American e-Journal review, republished by permission of the American Go Association
Reviewer: Philip Waldron
Common wisdom holds that one of the best ways to get stronger at go is to study problems. Opinion differs on whether to study easier or more difficult problems, but those players looking for a mental workout may acquire a copy of “100 Challenging Go Problems for 100 Days of Study.” Problems are divided into eight chapters, each devoted to a different topic such as sabaki, reading, the endgame and perception.
The most important word in the title of this book is “Challenging”; these problems are tough. Each one appeared in the Japanese go magazine Kido, and the original readers were invited to mail in their solutions for grading. The English translation gives the fraction of the original respondents who provided a correct solution. In most cases, only about one player in five successfully solved the positions, although success rates as low as 2% can be found. One problem was taken from a professional title game, and it is some comfort that the pro also got it wrong during play!
While individually each problem is very good, I found that with only a dozen problems per chapter there is little chance to build up momentum on any given topic. No sooner do we begin the sabaki puzzles, for example, than the reading challenges appear. The problems in this book are also unusual enough that studying them really is for its own sake. Unlike studying basic life-and-death, for example, readers will not find the positions appearing later in their own games.
Ultimately “100 Challenging Go Problems for 100 Days of Study” is exactly as advertised. There are one hundred problems, and they are challenging. While this doesn’t stand out as a much-have title, it is worth going through, and I would recommend it as a general interest book for strong-kyu and dan players.
Published by Yutopian Enterprises www.yutopian.com