Draughts/Checkers in Literature

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Draughts/Checkers in Literature

Postby liam stephens on Sat Aug 22, 2015 10:42 am

Most readers, I am sure, will be familiar with the reference to draughts in Edgar Alan Poe’s short story – The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

“I will, therefore, take occasion to assert that the higher powers of the reflective intellect are more decidedly and more usefully tasked
by the unostentatious game of draughts than by all the elaborate frivolity of chess.”

The following two examples may be less well known.

1. Charles Dickens – Our Mutual Friend (1864)

This novel was his last book and considered as one of his best by several critics.

When the impecunious Mr Wilfer returns home one evening he finds his daughters playing a game of draughts.
First women’s match maybe ?

Extract from Chapter 4:

'It is as you think, R. W.; not as I do.' With those submissive words, the dutiful wife preceded him down a few stairs to a little basement front room, half kitchen, half parlour, where a girl of about nineteen, with an exceedingly pretty figure and face, but with an impatient and petulant expression both in her face and in her shoulders (which in her sex and at her age are very expressive of discontent), sat playing draughts with a younger girl, who was the youngest of the House of Wilfer. Not to encumber this page by telling off the Wilfers in detail and casting them up in the gross, it is enough for the present that the rest were what is called 'out in the world,' in various ways, and that they were Many. So many, that when one of his dutiful children called in to see him, R. Wilfer generally seemed to say to himself, after a little mental arithmetic, 'Oh! here's another of 'em!' before adding aloud, 'How de do, John,' or Susan, as the case might be.
'Well Piggywiggies,' said R. W., 'how de do to-night? What I was thinking of, my dear,' to Mrs Wilfer already seated in a corner with folded gloves, 'was, that as we have let our first floor so well, and as we have now no place in which you could teach pupils even if pupils—'
'The milkman said he knew of two young ladies of the highest respectability who were in search of a suitable establishment, and he took a card,' interposed Mrs Wilfer, with severe monotony, as if she were reading an Act of Parliament aloud. 'Tell your father whether it was last Monday, Bella.'
'But we never heard any more of it, ma,' said Bella, the elder girl.
'In addition to which, my dear,' her husband urged, 'if you have no place to put two young persons into—'
'Pardon me,' Mrs Wilfer again interposed; 'they were not young persons. Two young ladies of the highest respectability. Tell your father, Bella, whether the milkman said so.'
'My dear, it is the same thing.'
'No it is not,' said Mrs Wilfer, with the same impressive monotony. 'Pardon me!'
'I mean, my dear, it is the same thing as to space. As to space. If you have no space in which to put two youthful fellow-creatures, however eminently respectable, which I do not doubt, where are those youthful fellow-creatures to be accommodated? I carry it no further than that. And solely looking at it,' said her husband, making the stipulation at once in a conciliatory, complimentary, and argumentative tone—'as I am sure you will agree, my love—from a fellow-creature point of view, my dear.'
'I have nothing more to say,' returned Mrs Wilfer, with a meek renunciatory action of her gloves. 'It is as you think, R. W.; not as I do.'
Here, the huffing of Miss Bella and the loss of three of her men at a swoop, aggravated by the coronation of an opponent, led to that young lady's
jerking the draught-board and pieces off the table: which her sister went down on her knees to pick up.


2. J. D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

This controversial novel became a best seller.
George H. W. Bush called it a "marvelous book" and it was admired by many, but the book has had its share of critics,
and gained an unfortunate reputation following the killing of John Lennon, when Mark Chapman was arrested with a copy of the book in his possession.
The novel’s protagonist, Holden Caulfield, had a girl friend who played checkers.

Extract from Chapter 4:

"She's a dancer," I said. "Ballet and all. She used to practice about two hours every day, right in the middle of the hottest weather and all.
She was worried that it might make her legs lousy--all thick and all. I used to play checkers with her all the time."

"You used to play what with her all the time?"

"Checkers."

"Checkers, for Chrissake!"

"Yeah. She wouldn't move any of her kings. What she'd do, when she'd get a king, she wouldn't move it. She'd just leave it in the back row. She'd get them all lined up in the back row. Then she'd never use them. She just liked the way they looked when they were all in the back row."
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Re: Draughts/Checkers in Literature

Postby Bill Salot on Sat Aug 22, 2015 3:28 pm

We will soon need to add Bob Newell to that talented group.
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Re: Draughts/Checkers in Literature

Postby liam stephens on Sun Aug 23, 2015 6:11 am

Yes Bill,
The story of The World of Marvin J. Mavin is a fascinating one.
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Re: Draughts/Checkers in Literature

Postby Lindus Edwards on Sun Aug 23, 2015 12:20 pm

Great stuff there Liam. I cannot say how much I enjoy reading Bob Newell's stories at the Maven site. Just wonderful.
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