The Checker Maven

Searight's Escape

Houdini was arguably the greatest (or at least the most famous) escape artist of all time. Some of his daring feats, like the water-tank escape shown above, are definitely not recommended for trial at home; not, at least, if you value your life.

Checkerist Searight most probably never did a water-tank exhibition, but his checkerboard feats are as classy in the checker world as Houdini's were his own realm. Today, we quote Willie Ryan in Trips Traps & Shots of the Checkerboard, as he describes one of Mr. Searight's more amazing checkerboard escapes.

"You'll never be a champion at checkers unless you thoroughly familiarize yourself with all the better-known losses that have been the undoing of great players in the past. By studying the mistakes of the masters, you can avoid the costly errors they made, and gain knowledge that would take years to acquire by practical experience. Among the 'must' positions is Searight's draw. The game mapped out below was contested by Champion Newell W. Banks and me. When Banks reached the diagrammed stage, he 'muffed' a draw, losing the game and the match."

11-16 9-18 7-10
22-17 23-14 22-18
16-20 1-6 3-7
17-14 24-19 13-9
10-17 15-24 5-14
21-14 28-19 18- 9
9-18 6-10 11-15
23-14 30-26 32-28
8-11 10-17 15-24
25-22 22-13 28-19
11-15 4-8 7-11
29-25 25-22 27-24
6- 9 8-11 20-27
26-23 26-23 31-24---1

1---Impeccable play up to this point---Ed.


Black to Play and Draw


Can you escape with your life in this position, or will you pay the price of failure? We won't say there's an easy out; some struggling is necessary, but it's worth it. Get on with the show, and then slip out to Read More to see the solution and notes.


"Continue from diagram: 2-7*---A, 9-6, 11-16, 6-2, 7-11* (not 16-20, 2-11, 20-27, 23-18, white wins), 2-6 (if 2-7 is moved, then 10-15, 19-10, 16-20 achieves the draw), 10-15*!, 19-10, 16-20, 24-19, 11-15, producing a draw.

A---The only move to draw. Banks played 11-15---2 and lost. Later, Tom Wiswell reached this same position in a match with Jackson Dworsky, of Buffalo, and also missed the draw. In each case, missing the draw lost the match."

2---Let's look at the lines of play that the KingsRow engine calculates for a few options:

11/13/10 - Category: Books - Printer friendly version
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