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William Strickland

1849 - 1887 ~ Strickland's Position~

Another innovative checker player by the name of William Strickland was born in Leeds in 1849. The local checker atmosphere was ripe around him, but not until the age of 16 did the sport attract his attention. However, once he was drawn to the game of checkers, he became enthralled with the variety of play and challenges it presented, as many before him had done, and began to practice the game in earnest.

In 1870, he became acquainted with the leading Yorkshire players, and through them Strickland was introduced to the checkers literature, which intrigued him all the more so that he immediately began to study assiduously. He was able to absorb the information easily so much so that the progress in his game was so rapid that within a year he received several challenges to play checker matches.

William Strickland played his first match in 1871 against D. Murray of Leeds. Although Strickland allowed his opponent three games start in six, he still defeated Murray by winning all six checker games. Two years later, Strickland played a ten-game match against T. Lockwood of Leeds, and soundly beat his opponent with a score of four wins to two. In the same year, William Strickland challenged and defeated William Bryden of Glasgow in a checker match.

With these successes, William Strickland was well on the way in his checker career. After the matches in 1873, he contested a subscription match with J. Busby at the Woodman Inn, Leeds, and once again came out victorious. He continued to study and analyze the game, which certainly helped William to win major matches against Robert Martins and Smith. Of course, even the greatest master checker player has the ‘off’ day where his game may not have been quite on or perhaps his opponent may just have made better moves, and for William Strickland, these days ended in losses to James Wyllie, “the Herd Laddie”, William Bryden, and another strong player named Birkeshaw.

In 1884, William Strickland played in the Scotland-England checker match, where he tied with A. Jackson of Manchester for first place in the English team. His score after three days’ competition ended with one win, one loss, and sixteen draws against Jackson's score of sixteen drawn games.

However, William Strickland's checker fame as a practical player was eclipsed by his remarkable reputation as a blindfold player. Before Strickland, blindfold play had simply been considered impossible, as it was believed that each checker player needed to see the checkerboard in order to be able to play the game. It was reasoned that a player couldn't remember all the game moves and positional plays. Even great masters such as Robert Martins declared that it was all trickery. Philidor, the great blindfold chess player, tried to play checkers in the same way he played chess and failed at checkers.
Another checker master, John Drummond, who was the celebrated author of the “Scottish Draughts Player”, declared that "Draughts (checkers) required both sight and thoughtful mind." However, that didn't seem to put the matter to rest as being impossible to achieve; therefore, in spite of these opposing opinions, Frank Dunne attempted to play blindfold checkers and succeeded. His success thus encouraged Strickland's ambition to play checkers blindfold. He practiced his game in this manner and soon William Strickland began a tour of the northern counties of England and the south communities of Scotland, where he played from six to a dozen games simultaneously. These exhibitions were lauded as brilliant checker play in many notices from the press.

Thus, when it was announced that William Strickland would contest twenty games simultaneously with the best players of Leeds and the surrounding district, the local excitement mounted. However, when these checker games were played, William only marginally won the match by a score of seven wins, six losses, and seven draws.
William Strickland died of bronchitis in October 1887. This checker master left behind a legacy, not just as a remarkable and ingenious blindfold player, but also for the creation of his famous checker move, "Strickland's Position", which requires 26 careful moves by the winning player before progress can be forced.

Strickland’s Position: Despite having an extra piece, White has to work very hard and play with great care to force the win.

Strickland's Position

14-10 16-19 17-14 26-23 10-7 23-26 7-3
22-25 3-8 25-22 8-12 22-25 14-10 25-22
10-7 26-23 13-9 22-25 9-6 25-22 6-2 22-25
7-11 23-26 11-16 26-23 16-20 23-27 12-8
25-22 2-7 22-25 7-10 25-22 10-14 27-32
20-24 19-16 14-10 16-20 24-19 32-27 10-7
22-25 8-11 25-29 19-16 27-23 7-2 29-25 11-7
20-11 White wins








DeerLake Online Store Items

Wonder Mugs Play checkers online, and enjoy drinking from this cool wonder mug.
When adding hot liquid, the colors of the mug will change, checkers cool.

Checkers is a two-player game, where one player is assigned white-chip checkers and the other red. The aim is to play checkers online, capture all of the other player's checkers or make them impossible to move.

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