Go Book Reviews 2001-2003
Go Book Reviews 2001-- 2003
This page contains reviews of books, software and equipment that were published in The American Go E-Journal between 2001 and 2003.
1971 Honinbo Tournament, The (2/19/01)
2002 Go Yearbook (11/04/02)
The ABCs of Attack and Defense (4/21/03)
AIGO 1.3.0 (04/22/02)
Art of Capturing Stones (1/06/2003)
Attack and Defense (Elementary Go Series, Vol. 5) (2/12/01)
Beautiful Mind, A (2/11/02)
Beyond Forcing Moves (9/26/01)
Book of Go, The (04/08/02)
Breakthrough to Shodan, The (1/7/02)
Cho Hun-hyeon's Lectures on Go Techniques, V. 1 (01/22/02)
Compendium of Trick Plays, A (12/16/02)
Counting Liberties and Winning Capturing Races (11/03/03)
Cross-Cut Workshop (07/01/02)
DieOrLive software (11/05/01)
EZ Go (5/7/01)
Fighting Ko (3/19/01)
First Kyu (10/1/01)
Five Hundred and One Opening Problems (11/11/02)
Five Hundred and One Opening Problems (12/23/02)
Galactic Go, Vol. 1 (02/04/2003)
Get Strong at Attacking (04/15/02)
Get Strong at Invading (5/29/01)
Get Strong at Tesuji (4/2301)
Get Strong at the Endgame (05/06/02)
The Girl Who Played Go (07/15/2003)
Go as Communication (03/31/2003)
Go Elementary Training & Dan Level Testing CD (9/10/01)
Go Elementary Training and Dan Level Testing CD (10/8/01)
Go for Beginners (4/30/01)
Go Player's Almanac, The (6/12/01)
Go Player's Almanac, The, 2001 edition (10/22/01)
Go Player's Almanac, The, 2001 edition (04/15/02)
Go World (the magazine) (6/25/01)
Gogod Database (8/20/01)
Golden Opportunities by Rin Kaiho (1/29/01)
Graded Go Problems for Beginners (Vols 1-4) (3/5/01)
Graded Go Problems For Beginners: Vols. I-IV (08/26/02)
Great Joseki Debates, The (6/4/01)
Handbook of Star Point Joseki(05/19/03)
How to Play Handicap Go(04/28/03)
In the Beginning (5/14/01)
Intermediate Level Power Builder, Vol. 1 (8/13/01)
Intermediate Level Power Builder, Vol. 1 (9/22/03)
Introduction to Go; Rules and Strategies for the Ancient Oriental Game (09/16/02)
Invincible: The Games of Shusaku (12/10/01)
Jungsuk In Our Time (8/06/01)
Kage's Secret Chronicles of Handicap Go 4/11/01
Learn to Play Go (four volumes) (5/21/01)
Learn to Play Go, Vol. I; (11/25/02)
Learn to Play Go, Volume IV: Battle Strategies (5/26/03)
Leather Pente or Go Game Set (10/16/02)
Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go (3/12/01)
Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go (02/25/02)
Life and Death, Elementary Go Series Vol. 4 (2003)
Life and Death: Intermediate Level Problems (06/17/02)
LiveOrDie Software 03/25/02
Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse (10/21/02)
Magnetic Go Set (Kiseido MG25) 3/27/01
Making Good Shape (03/24/2003)
Many Faces of Go Joseki Dictionary (Palm OS Edition) (2/26/01)
MasterGo, software (09/23/02)
Master of Go, The (7/10/01)
Monkey Jump Workshop (09/02/02)
The Nihon Ki-in Handbook Volume 4, Handicap Go (03/17/03)
The Nihon Ki-in Handbook Volume 4, Handicap Go (11/03)
One-Thousand and One Life-and-Death Problems (08/19/02)
Opening Theory Made Easy (01/28/02)
Palm SGF (11/2003)
Pro-Pro Handicap Go, edited by the Nihon Ki-in (2/5/01)
Positional Judgment: High-Speed Game Analysis (03/11/02)
Purpleheart Go Board (10/20/2003)
Restless Directed by Jule Gilfillian (1/29/01)
Sabaki, How to Manage Weak Stones (2003)
Sabaki, How to Manage Weak Stones (07/28/2003)
Segoe Tesuji Dictionary(2003)
Split; a play (09/30/02)
Tesuji and Anti-Suji of Go 4/17/01
Tesuji, Elementary Go Series Vol. 3 (6/6/2003)
Tesuji Made Easy CD (8/28/01)
The Thirty-six Stratagems Applied to Go (1/20/03)
Tournament Go 1992 (11/19/01)
Treasure Chest Enigma, The (12/24/01)
Understanding How to Play Go (9/4/01)
Understanding How to Play Go (10/15/01)
Understanding How to Play Go (4/2/01)
Utilizing Outward Influence (2/04/02)
Way of Play for the 21st Century,A (11/26/01)
Word Freak, by Stefan Fatsis (09/09/02)
"Presence" is a word we often attribute to a powerful personality. Presence may also imply our attendance at an event. Great events are usually sparked by strife between powerful people. A tournament battle for a prestigious title can capture both meanings of the word.
The 1971 Honinbo Tournament was rich with presence in every sense of the word. Rin Kai Ho, Honinbo, seemed invincible. Whatever challenger might rise from the Honinbo League must be truly a remarkable player to have a chance. "The 1971 Honinbo Tournament" tracks the ascent of Yoshio Ishida to his destiny. The author, Kaoru Iwamoto, feels this exceptional presence in his bones. His words transport us straight into the tournament. They give us pictures of the contestants, the conditions, the stakes and the high-voltage tensions of the games.
