Over Christmas I read a lot about improving in the game of go and most of the materials had the recurring theme of how important solving life and death problems are. At the same time I realised that I didn’t have any good books on life and death but only iOS applications. After some googling and looking for the European dealers which would carry go books I ended up ordering bunch of them from Goshop Keima.

The one I’ll write today about is the 1001 Life and Death Problems by Richard Bozulich.

The book is divided into 6 parts. 1 move, 3 move, 5 move problems and 2 sets of each - black to kill and black to live. The problems are on one page and the next page has the solutions. One solution diagram for each problem.

I really like how the problems are laid out on paper. You have 9 problems on each page. For the 1 and 3 move problems I liked to solve all on a page and then check the solutions. For the 5 move ones I solve 3 at a time, turn the page, check and then do the next 3 from previous page. Probably the most usable format for problems I’ve experienced. No distractions, easy to spend time on a problem and really quick way to verify the answer.

At first when I started out with the book the problems seemed too easy. The first 600 problems I solved really quickly. Especially the 1 move problems but the 3 move ones also were a bit too easy. Starting from 600th problem I would see more and more problems that required more than 10-15 seconds of work. Starting from 5 move problems it turned into the type of problems I’m used to 15s to 60s.

For a 3k KGS I observed that I made maybe 1-2 mistakes for every 100 problems. Starting from 5 move problems I would make 0-3 mistakes per page. On average probably 1. Of course this taught me to pay more attention and read more carefully.

Once I was done with the book I started reading it again from the 600th problem. I think I’ll do that again once I finish it, maybe just this time I’ll even start from the 700th problem.

I find the problems in this book be deep enough that they definitely train my reading skill, unexpected enough that I cannot rely on my intuition too much and actually have to read until the end or I make mistakes.

Now that I think of this book is a great resource for even a 10k. Especially the 1 move problems (not sure why they are named 1 move problems, they actually require a bit more but I guess because they unfold so well after just a single move).

So overall, I like the book a lot. For a 3k KGS it gets interesting from 600th problem. Before that it is more of a warm-up and maybe seeing some interesting shapes you haven’t seen before. I like the problem quality, deep, interesting and makes you read out the sequences to get them completely right. I’ll probably re-read the book many more times!