Monday, February 26, 2007

Life and Death Problems On The Real Board

One of my favorite books is "One Thousand and One Life-andDeath Prolems" from Kiseido Publishing Company. I often carry it with me so I can do life and death problems in spare moments. Recently I decided to work through the one move problems in the book rather quickly. I did the first 300 one move problems within a couple days by looking at the book and making an effort to refute alternate answers before looking at the solution. Given the fact that there are only a few places one can move in these small problems that isn't terribly hard to do. (I do sometimes fail to visualize all liberties, however.)

When I got to the last set of one move problems starting with problem number 301, they started to feel a bit more difficult. I decided to get out a real 9x9 board and stones and lay out the problems to solve them on the board. I expected that I would need to work out variations with the stones before considering the problem solved, but I discovered something surprising...

I found it easier to read the problem when it was on the board than when it was in the book. I was really happy about this, but I found it surprising because my AGA rating from real life tournaments lags four stones behind my KGS rating from online games.

The way I am solving the problems now is to place them on the board and solve them without putting the stones down. Then after I think I have the correct solution I am trying the various lines of play with the stones to prove my answer before I look at the solution. This way I can see if I have failed to visualize a liberty. I am even trying to visualize what the final position would look like with obviously wrong moves. I am hoping that attempting to see the stones on the board will help my reading skills during games.

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