat.

Coach Davey Anderson

"The policeman just went to get Davey, our coach," Marvin said. "What if he stepped down and named you the Doublejumper coach, like you used to be, well, for a little while anyhow."

"He would do that?" There was a curious look on Cha-Cha's face. "Really? He would?"

"Davey's a sport," Marvin said. "He'll see that you won this round. He'll go along with things. Only one thing."

"What?" Cha Cha said. "No tricks, remember?" She again brought her knife close to Priscilla.

"No tricks," Marvin said. "It's just like, if you hurt Prissy, you'll go to jail and stuff and you can't coach us from jail."

Priscilla K. Snelson

"Don't call me Prissy!" Priscilla hissed. "Things are bad enough!"

"You keep quiet, Prissy," Cha Cha said. Then turning back to the video connection, she said, "I'm not going to jail. No one will catch me."

"Yeah but if you're on the run you still can't coach."

Cha Cha seemed to hesitate. "Yeah, I suppose you're right. So what's the deal exactly?"

"You let Prissy--- I mean Priscilla--- go. Davey steps down and you step in. Piece of cake. You good with it?"

"Let me hear it from Davey."

"Sure. He'll be here in a jiff."

One of the officers, out of sight of the camera, mouthed to Marvin, "One minute."

Just then Davey Anderson came into the room with the officer who had gone to find him. "What's this about, now?" he asked.

Marvin quickly explained the deal. Davey took one look at the tablet screen, gulped and turned nearly white before saying, "Uh ... yeah it's a deal. Cha Cha can take over as soon as she can get here."

Then the video screen went blank.

# # #

Several flash-bang grenades went off as the SWAT team, automatic weapons raised, charged through the condo. Two officers soon reached the kitchen. "In here! The hostage!" one of them called.

They quickly freed Priscilla, who was still blinded and deafened from the grenades.

"She's okay!" the officer in charge said into his radio. "Relay that back to Portland!" Then he said, even though Priscilla couldn't make it out, "Come on, ma'am, we'll have you checked out at the hospital." He gently guided her out of the room.

The rest of the team quickly reassembled. "The condo's clear," one of them said. "No sign of the perpetrator."

"Where could she have gone?" the team captain asked.

The officers searched the rest of the building and then around the neighborhood. There was no sign of Cha Cha, and no one had seen anything. She was gone without a proverbial trace.

# # #

It was a big story and it was in all of the newspapers.

CHECKER CHAMP OUTSMARTS NEMESIS

Marvin J. Mavin, the superstar captan of the Detroit Doublejumpers, saved the day and the life of his wife Priscilla, with his quick thinking and creativity while under intense pressure. When asked how he did it, Marvin replied, "That Cha Cha is trouble. But she thinks she's some kind of hot coach. I figured if I played to her big ego, she'd fall for it, and sure enough, she bought my story about making her head coach of the Doublejumpers. You gotta be really full of yourself to fall for that but I'm sure glad she did."

The big mystery remaining is what became of Cha Cha. She had somehow gotten out of the condo despite the presence of the SWAT team. "Can't figure it," was all the SWAT captain had to say. "We threw them grenades and that shoulda stunned her. But she got clean away. Never seen nothing like it."

When asked if he was concerned that Cha Cha was still at large, Mr. Mavin replied, "Nah." He declined to elaborate, citing a wish to take a few days' leave from the Doublejumpers to be with his wife as she recovered from her traumatic experience.

# # #

Marvin read the story in his hometown newspaper, The Detroit Divulger, and Priscilla even cut out a copy to save in a scrapbook. But the newspaper naturally had a checker column and Marvin seemed much more interested in the checker problem of the day rather than what he now considered to be old news. "Tom Wiswell--- he's good," Marvin said to himself, "now let me see ... hmm ... "

Detroit Divulger
Checker Problem of the Day
by Tom Wiswell
BLACK

WHITE
White to Play and Win

W:W10,14,23,24,25,27,30,32:B2,3,5,7,15,16,18,20

# # #

The woman had just rented a room in a hostel in an Eastern European capital, saying she'd be staying for a few months. It would take her that long to regroup and plan her next move. She smiled, although the smile was more of a grimace. The world hadn't heard the last from her. Not by a long shot.

The End --- for now!

Our story has concluded with a literal flash and a bang. We hope you enjoyed it. We also think you'll enjoy today's problem. Can you solve it in a flash or will you have to bang away at it? Try to swat it down and then fire your mouse on Read More to view the solution.

03/30/24 -Printer friendly version-

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A Mind Sport for the Common Man

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The Unknown Derek Oldbury

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Clapham Commons Draughts Book

Grover/Wiswell: Let's Play Checkers

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3-Move-Deck