Once upon a time, a little girl, bored with the same old things on her computer, went wandering in the woods. As she went deeper into the trees, she came across a little clump of black and white pebbles arranged on a large stone slab.
Although she had never seen anything quite like this before, she soon realised it was a go problem. It looked like a particularly sweet one because it was a gem of perfect symmetry, just like her kaleidoscope. So she stopped to solve it.
White to play
It took her a little while, but she was quite a clever girl. Once she had seen the magic move she gave a squeal of delight and made up her mind at once to look for more pebble patterns like this. But that took her deeper and deeper into the dark forest...
After what seemed like hours she realised she had foolishly got lost. Beginning now to feel rather afraid, as well as very, very hungry, she thankfully stumbled into a clearing where a rickety house stood. There was a sign swaying and squeaking in the gentle wind. The paint was peeling and the wood was cracked, but with a little effort the little girl - who could read quite well - managed to work out what it said. It said: House of the Three Ladders.
"Ooooh!" said the little girl. "That sounds interesting." And so without even stopping to wonder if it was safe, or even to knock politely, she pushed the heavy wooden door ajar and saw on a large kitchen table three go boards neatly laid out. She rushed over.
There was a handful of go stones on each board, but arranged in very unusual patterns. What on earth were they, she wondered. Then she noticed a piece of paper to one side. Scribbled on it, she soon realised, were instructions for three more go problems. They all had names and all used... ladders. "Ooooh! How exciting," breathed the little girl, and as she looked she became even more excited because these problems were much more difficult than the one she had found in the forest.
She decided to start with the one called the "Little Ladder in the Shape of a