The Checker Maven

The Game of My Life


In the columns of The Checker Maven we've presented a fair amount of checker fiction from the past (not that there's a copious amount to choose from). We've also presented a great deal of our own checker fiction, and will continue to do so.

But it's a real pleasure to be able to present contemporary checker fiction from another author. Grandmaster problem composer Ed Atkinson sent us a little story of his own, and we're delighted to present it here. Of course, it's accompanied by one of Ed's fine compositions. Ed took his inspiration from the famous story A Midnight Encounter.

The Game of My Life by Edgar Atkinson

It was late in the evening when I set up the checker board to go over a game played by one of the great masters of yesteryear. Then there came a knock on the door. Upon answering the knock, a tall stranger, wearing a black cowl and holding a large scythe, stood before me. I knew in a moment that it must be the Grim Reaper.


"Why are you here?" I asked. "I am in good health and I have done no wrong."

"It is time for you to come with me," the Grim Reaper replied.

I had to think quickly. "Here," I said. "Sit down and we'll play a game of checkers. If I win, you can be on your way without me."

"Checkers?" the Reaper replied. "I have never been beaten. When I win the game, we will be off together."


With a sigh of relief I sat down to play, knowing full well that I had more to gain than my adversary had to lose. This was to be the game of my life.

The game took an unusual turn. At a critical point the Grim Reaper, playing Black of course, attacked one of my pieces from behind, a move that would win the piece and apparently win the game as well.

"Now you will lose a piece and with it the game," the Reaper said. "Then we will be on our way together."

This was a pretty fix indeed. I gave the situation all the attention that I could muster. Suddenly I saw my way through. Not only would I escape, but also would pay back my tall adversary in kind.

This was the position on the board.

White to Play and Win


With trembling hand I reached out to make the first move of the combination that I had envisioned.

Ed Atkinson's problems are seldom easy, but always clever and entertaining. How would you do facing off against the Grim Reaper? Fortunately, you don't have to do so to solve Ed's problem. See if you can sow the right moves and reap the victory. There's no need to be grim as you can easily click on Read More to see the solution and the rest of the story.20050904-symbol.gif

Solution and Conclusion

As the moves were made, my hand became steadier and a feeling of confidence engulfed my entire being.

The game continued like this.

27-23 19-26 15-11 8-15 25-22 26-17 21-7 2-11 1-19 31-26 13-9 26-22 9-6 22-17 6-2 17-14 2-7 White Wins.

Now it was I who was attacking my opponent's exposed piece from behind, winning it and winning the game as well.

"You have played well," he said.

Then the Grim Reaper vanished.

As I look back across the years, I wonder if this was all real. Or was the Grim Reaper a hallucination? Or perhaps the encounter was but a dream. Still, it is a pleasure to set up the critical position for others to ponder and to enjoy.

Our thanks to Ed for this fine story and fine problem. We hope you enjoyed them both.

Ed Atkinson circa 1956

01/22/22 - Category: Fiction -Printer friendly version-
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