Revenge! Part I

Portland, Oregon

It was January and the National Checker League season was back in full swing after the holiday break. The Detroit Doublejumpers, a former championship team trying to make a comeback, was in Portland for a three match series with the Portland Paisleys. They would go on to San Franciso, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, and finally Cleveland before beginning a home stand back in Detroit. It was a long road trip, and Marvin J. Mavin, the superstar champion of the Doublejumpers, would be away from his wife, Priscilla, for an extended period. (Recall that, in a previous series of stories, we recounted Marvin and Priscilla's summer wedding and European honeymoon.)

On a Monday the Doublejumpers had just arrived in Portland on a short flight from Seattle, where the Doublejumpers had swept a four match series with the Seattle Switchers. Everyone on the team was feeling good and the mood was upbeat.

Coach Davey Anderson

After a team dinner, carefully overseen by new head coach Davey Anderson to ensure that there would be no imbibing of spirits, something strictly forbidden during active playing dates, everyone retired to their rooms to relax and rest, as they would need to turn out for the team bus just after lunch the following day to go to the Portland Checkerdrome for practice sessions and then their series opener at 6 PM against the Paisleys.

Marvin decided to read the Portland newspaper instead of watching a movie on the room's big screen TV. The newspaper, the Portland Portlandian, had a daily checker column and Marvin enjoyed that even more than the funnies. (On occasion, he was even known to read the news although he didn't make a habit of it, leaving it to Priscilla to catch him up with current events when the Doublejumpers were at home.)

Tonight, Marvin decided to do things in reverse order. He got into his pajamas and bathrobe and read Blondie, Peanuts, Beetle Bailey, and his favorite of all--- Dennis the Menace--- before turning to the checker column. And it was there that he saw the following headline and news story.

Cha Cha Hopkins

"Disgraced Coach Finds Post in Semi-Pro League"

"Charity Chastity Hopkins, commonly known as 'Cha Cha', has taken a position as the Head Coach of the Manasquan Muppets, a semi-pro team in the Jersey Shore League on New Jersey's Atlantic coast. Cha-Cha, who had coached briefly in the majors, was accused of the attempted second degree murder of Marvin J. Mavin, the Captain of the Detroit Doublejumpers. Charges against Cha-Cha were dropped due to a serious case of misgendering, but the NCL Players' Union said they would go on strike again if Cha Cha was made a coach in any NCL or affliate team, from the Majors right on down through the Rookie Leagues.

"Cha Cha was reported as having said, 'I wanted to stay in checkers. I'm a great coach and I have a lot to offer. I took what I could get, but someone of my caliber shouldn't be reduced to this. I blame that miserable maggot, Marvin J. Mavin. It's all his fault and one day I'll get even. He and that skanky wife of his had better watch their backs."

"When asked if she was threatening Marvin or his wife Priscilla, Cha Cha replied, 'It's not a threat, it's more like a promise.'

"NCL officials could not be reached for comment, but one representative who spoke on condition of anonymity said, 'We won't be pursuing this. After that misgendering incident, Cha Cha is pretty much untouchable.'"

The first thing Marvin wondered was why he hadn't been asked to comment. But he guessed that the NCL top brass warned off the press, again because of his misgendering Cha Cha and thereby getting criminal charges against her dropped due to his use of "fightin' words" (recall from previous stories that Marvin had called Cha Cha a "woman" and had failed to ask her for her preferred pronouns).


At the trial, Cha Cha had said she would get even. Now, she had gone public about it. Marvin further wondered if Priscilla had heard about this. Then, as if on cue, the room telephone rang before Marvin even had a chance to look at the checker problem printed below the news article.

Marvin located the phone on a nightstand next to the bed and picked it up.

"Hullo?" he said.

"Marvin, it's Priscilla. Why aren't you answering your cell phone?"

"Uh ... what? Oh yeah, that. I gotta charge the battery but I don't know what I did with the charger and I been busy and stuff so you know ... "

"Okay, stop. Look, dear, I'm still at work, it's been very busy, but I just got a call from one of my researchers."

"Still at work, wow, ain't it kinda late over there?"

A Rust Belt Holdings Property

Priscilla was the CEO of the international conglomerate Rust Belt Holdings and had a very busy work life.

"Never mind it being late, the researcher found an article that appeared in the checker columns of several major newspapers. It's about that woman that attacked you ... "

Marvin chuckled. "Yeah, Cha Cha. I just seen the article in the Portland newspaper. Kinda concerning."

"It sure is."

"Yeah, ain't nobody asked me what I think. It's all about that woman--- uh, I mean that person."

Marvin heard an exasperated sigh as Priscilla went on, "Marvin! She's threatening us! And she's very violent! What are you going to do about it?"

