The Checker Maven

Marvin at Training Camp, 2021


Summer training camp wasn't Marvin J. Mavin's favorite thing. Not at all.

Marvin J. Mavin

Every August, before the start of the National Checker League regular season, the championship team which Marvin captained, the Detroit Doublejumpers, held training camp at a classy resort near the appropriately named town of Au Train in Northern Michigan. Training camp was no joke to Head Coach Ronaldson. He put the ten players on the Doublejumper team through a rigorous program of study, competition, and even intense physical training, as the players had to be able to withstand the long hours that checker matches could occupy.

Coach Ronaldson

Marvin, after previous bad experiences, knew better than to arrive out of shape, lest he be made to run laps up and down the lake for what seemed like forever. He also knew better than to bring along a bad attitude ... or a craving for a cold beer. The Coach was very strict about things like that, even limiting the amount of coffee his players were allowed.

This year Marvin thought he was as ready as he could possibly be. He had spent a lot of time with his girlfriend Priscilla, and they had frequently jogged and worked out with weights in Priscilla's extensive home gym. He allowed himself just one beer after a workout and none at all during the rest of the day. And whenever he made a smart remark, Priscilla instantly scolded him.

It didn't work out the way Marvin had hoped and expected.

A couple of days after reporting for camp, Coach Ronaldson, at the daily morning team meeting, introduced a new person.

"I'd like you all to meet Betsy Batsy. I've recruited her and she's agreed to try out for the team."

Betsy Batsy

"I'm going to be the Captain," Betsy interrupted in a deep voice. "I'm going straight to the top and you over there ..." pointing at Marvin " ... aren't going to stop me. I'm going roll right over you and ..."

"Thank you, Betsy, I'm sure we all appreciate your ambition," Coach Ronaldson said. "I met Betsy at a Checker Barrel restaurant. She was giving an impromptu exhibition at those tables they have outside and I watched her beat 50 players at once. There was even a AAA pro in the group. Now, although Betsy has never played professionally ..."

"I can beat any pro there is," Betsy blared. "You, him ..." (again pointing to Marvin) "... anyone."

"Well, I did play a few games with Betsy after her exhibition, and uh ..."

"I kicked you in the pants," Betsy said, guffawing.


"Well, yes, Betsy won every game, actually. So I thought someone this good, who by the rules could be recruited outside of the amateur draft, might be a real addition to our team."

"I can replace your whole team," Betsy stated. "Just me. I can play every board in every match and win the championship all by myself."

Although no one spoke up, the Doublejumper team, and Marvin in particular, were really wondering. Was this Betsy that good that the Coach, who was always strict, would put up with her attitude? It all seemed really strange.

"Come on boys," Betsy said, addressing the team, "or should I say girls?" That got a stern look from the three women on the Doublejumper team. Betsy noticed and said, "Sorry, girls, I should have said 'babies.'"


"Okay, team, set 'em up," the Coach said, "ten boards. First team and second team. Betsy is going to play a simul against all of you. Then you'll see she deserves a place on the team. Of course, that means one of you will get sent down to our AAA farm club, but that's how it goes."

"Him," Betsy said, pointing to Marvin. "He's the one you're going to send down.

"Uh, well, that's up to me ..." the Coach said.

"You want me to play for you, you do things my way," Betsy stated flatly.

But the boards were set out and play began. The Coach decided on single elimination. In the first round, Betsy defeated eight of the ten players, all of whom were eliminated. She drew with second board player Pete Butterworth and lost to Marvin on first board.

Pete Butterworth

In the next round, second board was again a draw, meaning Pete was eliminated. But Marvin won again.

"Just you and me," Betsy said to Marvin, "mano a mano. Ha ha! You just won those games because I was playing more than one opponent. Now I crush you like the bug that you are. And the rest of you ... " Here Betsy looked around at the other team members. "The rest of you are off the team!"

"Wait a minute, now," Coach Ronaldson said. He was starting to wonder if he had made a big mistake. But he said no more, as the playoff between Marvin and Betsy had started.

The game reached the following position with Marvin to move.

White to Play and Win


"You're finished, little buggy boy," Betsy teased. "Squashed! Like a filthy roach!"

"That's it," said Coach Ronaldson. "Miss Batsy, I invited you here to try out for a place on the team. You're a great player but I won't put up with any more of your bad attitude. If you want to play professional checkers, you can go try out for one of the Rookie Leagues and see if they'll want to deal with you."

"Coach, let me finish this game, okay," Marvin said. "Then old Batsy here can go hitch a ride back to ... wherever she came from."


"As you wish," the Coach replied. "Finish your game."

Marvin made his move.

Betsy Batsy is a tough opponent, but Marvin seems pretty confident. Can you find a win here, or will Batsy Betsy bat you down to the minor leagues? See how you do and then click on Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.null


Play continued as follows.

19-15 11-18 31-26 25-30---A 26-22 18-25 21-17 14-21 27-23 White Wins.

A---14-17 21-14 25-30 26-22 18-25 27-23 White wins.

"Well there, you old Batsy Betsy, I gotta say you're pretty darn good. But you ain't as good as Marvin J. Mavin, and you ain't got a professional attitude, neither, and so it don't matter how good you are. Squashed like a bug, huh. Yeah, well look at the board and see who got squashed."

Betsy didn't say a word. She just glared at everyone and headed off in the direction of the parking lot.

"Marvin, you did us proud, and team, I'm sorry I brought Betsy here. I was hoping ... well, my mistake. So tell you what. Let's everyone do ten laps around the lake to shake this thing off, and I'll join you."


There was a chorus of groans, but although they would never say it, they were glad that their coach had come around and was back to normal.

Our thanks to grandmaster problemist Ed Atkinson for sending us another of his fine problem compositions. He titles it Side Show and we hope you enjoyed it.

08/21/21 - Category: Fiction -Printer friendly version-
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