Counting Liberties and Winning Capturing Races, by Richard Hunter. Slate & Shell; 2003.

This book is all about capturing races: life and death problems where both sides are vulnerable, and whoever captures first wins (unless, of course, it's a seki). In the most basic such situations, of course, you can just count the number of liberties each side has, and the side with the most liberties wins. The book starts with that, but then moves on to situations where there are internal liberties, where one or both sides has an eye, or where the eye(s) are large (4 or more spaces). The rest of the first part of the book continues in this vein, also giving some pratice problems and some dicussion of ko. The second part of the book talks about some tesujis that come up in capturing races, gives more problems, gives some commented games with particularly interesting capturing races, and a special section on the L group.

The book is exactly what you might expect, for better or for worse. The first chapter tells how to mechanically tell who wins in various situations; on the one hand, it's good to know the basic principles, but on the other hand I don't think it's very important to know mathematical rules for telling who will win: these positions are easy enough to read out, once you know the basic principles. (But knowing the principles behind the different situations is important: I missed got one of the early problems involving dueling large eyes, because I'd skimmed over that section of the book.) In general, I felt that the book was a bit too complete for my taste: if you want to improve your life-and-death skills as much as possible by reading a 230-page book, you'd be much better served by a general-purpose life-and-death book (or a collection of life-and-death problems), and the sections in the second half of the book were a bit hit-or-miss.

Having said that, I'm glad that somebody has taken the time to work out mathematical rules for these things; if that excites you, then this is the book you're looking for. Some of the contents of the book have appeared in the Kiseido edition of The Second Book of Go and in the British Go Journal, but the version here has been greatly expanded.

david carlton <>

Last modified: Sun Aug 10 21:00:54 PDT 2003