In my first reading of the book I drank the atmosphere, and I meticulously worked my way through a game or two. In my second reading (having improved a bit) I was able to appreciate more of the wonderful annotations Iwamoto provides. Enjoying the games makes the narrative all the more vivid.
This is a book of two great virtues:
"Presence" is one, the historical
chronicle. Incredibly fine go with
superb annotations is the other. In my
third reading, which will surely
happen, because this book is one of the
cornerstones of any enduring go
library, I expect to feel more acutely
the presence of mythic 1971 and the
battle of these great warriors.
The Korean Baduk Association (KBA),
in addition to their Baduk Monthly
magazine, also publish the Baduk
Yearbook, which mainly consists of
Korean and international tournament
games over the past 12 months. It
includes 24 color photographs of
various Korean professional go players
and the text is entirely in Korean.
a delightful book of problems. It
concentrates on two themes,
ishi-no-shita (under the stones) and
nakade (big eyes), and offers 91
wonderful problems to get you thinking.
It must be admitted that many of the
shapes are unlikely to occur in a game
(although very few are so artificial as
to appear contrived) but that does not
detract from the beauty of some of the
sequences. I found myself smiling with
pleasure over and over when a problem
was solved. Without doubt, there is a
lot to be learned from this book, but
it is not for the beginner. A sound
knowledge of basic tesuji is required
to appreciate it. You will probably
have a thrill of excitement the first
time you use one if these techniques in
your own games. I would recommend it
for high kyu and above.
This is a valuable book is an excellent introduction to the middle game for go players who know the basics. It takes for granted that you are familiar with some basic openings and begins at that point. Focusing on the strategy and tactics of large scale fighting, the authors use the balance between territory and influence to show the reader how to best attack an opponent's stones while defending one's own framework. This book helps novice players develop workable and potent strategies utilizing influence and teaching defense against common attacks. Middle to high kyu players would easily benefit from this volume.
I first read this book when I was
about 19K and found it immensely
helpful. It sets out basic ideas on how
to choose a successful strategy during
the middle game. With those principals
in mind it gives you specific tesujis
or techniques to help put that strategy
in play. Next it teaches a few
essential defensive moves and three
fundamental principals on reducing and
invading frameworks. This book helps
the novice player place priorities on
moves during the chaos that starts to
grow during the middle game and
encourages players to use their
creativity to find their own moves.
Any book with no less than six
references to Go in the index is a
must-have for the serious player. When
the book in question is also the basis
for a major motion picture with not one
but two scenes featuring the game, it
becomes required reading.
In my never-ending quest for advancement to dan-level play, I stumbled upon this text. The title was a very attractive one, one that implied that, as a kyu player, I have only scratched the surface of this game's complexity. And indeed, this book makes that clear. I look at joseki and I am beginning to see that a joseki is really a fluid sequence meant to change with the "mood" of the game.
Shoichi Takagi has carefully chosen about twenty games to demonstrate the art of kikashi (making a defensive move with the best return) and sabaki(making good shape with the most efficiency in a difficult situation). As a 1-2 kyu player, I am not sure I would have considered the possible sequences and variations mapped out by Mr. Takagi. Now, on my second reading, I am beginning to make some sense of it.
Master Takagi breaks up the book into three sections; Basic Concepts, Putting the Concepts to Work, and Masterstrokes. Each section has examples that clearly demonstrate the concepts with alternate sequences that a kyu level player might make(at least, ones I probably would have made). When I learn the alternatives, I think to myself that I don't know if I will ever remember them in times of stress.
But I also can't help thinking about the alternative that I would not have thought about before. The book is well organized with good diagrams. Brian Chandler's translation is clear and to the point. Summary portions of this text have good descriptions and definitions.
I think the weaker kyu player will
not learn as much as the weaker dan
players. But both will gain insight
into the complexity of the game. I plan
on rereading this book at least once a
year to understand a little better that
which was completely incomprehensible
the year before.
Go books in general suffer from two flaws: they are narrow in scope (many times by necessity), and they are written in a flat style, often by someone other than the purported author. The Breakthrough to Shodan has neither of these flaws. Because it was taken from a set of lectures transcribed into magazine articles, it rings with the author's voice in a lively prose. In addition, the book's scope is broad enough to appeal to any kyu level player.
"Breakthrough" is divided into sections that deal with low handicap games. Within these sections, Miyamoto describes "Strides," or principles, by which black can rid him or herself from negative attitudes. By taking the reader through five-, four-, and three-stone games, Miyamoto deals with negative attitudes and complex joseki.Miyamoto shows how dan-level players often hoodwink weaker players, even those who are strong fighters. His treatment of the Taisha Joseki exemplifies this: the Third Stride in Chapter 7 is "Know the Taisha, but don't play it." After reviewing several complex variations, demonstrating the pitfalls, he shows the reader a simple variation that stresses thickness. It is an easy variation to remember, but what makes it so important is that it works with the power of the starpoint stones.
Miyamoto does this with many popular joseki: shows how black tends to get into trouble with complications, squandering the influence of the starpoints, rather than playing perfectly serviceable joseki that compliment influence. Starpoints are about influence, and influence favors fighting. But without sensing the direction a wall made from handicap stones exerts power, fighting can degenerate into who is the best reader. (Hint: against a dan, it's rarely the kyu.) Therefore, fighting should take place, but in an arena where black has the advantage. The Breakthrough to Shodan shows the reader how to create this arena, how to see through white's false threats, and to trust the power of influence to create territory naturally, through a positive approach.Each chapter ends with two whole-board problems that test the reader's positional judgment.
The end of the book is a set of problems derived from the large-knight's extension from a starpoint, and here Miyamoto shows the techniques white has used over the years to terrify and bamboozle kyu-level players, and the correct refutations.Since the book never really moves past handicap go, it should perhaps be called The Breakthrough to One Kyu. But this is quibbling. Miyamoto's philosophy of "You don't need to be fancy to win at handicap go," shows again and again how to find attacking moves that work with thickness and take territory. This book was worth four stones to my go strength, and any kyu-level player can gain from its expansive approach and clear thought.
