Basic Endgame Problems 2, Sente - Robert Jasiek

Each of the two books Basic Endgame Problems 1 - Gote and Basic Endgame Problems 2 - Sente has 152 pages of A5 size with 150 problems and their answers. Similar to the style of All About Life and Death with its selection of basic life and death shapes and one answer on usually one page, both volumes select basic endgame shapes and put one answer per page if possible. Some answers need more space though. Besides, a modest amount of applied theory is introduced on one page per topic. 

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Basic Endgame Problems 1 - Gote studies gote endgames while Basic Endgame Problems 2 - Sente emphasises sente endgames or follow-ups. Most problems show one local endgame but some problems represent multiple choices among a few local endgames. Every diagram covers a small part of the board. Volume 1 studies simple gote without follow-up, corridors, one follow-up, several separate follow-ups, follow-ups of both players, deep follow-ups and long sequences. Volume 2 presents simple sente, sente with gote follow-ups, gote with sente follow-ups, sente with sente follow-ups, gote with gote and sente follow-ups, sente with gote and sente follow-ups, hybrids between gote and sente called 'ambiguous' local endgames, and long sequences. Hence, we learn evaluation of every basic class of local endgame shapes.

The introduction of either volume contains the theory of the calculation of the values. The two central values are the 'move value' and the 'count', which is the positional value of a local endgame. While Volume 1 mostly needs gote values, Volume 2 also needs the differently calculated sente values. A little additional theory occasionally occurs throughout either book as follows. Each volume introduces three shortcuts as methods for accelerated calculation. All six are applied in Volume 2. Besides, Volume 1 suggests an approximation when no harm is done; otherwise, all calculations are exact. Arrows denote those paragraphs stating some general principles or remarks. Either book concludes with a short index.

In Volume 1, 104 problems have detailed answers while 46 problems have short answers. In Volume 2, 93 problems have detailed answers while 57 problems in the Multiple Choice chapter have short answers. A typical short answer shows one diagram with one paragraph of text and calculations.

A detailed answer has several diagrams showing initial or follow-up positions, or just one or a few moves. The counts of settled follow-up positions are determined. For the initial position and every important intermediate follow-up position, the move value and count are calculated, and the current type, gote or sente, of the local endgame is verified by a value condition. For deeper understanding and as an additional check, an interpretation relates the calculated values or there can sometimes be extra remarks. If shortcuts apply to the initial position and permit a visual representation, they are explained in an extra section of the answer. A few problems have an additional advanced analysis, which verifies or refutes whether long sequences are worth playing.

One might wish additional topics, such as ko and open shapes, but they deserve further volumes.

Fast Evaluation

The reader learns fast evaluation by the basic shapes, detailed answers and introduced shortcuts. The problems start with the simplest shapes and proceed with increasingly difficult but still basic shapes. There are problems for all basic classes of shapes so we learn how to evaluate each class. Every answer proceeds step by step in an order suitable for making the necessary, avoiding superfluous and putting aside optional calculations. The theory introduces several shortcuts, which frequently apply and greatly accelerate determination of values. I could invent some of the shortcuts because they work for modern endgame theory due to its consistency.

Correct Evaluation

The literature of modern endgame theory only makes very few evaluation mistakes; in particular, none are known for my five earlier such books (Endgame 2 to 5, Endgame Problems 1). The evaluation in Basic Endgame Problems 1 and 2 is also correct. Explicit calculations and meticulous proofreading prevent accidental mistakes. Verifications of the types, gote versus sente, in the initial and follow-up positions guarantee determination of the right, gote or sente, values. Whether values must be derived from follow-up positions after short or long sequences is occasionally verified explicitly or otherwise indicated by remarks related to my deeper verification during proofreading. The correct evaluation in the books enables the reader to learn their execution, while mistakes might prevent this or do harm.


Printing, layout and editing are good. There are 5 diagrams per page on average. Any territory is marked. Every detailed answer is conveyed with clear structure. Consistent text attributes greatly ease reading. The central calculations are described by text and basic mathematical expressions in a clear and large font. Captions repeat the values.

Layout and formatting assist faster reading of the book. The reader can easily skip a) verbose calculations in text if the numbers are sufficient for him, b) the lowest level of calculations of the counts of settled positions represented in small font, and c) optional additional or advanced explanations. On the other hand, readers preferring greater assistance can read everything. However, the most basic explanations and some optional information are phased out, especially in Volume 2: hints that each occupied intersection contributes 2 points to a player's settled territory, reminders of negative counts favouring White and paragraphs with interpretations.

Who Should Read the Books?

The books are written mainly for kyus. Although players weaker than 13 kyu might understand them, they should study other aspects of the game first. Dan players should already be able to evaluate the local endgames of the problems but many can use the practice and contents to accelerate their calculations, reaffirm their knowledge or learn more shortcuts. It is like practising life and death reading - if you need more than a few seconds to determine the correct endgame values, also practise the relatively easy problems!

Problem books using traditional endgame theory want to make us believe that we would only need the initial move value. The best problem books, including Basic Endgame Problems 1 and 2, using modern endgame theory also calculate follow-up move values to verify the type gote versus sente, counts of follow-up positions to derive the initial move value correctly and the initial count to apply it for positional judgement or whenever the initial position occurs as a follow-up position in a more complicated problem.

While the book Endgame Problems 1 also uses letters as mathematical symbols to distinguish different values, has a short chapter with basic shapes and then runs ahead to advanced shapes, Basic Endgame Problems 1 and 2 replace the former by text descriptions and restrict themselves to basic shapes. Therefore, these two books are more basic and can be understood more easily.

Although both books can be read independently because they introduce all the needed theory, Volume 2 refers to Volume 1 a few times. Besides, reading Volume 2 is easier if the reader is already familiar with calculating gote values and applies them to gote endgames in the initial position or some follow-ups.

Read these books to acquire a solid basic skill of fast and correct endgame evaluation!

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