Book Review: Essential Life & Death 1

Description: Essential Life & Death 1 is part of the Essential Life & Death Series that is used as workbooks in private go schools in Korea. Though it might be seen as an addendum to the Level Up Series, it certainly can be used as a standalone product for anyone looking to study life and death.

Book Details

Title, Essential Life & Death 1
Author, Lee Jae-Hwan
Translators, Lee Seong-Geun & Daniela Trinks
Publisher, Baduktopia
Published, “July 8th, 2009”
Language, English
ISBN, 978-89-90965-93-6
Length, 168 Pages

Table of Content

  1. One Eye by Tiger’s Mouth
  2. One Eye by Pushing Ahead
  3. One Eye by Stretching
  4. Two Birds with One Stone
  5. Beware of the 3-Point-Eye Space
  6. Making the 3-Point Eye Space
  7. Taking the Weak Point
  8. Choking the Weak Point
  9. 1st Review
  10. Making a Straight Four
  11. Making a Bent four
  12. Making a Twisted Four
  13. Use Dead Stones to Make a Straight Four
  14. Use Dead Stones to Make a Bent Four
  15. Use Dead Stones to Make a Twisted Four
  16. Making a Dead Four
  17. Making a 5-Point-Eye Shape
  18. 2nd Review
  19. Tiger’s Mouth Vital Point
  20. Playing Inside at the Vital Point
  21. Vital Point First
  22. Finding the Vital Point 1
  23. The Center of Symmetry
  24. The 1-2 Vital Point
  25. 3rd Review
  26. False Eye by Throwing-in Twice
  27. False Eye by Raising the Throw-in
  28. False Eye by Miai (Paired Moves)
  29. False Eye by Cutting
  30. False Eye by Underneath Attachment
  31. False Eye by Crawling Out
  32. 4th Review
  33. Using a Snapback
  34. Using a Chokchoksu
  35. Using a Sacrifice
  36. Using a Sente (Seonsu)
  37. Using Jachung
  38. Using the Suicide-Rule
  39. Using Miai (Paired Moves) 1
  40. Making Seki (Dual Life) 1
  41. 5th Review
  42. Block to Extend the Eye Space
  43. Hane to Extend the Eye Space
  44. Stretch to Extend the Eye Space
  45. Throw-in to Reduce the Eye Space
  46. Hane to Reduce the Eye Space
  47. Push to Reduce the Eye Space
  48. 6th Review
  49. Playing Inside (Placement)
  50. Loose Block
  51. Loose Connection
  52. Finding the Vital Point 2
  53. Using Sacrificed Stones
  54. Where to Make a Tiger’s Mouth
  55. Belly Attachment
  56. 7th Review
  57. Large Diagonal Spin-Around
  58. One-Point-Spin-Around
  59. Cut to Spin-Around
  60. Wedge-in to Spin-Around
  61. Throw-in 1
  62. Throw-in 2
  63. False Eye by Using Jachung 1
  64. False Eye by Using Jachung 2
  65. 8th Review
  66. Beware of a False Eye
  67. Beware of Jachung
  68. False Eye after Reduction
  69. Using Miai (Paired Moves) 2
  70. Monkey Jump 1
  71. Monkey Jump 2
  72. Extending the Eye Space
  73. Using a Weak Point
  74. 9th Review
  75. Making Seki (Dual Life) 2
  76. 6 Die, 8 Live
  77. 4 Die, 6 Live
  78. 2nd Line Life & Death
  79. Beware of a Pae (Ko)
  80. Living by Pae (Ko)
  81. Capturing by Pae (Ko)
  82. 10th Review
  83. Final Test


  1. A workbook-based approach to teaching life and death.
  2. A great way for players to drill their life and death skills.
  3. A good introductory book to learning and experiencing life and death problems.

Before I Read This Book…

My Abilities

  • I’ve studied my fair share of life and death and can confidently say that I have a SDK (single digit kyu) level of life and death.

My Perspective

  • I was hoping for very easy problems that would help polish my basic life and death skills.

My Review

What did I enjoy about the book?

  • They have no reservation in terms of making you drill the same concept repeatedly.
  • The concept of using seki to save your group is used very often from the very beginning.
  • The review sections (e.g., quizzes) and tests do a great job helping you determine if you actually learned the previous lessons.

What did I gain from reading this book?

  • Polished my basic life and death skills.
  • Improved my ability to see seki as an option when solving life and death problems.
  • Realization that I had a long way to go for life and death.

What style of teaching does the book use?

  • Curriculum Style

    • Content is organized into lessons, topics, or themes in order to facilitate learning.
  • Teaching Mechanism:

    • Practice problems

What aspect can be improved on?

  • No complaints here!

Is this book easy to read?

  • Yes. Unless you can’t read English, it really doesn’t get any simpler.

In Comparison to Similar Books…

Compared to 1001 Life and Death Problems, this series does a better job hand-holing players new to life and death through the basic shapes and variations. On the other hand, I would say that in terms of polishing a player’s life and death skills, 1001 Life and Death Problems is still highly recommended. So to clarify, neither one trumps the other. Both can provide great value to a player’s life and death abilities.

While Life and Death does a great job providing a broad survey of different shapes through explanations and accompanying practice problems, this series uses the “learn it through experience” methodology. Though they may overlap on a good deal of material, I believe that they complement one another and would both be of great use to serious players wanting to improve their life and death.

  • Players looking to improve their life and death skills.
  • People who prefer to learn through experience rather than explanations.

Where Can I Buy It?

  • Yellow Mountain Imports - $13.00 USD (shipping & handling not included)
  • Baduktopia - Contact them at to request pricing and shipping costs.

Other Books in This Series…

  • Essential Life and Death 2
  • Essential Life and Death 3
  • Essential Life and Death 4

Last Updated on June 12th, 2013