Near ladder escape
There are a number of ladder situations where a player does not technically have a ladder escape, but in practice often ends up escaping the ladder anyway. This usually happens because the opponent must play extremely precisely in order to prevent the ladder from escaping, and can easily miss the correct move. In such cases, we may speak of a near ladder escape.
This pages lists some common near ladder escapes, and how to thwart them.
C4 does not escape a 5th row ladder
A single stone at c4 (or the equivalent cell on the opposite side of the board) does not escape a 5th row ladder, even when there is a certain amount space on the 6th row as shown here:
However, there is only one way to prevent the ladder from connecting. Blue must play as follows.
In this situation, 2 followed by 4 is the only winning sequence for Blue. The best Red can do is the following, which is not sufficient to connect Red's ladder:
Note that Red gets a 5th-to-3rd row foldback, so if Red escapes a 3rd row ladder moving left, Red connects.
Also note that Red would be able to connect if the stone to the left of 13 were not occupied. Therefore, with slightly more space on the 6th row, a single stone at c4 actually does escape a 5th row ladder:
Conversely, if there is less space on the 6th row, Blue has additional ways of blocking the ladder, such as this:
D5 does not escape a 4th row ladder
A single stone at D5 (or the equivalent cell on the opposite side of the board) does not escape a 4th row ladder, even when the 6th row is empty as shown here. However, the situation is still very threatening. Red gets both a foldback and a switchback.
In the above situation, Blue's only winning move is to push.
For move 4, Blue has three possible choices: x, y, or z. If Blue plays moves 4 and 6 at y and z (in either order), Red gets a foldback and a switchback, but does not connect outright:
Note that Blue cannot play move 6 on the 2nd row, or else Red gets a forcing move that allows Red to connect outright:
If Blue plays move 4 at x, then on the next move, Red again has three possiblities:
If Blue plays moves 6 and 8 at y and z (in either order), Red gets a foldback and a switchback:
If Blue plays move 6 at x, Red also gets a foldback and switchback:
In all other cases, Red connects outright.
Climbing. If Red lacks both a switchback threat and a foldback threat, Red's goal may be to deny Blue a ladder escape in the corner, and to climb as far as possible. Red can play as follows:
Or if Blue plays a different move 12, Red can even do this:
Joseki "C" does not escape a 4th row ladder
It is fairly common to play the 4th row joseki "C", which leaves the following position in an acute corner:
This position obviously escapes 2nd row ladders. It is perhaps less obvious that it also escapes 3rd row ladders approaching from far enough away:
Note that Red is connected by a span, and the connection only requires the shaded area. The "magic" move is 5. If Red just continues to push on the 3rd row, Red does not connect.
Does the above corner position escape a 4th row ladder? If Blue naively keeps pushing the ladder, then Red does indeed connect:
On the other hand, if Blue yields at any point, Red connects by switchback, for example like this:
Indeed, for a 4th row ladder approaching the corner, there is only one possible Blue move that prevents Red from escaping the ladder. This "magic move" is 4 in the following diagram:
Red still gets a foldback and a switchback. Instead of 7, Red could have played anywhere in the corner, but since 7 captures the entire corner, it is usually the best move in this situation.