Book Review: Essential Life & Death 3

Description: Essential Life & Death 3 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 3
Author, Lee Jae-Hwan
Translators, Lee Seong-Geun & Daniela Trinks
Publisher, Baduktopia
Published, “July 8th, 2009”
Language, English
ISBN, 978-89-90965-95-0
Length, 168 Pages

Table of Content

  1. Rectangular Six in the Corner
  2. Rectangular Six in the Corner with One Liberty
  3. Recangular Six in the Corner with Two Liberties
  4. Placement
  5. Rectangular Six at the Side
  6. Rectangular Six at the Side with One Cutting Point
  7. Rectangular Six at the Side with One Cutting Point - Life
  8. Making the Rectangular Six at the Side
  9. 1st Review
  10. The 2-2-2 Shape 1
  11. 2-2-2 Shape with One Cutting Point
  12. 2-2-2 Shape with a Liberty
  13. 2-2-2 Shape - Corner Specialty
  14. The 2-2 Shape
  15. Paired Moves (Miai) Tesuji
  16. The Box Shape
  17. Box Shape with Hane + Liberty
  18. 1-2 Vital Point
  19. 2nd Review
  20. Life & Death in the Corner 1
  21. Reserve the Dansu (Atari)
  22. Large Diagonal Placement
  23. Finding the Vital Point
  24. Placement After Reduction 1
  25. Placement After Reduction 2
  26. 3rd Review
  27. Life & Death at the Side
  28. Life & Death at the Side with Hane
  29. Take Your time Even If It Is Urgent
  30. Playing Inside at the Vital Point
  31. Vital Point at the Center of Three Stones 1
  32. Life & Death of 3-3 Invasions
  33. Life & Death After 3-3 Invasions - When There is a Liberty
  34. Don’t Let the Eye Space be Increased!
  35. Diagonal Teusji
  36. 4th Review
  37. Tiger’s Mouth or Stretching Connection?
  38. When There is a Hane
  39. Life & Death After Invasions
  40. Sente Gains Nothing
  41. 5th Review
  42. 1000 Year Pae (Ko)
  43. When There is a Liberty
  44. When There is a First Line Stone 1
  45. When There is a First Line Stone 2
  46. Throw-in and Then Placement
  47. Cut and Then Placement
  48. 6th Review
  49. Rectangular Six in the Corner
  50. Rectangular Six: Life by Accident / Capturing Method
  51. Rectangular Six: When There is a Liberty
  52. Rectangular Six: When There is a Stone
  53. Beware of & Making the Rectangular Six
  54. Rectangular Six: When There is a Hane
  55. Belly Attachment
  56. 7th Review
  57. The 2-2-2 Shape 2
  58. 2-2-2 Shape 2 with a Liberty
  59. 2-2-2 Shape 2 with 2 Liberties
  60. 2-2-2 Shape with a Liberty Elsewhere
  61. Vital Point at the Center of Three Stones 2
  62. Difference of One Liberty
  63. 8th Review
  64. Clamp Tesuji
  65. Placement after Reduction 3
  66. First Line Tesuji 2
  67. Life & Death After a Blockade
  68. Life & Death in the Corner 2
  69. Hane Twice
  70. Hane Twice - with a Liberty
  71. 9th Review
  72. Life & Death in the Corner 3
  73. Life & Death in the Corner 3 with a Liberty
  74. Life & Death in the Corner 4
  75. Using a Sacrifice
  76. First Line Tesuji 3
  77. Bent Four in the Corner
  78. 10th Review
  79. Final Test


  1. As a mid to high SDK (single digit kyu), the problems gave me a lot more difficulty this time around.
  2. Presents a lot of new shapes that I previously would have assumed was hopeless.
  3. Continues to live up to the high quality of problems that you come to expect from this series.

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

  • In general, I would say that I have always preferred learning through experience. Though in all honesty, after finishing the second volume, I was skeptical of how far I could really get in this book.

My Review

What did I enjoy about the book?

  • Though my inability to progress very far was slightly depressing, I was happy to see that there was still a lot of room for me to grow and improve my life and death skills.
  • The drill seargent routine is great because I have multiple opportunities to get exposure to moves I would have never considered before.
  • There is a huge focus on shapes that players don’t normally study: rectangular six and 2-2-2. In addition, these shapes are dissected to a very detailed level. Example: Rectangular six with one outside liberty versus two liberties.

What did I gain from reading this book?

  • A broader perspective on the different variations that can arise from life and death postiions.
  • A better grasp on techniques used to either kill or save a group.
  • Moderate improvement in my reading abilities. (This is only due to the speed at which I was going through problems. Anyone who diligently studies each problem to mastery will most likely gain a significant boost to their reading ability).

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?

  • I felt that the problems got a lot more difficult very quickly. However, this should be taken with a grain of salt since there is a good chance that the reader is supposed to already have a more solid reading ability than I have before working on this book.

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…

Last Updated on July 18th, 2013