Review by the Author
- Title: Tactical Reading
- Author: Robert Jasiek
- Publisher: Robert Jasiek
- Edition: 2015
- Language: English
- Price: EUR 26.50 (book), EUR 13.25 (PDF)*
- Contents: reading
- ISBN: none
- Printing: good
- Layout: almost good
- Editing: good
- Pages: 267
- Size: 148mm x 210mm
- Diagrams per Page on Average: 5.5
- Method of Teaching: principles, methods,
decisions, examples, increasing difficulty
- Read when EGF: 13k - 3d
- Subjective Rank Improvement: o (after reading once) or ++
(when always applying the theory)
- Subjective Topic Coverage: o
- Subjective Aims' Achievement: ++
Strategy, tactics and judgement are the major
aspects of Go skill. Tactics rely on reading and prior knowledge.
Reading is the process of imagining tactical sequences of well chosen
moves. Prior knowledge abbreviates current reading by relying on the
results of earlier reading. Since unguided tactical reading
arbitrarily complex, we need means of simplification: reading
principles and methods, techniques and prior shape knowledge.
book uses the holistic
approach of providing a generally applicable explanation of reading:
the emphasised reading principles and methods apply
or a great fraction of all, problems occurring in one's actual games.
The book tells us in general how to read and how to solve
problems correctly and efficiently. The answers to the problems provide
a detailed explanation of the thinking when reading sequences and
an introductory overview on the theory, a short conclusion and an index
of keywords and techniques, the book consists of two
parts: theory (95 pages) and problems (153 pages).
The chapter of theory of tactical reading explains the basics,
simplifications and two methods.
basics include the following topics: aims, imagining
sequences, choice, iteration, correct reading and essential status
knowledge. Teaching relies on principles, general explanations and
examples. Most of the principles are short, therefore easy to
learn and remember, and always applicable (e. g., ignore obvious
failures and obviously inferior moves). A few other principles
frequently worth considering (e.g., ordering moves by perceived
likelihood of success) or applicable only under special circumstances
(e.g., in the case of a symmetric shape). Every principle is
accompanied by circa three, often simple, examples.
'aims' discusses the opponent's complementary aim, formulating good
aims, secondary aims, verification of a one-sided status and
intentional sacrifices. The subchapter of imagining sequences describes
shortly how to imagine them and how to construct meaningful sequences.
The theory of choice, correct reading and essential status knowledge is
so basic and important that one wonders why almost all kyu players do
not apply it; they get their ultimately clear reminder
to adopt and always apply the related principles.
Due to the complexity of unguided reading,
reading theory must provide such kinds of great simplifications that
maintain the correctness of solutions. Besides what has been mentioned
before, the book provides, in particular, the following
kinds of such simplifications: successful choice of the next move, good
purpose, interesting moves, sequences of obvious moves, reversion,
prior knowledge and important moves. Every related principle is very
powerful and efficiently discards many superfluous variations.
the swift, but rarely applicable, method of 'test reading', the major
method is called 'regular reading'. This fundamental method applies to
every problem of tactical reading and is what every player is, or
should be, using. Furthermore, the method incorporates the major
principles of simplification. Despite the central importance of regular
reading, its accurate description remained a mystery and the author
needed to invest meticulous effort to write it down correctly. The
reader gets several chances to understand regular reading well. Before
the method itself is stated, the basic theory chapters introduce every
single aspect, and iteration of sequences and follow-up variations is
explained in theory and with detailed examples. Then the meaning of
each of the method's aspects is discussed carefully, examples explain
them and extraordinarily detailed examples demonstrate the application
of regular reading and the thinking of related decision-making.
The book contains
100 problems, of which almost all are newly invented, on the topics of
important moves (10 problems), connection and cut (27), block
(10), capture and prevented capture (42), miscellaneous (11). These are
the most basic, by far most frequent and therefore most important
topics of tactical reading. The capture topic includes simple captures
of cutting strings as well as life and death problems. The problem
diagrams have a big size to ease the reading exercise. A chapter starts
with its problem diagrams and concludes with the separate answers. In
each chapter, the problems are sorted by increasing difficulty so that
the reader learns his current limit and is
trained for the more difficult problems.
have at most 5 (typically 3) answer diagrams and explanations
on 29 pages while the 39 most difficult problems have at least
(and up to 64) answer diagrams on 104 pages. This balance gives the
reader both enough reasonably easy problems to become familiar with
reading and enough intermediate (and a few advanced) problems to learn
well also more demanding reading.
from 13 kyu to 3 dan find suitable problems, which resemble
problems occurring in real games. The problem tasks include next move
problems, establishing connection,
cut, life or death, and verifying the status of connection or life.
