The Checker Maven

Marvin J Mavin: The Playoffs

Detroit Checkerdrome

The Detroit Doublejumpers had had a good season. Recall from previous stories that their prior year hadn't been so great and they hadn't even made it into the playoffs. But this year was different. After some drama concerning spring training, new coaches, and an attempt on their superstar Captain's life, all had gone well. Led by the aforesaid superstar, Marvin J. Mavin, the Doublejumpers had made it through the first round of the playoffs and were now up for their Division Championship.

They were facing the Tampa Bay Tinsleys in a best of seven contest, with the winner moving on to the World Series of Checkers. The Tinsleys were a strong team and did very well against the favored Doublejumpers. In fact, the series was tied with three wins each, and it was time for the seventh and final match.


The venue was to be in the hometown Detroit Checkerdrome, in front of a 50,000 strong sellout crowd. Even though reselling was, strictly speaking, illegal, it was heard that tickets were being sold for over $1,000 in dark recesses on the outside of the Checkerdrome.

The National Anthem was played, the players took their seats, the referee's whistle blew, and the call of "Play Checkers!" reverberated throughout the stadium.


Marvin's opponent on first board was none other than an old foe, Dmitri Tovarischky, who has appeared in some earlier Checker Maven stories. This season Dmitri had come off a five-year ban from professional play due to gambling offenses; however he remained in top championship form and the Tinsleys were willing to overlook his past history in order to obtain his skills for their franchise.

Dmitri looked over at Marvin and commented, "Well Checkers Boy, I am ready to show you what real star player does with lesser opponent. Dmitri is better player. Much better player."

"Lesser opponent, huh? Better player, are you?" Marvin replied. "Checkers Boy, is it? Well Mr. Red Commie, we'll just see who will 'lose game' today."

Dmitri laughed and made his first move.

All of the games were hard fought. Board two and three went to the Tinsleys while board four went to the Doublejumpers and board five was a draw. The score was 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 in favor of the Tinsleys, and it was all down to the game on first board. Marvin was in a must win situation. That would tie the score at 2 1/2 - 2 1/2 in which case the win on first board would give the Doublejumpers the match on tiebreaks. But only a win would do. Even a draw would give the match to the Tinsleys.

White to Play and Win


No doubt about it, Dmitri, anticipating his team's victory, was gloating, even if relatively silently, and it bothered Marvin no end, even though he knew it was a psychological tactic.


"Checkers Boy is finished," Dmitri said in a half-whisper. "No more super star. Dmitri is new superstar. Was always superstar. Game is draw. Checkers Boy is not good enough and cannot win. Now proof of pudding is in eating. Eat pudding, Checkers Boy!"

Marvin was doing his classic fidget, legs bouncing and head shaking from side to side. But his clock was running down and he had little time to spend. He was ready to make his move and ...

Did Marvin find the win, or was it true that Dmitri had a clear draw? What would you have done in such a tense situation with a trip to the World Series of Checkers on the line? Unlike Marvin, you can take all the time you wish and there's no pressure. The problem is actually on the easy side. See what you can do and then click on Read More to see the solution and the surprising conclusion to our story.20050904-symbol.gif

Solution and Conclusion

... he reached out his left hand to grasp the piece on 27. But as he was doing so his sleeve touched the piece on 22 ...

"Referee!" Dmitri shouted before Marvin could do anything else. Marvin, surprised, snatched his hand back and muttered, "What the ... "

Petrov Petrovovich Petrovski

The referee, whose name was Petrov Petrovovich Petrovski, hurried over to the board from his station about six feet distant.

"Touch move!" Dmitri shouted. "Checkers boy touched piece on 22 and must move it! It is rules!"

"I didn't touch nothing!" Marvin replied, raising his voice as well. "I was gonna move the piece on 27 when this here guy started shouting," he continued, pointing a finger at Dmitri.

"Hand touched piece on 22!" Dmitri yelled back. "Checkers Boy must move and game is draw!"


"I didn't touch nothing, I said, you filthy Commie pig! Maybe my sleeve brushed against it, but that don't count! You're a lousy lying cheater!"

"Enough!" the referee cut in. "Touch move applies. Rule 104-11b, accidental touch is only excusable upon declaration. Player of White made no declaration, therefore must move piece on 22."

Marvin stood and turned to face Petrov. "I ain't moving that one! You got it wrong!"

"Rule 104-11b is enforced," Petrov said. "Make move or forfeit."

"No way! You're just siding with the Commie here because you're a dirty pinko Commie yourself!"

At that Petrov blew his whistle. "White player Mavin is ejected from game!" he said. "Game is forfeited, Black is winner!"

Marvin growled and made as if to step towards Petrov. Frightened, Petrov took a couple of steps back. The Doublejumper team hurried to the field to pull Marvin away and steer him towards the dugout. But it was over. The Doublejumpers had lost the match and lost the chance to compete in the World Series of Checkers.

Coach Anderson

Marvin shook off his teammates and made his way on his own toward the locker room and the showers. None of his teammates said a single word. The coach, Davey Anderson, gave him no more than a glancing, unfriendly look.

The season was finished, and for Marvin, there would be a price to pay. It would start with the evening sports broadcasts, continue in the morning newspapers, go on in the weekly Checker News and the monthly All Checkers Digest. There would be more than a casual mention in this year's NCL Yearbook.


Marvin would almost certainly receive a fine and a suspension from National Checker League Headquarters for his unsportsmanlike behavior. His team management would fine him as well, and punish him pretty severely. Would he be traded to another NCL team? Would he even get sent down to the Minors for a season? Or would his career be totally finished? The NCL placed great value on sportsmanship, expecting professional players to set a good example for the youth who looked up to them.

Even if the Doublejumpers kept him on the team, he could lose his team captaincy, and at training camp in late summer, if he was invited back, he'd suffer unlimited physical, mental, and emotional indignities.

Marvin, with all of this on his mind, experienced something that had never happened before. He didn't even want to go to a dive bar for a couple of post-game beers.


Yes, it was that bad.

Our hero Marvin, it seems, is in a bad way. We'll give him a month off and he'll return to our columns in June. Perhaps over the summer he can --- no, we'll leave all of that for next time. But for now, instead of 22-17 to a draw, here's the winning line that Marvin was about to play.

White to Play and Win


27-23 20x27 23-18 7-11 32x23 White Wins.

The source of this problem is unknown.

04/20/24 - Category: Fiction -Printer friendly version-
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