The Checker Maven

Marvin Concedes

Marvin and Priscilla

In our last story, Marvin J. Mavin, the team captain of the championship Detroit Doublejumpers of the National Checker League, went on a weekend vacation to Key West, Florida, with his fiancee, Rust Belt Holdings CEO Priscilla Snelson.

The vacation didn't turn out the way either of them would have wished. Priscilla was insistent on setting a wedding date for the coming June, and Marvin was--- a little hesitant. Priscilla, as she sometimes does, got quite upset, and sent Marvin off to a hotel on the seedy side of town. They flew home separately, and, not for the first time, they hadn't seen each other, let alone spoken, for several weeks.


Regular readers of this series know the drill here. Priscilla expected Marvin to apologize and to accept Priscilla's wedding plans. There would be no negotiation, not that Marvin could ever win a negotiation with the high-powered CEO of a multinational corporation.


For the first week after the ill-fated weekend excursion, Marvin was himself angry with Priscilla. He thought it was pretty extreme on her part to send him off to a hotel that wouldn't even have rated one star if anyone had been brave enough to stay overnight and make a rating. Marvin focused on his play, as the Doublejumpers had a busy schedule including 10 days on the road.

But Priscilla was Priscilla, and after so many years of seeing each other, Marvin was used to it. When he got back to Detroit after the team's road trip, he had softened to the point that he was ready to do whatever it would take to make up with his fiancee, and he hoped Priscilla would be ready to accept his overtures.


She wasn't. For the coming week, she wouldn't take his calls or answer his texts. That stretched into nine days, and the Doublejumpers were facing another extended series of "away" matches. Marvin just had to get this settled before the team left town again.

So finally Marvin lined up his best move. He made a dinner reservation at Priscilla's favorite restaurant, the very upscale and very expensive "Le Faux Luxe." He rented a tuxedo from Swirly Tuxedos and Gaudy Gowns, putting up with the condescending attitute of the snooty proprietor. (Le Faux Luxe was very strict about their formal dress code.)


Then he sent a text to Priscilla, telling her about the reservation. This time she responded, even though it was just with a single word, "Okay." Further texts and calls went unanswered, but at least this was something.

The day came. Marvin picked up his tuxedo and endured the proprietor's endless recitation of dictates as to how the garment should, no, must, be worn. Marvin eventually managed to get himself into it, and then took a taxi to the restaurant, knowing that the valet there would have refused to park his beloved old Volkswagen. (That was another of Le Faux Luxe's rules; only cars of "suitable appearance" were allowed in the parking area. A late-model Lexus just barely met this standard.)

Gaston, matre d' at Le Faux Luxe

The reservation was at 7:30, and, quite uncharacteristically for Marvin, he arrived early, at 7:15. Of course the maitre d' asked if Marvin really cared to be seated before the arrival of Ms. Snelson, but Marvin got his back up a little and insisted. It would only be 15 minutes. Priscilla was nothing if not punctual.


Marvin thought about ordering a beer while he was waiting, but then thought twice. The waiter would probably have sneered out loud. So instead he ordered club soda with a twist of lime, something he didn't especially like but wouldn't cause a fuss.

At seven thirty, Priscilla had yet to arrive. This was not at all like her. She was always punctual with Swiss-train precision.

Seven forty five. Eight o'clock. Eight thirty.

No Priscilla.

Marvin had been passing the time doodling with his pen on the tablecloth. He had drawn out a checker problem and was looking it over when the maitre d' stopped by Marvin's table.

White to Play and Win


"Sir, what are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm trying to see how White can win. See, if you ..."

"Our tablecloths are not checkerboards, and you will kindly stop defacing them. Now, I need to point out that the restaurant is very busy tonight. Perhaps, sir, you might wish to leave, seeing as how Ms. Snelson is obviously engaged in more important matters at the moment and we really don't like having ill-mannered customers ... "


The maitre d' was interrupted by the rapid click-click of high heels as Priscilla suddenly appeared at the table. "It's okay, Gaston, we'll keep our table, thank you," Priscilla said. Looking down, she added, "And a fresh tablecloth, at once, if you please."