Occasionally, playing elsewhere, sente or endgame play a role.
problems show the variety of reading skill necessary in
one's games: there can be one or several correct first moves - or none.
Reading must verify the latter by refuting each interesting first move.
This can be more difficult than finding some successful first move.
Since the reader does not know in advance whether a successful move
exists, his reading must be particularly careful.
apply the theory of regular reading and its simplifications so that the
reader perceives how well he has already learnt and understood the
theory. The answers are as detailed as necessary; they include all
relevant variations (whether successful or failing) and all the
necessary decision-making for
position! The explanations distinguish the mandatory from
the superfluous sequences. Most diagrams show non-branching
sequences with a few
moves. When a variation proceeds after a branching position, the move
numbering is consistent by continuing with the next move number.
All these aspects ease following the diagram
sequences, understanding where reading branches and subsequent
begin and recognising the reader's related reading
mistakes. He understands when further exploration of non-essential
variations may be interrupted by proceeding with the essential
Every answer begins with a reference list of the used key methods,
simplifications and techniques and, if the problem has not already
specified it, the aim to be verified by reading. Every answer to a more
complicated problem also has an initial overview, a conclusion and a
summary of techniques and sometimes simplifications. The latter
discusses the extent to which techniques have been relevant for solving
the problem; more often than not techniques play an only marginal role
while the major effort of solving the problem consists of
reading and its inherent simplifications and decision-making.
The answers to the few most
difficult problems provide summarising, very condensed tables of move
decisions as another aid, whose reading is optional but can help some
Comparison to Other Books
the central importance of tactics,
generally applicable theory of reading and its means of simplification,
there has been no English book (and the author has never seen any book)
devoting itself entirely to the topic of tactical reading and teaching
general theory of simplifying reading. Maybe this is so because writing
a book on the theory of reading is a very demanding task. There have
been only the too
short introductory chapters in Tesuji
(Davies) and First Fundamentals (Jasiek). In order to learn how to read
and solve problems well and
correctly, Tactical Reading has been overdue.
In comparison to this book, typical tsumego, or life and death, problem
books have the following disadvantages:
Reading explains the general theory, emphasises the always applicable
regular reading and general means of simplification more than the too
specialised techniques and shapes, offers problems with or
without successful solution, shows all relevant variations and explains
all the necessary decision-making.
- They presume,
but do not explain, generally applicable theory, such as the method of
regular reading and its inherent means of simplification.
knowledge are emphasised although these means have a very limited scope
of application. There
are many techniques but every technique only is relevant in a small
fraction of all problem positions. Even an impressive knowledge
of particular shapes only represents a tiny fraction of all
possible shapes, and two very similar shapes can have
tactical behaviours. One is lost amidst too many techniques and
particular shapes, often without knowing when to apply which, or how to
read when (as is frequent) none applies or suffices.
all their problems have a 'solution' so that the more realistic variety
of some successful first move versus none is not trained well.
- For intermediate and advanced problems, they only
show a small random selection of 'exciting' variations. Most
explanation of the related thinking and decision-making is missing.
What the Book Is Not
a good percentage of easy-to-understand contents, beginners weaker than
13 kyu can be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of contents and frequency
of intermediate level moves. Players stronger than 3 dan should know
all the theory; nevertheless, they might profit from the book if they
missed just one of the important means or principles of simplification.
book describes tactical reading but forgoes dynamic reading with
flexibly changing aims and strategic reading above the level of
tactics. These can be topics for later books. Despite an explanation
most important techniques in a short theory chapter
40 techniques (which occur in the
answers to the problems) listed in the index, the book does not make
any attempt of providing a comprehensive overview on the hundreds or
possibly thousands of existing techniques.
the conflict between maintained quality contents, minimised large white
spaces, important contents on the same page and unimportant contents on
the same page, the layout sacrifices the latter. This makes reading of
the PDF edition slightly inconvenient. For perfect layout, the book
would have to be split into two volumes, doubling the price.
of many words, permit the author's simple personal statement: I would
have loved a much earlier access to such a book teaching how
solve tactical problems efficiently!