Available from Ishi Press:
Don't buy this book if you think it will arm you with dozens of dazzling swindles with which to win games quickly. Buy this book if you are a student of joseki, tesuji and shape - in other words, a student of go!
If you study joseki, you'll find here many trick plays that could foil your joseki efforts if you were to face them for the first time in a real game. If you study tesuji, then you'll see plenty of them here - trick plays are all about setting up tesuji. And if you study shape, you'll see how adhering to the principles of good shape can save you from trick plays and how mindlessly reacting with "natural" moves can sometimes destroy your shape.
There's a mixture of material here: basic trick models, historical examples, theory of trick play, pop psychology, slippery places in joseki, and even some cartoons. The crown of the book is a section of 25 problems by Maeda Nobuaki 9 dan. Solving them will enhance your practical skills.
book deals with the rather narrow (but
valuable) techniques of winning
localized life-and-death fights
occurring between groups of stones
where it is a race to see which group
lives and which group dies. The book
describes the basics of what actually
counts as a liberty, categories of
liberties (e.g., inside vs. outside),
how these liberties figure in the
fight, and the types of fights that can
occur (Type 1, Type 2 with a Ko on the
outside liberties, etc.). It provides
the reader with "formulas" for
evaluating a fight without having to
explicitly read out every line of play.
The trick is to correctly count the
number and type of liberties to
determine the type of fight so that one
can ultimately apply the "formula".
Later chapters show how the techniques
are used in realistic fighting
situations, and provide about 50
problems and several commented
professional games to drive the
concepts home. Well written and nicely
laid out, I would recommend this book
to players of all strengths,
particularly those with a mid-kyu
ranking. However, this book should be
valuable to even the strongest player
because, as the preface points out,
"Many players, even quite strong ones,
have a poor grasp of these
Caught in a cross-cut? Then extend!
Or at least so goes the famous proverb.
Unfortunately (or fortunately,
depending on how you look at it), Go is
rarely that simple. After studying a
large number of next move problems,
Richard Hunter observed that the
extension was rarely the correct
solution to a cross-cut problem. His
suspicions were apparently confirmed by
watching advice from two professionals
on Japanese TV. Consequently he
undertook an extensive study of
situations in which cross-cuts arose in
actual play. This research led Hunter
to identify nine (yes nine) basic
patterns that frequently arise from
cross-cuts, depending on the presence
or absence of other friendly or
opposing stones in the vicinity.
Ask any pro how to get stronger and the first words out of his mouth invariably are "Study life and death."
The problem (pun intended) is that studying life and death (tsume-go) is hard and, let's be honest, boring. I love these elegant little problems but until a couple of weeks ago five a day on the subway each morning was all I could find the time for. Forget about cracking the book on weekends.
Now, thanks to Lyu shuzhi's 'DieOrLive' software, I'm solving more than 20 problems a day, seven days a week. DieOrLive makes life and death studying so easy, fun and addictive that it may well become the go crowd's "Minesweeper."
The tsume-go student's dilemma is whether to cudgel your brains until you solve the problem or to give it your best shot and move on. DieOrLive solves the dilemma by speeding up and easing the process of solving over 1,000 problems, grouped as basic, beginner, intermediate or advanced. You match wits against the program, which responds instantly to each move. Solve the problem successfully and you're rewarded with a "success" message; if not, you get a "failed" message.
Either way, the instant response and easy interface proves remarkably addictive. Success spurs you on to solve more problems while failure sends you back to take another crack at it. The software itself doesn't care: you can drop in at whatever level you like, re-do problems you already worked on or try out new ones.
The astonishing thing is that after
just a few days I found myself
instantly spotting successful sequences
where it would have taken me several
minutes before in a book, if I'd even
had the patience to keep trying. And
the proof of the pudding is that none
of my opponent's groups are safe
anymore. Try DieOrLive and your
opponents will soon be calling you
When we start playing go, reasonable mastery of the game seems very distant. One technique to determine the position of a distant point is called "triangulation." Triangulation involves taking a bearing on that distant point from two rather widely separated sites.
Bruce and Susan Wilcox have written a book based on concept as opposed to inculcation. It camps a far distance indeed from the problem books. EZ Go -- based on a series titled "Instant Go" that ran in the American Go Journal in 1977 and 1978 -- covers all the basic concepts from making shape to attacking weak groups. It offers some useful original ideas, like sector lines. It's also full of proverb-like rules of thumb.
I don't suggest that anyone start
with EZ GO, but after working hard in
the traditional forms, you might
benefit a great deal from the
concept-based, metaphor-driven approach
offered here. As you read EZ Go, the
material covered in traditional books
may gain an extra level of meaning.
Likewise, EZ Go's concepts will
resonate more strongly. That's the
benefit of triangulation.
This is a handy pocket sized book that relies mainly on teaching by example. It amounts to a thorough survey of how ko situations can arise, how they fit into the overall logic of the game, and what the effects of avoiding them would be. Most of the book is suitable for middle to high kyu players, but the final chapter and concluding problems move up to the dan range.
Fighting Ko contains a few pages dealing with capturing races, including the best explanation I have seen of a basic principle governing them. Unfortunately, it is presented with no special emphasis, right along with the less satisfying rules of thumb you have probably seen elsewhere. Further, this section should logically lead to a discussion of capturing races involving ko, but the only related topic, on approach move kos and the like, precedes the capturing races.
What the book does not provide are
hints on how to find ko threats, and
how to play so that when a ko arises,
you do not find yourself devoid of ko
threats. There are only a few examples
of effective ko threats in the book.
