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So why reviews?
One of the things that I've noticed is that there is an extreme lack of reviews by or for people of roughly my rank. A 4d reviewing a book is going to have a very different outlook than I do on the game. Better, yes, stronger, yes, but also without a clear idea of what is "easy" or "hard" for someone at my level and without providing a good description of how the book is organized/what it contains. This page is an attempt to fix that by reviewing books on my own--thus providing a "weaker player's grasp" of what is going on and whether it helped me personally.
Hopefully someone, somewhere, will find this useful. For me it is mainly a good exercise in paying attention to the book!
Haengma (행마, ISBN 89-333-0346-4) is a problem book with very little text other than what relates directly to the problems being presented. All of the problems in this book consist of a page with the problem on it (black to play for the first two thirds of the book, and a mix of white to play/black to play for the last third) and another page with two or three outcomes. The first outcome is always the "correct solution" and the other outcomes are lesser results, other correct solutions, and continuations.
The book is divided into three "classes." I'm not very strong, but there is a lot in this book that I really like. The problems in the Lower Class are a good level of difficulty for me and the Middle Class isn't so difficult that I feel totally lost or frustrated. I haven't ventured to attempt the upper class yet.
The Lower Class (40 problems) mostly consists of problems taken out of basic jeongseok. The solutions and continuations are almost always three to five moves long, and only go over seven moves long twice.
The Middle Class (32 problems) is more of the same. There are more jeongseok questions, sometimes with more complex jeongseok as well as a few questions about continuations or punishments. The solution and continuation length averages between five and seven moves in length, with a few going as high as eleven or twelve moves.
Both the Lower and Middle Classes have three outcome diagrams for every problem.
The Upper Class (50 problems) consists strictly of whole board problems with two outcome diagrams per problem. The problems will show the last move or last few moves, but don't give any points to choose between. These are a mix of different middle-game continuation problems.
No Korean is necessary to use this book, though some is helpful to get a feel for exactly what is being said in the captions about each of the outcome diagrams. The captions are highly conducive to this and generally only consist of a couple of words that are easy to translate, such as "Failure" or "White is thick."
This was my first Korean book and I have really enjoyed it thus-far and look forward to tackling the middle and upper classes.
''Rescue and Capture'' by Yang Yilun is a beautiful little 163 page book that has 40 problems on "Rescue" and 40 problems on "Capture." The front of each page presents a problem along with a brief goal statement (e.g., "the five black stones are in danger, how do you have them") and the back of each page presents three variations, at least one of which is correct.
The emphasis here is on middle-game reading--patiently reading out sequences step at a time. As such, there are many cases where "nice looking moves" fail horribly (complete with diagram showing how). The problems are not so easy that I could solve them without reading, and not so difficult that I ever felt overwhelmed. My guess is that anyone with an understanding of some basic tesuji and some reading experience will have the skill set required to read them out.
That said, a book on Tesuji should be a prerequisite to studying this book. You don't have a perfect understanding of those tesuji, but one should not be completely shocked when they come up in play and recognize things like the clamp and nose tesuji.
This is probably my favorite problem sets to go through and I can say that it has a tangible, positive effect on my play. All-in-all an excellent book.
These are books that I have and all that is keeping me from reviewing them is time. I either haven't gotten to them yet or simply haven't reviewed them yet.
These books I either have or will get that, for one reason or another, I will not review any time soon.