"I dunno. Ain't much to do. I'd just get in trouble again and after that hearing I don't need no more trouble. She ain't going to do nothing anyhow."


"She already tried to kill you once, how can you say that?" Priscilla paused. "Well, if you're not going to do anything, I will. I'm going to get Rust Belt Security to set up monitoring at home, in the office, and in my limo and all of my cars. And I suggest you tell your Coach about this."

At that, Priscilla hung up the phone.

Marvin thought about calling Priscilla back but then realized he first had to find his cell phone and charge it up. Then he thought he'd just get another earful in any event, or even worse, Priscilla might be angry enough not to even take his call.

It took him a good fifteen minutes to find his phone and charger, and by then he decided to call it a night. He didn't even bother with the checker problem the Portland paper had published that day.

Black to Play and Draw


Marvin, as was typical, slept through breakfast and was barely in time for the team bus. Upon arrival at the Checkerdrome, there was a working lunch with the Tactics Coach and then sessions with the Openings Coach and the Endings Coach. Blitz scrimmages followed and practice wound up about 90 minutes ahead of the match with the Paisleys.

The match went well and the Doublejumpers won handily by a score of 7 to 3. It was only when Marvin arrived back at his hotel room and ordered a room service dinner that he thought to look at his phone. The coaching staff didn't permit the team members to take cell phones to the stadium for fear they would be distracted, and most of the team couldn't wait to check for messages once they got off the bus at the hotel. Marvin, however, was not so attached to his phone.


To his utter consternation, his phone showed eighteen missed calls, two voicemails, and ten text messages. Every single one of them from Priscilla. Marvin started through them. Most of them just said "call me" albeit in a more and more exasperated tone. The final voicemail said, "I can't reach you so I tried calling the team office. They refused to put me through. They said your match can't be interrupted and they didn't care that I was the Team Captain's wife. I said I would sue. I asked them if they knew who I was and what a powerful position I held. They wouldn't budge. I've got a mind to call a lawyer and start a suit against your team. But if you don't call me right now I may call a different lawyer. The kind that specializes in divorce settlements."

That was the end of the message.

Needless to say, Marvin called Priscilla's number at once.

She answered at once. "About time," she said curtly. "Didn't you realize how urgent this is?" Then, not giving Marvin a chance to respond, Priscilla went on, "I got an envelope in the mail today. My office mail, no less."


"Uh yeah honey well gee, dontcha get a lot of mail and stuff?"

"Not this kind. It was a small brown envelope, hand lettered with no return address. It made me very suspicious. I called the mail room and chewed them out for not having it checked, and then had security take it off and examine it. And do you know what was in it?"

"Uh ... like ... a bomb or something?"

"No, no, although it's just as bad. You know that news article about Cha Cha and her saying she'd get even. Well, what was in the envelope was a copy of the article with "You're next after him" scrawled across it in red crayon."

"You're next ... like ... you're going to be the next pro-am coach or something? I can't figure ... "

"NO, you idiot, it's a THREAT! Don't you get it? A threat!

"Uh, yeah, you're right. You gonna call the cops?"

"I did. They said they can't do anything. There's no proof that this came from Cha Cha. But of course it did. So as I told you earlier, I have a Rust Belt security detail watching the house, and they'll be driving me wherever I need to go. But you better watch out yourself."

"Sure honey, yeah, whatever you ... "


The windows of Marvin's hotel room shattered as the rocket propelled grenade exploded against them. The phone dropped from Marvin's hand and everything turned black.

To be continued.

Will Marvin ever get to solve that checker problem? You'll have to tune in next month for the second part of this three part story. But you can solve it right now (we hope you haven't experienced any exploding windows) at your leisure. Don't bomb out. Solve the problem and then detonate your mouse on Read More to see the solution.20050904-symbol.gif


Black to Play and Draw


Beyond move 13 many variations are possible, which you can explore with your computer.

1. 14-17 21x14
2. 9x18 26-22

The only move to draw. 25-21 loses.

3. 3-7 22x15
4. 7x16 15-11
5. 5-9 ...

6-10 and 16-20 both lose.

5. ... 11-8
6. 9-14 25-21
7. 14-18 31-26
8. 16-20 8-3
9. 20-24 3-8
10. 24-27 8-11
11. 27-31 28-24
12. 19x28 26x19

Now a database draw.

13. 31-27 11-15
14. 18-22 15-18
15. 22-25 19-16
16. 28-32 16-11
17. 32-28 18-22
18. 25-29 30-25
19. 28-24 11-8
20. 24-19 8-3
21. 27-23 3-8
22. 23-27 8-12

And on to a draw.

The problem is by Louis C. Ginsberg, who drew this position in a game played something over 100 years ago. We never tire of saying that checkers remains fresh and fascinating even in our supposedly modern times.

01/20/24 - Category: Fiction -Printer friendly version-
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