Study of this book should help a wide
range of players to recognize
ko possibilities in their games, but
it will not help you fight them.
One of the best go books has a scant handful of diagrams and very little on tactics or strategy.
"First Kyu," the novel by the late Dr. Sung-Hwa Hong, is the story of Young-Wook Kwon, a young Korean student who abandons his career and family in pursuit of the life of a professional go player. Anyone who's been even lightly bitten by the go bug will be entranced by this slim yet substantial novel, packed with fascinating details of the rocky road to professional.
Dr. Hong's premature death recently at just 51 robs us of not only a charming man and strong go player, but of a great teacher, as well, for "First Kyu" is much more than just the tale of one go player's trials and tribulations. The novel, which clearly has a strong autobiographical flavor, explores the conflicts between duty and dreams, and the difference between desire and determination.
Of most interest to go players, of course, is the window "First Kyu" provides into the game as a way of life that does not yet exist in this country. In Korea, in addition to the select group of players who earn a living as professional players, it is also possible to eke out a life as a club pro or as a gambler in go games called "bagneki" where players and spectators wager large sums based on the margin of victory.
The lure of the easier way, then, is another theme in "First Kyu," as Wook must choose between gambling and the purity and rigor of studying the masters in the quest to become a professional. Of course, it is in this study that we, along with Wook, learn the real lessons of go and life. Give up a little to gain big. Slow down, beware of speed. Greed for a win takes the win away.
"Every book will reveal its truth if
read one hundred times." This Confucius
quote refers to Wook's review of
collections of master games, but it
applies to "First Kyu" as well. Just 98
more times and I can write a better
Cognitive Psychologists say that the
clearest measurable difference between
novices and expert Go players is that
experts turn visual patterns into
verbal principles, and novices do not.
This is most obvious in the opening,
where 'intuition' must be used to find
what is important.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." Touchstone, As You Like It, Act 5, Scene 1.
In "Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go," Kageyama Toshiro advises us to practice the fundamentals if we want to get stronger. In the same way that ceaseless practice enables professional baseball players to field ground balls effortlessly, go players should practice Go fundamentals until it becomes second nature for them to spot certain key moves, punish their opponents' overplays, and instantly kill commonly occurring corner patterns. Practice, practice, and more practice. And in go, that means spending time doing mental gymnastics, working one's way through problem books of all descriptions.
For Kyu-level players like myself, Richard Bozulich's new series: "Mastering the Basics," is indispensable. The second book in the series: "Volume I: Five Hundred and One Opening Problems has just been published." (Volume II: One Thousand and One Life and Death Problems was released earlier this year and was reviewed in the August 19th issue of the E-Journal). The current book is designed to develop your intuition and feel for the opening, consisting of little more than page after page of opening problems. In a brief introduction, co-author Rob van Zeijst explains the importance of playing urgent moves before big moves. He also suggests how to properly evaluate opening moves that either strengthen your own stones or weaken your opponent's. These basic ideas are illustrated and reinforced over 250 pages of problems compiled by Richard Bozulich based on positions he's collected from professional and high-level amateur games.
The book's central thesis is that by correctly applying a rudimentary set of basic go principles one can fairly easily identify the most important point to play in the opening, which later will tilt the game in your favor once the serious fighting begins. Many players simply love to fight and the temptation for us is to launch full-steam ahead into premature invasions or other such maneuvers just to initiate> confrontation. This superb book encourages us to practice careful consideration and calm, qualities that all strong players certainly possess.
Consistent with an emphasis on the simple and powerful, the book's layout is elegantly straightforward, with four new problems on each right-sided page and the solutions on the back of that page, which means you never have to go hunting in the back of the book for a solution. There's also a helpful hint beneath each problem; I suppose the authors must have grappled with where to place these hints - either underneath the problems or in the solutions. My personal preference would have been to have them under the solutions and my strong recommendation is that the reader cover up the hint when attempting a problem the first time.
None of the problems are devoted to the first dozen or so moves in the game, so if you're looking for basic opening lessons check out Janice Kim's books or "Get Strong at Go Volume 1: Get Strong At The Opening," before delving into this book.
While the positions that arise in my
own games rarely resemble anything
remotely like the positions that show
up in professional games, this
book does a terrific job of hammering
away at some very fundamental
concepts of opening strategy that will
definitely serve kyu-level
players well as they look for the
right move in their own games. I am
sure Kageyama Toshiro would
The aim of Galactic Go isn't clear. The title certainly gives no indication -- what exactly is "Galactic Go"?
From my reading, it appears that Galactic Go is an effort to explain middle game fighting in 3-stone handicap games. The chapters, however, are organized according to the opening joseki moves, and not according to middle game principles. Since it also contains long sections on obscure joseki which would be more at home in a joseki dictionary, perhaps the intent is to explain the choice of joseki in a 3-stone game. I couldn't tell.
But that's not the biggest problem. Galactic Go is rife with errors. Diagrams are missing stones and labels, text sometimes does not correspond to the diagram, and, at times, the explanatory text is simply confusing.
For example, one diagram declares failure for black because a ladder does not work when, if fact, black gets a good position by a simple geta capture. In one chapter, the diagrams switch back and forth between a joseki and its mirror image, making the sequence hard to follow. In another, the text alternates between two different threads without explanation or transition.
Diagram explanations are sometimes far too spartan. There are long series of diagrams in which the text essentially adds no more than "Black did this. White did .that. What should Black do next?" It makes for dry reading. Moreover, several interesting moves are passed over completely.
When moves are examined in the text, the level of detail varies so widely that it is hard to know what level the book is aiming for -- I would guess about 7 kyu to 2 dan.
