James Searight (1869-1939)
by Norrie Reid


James Searight was born in Glasgow in July 1869 and learned the game of draughts, aged eighteen, at the Hutcheson Conservatives Draughts Club during 1887-1888. He worked very hard at his cross-board play and used Anderson's book for theory. In 1889 he joined the Glasgow South Side Draughts Club where he won their tournament in 1889 and 1890. In the 1890 season he met several very strong players, beating AB Scott (2-1-3) and W Campbell (3-2-3), drawing with R Martins (1-1-3) and W Bryden (0-0-3) and losing to R Martins (0-2-2) and W Campbell (0-1-3).

Searight was engaged by James Ferrie as a trainer for his thirty game match for the Championship of Scotland in May 1891. His own most ambitious exploit was his match of thirty games in the spring of 1892. This was with DG McKelvie for 50 and the Championship of Glasgow. James was brilliant and defeated McKelvie 11-1-9. The 1893 Scottish Tourney saw him knocked out in the second round by the redoutable AB Scott 0-2-3. After the tournament he was defeated by W Beattie 1-2-4. In the next Scottish Tourney he had his revenge on AB Scott polishing him off 3-0-2. In the second round he met W Bryden and the two players "fought it out" over over eighteen games, from Tuesday until Saturday. At the end James was the victor 2-1-15, but it was Phyrric, as he now had to leave the tournament for his work, so he and McKelvie divided the third and fourth prizes.

He was a regular choice for the international teams against England in 1899, 1903 and 1910, although he was unable to play in the last match. As part of the Scottish "big five" contingent against the USA in 1905 James performed very well scoring 9-1-26. James Searight died on April the 17th 1939.