Strickland's Position

William Strickland was born in Leeds in 1849, and at the age of 16 became attracted to draughts and began to practice it. After 5 years in 1870 he made the acquaintance of the leading Yorkshire players, who introduced him to the literature on the game which he immediately began to stusy assiduously. His progress was so rapid that within a year he received several challenges to play matches. In 1871 he played his first match, his opponent being D Murray of Leeds. Strickland allowed his opponent three games start in six, and defeated him by winning all of the six. In 1873 he played a match of ten games with Mr T Lockwood of Leeds, beating that player with a score of 4-2. In the same year Strickland was also defeated in a match with William Bryden of Glasgow. After this he contested a subscription match with Mr J Busby at the Woodman Inn, Leeds, and was again victorious. His major matches included wins over Martins and Smith, and losses to Wyllie, Bryden and Birkehshaw. At the Scotland-England match of 1884 he tied with Mr A Jackson of Manchester for first place in the English team, his score on that occasion being, for 3 days play, one win, one loss and sixteen draws, whilst Mr Jackson's score was sixteen drawn games.

However, Strickland's fame as a practical player was eclipsed by his reputation as a blindfold player. Before Strickland, blindfold play had been held to be impossible, and even such great players as Robert Martins declared that it was all trickery. Philidor, the great blindfold chess player, tried to play draughts the same way and failed. John Drummond, the celebrated author of the Scottish Draughts Player, declared that "Draughts required both sight and thoughtful mind." In spite if these opinions, Frank Dunne attempted to play blindfold draughts and succeeded. His success fired Strickland's ambition, and soon after Strickland commenced a tour of the counties of the North of England and the South of Scotland playing from six to a dozen games simultaneously. These exhibitions were of the most brilliant description, and called forth most laudatory notices from the press. The excitement culminated when it was announced that he would contest 20 games simultaneously with the best players of Leeds and District. on that occasion he won narrowly by the score of 7 wins, 6 lossess and 7 draws. William Srrickland died of bronchitis in October 1887, and is best remembered today for his famous position, diagrammed here with Red (playing down the board) to play and win. The solution is sufficiently deep that most programs are unable to win this ending against a tenacious defence, with the Chinook 6-piece database being insufficient for this 7-piece position. However, with its 7-piece endgame databases Wyllie Draughts not only plays out the win perfectly, but also moves instantly as well!