I was left with the impression that Galactic Go was put together quickly without much planning and analysis. The mistakes I found make it hard to trust the remainder and so call into question the validity of the book as a whole.
authors say there will be three more
volumes in the series. I hope that more
effort is put into the remaining
At first glance, Kiseido's 'Get Strong' series looks like other problem
books that are based around simple principles. For example, Vol. 10, 'Get
Strong at Attacking,' shows how one theme, 'Attack from Strength,' is
usually used in the middle game, but in a handicap game, it is correct for
Black to attack early on. Another principle is that to attack by capping
or using knight's moves should mean 'Do Not Try to Kill.'
"Get Strong at Invading" is one of the early volumes ('95) in the 'Get Strong at Go Series', and it shows.
The back cover 'guarantees' it will increase a weak kyu's invading ability by as much as 6 stones, but will also 'fill in the gaps' for a 'strong dan'. It is divided into three sections, Invasions on the Side (65 problems mainly covering 3 and 4 point extensions between two stones, Invading Corner Enclosures (84 problems), and Invading Large Territories (not actually about invading large territories, but reducing large frameworks (moyos).
The last section is the best,
running 46 pages for 22 problems. The
first two sections have a variety of
useful patterns, but generally the
treatment is poorly organized and
scant, and this is where the book
really suffers. A kyu player will learn
more, and learn it properly, by
studying "Attack and Defense" by Ishida
and Davies, while a dan player can't do
better than "Enclosure Josekis" by
Takemiya and "Reducing Territorial
Frameworks" by Fujisawa.
The next best thing to having a personal teacher is a problem book. After I try a problem, I can flip to the answer and get immediate feedback. As a relative beginner there are a couple "theory" books that have helped my game (Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go, Opening Theory Made Easy), but it is mainly the drill of problem books that have raised the level of my play.
"Graded Go Problems for Beginners" were my favorite problem books when I first started playing. I could find a volume that was hard enough so that I learned something, but not so hard as to be frustrating. If, like me, you found those books useful, I strongly recommend "Get Strong at Tesuji". Similar to the Graded series, it's simply a list of 534 problems and their solutions. If you are comfortable with problems at the level of Graded Volume III then you should find Get Strong at Tesuji useful, too.
Unlike Graded, it has some problems
that simply ask for the best move, and
don't tell you what you're supposed to
do (kill stones, live, connect two
groups, etc). I found this to be an
especially nice feature. It also rates
the difficulty of each problem,
although I didn't make much use of the
ratings. If you like drilling yourself
with problems, I highly recommend Get
Strong at Tesuji.
In The Square of The Thousand Winds, a Chinese girl plays go. Serious go, toppling opponent after opponent. The time is the early 1930's and the Japanese are invading. Hearing that "terrorists" from the Chinese Resistance meet at the Square to plot their next moves, a Japanese soldier visits the square in disguise, to spy on them. Instead he falls into a game with the girl who plays go. They meet at the square day after day to continue this strangely compelling game. Meanwhile, we watch their lives converge toward a startling climax.
The award-winning author seems to know her Asian history and literature, and even fills us in with footnotes when the characters participate in major historical events, or discuss history. Attention to detail is so "granular" that the Chinese girl depicted on the cover is even holding authentic Chinese stones! (Chinese stones are flat on one side.) The writing is sprinkled with thoughtful little gems, but seems mostly halting and disjointed, and the occasional intrusion in the translation of Britishisms like "chivvying" is a bit jarring. Most of the chapters are only a few paragraphs long -- just when we're beginning to immerse ourselves in a scene, it's over. Nonetheless, as often happens with good books, I am left with vivid memories and images, and thoughtful questions about the meaning of war. You have to admire the author's ambition. Through these gradually intertwining lives, one Chinese, one Japanese, she seeks to illuminate a dark era of occupation, torture and violent death, and to some degree she succeeds.
As a go player, I was happy to see the game presented as in a compelling, dramatic way. The Japanese lieutenant goes to the Square on a mission for his country and the Emperor, but finds himself hopelessly seduced by go. He confesses to his Captain, who shows his understanding by quoting the Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zi: "When you lose a horse, you never know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing." In the end, the game becomes the means by which two minds meet in a profound, life-altering way.
This novel takes its place in a growing lexicon of "go stories". The ongoing, periodically adjourned game that progresses through most of the book invites comparison with Kawabata's "The Master of Go," which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. After the degrading portrayal of women in Sung-hwa Hong's tough, dark "First Kyu", it's nice to see a woman who is not just the central character, but clearly the master of a her fate -- and a strong go player to boot!
Most of all, "The Girl Who Played Go" brings to mind the classic film "The Go Masters", a historic Chinese-Japanese film that has been called "an Asian 'Gone With the Wind.' " Unfortunately, "The Go Masters" is not commercially available at the present time, but if you go to ftp://ftp.hikago.flirble.org/pub/Misc/ with a high-speed modem, you can download a 300 MB .avi file and view this incredible masterpiece
ordered my copy of "The Girl Who Played
Go" from amazon.com at for about $20,
it makes a good read, and a great
the only one who feels that people,
children and adults alike, look tired?"
So writes Yasuda Yasutoshi 9-dan in the
preface to Go as Communication.
Yasuda's attention had been caught by a
news report of the suicide of a bullied
school child, and he had become "...
obsessed by the notion that I had to do
something about the social problem in
addition to simply popularizing Go."
The first part of Go as Communication
describes Yasuda's visits to
kindergartens, schools, homes for the
mentally disabled, day care centres for
the elderly and a school for the deaf.
