The Checker Maven

Marvin J. Mavin: A Very Large Problem


The Detroit Doublejumpers had just completed annual pre-season training camp at the appropriately named location of Au Train, Michigan. It was always a difficult time for the players, who were really put through their paces both mentally and physically, but no one more so than team Captain Marvin J. Mavin, who had to give up beer, run endless laps around the lake, and even do push-ups sometimes.


After camp the team had a traditional week off before they played some exhibition games prior to opening the regular season. It was a Saturday afternoon and Marvin was visiting with his fiancee, Priscilla Snelson, at her very large swanky new condo, one she bought after she was made CEO of Rust Belt Holdings, a position which came with a very large salary.

Priscilla and Marvin planned on a relaxing afternoon together followed by dinner at a restaurant chosen by Priscilla ... which, of course, was upscale and expensive, boasted two Michelin stars and featured a very large French menu.


Marvin was on one of the couches in the very large living room, reading an issue of All Checkers Digest. The magazine always contained a few challenging checker problems and Marvin was just starting to really get involved with one of them.

Composer: Brian Hinkle
White to Play and Win


"Marvin, dear!"

Priscilla's voice, sweet though it was, cut through Marvin's concentration.

"Yeah honey, what is it? Hey, by the way can you bring me a beer? I'm working on this problem ... "

The voice now took on a definite edge. "Get your own beer, dear, and while you're at it come over here. I want to show you something."


Marvin reluctantly got up and went into the very large kitchen. Priscilla was seated at the very large kitchen table with magazines of her own spread out in front of her. "What do you think about this, Marvin? It's in the latest issue of the Beautiful Blissful Bride's Best Boutique magazine ... "

"Bride's Best ... what did you call it? Bo Peep or something? Hey, anyhow, they got a checker column in that magazine?"

"Marvin, be serious!" Uh-oh. Marvin knew it was never good when Priscilla told him that. She continued, "I want to know what you think of this bride's dress for our wedding."


Now, Priscilla was planning a very large wedding. They had yet to set a date but she said it would take her at least six months, and probably a lot longer, to get everything arranged. There would be a very large guest list, a very large cocktail party, a very large dinner, and a very large send-off following a very large dance party.

Marvin, knowing that, unfortunately replied, "Gee, Prissy, the wedding ain't for probably a year yet, what's the rush? And besides I don't know nothing about wedding dresses."

"Marvin! I don't think I like your attitude. And how many times have I told you, don't call me Prissy!"

Marvin quickly backtracked. "Aw gee honey, I'm sorry. Here lemme see the dress."

Priscilla relented, but only a little. "Here you go," she said, pointing to a very large centerfold in the magazine.

"Yeah, great! Sure does look like a wedding dress, don't it? I mean, it's got all of them ruffles and stuff ... but I kinda think you don't look like ... "

Priscilla, now very angry, slammed the magazine shut. "Oh Marvin, you're so ... so ... useless! How will I ever get this wedding arranged if you don't help?"


"A beer right now would help ... ' Marvin said, again unthinkingly.

Priscilla stood up, hands on hips. Once more, not a good sign. "You'll get a beer over your head!" she said. "And don't open that fridge ... or else! It's getting close to time to leave for Le Faux Luxe in any event.

Marvin, who was halfway to Priscilla's very large fridge, stopped in his tracks. "Aw, gee, Prissy, gimme a break. One beer, okay? That fancy place ain't got nothing but old wine and them funny colored cocktails."

Priscilla, still glowering, thought for a moment. "You know, Marvin, you're right. You need a beer. You don't need an elegant candlelight dinner of haute cuisine, fine wine, and superb service. So how about you take your silly checker magazine and go down the block to that bar you love so much and have a beer and a burger? You can call me in a couple of days when you've seen the light and are ready to help with the wedding."


"Hey, yeah, can I have fries with ... oh, okay." He quietly picked up his All Checkers Digest, went out and took the elevator down to street level. At least he had a very large beer and a very large burger to look forward to. With fries. Of course, making up with Priscilla would be, as always, a very large problem, but he'd work it out.20050904-symbol.gif


White to Play and Win


11-7 32x23 22-18 13x22 7-2 23x14 2x25 5-9!---A,1,2 21-17!---B 9-14 25-21! 14-18 17-14 10x17 21x23. White Wins.

A---The best defense.

1---The computer, being the computer, chooses a longer ending with 10-15 21-17 15-18 17-14 18-23 14-10 23-27 10-7 27-32 7-3 32-28 25-22 28-32 22-18 32-27 3-7 27-32 18-14 32-27 7-10 27-24 10-15 24-28 15-19 28-32 20-16 to a White Win. The idea is that the Black man on 5 is (sooner or later) trapped by the White king moving up from 25. The White man on 16 will crown, leaving White with what is effectively a First Position win. However this is all pretty much inevitable, whereas with 5-9! Black at least gives White a chance to go wrong, as pointed out in Note B.

2---The alternative 10-14? loses quickly: 10-14 25-22 5-9 22-17 14-18 17-14 White Wins.

B---The only move to win. It is natural to chase with the king with 25-22? but that allows 9-14! which will draw.

Our thanks to Grandmaster problemist Brian Hinkle for the problem and solution. (Numbered notes were added by your editor.) It's another of Brian's wonderful problems with a clever solution allowing the solver opportunities to go wrong. Brian says one of his test solvers referred to it as a two-part problem (we might say a very large problem!) because you not only have to find the 3 for 3, you still have to find the win after that.

We hope you enjoyed both the problem and the story.

08/27/22 - Category: Fiction -Printer friendly version-
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