501 Opening Problems
BGJ 129 Winter 2002
Reviewer: Matthew Macfadyen
501 Opening Problems by Richard Bozulich and Rob van Zeist and 1001 Life and Death Problems by Richard Bozulich
These two volumes describe themselves as parts of a ‘Mastering the Basics’ series, both are aimed at single figure kyu grades.
The Life and death collection is on a similar level to the fourth of the ‘Graded Problems for Beginners’ books, with nothing desperately arcane, but a good selection of the sort of problems which actually come up in games. Part of the traditional training regime for would-be professionals is to get hold of a collection of such books and work through them as fast as possible, trying to train your eye to do the essential tactical reading without having to think. This book is well worth getting for that purpose just because it contains far more problems than anything else in English. A good afternoon’s workout for a 5 dan, a challenging bedside book for 6 months of study at 15 kyu.
The Openings book is something newer, and I am not aware of anything comparable in English. The problems are collected by Richard Bozulich from various Japanese sources. The text has been written specially for this edition by Rob van Zeijst. Each problem is a whole board position in the late opening stage – mostly 30 – 50 stones on the board – and comes with a slogan by way of a hint.
I am not absolutely convinced by the exclamation marks, but if you find your opponent standing to attention and shouting ‘Expand your territory while attacking your opponent!’ half way through a game you can be pretty sure they have been studying this book.
Guo Juan asserted during the recent Ladies’ weekend that the main reason european players get stuck around shodan is a lack of attention to basics, and this book should equip such players (as well as those who are still hoping to reach shodan without necessarily getting stuck there) with the essential wisdom required to play reasonably in the early middlegame.
If you are stuck at a grade below professional level and modest enough to take some simple advice, then this book can teach you something useful.
Both books are published by Kiseido, 2002 (501 is K71 and 1001 is K72).