Level Up Essential Life and Death
Level Up Essential Life and Death is a series of four problem books, written by Lee Jae-Hwan?, translated by graduates from Department of Baduk Studies, Myongji University, and published by Baduktopia. The books are designed to provide extensive practice in life and death from beginner level in volume 1 to dan level in volume 4.
Available from Yellow Mountain Imports as of February 2012.
Answers for Essential Life and Death Series http://baduktopia.co.kr/asapro/board/show.htm?bn=pdf
See also Level Up Essential Life and Death 2
HughJfan: I've just finished reading volume 1. I wanted to do a lot of easy problems (I'm 10k KGS at present). I liked it a lot, though I do think there are some flaws - or perhaps I should have got a more advanced volume. I will definitely be buying volume 2 though. The paper quality is good, it feels like a good quality publication. The layout was a bit of a problem though for me. The format was to give the main problem - # 1. Then the same diagram plus the first move - # 2 (right next to it). I was able to solve all the problems fairly quickly but when I had to think about it I also had to make the effort not to look at the problem on the right. This might have worked if (as I suspect) you are not expected to be able to solve the problem without the hints. Failures are also given as problems in the following diagrams (e.g. first problem black to live, then problem 3 might be white to kill given a wrong answer from black problem 1. I didn't bother studying the game reviews which seemed to be just a list of moves, though it might have been handy to someone who needed a basic idea about what the moves do - "hmm connect - ahah! that's what it means :) .". The problems are also collected in themes, e.g. two stone descent, which is quite interesting as most other English language problem books I have don't do that (but a lot of Chinese and Japanese ones do). Yes this does make it easier but I think it's quite useful in training yourself to do harder problems. They also build up in complexity, so you end up doing harder problems by applying the techniques you've been learning on easier ones. Finally, when there are two sequences to be explored which start from the same initial layout this can result in two problems that are in fact identical.
HughJfan: Just a quick update. I've been working through volume 2. On the whole I was right - the repetition of problems (fig x plus one move etc) does work better for the harder problems. It does make it more difficult to not to look at the next problems though. In fact I have photocopied sections of the book and cut these copies up to make a series of flash cards, which seems to work very well. Volume 2 is not too hard for me, though I feel I'm learning more. Maybe I'll get volume 3 after this (still 9-10k KGS though).
sh: I think that makes perfect sense. Before you can read out positions/problems properly, you have to know what to read. In my point of view it is a shortcoming of common Life and Death Problems and tesuji problems that you have to work out yourself how to detect the vital points of the shapes implicitly. This seems inefficient. If you train to detect the vital points first, it will be a good base to practice reading, including more complex problems. It is good to know that there are books available that cover the shortcoming.