**Graded Go Problems for Dan Players, vol. 7**

256 Opening and Middle Game Problems 1d-7d323 pages

Published in 2010

Publisher: Kiseido

Overall rating: 4.5/5

**General aspect**At more than 320 pages, the book is a bit thicker than the other Kiseido books I have read. This is of course very much welcome since it means more material!

Otherwise the physical aspect of the book is up to the usual standards set up by Kiseido, i. e. very good (smooth paper, clear diagrams, solid binding).

**Content**The book is in fact a translation of two Japanese publications,

*7-dan Gokaku no Fuseki Gankaku* and

*7-dan Gokaku no Chubansen*.

The first one presents 127 whole-board opening problems split in three chapters:

1) Urgent moves before big moves (50 problems)

2) Playing flexibly in the opening (50 problems)

3) 7-dan opening problems (27 problems)

The second part of the book is made of 129 whole-board middle game problems. Again, the material is divided into three chapters:

1) Planning ( 47 problems)

2) Fighting (46 problems)

3) Finding the knock-out blow ( 36 problems)

**Overall impression**I really enjoyed working through this book and felt that it was a nice follow-up to

*501 Opening Problems* (also published by Kiseido).

**Detailed comments**Since I have read

*501 Opening Problems*, I will compare the two books in order to highlight some of their specificities.

* More solutions

In

*501 OP*, each page on the right features four problems, while each page on the left features four diagrams, one per problem, showing the correct move. This format is on the whole retained in

*256 OMGP*, with the important difference that there are more answer diagrams per problem. The amount of solutions offered for each problem varies throughout the book and can be summed up as follows:

a) the first 100 opening problems

Each right page presents only two problems, while the left page has four diagrams. This means that the reader is offered two solutions (generally the correct one and a mistake) per problem instead of just one in

*501 OP*.

b) the last 27 opening problems (i. e. chapter 3)

Still two problems per page but the amount of answer diagrams is now twelve(!) for each set of two problems. Having an average number of six answers per problem means that the reader is shown many wrong answers. This ensures in turn that he can gain a much better understanding of the position. It is of course especially useful when you didn't find the correct move, but even when I had the right answer, I still found useful to be shown why other moves were not correct.

c) the middle game problems

The organisation here is less regular but over the three chapters, 25 problems (out of 129) are given 6 answer diagrams. The rest has 2 per problem.

* Hints

As in

*501 OP*, each problem comes with a hint, but they are of quite a different kind in the two books.

In

*501 OP*, the hints are very general principles like "play at the border of two competing moyos" or "rob your opponent's stones of their base while making one for your own stones". These hints are constantly repeated unchanged and are thus drilled into the reader's mind.

On the contrary in

*256 OMGP* the hints point at the interesting area or at the kind of moves you should be looking for. They are more specific and as a rule can only apply to the problem they come with.

Hints are I think a nice feature since it allows for a two-step use of the problems. My method is to hide the hint, think about the problem, look at the hint, check my potential answer against it and only then looking at the answer on the next page.

* Candidate moves

This is the feature I am not really enthusiastic about, although others may disagree of course. In the first 90 opening problems (not the first 100 as said in the foreword), the reader is given four moves (not three as said in the foreword) to choose from. These moves are marked A, B, C, D in the diagram.

The first four middle game problems have two candidate moves, labeled A and B.

I am not convinced this really adds anything to the book. Even without letters the first problems would often not have been that difficult. And even if they were I would have much prefered not to be put on the right track (especially since the reader already benefits from the hints if he has no clue as to what the right move might be).

* Difficulty

Since the book is part of the Graded Go Problems for Dan Players series, I was expecting the opening problems to be much more difficult than the ones in

*501 OP*. On the whole I didn't get the impression that the problems in the first two chapters were really hard to solve (the publisher also acknowledges this, and the candidate moves help a lot of course). The problems in the third chapter (7-dan problems) also did not seem to be that hard. I even sometimes got the feeling that I was struggling more with the last 100/200 problems or so of

*501 OP* than with chapter 3 of

*256 OMGP*. Still, it does not mean that I found them easy! Most of the problems required a more careful study of the position, longer sequences of moves and more awareness of sente/gote than was the case in

*501 OP*.

The situations also felt less stereotypical than many in

*501 OP*, which helps keeping the reader on his toes and forces him to really think actively. Comparatively, the problems in

*501 OP* (together with their repetitive hints) sometimes allowed me to slip into some kind of autopilot mode.

This for the opening problems. The middle game problems I found much, much harder than the opening problems. So much so that I rarely got the right answer, even after looking at the hints. Wether this is due to the absence of candidate moves, gaps in my knowledge or the nature of middle game vs. the opening, I cannot say (maybe a bit of each).

**Conclusion**I have the feeling that this is a good, solid book. The opening problems might not have been as challenging as I expected it to be but careful thinking was nevertheless required to solve the them (and I still got my fair share of wrong answers of course).

The middle game problems were much more difficult. General principles were not enough, finding the answer required more accurate reading.

The abundant answer diagrams also made the book useful, even in the case one has failed to find the correct answer to a problem.

I don't know if reading it has improved my opening/middle game but one consequence I noticed is that I think more during the fuseki, not exactly in the sense of spending much more time, but in the sense of considering more options. Even if this may not (yet

) translate into improvement as far as ranking is concerned, it certainly makes playing the fuseki even more enjoyable.