After the debacle at the Detroit Doublejumpers training camp (see our previous Marvin J. Mavin story), and the subsequent strike by the Doublejumper team, the rest of the National Checker League joined in in a sympathy strike, and they were soon joined by other checker leagues the world around.
NPL Player's Union President Jimmy Huffer told the media, "We will not stand idly by while the players we represent are abused. We expect that so-called coach to be fired, and the players be given compensation for psychological damage which may have a profound negative effect on their careers. We think $10 million per player is about right."
"That coach" was Charity Chastity Hopkins, also known to her great dislike as Cha Cha, who had attempted to institute Marine boot camp style disclipline into the Doublejumpers summer training camp. The Doublejumpers' previous season hadn't gone well, and their management wanted a big shakeup. They got one, but not the one for which they hoped.
But they stood their ground, and the management of the other teams stood with them. It was a total impasse. Opening Day came and went, with no checker matches being played. Would the season be completely called off, causing untold financial loss across the country, not to mention great disappointment to the nation's millions of checker fans?
There weren't even negotiations taking place. Days passed and the strike wore on. But then there was a breakthrough.
A checker columnist for a small newspaper in Tularosa, New Mexico, wrote that he'd like to see Marvin J. Mavin take on Cha Cha in a checkers match, and if Marvin won, Cha Cha would be dismissed. If Cha Cha won, she would remain as head coach, and while it was suggested that she tone things down a little, either way the strike would come to an end.
The idea somehow gained national attention, and although both NCL management and the NCL Player's Union didn't like it very much, there was a lot of pressure. Even politicians got involved and the President of the United States himself was heard to say, "They need to get on with it. What's a nation without checkers?"
So the match was arranged. Cha Cha pressed for a two part match which would mix martial arts and checkers, but that didn't gain any traction, as everyone knew that Cha Cha would give Marvin such a beating he wouldn't be able to complete the second part of the match.
Finally the day came. It was to be a single match played in the Dallas Checkerdrome in front of a sellout crowd of 50,000 checker fans.
In the dugout, Marvin's teammates warned him not to shake hands with Cha Cha. "She'll have you on the ground in seconds," they warned. "Probably even break your wrist, or worse."
"I ain't scared," Marvin replied, but nonetheless, when they met at mid-field, Marvin bowed instead of offering a hand.
"So, we meet, like, you know, mano a mano," he said, grinning.
Cha Cha gave him a look as if she didn't believe her ears. "Mano a mano?" she screamed. "Listen here, Captain Dog Breath, I'm not a mano in case you haven't noticed!"
"Coulda fooled me," Marvin muttered, careful not to be heard. Then aloud he said, "Okay, mano a womano, you like that better?"
"Leave gender out of this!" Cha Cha shouted back. "You better say 'one on one' loud enough for me to HEAR you, and you better say it right NOW!"
"Ma'am, yes ma'am!" Marvin replied, but the note of sarcasm in his voice couldn't be missed. Of course, Marvin had noted there were six very large referees standing in a circle around the two players, ready to intervene if things got out of hand.
The head referee, Ritchie Bandwidth, stepped forward. "People, let's just play checkers, okay? Now, the match is one game. If a draw, a second game, and so on until there is a winner, no matter how long it might go. Take your seats and begin."
"Prepare to die, maggot!" Cha Cha hissed.
Now, there was no doubt Cha Cha was a top player. While in the Marines, she had won the Armed Forces Individual Championship for four years in a row, and then on her re-enlistment, she coached the Marines to four consecutive team championships. When she left the service, she decided on a professional coaching career instead of one as a player. Her severe methods were not appreciated by her teams, but she got results, at least until she reached the NCL and encountered the Doublejumpers.
Marvin and Cha Cha played five draws over a period of about three hours. The fans were getting impatient for a result and loud boos accompanied the announcement of the last two draws.
The sixth game, though, was different, and looked like it might produce a result.
It was Marvin's move in the following position, and he thought he had some chances.
"You're dead meat, Captain Dog Food," Cha Cha said in a stage whisper. "And wait until we get back to training. You'll suffer like you've never suffered before. I'll beat you to a bloody pulp. I'll break both your arms and both your legs. No sleep, no food until every last ounce of insubordination is knocked out of you. It'll be so bad you'll quit because you can't take it any more, and good riddance, too, as you crawl away in agony ... "
"Stuff it," Marvin said, as he reached out and made his move.
Can you defeat Cha Cha and end the strike--- on terms favorable to the players? There's a lot at stake here so the pressure's on. Try your best and remember that Cha Cha can't get to you, wherever you might be. When you're ready click on Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.
Solution and Conclusion
The following play ensued.
30-25---A 29-22 11-16 12-19 14-9 5-14 10-26 23-30---1 2-6 3-10 6-31 White Wins.
A---Or 11-16 first.
1---The order of jumps doesn't matter.
An enormous cheer went up from the huge crowd. Marvin had won! The checker strike was over. Cha Cha would be dismissed and the Doublejumpers would get a new head coach. The checker season was on at long last!
Marvin stood and took a bow, and flashed smiles all around at the ecstatic crowd. In so doing he took his eyes off Cha Cha.
She had been sitting and fuming and glaring daggers at Marvin, literally foaming at the mouth and virtually unable to speak. Finally, a strange noise erupted from her larynx and in a flash, she knocked over the game table, leaped across and slammed Marvin to the ground, her hands at his throat.
The referees couldn't pull her away, try as they might, and Marvin was choking and turning red. Finally a stadium police officer fired his taser at Cha Cha and she fell away to the side.
Cha Cha was put under arrest and Marvin was taken out on a stretcher to be checked over at a nearby hospital. The crowd booed mightly as Cha Cha was led away, and cheered with equal force as Marvin was carried off, weakly attempting to wave in response.
It was a day that would go down in history in the annals of the National Checker League. But for most of America and the rest of the world, what mattered is that professional checkers was back. Bars would fill for Monday Night Checkers. Barbeques would be on for the Sunday afternoon games. It was sweet beyond words.
But all was not over, as we'll learn in next month's episode.
Today's problem was composed by the late and much-missed grandmaster composer, Ed Atkinson. He called it "Companion No. 2." We have previously published "Companion No. 1" in a past column.