Gosh Josh at Ditzy World

"Gosh Josh" Gordon

"Gosh Josh" Gordon had played out a full season with the Double-A Erie Eliminators, a minor league farm club owned by Marvin J. Mavin's major league team, the Detroit Doublejumpers. (See our previous story in which Marvin visited Ganonoque, Ontario, and recruited Josh for professional play.)

Gosh Josh had had a good year. He started out as a substitute, as might be expected for a newcomer to high-level professional play, but he quickly got a fifth-board starting position and by the end of the season he had made it to third board. There was talk that he would be moved up to a AAA farm club in the fall. The Erie Eliminators made it to the playoffs in its league but lost in the finals even though Josh won all but one of his games.

So during the summer Gosh Josh was sent out with a few other team members to play in a summer league. In Josh's case, he was placed with a group of players in Orlando, Florida, on a summer team known as the Orlando Outcasts. They were to play other teams around the state of Florida, and they would also do teaching and exhibitions.

Ditzy World

One of the big events Gosh Josh was scheduled for was a very big simultaneous exhibition. The simul was to take place inside one of Orlando's big theme parks, Ditzy World. There was a $100 entry fee for each challenger, and Ditzy World further insisted that all the players pay a day's admission to the theme park, a rather expensive proposition which garnered criticism from the media that the Ditzy Company was being overly greedy. At approximately $200 a person that made the cost of playing in the simul come to around $300.

Gosh Josh was a bit nervous. It was true that all of his opponents--- 40 of them--- would be amateurs, but the level of amateur play in Central Florida was very high. Josh might be an accomplished up and coming pro, but trying to win forty games at the same time would be a true challenge.


The day of the simul arrived. Gosh Josh arrived at Ditzy World and to his great surprise he too was required to buy an entry ticket. Josh reluctantly pulled out his credit card and paid, hoping the team's stingy accountants would reimburse him.

Josh arrived at the site of the simul, a relatively large room with long tables set up at the front of the room in a square arrangement open at the corners, with ten checkerboards per table. There were rows of seats in the rest of the room.

Cathy Kenney

The organizer of the simul turned out to be high level a Ditzy Company employee, Cathy Kenney. She explained the setup to Josh. "We made an arrangement with your team management," she said. "We'd provide the room for only $1,000 if we could sell tickets to spectators. Naturally there's a lot of interest in an exhibition such as this. We can get $100 per ticket and that's in addition to the park admission fee."

"Why did I have to pay the park fee?" Josh asked.

"Business, my boy, business. No one gets into Ditzy World without paying. Just how it is. Ditzy World isn't a charity, you know."

"I thought it was a family oriented ..."

"Oh yes, that too, sure it is. Well look, the audience and players are starting to arrive, you ready to put on a good exhibition?"

Josh thought for a long moment, and then replied, "Sure, I can do that. Under one condition."

"What's that, my boy, what are you talking about, hurry up now, we need to get going here ... "


"It will cost you a thousand dollars," Josh said. "A thousand bucks and I'll put on a good show."

"Now look here son ... "

"A thousand bucks or I walk straight out the door," Josh said, and then added, "and I also get a refund of my park admission."

"You can't walk out! It's a breach of contract!" Ms. Kenney replied. "We'll sue!"

"I never signed a contract. I never even spoke with anyone at Ditzy World."

"We'll still sue! You better play, boy, and you better play well, or else we'll ... "


Josh smiled. "Business, my girl, business. I'm not running a charity here."

Josh headed for the door. But by now all the audience seats were filled and so were all the players' seats. Josh figured there were a hundred spectators and forty players. At $100 each, that was $4,000 just for the simul and around $28,000 in park admission fees. With the room fee Ditzy World was pulling in $33,000. And Josh knew Ms. Kenney had those figures well in mind.

"Okay, okay!" Ms. Kenney said. "We'll pay you $1,000! Just don't walk out on us!"

Josh turned back to Ms. Kenney. "In advance," he said, "and in cash. And don't forget the park admission fee."

"But we never refund ... oh, whatever."


Ms. Kenney was furious but she took her wallet from her handbag and counted out twelve $100 bills and gave them to Josh. It appeared to be just a small amount of the money in the woman's wallet. "Okay, you little punk, now play," she said.

Josh grinned and walked into the middle of the array of tables, ready to play.