Almost all those he writes about have
some kind of difficulty communicating
with others. Many are, to a greater or
lesser extent, socially excluded as a
result. In the second part of the book,
Yasuda gives advice on how to teach go
to children of different ages in large
groups, and how to teach it in the
other kinds of institution he has
visited. Part three gives a brief
account of similar work that has been
done in the Netherlands, Romania, the
Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and the
USA. Yasuda is well known as the
inventor of Capture Go, and what he
says about it came as a bit of a
surprise to me at first. I had always
been led to believe that Yasuda's main
aim was to popularise go, and that
beginning with Capture Go was basically
a technique to lead people to it
gently. Nothing could be further from
the truth. "Popularizing Go" is a
phrase that is used occasionally in the
book, but it isn't the objective.
Yasuda states his objective in terms
such as "help change society" and "do
something about the social problem". He
teaches Capture Go as a game in its own
right. He recognizes that a few people
will move on to regular go, but doesn't
get excited about it. If most people
stick with Capture Go and enjoy it,
that's fine with him. Indeed, he
explains that some of the mentally
handicapped people he meets will
probably never understand even the
capture rule, but will anyway enjoy and
benefit from the even simpler game of
just placing go stones on
intersections, and that's just fine
too. Will this book do anything for
you? Well, if you want to improve at
tesuji or joseki, definitely not. It
contains a basic explanation of the
capture rule, but if you're any
stronger than 36-kyu it will teach you
nothing at all about the game. If you
want to teach go to bright people who
are able and willing to give you ten
minutes of their attention, it may not
help you much either. If you want to
teach go to large groups of people with
low or mixed abilities and/or
motivation, then it will certainly give
you food for thought and may even help
you. But the people I'd really like to
see reading this book aren't go players
at all, but school teachers and care
workers. If you can think of a person
like that to whom you could give a copy
of this book, I think you'd be doing
them, and go, a huge service. (A longer
version of this review originally
appeared in the British Go Journal,
#129, Winter 2002)
Interactive learning produces superior results when compared with static (i.e. "book") learning. If you don't have a teacher, or even if you do, this CD may hasten your acquisition of go skill. The problems range from the 17 kyu level to amateur 5 dan level.
The user interface of this program is annoyingly amateurish, but the organization of material is excellent. The program offers two formats.
"Promotion" consists of 150 steps of 20 problems each. You get ten tactical problems, five corner pattern (joseki) problems, and five whole board problems. 90 points (18 correct answers) are required to advance from one step to the next.
It's possible to cheat yourself with brute force iterations until the solution is found. Not good. But if you play straight through and fail to reach 90points, you start over from scratch. This kind of iteration is good. It drums the patterns into your brain.
"Test Your Level" lets you declare your strength (Beginner, Middle or High) and then choose from the three problem categories provided in "promotion."
Go Elementary Training & Dan
Level Testing is a terrific tool that
can be played a bit every day. Working
an interactive element into your study
regimen will pay off in many ways.
It has been hard for me to find a book or program that fits my particular style of learning go. I particularly enjoyed the books by Phil Straus and Yi-lun Yang. I have liked the books by Jim Davies but I found that even with these excellent texts I have not moved ahead very much in the tournament circuit.
Then I saw "Elementary Go" listed on the Samarkand web site and immediately liked the idea of a program that could both rate and teach me. Of course, I was also attracted to the "Up to 5 Dan" in theadvertisement. The price was also reasonable.
I had no trouble installing it into my Toshiba (4005CDT) laptop, a refurbished Satellite running Windows98 on a K6-2 processor at 350 MHz with 32 Megs of RAM and an active matrix display. I had tried to install it into my CTX desktop computer but there was a conflict with the video drivers that I was unable to fix without changing the settings on my display which I didn't want to do. So my Toshiba became my default computer for "Elementary Go," which came in particularly handy because when I first got the program, I was traveling a lot on business.
I first tested myself and found "Go Elementary Training" to be extremely accurate, ranking me between 3k and 1D, which mimics my tournament play. The program breaks down teaching and testing into three sections; life and death problems, joseki problems, and whole board problems. Your score is based on 5 points per problem with partial scores given on the whole board problems.
There are a few glitches. Occasionally, if there are two solutions because of miai, the program will only allow one solution. It occasionally locks up or doesn't allow a move. Fortunately, only the current session is lost. You also have to put up with a annoying voice telling you, "Better luck next time," when you screw up and the usual, "Congratulations," when you pass the next level.
Each time you finish a promotion level, you must log in again. This is time-consuming and tedious.
Recently, I installed WindowMe on my portable computer and found that there is a problem installing Go Elementary Training into WindowsMe. I was able to run the program fine on my Toshiba Satellite with both Windows98 and Windows98 Second Edition. When I brought this to Janice Kim's attention (I had purchased this product from Samarkand), she was extremely helpful and checked into it. She found that it could be loaded if it was run directly from the disc. Of course, this has but a big damper on my usage since I have no intention of reloading the old system software onto my portable again. Janice has since come up with a patch for WindowsMe.
The good news is that if you can get it up and running on your computer, you are likely to see a big difference in your play. I have moved up on IGS from 7k to 6k with a solid winning streak continuing. Some of this is very likely due to the cumulative effects of all of my efforts but nothing else has made as big a difference.
This program is clearly not for
everyone. There is no commentary but it
is easy to go through large numbers of
problems in a relatively short period
of time. I would call it the generic
version of go teaching. All in all,
Elementary Go is an excellent way to
examine and learn lots of materials
with little fanfare. I am hoping that
Jujo will come out with an updated
version in the near future.
I taught myself and several of my friends how to play Go from this book, and I suspect many other people can say the same. The book's clarity and thoroughness indicate why Iwamoto was so successful at promoting Go in the West.
Go for Beginners is divided into two parts. The first part explains the rules of go. Rather than simply listing the rules and giving examples, Iwamoto walks us through a 9x9 game, presenting rules as necessary. I remember finding this to be a most compelling way of drawing me into the game. After leading the reader through playing and scoring, Iwamoto steps back and fleshes out the details of liberties, ko, seki, and other important concepts in the second chapter.
