Life and Death: Intermediate Level Problems, by Maeda Nobuaki. Slate & Shell; 2001.

This is a collection of life and death problems. It is not a translation of one of the small Japanese Maeda volumes that are fairly widely available in the US: rather, it's a collection of 110 problems from Go Review. It's a small book, and fits in the pocket of my jeans.

The problems were apparently originally published in groups of 10, with each group ranging in difficulty from 7 kyu to 2 dan. (There aren't difficulty levels given on the individual problems, but that's what the back cover gives as the range.) And, unlike the Japanese volumes, these difficulty ratings seem to me to be quite accurate. I'm an AGA 1 kyu; I found the first problems in each group to typically be rather easy, but they quickly got to an interesting level, and even the final problems in the group weren't so difficult as to annoy me. I must say, also, that this method of arranging problems in a non-monotonic order worked better for me than books that arrange problems from easiest to hardest throughout the entire book. For example, when I last read the first volume of the Japanese Maeda problems, I went through the first third or so quite quickly, then in the next third I enjoyed the problems most of the time, but then for the last third I ran into page after page containing multiple frustrating problems. So I ended up only really liking about a third of that book. This book's method of organization worked much better for me, however: I never was bored or frustrated for too long at a stretch.

I wouldn't recommend it for people at the top end of the range: I suspect that a 7 kyu would find most of the book frustrating. But I do recommend it for people stronger than that. My guess is that perhaps a 4 kyu would enjoy enough of the problems to make it worthwhile; and probably even a fairly strong dan player would find most of the problems to make a satisfactory review. (That's only a guess: I've been a 4 kyu, but I've never been a 4 dan!)

(August 2001)

david carlton <>

Last modified: Sun Aug 10 20:57:58 PDT 2003