"Of course, Madame," replied Gaston, "Right away Madame. I was merely ... "

"Never mind," Priscilla said curtly, and the maitre d' quickly scurried away.

"Hey, Prissy, you're late ... " began Marvin.

"I was making a point," Priscilla said, "and don't you dare call me Prissy. If you want me to wait to get married, you can wait an extra hour for dinner. That is, if we get married at all."

"Aw gee, honey, I just wanted to make up with you ... "


"Don't you dare call me honey, either!" Priscilla exclaimed. "So you want to make up? Well, where are the flowers? Shouldn't you have thought to have a dozen roses sent to our table? Exactly what do you want to do in order to make up?"

"Hey, I set up this dinner at your fave place and I even went and rented this here fancy suit ... "

"Not good enough."

"C'mon, just tell me what to do ... "

"You shouldn't even have to ask. That just makes it worse. You know what to do. You agree to the June wedding date that we picked. That's what it will take. For starters."

"We agreed? You picked it ... "

Priscilla put her palms flat on the table. "Look, Marvin. It's like this. We either get married on June 10 or we don't get married at all. Your call. You've got about five seconds to make up your mind."


"But ... "

"Three ... two ... "

"Okay, okay, June 10."

"Well, you don't sound very enthusiastic."

"Sure, sure, June 10, I'd love it, I mean I'd love to."

"Say it. 'Priscilla dear, I'd love to get married on June 10 more than anything else in the world.'"

Marvin repeated this back to Priscilla in something of a flat monotone. He knew when there was no use arguing any longer.

"You could have said it with a little more spirit. But I'll accept your statement. Now, shall we order dinner? I'd like to start out with champagne to celebrate our ... agreement. Perhaps a bottle of Dom Perignon Cuvee 2003?"


"Dom whatsis ... ain't that kinda expensive?"

"Oh, Marvin, it's not even $1,000, and consider the occasion ... don't be cheap. You can afford that and a lot more."

Priscilla also ordered a platter of escargot with chervil garlic butter, served on grilled mushroom caps, and then the Beef Wellington for two, accompanied by a Chateau Lafitte Burgundy. That was followed by a green salad, and a dessert of the house specialty, creme brulee, with a California Sauterne. Finally coffee was served. By that time it was almost 11 o'clock.


"Well, Marvin, you've been a good sport, at least mostly," Priscilla said as the waiter handed Marvin the check. She overlooked Marvin's grimace as he muttered under his breath, "Two thousand bucks ... "

Priscilla continued, "I'll have my driver take us home. You can come over to my condo tonight if you wish." Marvin noted it sounded more like a command than an offer, but at least he was back in Priscilla's good graces.

Marvin dearly loved Priscilla. And there was little doubt that she dearly loved him. It was just that it didn't pay to disagree with her. Ever.

It's a shame that the problem Martin drew out on Le Faux Luxe's expensive linen tablecloth went straight to the laundry room. But you can still try to solve it, even if it likely won't be accompanied by an $800 bottle of champagne (although, who knows?). As always, clicking on Read More will reveal the solution.20050904-symbol.gif


White to Play and Win


27-23 19-24 22-17 13x22 26x17 9-13 11-7 13x22 25x9 5x14 7-2 10-15 23-19 15-18 2-6 18-23 6-10 14-18 10-15 18-22 15-18 White Wins.

Alternative play is possible; you can check it over with your computer. A problem with great practical value. It's a correction of play from a game published in 1935 in a checker magazine of the day.

It looks like our hero Marvin is headed for a June 10 wedding. Will everything go as planned? Stay tuned.


02/25/23 - Category: Fiction -Printer friendly version-
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