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 Post subject: Endgame 1 Fundamentals review
Post #1 Posted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:06 am 
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Edit: Please keep in mind that English is not my native language. If something is unclear let me know and I'll try to correct it :)
Edit2: Changed a bad phrase.
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Review of Mr Jasiek’s new book on the endgame


Having neglected the study of endgame, I felt it was time to buckle down and read up on it. Honestly, I always felt endgame was boring. And to be really honest, it is still boring, but this book has actually made it a bit more interesting for me.
The first thing that stood out to me was Mr. Jasiek’s style of writing. I will admit, I had some prejudices about how he has been said to use too much of his own terminology instead of the (in the West) standard Japanese terms. In case anyone else has gotten the same impression, let me just tell you that it is wrong (at least in this book). His writing is very precise, clear and to the point. Together with the (many) diagrams I had no problem understanding what was to be understood. The author also makes it clear in the beginning that advanced value calculations and so on are left to the next volume. In this one we will get stronger by learning to avoid the common mistakes and improve our reading. “Laziness is the road to losing the game. We must always strive, assiduously, to play the best move. Pay attention to details at each turn and you improve several ranks!” (Jasiek, p. 102).

The contents

The book is divided into 13 chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of endgame. Starting with the basics, like playing moves that have value (Yes this sounds super simple, but a reading mistake can easily make you play on dame and thus wasting a move) and continuing with endgame theory, best moves and beautiful endgame tesujis. Each chapter is systematically divided into different subjects, each with several diagrams on both correct and incorrect variations of that particular topic. This is then followed by problems, answers and a conclusion that sums up what has been taught so far. The table of contents is viewable on Jasiek’s website (link at bottom) and just looking at it you will see what the book covers. Actually, I would even like to say that the detailed index is a big strength of the book, since it is very easy to look up a certain aspect of the endgame.
But now on to why I think this book is a bit different than what you might be used to; the problems. In my experience, when you look at problems in a book the board positions are often pretty clear, often taken from professional games (modified to fit the situation sometimes of course). In Endgame 1 Fundamentals the positions can sometimes look a lot more like my own games, showing endgame sequences in a situation that isn’t your standard local corner/edge endgame type of thing. Don’t worry, all these things are also covered. My very subjective kyu-level feeling is that the problems feel a bit more realistic and original. In any case, the quality of the problems is good, and the answers are great. Several incorrect variations are shown, each explained why each is inferior to the correct line. There are also times where for example the line “mistake II” has follow-ups in the form of “White’s correct reply” and continuations of correct endgames after this. Even if black makes a mistake in the endgame, if white doesn’t find the correct move and just answers automatically, black might get away with the mistake and actually take an extra point anyway, even though he really should have lost a point. The answers do a good job explaining these sequences.

Final thoughts

I think Endgame 1 Fundamentals does a good job at covering the important aspects of the endgame. Keep in mind my study of the endgame prior to this book has consisted of endgame problems found in general problem sets or other books covering endgame just briefly. However, I can’t really think of what a kyu player need to know about the endgame more than what is covered here (though I guess I can’t know what I don’t know right?).

I think the shortest way to describe how to get better at endgame would be “Don’t be lazy”, and this book shows how big of an impact laziness can have. I will keep reminding myself to not be lazy and read read read, till the last move. Every point counts in the end.

The author recommends this book for anyone in the 18 kyu - 1 kyu range. I think players players around 10-13 kyu would see the biggest results by studying this book. Before reaching 13 kyu I think it is more productive to study middle game and just do tsumego, but the content is indeed comprehensible for a high DDK player. My general negative feeling about endgame might influence me here though. Me being around 3-4 kyu KGS I had kind of figured out a lot of the basics by myself, but repeating it was still worthwhile. Still, the book contained a lot of things I had never thought of so I understand the stated 1 kyu - 18 kyu range. If you are around 1-3 kyu and have studied endgame before, I don’t think you will learn much new here. But even if this book only had the problems, I would still buy it and recommend it to others since they felt fresh and interesting.

I’m not saying the book is the best thing since sliced bread, but it covers endgame in a clear and systematic way along with good problems, which was what I was looking for.

At last I want you to note that the book was donated to me by Mr. Jasiek for me to review. This was actually a happy coincidence, since I was at the time looking for a book on endgame and saw the opportunity to get this one for free. The price of the book is in my opinion a bit high. I have no idea what the cost of writing, printing and publishing a book is, but 26,50€ plus shipping is on the more expensive side for a go book. However, buying it as a PDF for 13,25€ is a great price, so I would recommend you doing that unless you really prefer an actual book. Would you still want the book after reading the PDF, Mr. Jasiek let’s you buy it for half the price.

Alexander "cinders" Söderberg, 3-4 kyu KGS, September 2015.

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