Life and Death Problems 1

Review by the Author

General Specification

Introduction

Life and Death Problems 1 has been written with especially these two aims:
  1. To fill a gap in the literature. Previously, it was difficult to recommend an English book specialising in life and death for a broad beginners' range. Not everybody wants to start with Asian books.
  2. To offer a systematic overview on all important basic techniques of life and death. Beginners do not wish to study many problems books to reinvent the wheel, but they simply want to know: what are the basics?
The book concentrates on its problems and answers, but it also teaches the necessary techniques and principles.

Problems

The book contains 171 problems and their answers. Most of the problems are newly invented. There are about three problems per finer technique. Since every major technique has three finer kinds, the altogether nine problems per major technique allow the reader to become familiar with it. The final problem chapter has ten mixed problems.

The easy techniques have the simplest problems, whose solution relies on the reading of just one short sequence and denotes the 20 kyu end of the recommended range. Other techniques have problems of various degrees of difficulty up to about 5 kyu level. Typically, the most difficult problems can have about ten variations, of which a small number have a dozen moves per sequence. Most problems, however, lie in between: their solution consists of a few variations, of which each has a few moves.

A double digit kyu will find the most difficult problems too difficult; the idea is to motivate him to overcome his current level and learn solving more than the easiest problems. A single digit kyu can solve the simplest problems at a glance; one must, however, not dismiss their techniques, because each kind of move can be relevant in life and death situations.

How often have we thought that a problem book did not show every interesting variation? This book is different: every important variation is shown and explained. Thereby, the reader can verify the correctness or incorrectness of his reading. He learns not to overlook any relevant variation, but he is encouraged to develop a reasonably complete reading of move sequences.

Theory

Every chapter introduces its technique with definition, short description, and one or a few examples. This prepares for the problems and their answers. An extra theory chapter introduces basic terms, such as 'eye', 'lake' (potential eye) and 'nakade'.

Techniques are studied on two levels. A problem can be solved on the level of the fundamental techniques, such as 'threatening to cut' or 'preventing an atari'. When this is insufficient, the following techniques of the 'second level' are an alternative set of tools. There are techniques related to
Most of these major techniques have 'creating', 'threatening' and 'preventing' as their finer kinds. For example, one can 'create', 'threaten to create' or 'prevent' an external liberty shortage. In a life and death situation, threats are said to be as important as a move's direct meanings.

Double and multiple purposes or threats, basic reading principles, a short epilogue and a detailed index conclude the book. The principles can help to simplify reading, by disregarding inferior and emphasising interesting moves.

Conclusion

Life and Death Problems 1 can be a beginner's first or second problem book on life and death. For the intermediate player, it is a systematic reference to the basic techniques and reading principles.
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2016 Robert Jasiek