The Checker Maven

Marvin's Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving was coming up, and Marvin J. Mavin, the superstar captain of the championship Detroit Doublejumpers in the National Checker League, had to make plans.

You may recall from an earlier story, last Thanksgiving Marvin went with his now fiancee, Priscilla Snelson, to her parents' posh estate home in suburban Grosse Pointe, and it didn't work out well to say the least. Mr. and Mrs. Snelson had, quite frankly, no use for Marvin, and Marvin and Priscilla ended up leaving the estate and going to an old-fashioned American diner for an old-fashioned American Thanksgiving dinner.


This year Marvin suggested that they go back to the diner, but Priscilla (somewhat predictably) wanted something a bit more formal. She suggested that they might make another try of dining with her parents, but the suggestion was only half-hearted, as she knew Marvin wouldn't like the idea, and in any case she didn't want to witness another disastrous encounter.

So her next suggestion was that they have dinner catered at her upscale condo. The discussion was taking place at that very location, where Marvin had dropped in to visit during a brief pause in the Doublejumper match schedule.


"Hey, yeah honey, that's a great idea, maybe we can order from that diner and have FastEats deliver ... oh, okay, guess you want something better than diner food, huh? Although that was pretty good last year ... "

It was then that the other shoe dropped.

"Oh, actually, we could have Served on a Silver Platter cater. They have a Michelin starred chef and ... "

"Ain't that kinda expensive?"


"Value, Marvin, not cost. They provide value. And then we can invite some of my friends and associates, too."

Marvin swallowed hard. He knew about Priscilla's friends and associates. They were all super-wealthy (like Priscilla), and very conscious of social standing. Though they never said it in so many words, and despite Marvin's $100 million five year contract with the Doublejumpers, they viewed Marvin as more of a tradesman, who belonged to a lower class.

"Uh, gee Prissy, how many of your, uh, friends and stuff?"

Priscilla glowered a little. She didn't like to be called 'Prissy'.

"Not so many," she replied, "maybe a couple of dozen. My dining room can actually handle thirty or so, but we don't want to make it too crowded."


"Yeah, sure, can't pack 'em in like sardines now, can we, heh heh."

Priscilla scowled. "Marvin, think of it as a small-scale rehearsal for one of our wedding dinners. It will do you good to mingle and maybe sharpen up your social skills."

Marvin laughed. "Social skills? Yeah, I ain't got a lot of those. I ain't never learned much about hangin' out with stuck-up rich folks and drinkin' them fancy cocktails and stuff. Gimme a good bar and a good beer any ole day."

"Oh, stop being so silly," Priscilla said. "Well, then, it's settled, so there's no need for further discussion. Now, come over here and look at this bridal catalog with me, won't you?"


The next week passed quickly and Thanksgiving was upon them. In addition to having Served on a Silver Platter cater her dinner, Priscilla had hired Debonair Decorators to decorate her home in a festive Thanksgiving theme. Dinner was set for five o'clock with guests invited to arrive at four for cocktails served by Served on a Silver Platter wait staff, and mixed at one of Priscilla's wet bars by a certified senior mixologist from Mixology Masters.


Marvin was required to dress in yet another $500 rented dinner jacket and ruffled shirt from Twirly Tuxedos and Gaudy Gowns.

The guests began to arrive, and everything went fine for a while. Marvin tried his best to mingle and make small talk, even though it wasn't quite his idea of fun. But after about twenty or thirty minutes of that, he decided that he'd like a drink, and so he went over to the bar.

The mixologist, who wore a name tag that said "Llewelyn --- Certified Senior Mixologist," gave Marvin a head-to-toe look. "Do you really belong here?" he asked.

"Whaddya mean? I been invited. 'Course I have, cause Prissy's ..."


Llewelyn interrupted, "Sorry, but despite your dinner jacket you kind of look like a tradesman. You know, a plumber or something!" Llewelyn laughed. "But I'll be generous and give you the benefit of the doubt, just this once. What can I mix for you?"

"What kinda beer you got? Maybe a Bud Lite or a Belcher's Best?"

But now Llewelyn sneered. "Beer? Excuse me, sir, I am a Senior Mixologist and will soon achieve Master level, and I do not serve beer, even to ... tradesmen."

Marvin turned a bit red. Raising his voice, he said, "Lookee here, bud, you was hired by us--- well, by Prissy anyhow, and you do what we say. Now ain't it fine that you're gonna be a Master Whatever. I'm a Grandmaster myself, so I got ya beat."

Llewelyn sneered again. "Grandmaster? I didn't know plumbers could be grandmasters."

"No, checkers, bozo!" Marvin said this in a shout, and conversation in the room abruptly stopped with all eyes turning towards the bar.


Priscilla, very sensitive to the mood of the room, immediately strode over to Marvin and Llewelyn. "What's the problem here?" she asked. "Marvin, why are you causing a disturbance?"

However, Llewelyn spoke first, "Ma'am, my apologies, but I don't know how this tradesman got in, and he insulted me by asking for a beer. Imagine such a thing!"


Now it was Priscilla who turned red-faced. She looked at Marvin, thought for a moment, and then put a hand on his shoulder. Looking back at Llewelyn, she said, "Marvin is my fiance and a world-renowned checkerist. Furthermore, this is my party and you are to treat my guests with respect. You are dismissed. Leave at once, and on the next business day I'm calling Mixology Masters to make sure that you will never work at an exclusive event again. Before I'm done with you, you'll be happy to get a job at a dive bar in Williston, North Dakota."


"Y...y...yes ma'am," Llewelyn said, and made a dash for the door, sweat pouring from his face.

"Now, Marvin dear, since you seem to have the spotlight, how about demonstrating to my friends that nice checker problem you've just solved? I'm sure they would like it. Let's all step into my home theatre, shall we?"


The guests murmured. Was it a murmur of assent and enthusiasm? Only they knew, but Marvin smiled broadly and pulled Priscilla close. "Thanks, hon, for sticking up for me," he whispered in her ear, and then followed everyone into Priscilla's elegant theatre room, where he demonstrated a fine problem that was just published in the latest issue of the quarterly magazine Creative Clever Challenging Championship Checker Compositions.

And after the demonstration, Marvin got his beer, served to him by Priscilla herself.


Unfortunately, you probably weren't on the guest list for Priscilla's Thanksgiving gathering, so you likely missed Marvin's problem demonstration. However, you can certainly try it on your own. Here's the position.

White to Play and Win


This should give you quite a few nice minutes of Thanksgiving weekend checker entertainment. Marvin selected a problem that has become a real classic, despite his audience being made up of non-professionals. Give it your best and when you're ready, click on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif


1-5 29-25 5-9 25-22---B 9-13 22-18---A 30-26 21-25 13-9 25-30 9-5 30x23 32-27 23x32 10-6 2x9 5x23 White Wins.

A---22-25 13-17 WW.

B---25-29 9-13 4. 29-25 13-17 5. 25-29 17-22 WW.

And now, we recommend you treat yourself to a nice slice of that traditional pumpkin pie--- or for that matter, anything else that you might wish.


Brian Hinkle points out that this is a composition by A. J. Heffner. The problem was highly praised by Tom Wiswell, who reprinted it in the famous book Let's Play Checkers.

11/26/22 - Category: Fiction -Printer friendly version-
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