Endgame 1 - Fundamentals

Review by the Author

General Specification

Introduction

Most moves of a scored game belong to the endgame. Many small and a few big endgame mistakes amount to very many lost points. Therefore, studying the endgame offers a great potential for a player's improved playing strength.

Looking at the endgame literature creates the false impression that the endgame would consist of mainly value calculations and tesujis. However, a study of the frequencies of endgame mistakes by kyu players reveals that only the fourth most frequent kind of mistakes concerns tesujis, and mistakes related to value calculations are much less frequent. Endgame 1 - Fundamentals includes both the most frequent kinds (mistakes related to choosing the locally best move, reading, sente) and every other kind.

Volume 1 makes one exception: it forgoes the tedious topic of value calculations and leaves it for Volume 2. Although this book contains every other relevant endgame topic, learning and applying the theory is made easy.

Contents

Besides introductions, occasional reminders of what has been learnt and the detailed index, the twelve major chapters of the book discuss every relevant topic of the endgame. The most important topics have the longest chapters with subchapters explaining all essential aspects.

Since Endgame 1 - Fundamentals has a detailed structure of its 57 topics in the subchapters, every topic receives a usually only short explanation of the theory, one general principle and a few examples illustrating their application. Nevertheless, the contents is understood easily because the theory and principles are kept simple, related subchapters and countless diagrams are available, and many problems provide the necessary practise. A few subchapters have longer explanations, a few principles, methods or a definition of an important concept.

The first three major chapters cure the reader's negative strategy, when losing points, suffering from the seven aspects of conquering neutral intersections or making premature endgame. While these seemingly trivial topics are often neglected elsewhere, here one can improve several ranks already by learning to avoid superfluous moves worse than passing and worthless moves in neutral regions.

When the reader is ready, the following chapters teach him the heart of positive strategy by taking more than the opponent while considering both the global positional context and the locally best endgame. Besides all the basic concepts of the endgame, such as efficiency, corner ko or double purpose moves, he becomes familiar also with the endgame aspects relevant during the opening and middle game.

Besides the topics 'weaknesses' and 'attack and defense', the chapter 'ko' explains to respect numbers of ko threats, not to waste threats and avoid loss-making threats. A chapter of intermediate length exhibits the dozen most frequent kinds of endgame tesujis.

Since reading move sequences and decisions correctly is one of the most important topics, it does not only receive its own chapter. Reading is emphasised throughout the book in the more demanding examples and problems.

Of course, there cannot be an endgame book without sente and gote. However, Endgame 1 - Fundamentals goes beyond your usual distinction from double and reverse sente by clarifying how to identify and verify sente, the ordinary order of endgame moves, its exceptions and quite a few other aspects.

Every major chapter concludes with problems. The 229 problems and their answers fill half of the book. The answers are as detailed as necessary: they show all relevant variations so that the reader can verify the quality of his reading. The difficulty varies. Except for absolute beginners, kyu players of all ranks find enough suitable problems whose solution requires to overcome one's current playing strength. Besides ordinary next move problems, other problems create special tasks, such as explaining or correcting a mistake, comparing Black's versus White's first move or finding the sente moves.

Conclusion

By discussing all topics relevant for overcoming the frequent and less frequent endgame mistakes, Endgame 1 - Fundamentals fills a wide gap in the literature. Despite the comprehensive coverage of the fundamental theory essential for every kyu player, the valueless approach to the endgame, the simplicity of the principles and the detailed explanation of the examples and problems enable easy learning of the theory. At the same time, the reader cannot dispense with training and improving his reading skill. Only dan players would regret the absent calculations of numerical endgame values.
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2016 Robert Jasiek