# Difference between revisions of "Switchback"

A switchback is a situation in which a ladder moves back two or more rows and changes direction. The attacker is still in control after the switchback. Although it is not always a ladder escape, it often can be and is usually a strong play.

For example, consider the following situation. Assume the piece on d1 is in some way connected to the top.

Red makes a switchback as follows:

Now the ladder continues from right to the left on the 4th row:

Note here how Red was able to connect back to the d1 piece. This is not always possible, but even if it isn't, the switchback can be used to create a long line connected to the edge and several rows back from it, a distinct advantage.

## A3 switchback

A single piece at a3 (or at the equivalent cell on the opposite site of the board) escapes 2nd row ladders. It can also be used as a 3rd-to-5th row switchback:

Note that at no point in the 3rd row ladder, Blue could have yielded, because Red's piece could have escaped the resulting 2nd row ladder outright.

Additionally, even if some of the corner is occupied by the opponent, a single piece at a3 can still be used as a 2nd-to-4th row switchback (but it does not escape 2nd row ladders in this case, nor serve as a 3rd-to-5th row switchback):

## A4 switchback

We have already seen in the first example above that a single Red piece at a4 (or the equivalent cell on the opposite side of the board) can be used as a 2nd-to-4th row switchback. It also works as a 3rd-to-5th row switchback, as follows:

Red's piece 7 is connected to the bottom. Play continues:

Note that if Blue had instead decided to yield the ladder to the second row at any point, the outcome for Blue would have been worse: in that case, Red can perform a 2nd-to-4th row switchback which reconnects to Red's 3rd row ladder.

## A5 switchback

A single Red piece at a5 (or the equivalent cell on the opposite side of the board can be used as a 2nd-to-4th row switchback and as a 3rd-to-5th row switchback. The 2nd-to-4th row switchback works as follows:

Note that Red's piece 9 is connected to the bottom edge by double threat at the two cells marked "*". Play then continues leftward along the 4th row.

The 3rd-to-5th row switchback works as follows:

Once again, yielding would not have helped Blue.

## 2nd-to-6th row switchback

Perhaps surprisingly, giving enough space, it is possible for the attacker in a 2nd row ladder to force a switchback to a cascading ladder on the 4th and 6th rows, without the help of any additional pieces. Red can initiate this maneuver by playing the piece marked 5 in the following diagram. The cells marked "*" are not required for this trick (i.e., they may be occupied by Blue).

This position is complicated to analyze, with many possible lines of play, but it can be shown that the following sequence is optimal for both Red and Blue. In other words, Blue cannot prevent Red from getting the switchback, and Red cannot do better (within the amount of space shown here) than getting a cascading ladder on the 4th and 6th row.

Also note that, while the resulting right-to-left cascading ladder is on the 4th and 6th rows, it is effectively a 2nd-and-4th row cascading ladder since Red already has a solid edge of pieces on the 2nd row.