Unlike the previous chapters of Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go, “Life and Death” includes a number of problems for the reader to solve.
Kageyama states that the fundamental rule for living or killing is to increase/reduce eye space. Look at trying to do this first. If it works, great. If not, is there a “central eye making point” that could be occupied? If these two things fail, fanciness may be involved, but Kageyama recommends starting here when approaching life and death problems.
After some problems, Kageyama looks at an opening where there is a two-space jump along the side that is beginning to be surrounded. He demonstratesa situation where one can gain a lot more by surrounding a group of stones and letting it live than by killing some stones but making the opponent strong elsewhere:
“If Black can surround White successfully and gain outward influence, that is enough. If at the same time, he can contrive to inject some uncertainty into the question of whether White is alive or dead or what, then he will be ecstatic.”
He then gives some examples of handicap games in which he demonstrates how black should use the handicap stones to ensure that he doesn’t get surrounded and forced to live small.
Kageyama also enjoins the reader not to continue to waste stones on a group that’s alive or to play to many stones in one’s own territory once a group is alive. Sente is important, he reminds us, so don’t give it up!
The section on the enclosed two-space jump is extremely useful. In my own games, when I see two-space jumps that are beginning to become surrounded, my heart starts racing. There’s surely some way to play with these, I think. I get quite excited and then usually make some silly moves that end up helping the opponent. Or, if it’s me becoming enclosed, I panic and flail about until I ensure that I’m dead.
Of course, Kageyama has words to say about over-excitement as well:
“Does the blood rush to Black’s head at being thwarted? I have seen a traffic safety poster that says ‘Temper causes accidents.’ Driving a car and playing go are both human activities, so what applies to one applies to the other.”
I’m sure over-excitement and anger have both caused many road accidents. Kageyama, I shall work on becoming a better driver.