The games began. As the participants all had to be amateurs, the competition generally wasn't too near Josh's professional level. But the Orlando area boasted some very talented playerss. So while Josh was able to win the first 37 out of 40 games without undue difficulty, he had to fight for a win on the 38th and concede a draw on the 39th.

Bob Fernastus

The 40th board was another matter. The player was none other than Bob Fernastus, who could have easily turned pro in his day but decided to continue his career an insurance salesman instead. (We met Bob quite a few years ago in a Checker Maven story, when he played our young friend Tommy Wagner in the Uncle Ben's Porch series.)

Mr. Fernastus had a very strong position, and Josh, now on his last game, knew it. He also saw Ms. Kenney watching from a corner of the room with a scowl on her face. What was that all about? Josh wondered.

But no matter. He had to focus on his game or it could end up being a loss. Josh was on move with Black and he faced the position shown below.

Black to Play and Draw


Josh knew he couldn't hope for a win. The question was, could he pull off a draw? He'd sure hate to lose his last game.

Then Josh had an idea. It might work or it might not but it seemed to be the only chance.

Josh made his move.

How would you do against a player as good as Bob Fernastus? Can you find the draw in the postition above? Of course you don't have the pressure of playing at Ditzy World against a large group of players, and you didn't have to pay a hefty admission and participation fee. Give it a try and then, most appropriately, mouse onto Read More to see the solution and the conclusion of our story.20050904-symbol.gif

Solution and Conclusion

Black to Play and Draw


Josh played 5-9 and Bob Fernastus looked up from the checkerboard to Josh. A few more moves ensued.

5-9---A 22-17 10-15 19x10 9-13 26-22 14-18 22x15 13x22 10-6 7-11 16x7 3x19 to a draw.

A---A more mundane draw can be had with careful play by 3-8 16-12 8-11 12-8 11-15 19-16 14-18 22-17 18-22 26-23 22-26 8-3 5-9 17-13 9-14 etc. to a draw.

"It's a draw!" Fernastus exclaimed. "Here I thought I had a win against an up and coming professional, but your reputation is well earned, Josh. It was a pleasure to play you. Thanks for a great game."


With broad smiles, the two players shook hands. Fernastus asked Josh to autograph his scoresheet, remarking that it will be worth a fortune one day when Gosh Josh is a Major League star. Then Fernastus took his leave.

Josh was getting ready to do the same. By now the playing room was empty, but Josh didn't notice Ms. Kenney approaching him. When Josh finally saw her, he couldn't help but notice the look of fury on her face.

"What is it, Ms. Kenney?" Josh asked.

"What is it? What is it? As if you don't know!" Ms. Kenney was shouting and spittle was flying. "You made me pay you twelve hundred dollars and you call that a good performance? You call that the way how you uphold the Ditzy Company reputation for being the best at everything? You'd never make it here as part of the cast, let me tell you. How dare you lose two games! You were supposed to win them all! Ditzy Company never loses!"

"I didn't lose, Ms. Kenney, those were draws ... "

"Lose, draw, who cares, you didn't win! Now I want my money back! Hand it over!"

Josh had had enough. He stood up straight, looked Ms. Kenney in the eyes and said, "That money is going to be given to charity."


"You give it back or I'll have Ditzy World police take it from you, by force if need be." Ms. Kenney spoke evenly and slowly, now with a grim countenance. "Just try me."

"Just try me," Josh replied in the same even tone. "I'll be happy to tell the media that Ditzy Company confiscated over a thousand dollars earmarked to support checker programs in inner city schools. Let's see how that helps your family-friendly reputation."

"You wouldn't dare."

"Really?" Josh got out his cell phone and started to make a call.


"Okay, okay!" Ms. Kenney said. "Keep the money. Just don't tell anyone about the two draws."

"Already posted it on my MyFace page and on Tooter and InstaText. Sorry, ma'am but the truth will out. Well, I'll be on my way now. Have a nice evening here at Ditzy World. Maybe you can catch a mouse or something."


Gosh Josh gave a friendly wave and departed.


Today's position came from a match played long ago between Samuel Gonotsky and Louis Ginsberg. Gonotsky had Black. The original game as contested differs a bit from the line shown above. You can explore many possible variants with your computer.

07/06/24 - Category: Fiction -Printer friendly version-
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