The second part of the book presents
an overview of techniques including
life and death, ladders, and
extensions. The book ends with good
advice on how to improve and two
example professional games.
People are attracted to go for many
reasons. It's fun. It's excellent
mental aerobics. It's also an ideal
springboard for philosophical
speculation about life and the
The Go Player's Almanac, unique among go books in English, provides a detailed look at the game's culture and history. The book contains no lessons, no theory, no advice for improving go-playing skills. What it does provide are well-written essays and reference sections covering the history, philosophy, culture and personalities which make go so fascinating to so many people.
The book covers go history from ancient times to the present. It also contains biographies of all the most significant players, living and dead. One of the book's finest features is its extensive glossary of go terms. Another nice feature is its survey of go equipment, the collection of which is a fetishized pastime in itself. If that isn't enough, The Go Player's Almanac also describes: the manner in which players become professionals, the tournament system in different countries, the various rule sets, why go computer programs are so difficult to create, and more.
Every serious go player will
eventually want to have this book.
Though The Go Player's Almanac is
currently out of print, it's available
at several Internet vendors of go
equipment. An updated edition is
rumored to be in the works.
Everybody calling himself a serious player should already have this reference work so the following discusses only the differences to the 1992 edition. The chapter on Mathematical Go is omitted, otherwise prior chapters have either tiny changes or considerable updates.
Noteworthy revisions concern:
The book includes some new chapters:
What is missing? Obviously, this work is broad rather than deep so one cannot reasonably expect extensive details. However, some omissions are noteworthy: Western go, Korean and Chinese go terms, the actual life of a professional, teaching, and scientific go. Also it is hard to understand why some prior parts have been omitted.
Nevertheless, the new chapters and
the revisions make the new edition
useful for players who felt the earlier
one was incomplete. The new edition of
the Almanac is not flawless but it's
certainly an improvement.
Despite its $30 price, every Go
player should have the 2001 edition of
"The Go Player's Almanac" This most
extraordinary compendium of Go
information is largely unavailable
elsewhere in English.
Imagine the excitement of unearthing buried treasure - gold doubloons, jeweled goblets, silver daggers. I've discovered buried Go treasure; not precious metals but a wealth of wisdom in every issue of the magazine Go World.
Go World (subscriptions available at www.kiseido.com) is truly a hoard of goodies. Number 91, hot off the press, features an article on Takemiya ("A Player with Heart"), a column by Michael Redmond on the opening, annotated games from current title matches - complete with reports on the players, four special sections for kyu players, and an article on Go in the West in the 81th Century.
The buried treasure is found in back issues, many of which are in stock. At the Kiseido site I marvel at the cover graphics. The covers are historical art involving Go. All are interesting and some are of striking beauty.
Back issues of Go World contain an
informal course of study for kyu
players seeking to improve. The 5x5
endgame studies, for example, are ideal
for demonstrating specific techniques.
In the back numbers I also found the
best illustrations of sabaki I've run
across, problem solutions that tell you
how to refute moves that most books
leave to the student, little quizzes on
joseki and endgame counting, a
compilation of the favorite tsume-go
problems of Japanese pros, and many
other jewels. Of course, the annotated
games are superb; the background
material invaluable. No matter what
your rank, you'll find good things in
Game collections aren't really a novelty. Student pros in Japan used to be sent away to play through the games of Shusaku, the dead master taking the weight off the shoulders of the living.
In the PC era, you can collect up game files in the standard SGF format, click through them, or even get a screensaver to do that work for you. Going further and applying the computer's power as research assistant is the object of the Gogod Database bundle under review. It comprises around 12,000 games from the whole historic and geographical range of high-level go, including a high proportion of the most interesting and significant records around. It also comes with a number of software tools on the CD-ROM.
I have spent the most time using Go Library, which is a versatile program for searching the collection to match data or positions. This would afford practical help with study for any dan player.
There is also John Fairbairn's massive index to names of players from all eras, providing fascinating historical background to the games, and a special tool for finding instantly variations in the avalanche opening. I have spent most time using Go Library, which is a versatile program for searching the collection to match data or positions. This would afford practical help with study for any dan player. It's a tidy single screen, written in Delphi, with all commands self-explanatory icons or buttons. One can enter a pattern stone by stone on one board, have the machine match all occurrences in a period of years (say 1980-1989), and in a range of moves (say the first 50 of a game) and then play through the corresponding games on a second board. This allows easy tracking of full scale opening patterns. To look at corner openings in context, one uses the very useful 'rotations' facility: enter a pattern once, and the search will apply the 16-pass examination of games to check for its occurrence in all symmetric places, and with either colour. Searches may be saved for later use. I have applied this tool for studies of fuseki, joseki and middlegame techniques around corner enclosures, as well as to select games of particular players.
Ordering: the database is currently available exclusively from Gogod.
price $55 including charges.
Life, like go, presents many
opportunities for success, yet all too
often our eyes fail to see the gold. In
"Golden Opportunities," Rin Kaiho, 9
dan and raconteur, serves up a
fascinating stew of go tactics and
historical anecdotes. Rin doesn't
lecture; he dramatizes in stories that
provide a setting in which to envision
go positions as theatre. The stories
draw from both east and west. They aid
the student's memory. A basic principle
in each story foreshadows the correct
go action. Aimed at the mid-kyu player
in need of fresh perspective to advance
but sure to be a joy for players of any
strength, this book has great practical
value. It mixes well with dry problem
collections and joseki texts. It
illustrates obvious moves that are
really failed tries, develops the
cognitive collisions that lead to
enlightenment, and examines all the key
variations. Get "Golden Opportunities"
for fun and profit.
