News from the American Go Association

December 23, 2004

Special Holiday Issue:

THE EMPTY BOARD: The Sporting Game
GO REVIEW: Essential Joseki; Go Problems for Kyu Level Players; Children=92s Baduk Training Volumes 1-6

GIVING: Make a New Year=92s resolution that 2005 will be the year you move up to a new level in this ancient game, and count on the American Go E-Journal to be there with you throughout the year with the latest go news, game commentaries, product reviews, classifieds and perspectives on the game. Thanks for subscribing to the Member=92s Edition and help us build a bigger and better go community by considering giving a gift membership to a deserving go player in your life; it=92s the gift that keeps on giving all year long! Giving (or renewing) is easy, just click here now:

GETTING: It may be too lateto get that kaya board for the holidays but for the avid go player it=92s never too late to get go equipment, books and software! Check out quality go distributors like Kiseido, Slate & Shell, Yutopian, Samarkand and more at

REVIEWS MOVE TO FRIDAY EDITION: We hope you enjoy today=92s special holiday edition of the American Go E-Journal, which features reviews of several go books, as well as a new Empty Board column by Bill Cobb. Beginning next month, reviews of go books, software and equipment will move to the E-Journal=92s new weekly Friday edition. The new edition, which will be distributed only to Member=92s Edition subscribers, will also feature game commentaries, updates on tournaments scheduled for that weekend and any late-breaking go news. Non-members can sign up now at ttp://  The Monday edition, distributed free to over 5,000 readers worldwide, will continue to focus on go news and will include the event calendar and go classified section.

THE EMPTY BOARD: The Sporting Game
by William Cobb
     Go and football seem at first glance to be worlds apart as examples of sporting activities. But maybe not.It=92s true that football always involves teams, while go rarely does, and that football is played on a field rather than on a board. Yet go and football are games of strategy and territory plays a large role in both. Football is a highly flexible game with few fixed principles, just like go. Forexample, in football you can emphasize passing or the run, and in go you can emphasize territory or influence. In neither sport is there a guaranteedwinning strategy. Moreover, there are several aspects of professional football that are designed to equalize the opponents=92 chances of winning, like the handicapping system in go. Perhaps the salary cap is the most obvious, but some of the rules also aim at this, such as the two-point option for the extra point, and the rules are regularly modified in the interest of quality.
     However, there is a major difference.While it=92s not at all unusual to see go players happily interacting with each other after a game, even when a lot was at stake, in football, other than some forced, formal exchanges such as the ritual handshake by the coaches, the opponents can=92t wait to get away from each other, the loser to moan and the winner to gloat. Moreover, football players don=92t offer tips to their opponents about how to play more effectively next time. Somehow football doesn=92t enhance the quality of the social interaction of the participants the way go does. In fact, as I think about it, perhaps football is a lot more like chess than like go.
       The Empty Board #43; past columns are archived at

  GO REVIEW: Essential Joseki
By Naiwei Rui 9P
Yutopian Enterprises
Reviewed by Lawrence Ku, 4k
           Essential Joseki=92s author, Naiwei Rui, is one of the top female professional go players. Her book covers about 40 important joseki, along with more than 200 variations, which focus on the local situation rather than the whole board. The diagrams are very clear, and the explanations are easy to understand.
           =93Essential Joseki=94 differs fromother joseki books like =9338 Basic Joseki=94 which only demonstrates a fewmoves for each variation. =93Essential=94 provides much more detailed variations for many popular joseki. And unlike the 3-volume =93Dictionary of Basic Joseki=94 which covers almost all kinds of variation in voluminous detail, =93Essential=94 introduces new variations which I have never seen in any other joseki books.
           I like this one-volume joseki book because it covers most important joseki with some degree of details. I found this book to be very useful and easy to read, and I recommend this book to go players from 5k~6d.

Go Problems for Kyu Level Players
Volume 5: Tesuji Challenges
By William S. Cobb
Slate & Shell
Reviewed by Andrei Outkine
           =93Go Problems for Kyu Level Players=94 is a nice addition to any mid-level go amateur‘s tesuji collection. The brochurecontains 21 problems, covering various types of tesuji (placements, the eye-stealing tesuji) and other mid-game techniques (sabaki, probing moves). Generally, the problems are interesting and challenging enough for the intended target audience. Problems covering a certain subject are grouped together, so that the reader can easily see various applications for a given technique. To make this most effective, however, it would have been helpful if the book contained chapters, so that the reader could easily find all problems covering a certain technique and use the brochure as a reference guide.The other minor drawback is the occasional awkwardness of the author‘s style (“white is destroyed by a shortage of liberties problem”). However, I thoroughly enjoyed solving the problems and recommend the book to anyone who wants to improve.

Children=92s Baduk Training Volumes 1-6
The Hankuk Kiwon
Reviewed by Michael Turk, 9k
           My first problem books were Kano Yoshinori‘s Graded Go Problems for Beginners.  I am presently struggling with early volume 4 so I have been looking for collections of closely-related problems on specific themes at or near my level to improve my recognition and for practicing.  The first few volumes of =93Children=92s Baduk Training=94 fit the bill precisely, although be aware that they are Korean-language booksof go problems produced for sale at the Hankuk Kiwon, the Korean National Go Association.  Volume 1 is very basic, while Volumes 2 and 3 lift the level of problems in a graduated fashion to provide good drill/practice problems.
           My Korean pen-friend completed her degree in Baduk Studies and now produces go lessons and comments on international and local amateur games on Baduk TV.  When I discussed these six books during a recent visit to Korea, she smilingly informed me that I would be challenged by Volume 4 and that foreign strong kyu/low dan level players will find Volumes 5 and 6 quite tough.
           There are close to a thousand problems in each of the six volumes, approximately 6,000 problems in all. Volume 2, for example, contains the following problems: 93 fuseki, 570 life and death; 25 ko and 115 capture problems(after which I stopped counting). It also contains collections of problems on contact fighting, connection tesuji, defense, jungsuk (joseki) lessons and problems, haengma (movement/flow of stones/shape) and endgame. More recently I approached my Korean pen-friend to find me the answer booklets.  She obtained the answer booklets to Volumes 4, 5 and 6 but said of Volumes 1, 2 and 3 that “They are so simple, a Baduk Teacher would not need them” so I don=92t know if there are solution books for the first three volumes.The graduated problems are logically organized around specific themes and provide excellent drill/practice examples.
           Each volume of problems is 5,000 won (less than $4.50US).  I highly recommend these volumes and hope that some enterprising importer will start importing them!  There would be no need to reprint them in English as it would not be much trouble to produce and include a simple word-processed English language key to each separate volume of problems. Meanwhile, you can find them at Het Paard, the Dutch supplier of Go books:
Korean books can also be found at:
Another source of Korean Go books is:

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