Graded Go Problems for Beginners is
a four-volume set of books that takes
the reader from an absolute novice to
"Advanced" play (defined as 15-kyu or
stronger). The books are compilations
of go problems, divided up by level of
difficulty and by subject matter. For
instance, Volume One has lots of
problems on how to capture one or more
stones and how to avoid being captured.
The "Level Two" problems in Volume One
include ladders, snapbacks, ko, and how
to play in the opening and in endgame.
Each succeeding volume continues to
explore these main themes. Some of the
problems in the third and fourth
volumes will challenge American players
stronger than 15-kyu (myself included),
probably because, unlike Asian go
students, our study of go has been
almost entirely self-directed and
without any structure. This four-volume
set provides a excellent grounding in
the basics of go at an early stage and
can't help but prove helpful to any
double-digit (and at least one
single-digit) player willing to take
the time to study them. They are also
excellent teaching tools for go
One often hears a more experienced
player telling newer and
intermediate level players that there are "leaks in
their game." This could refer to
the opening, middle game, ending, tesuji,
invasions, or any other area of Go
play. What they mean is that there are
fundamental concepts that these
less experienced players have not yet fully
grasped, and until they do, it will
be a long and difficult road to
It is hard to find joseki books that aren't dry and mechanical. The sheer number of variations on the subject make it difficult to make it interesting. Honda Kunihisa has managed to make the joseki interesting and lighthearted with his style and approach.
In this reprint of several articles from Go World, Honda Kunihisa, approaches each joseki problem as if there are three scholars presenting a different strategy and makes us think about which we would chose. He does this in a comical way as if the each of the scholars feels he has the only answer. Then he goes on to explain why one of the three is the best choice based on the whole board outlook.
Kunihisa reiterates the same warning in each discussion: "Since josekis work effectively in a certain direction, it is necessary to examine the positions along the adjacent sides and in the adjacent corners when choosing a joseki for a particular opening." I'm sure he repeated this warning to emphasize its importance. This is one of the things that I found so helpful in the two joseki books by Yi-lun Yang and Phil Straus. Honda Kunihisa gives only as much follow up as is necessary for even mid level players.
I found this book easy to read and
wound up wanting even more problems. I
expect that even low Dan level players
will find this an interesting review as
well as kyu level players.
A wonderful resource for any player, this very thorough dictionary of star point joseki is invaluable for the beginner starting to think beyond the simple handicap joseki we first learn. Aggressive and tricky tries by White are analyzed to reveal White's goals and Black's best responses. A generous helping of diagrams shows the underlying reasons for plays, without confusing the reader with too many moves. For one to improve at go, understanding the 'why" is more important than memorizing the "what." Two aspects of the book are especially good. The many double approaches against the star point (when black plays elsewhere) are systematically discussed, and a section called "supplemental joseki" provides other perspectives into each major division of joseki. Kudos to Yutopian for publishing this gem, and to Craig Hutchinson (editor and layout master) and Robert Terry (translator).
The main thrust of this book is teaching how to play White in a handicap game, but the analysis is so thorough (60 diagrams per game!) that Black learns as well. Beautifully designed, with two diagrams per page, some show only one move, allowing clear explanation. Think AGA 5 dans are pretty savvy? Here we see them lose their way taking three stones. Often, the reader gets a chance to play like an 8 dan and find the next move. Eight of the games show Yuan Zhou giving from three to seven stones as he exposes the mistakes of dan-level players (though 3d Haskell Small wins praise for "a good job of keeping White busy.") The final game, by two hapless kyu players, is fine example of how NOT to play as White. I am pleased to report that in a recent rematch, after reading this book, White was not bamboozled.
As in many creation stories, we have darkness, and then light. So it is from the very first stone of a game of go. Ishigure takes us on an exploration of these beginnings, my favorite time of the game.
Because of its open and abstract qualities, the opening is by its very nature difficult to teach with authority, simply because there is none. There are many approaches to the opening, the basic structure and strategies of which have evolved over time. I find it fascinating, and a tribute to the flexibility of the game itself, that for as many thousands of years as go has been played, there have been significant new developments in opening style in just the past hundred years alone.
In addressing the opening, Ishigure is giving us a philospohy of the game as a whole. He handles the subject matter with skill. He shows us how to build solid bases from which to attack and pincer. We see different shimari and kakari, but instead of an emphasis on joseki, Ishigure stays true to the nature of this time in the game by focusing on a broader context. We are shown the values of different areas, relative to position. There are problems throughout the text, and in their own section as well.. All of this leads us through nine concepts which will help guide us through developing our own style of opening. These are principles of balance, on which every rank of player needs to act.
Reading this book has given me more
insight into the state of mind required
to play go well. This of course brings
more appreciation of the game; and also
of the cultures which have embraced
Aimed at the mid kyu player, this
book does a wonderful job at covering
basic concepts, strategies and
techniques. The first volume of this
series in progress covers basic joseki
and fuseki in openings, but in a method
that integrates a global view. The
author also spends a chapter discussing
"oba" or big points and how they arise
One of the best aspects of this book
is the method of presentation. The
author uses a lesson format in which he
asks a question and the students give
their answers. The best solution is
explained and then the weak point in
the student's answer is examined. I
found that very helpful when comparing
my thoughts with the explanations in
the book. It should also be noted that
many of the games on which comments are
made are taken from various
professional games. I hope that
Yutopian plans on publishing the next
installment in this series soon.
slender volume from Yutopian
Enterprises is aimed at 19-13th kyu
This small hand-guide is what
started it all for me. Or rather, I
should say a small little manga series from
Japan is what got me into Go.
However, it was this book that really taught me
how to play. I enjoyed reading this
book very much, and as a beginner, it
appealed to me very much.
The greatest thing about this book is
that it's geared towards beginners
and amateurs alike. It teaches many
'Go'-only terms, as well as giving
examples of every rule and aspect of
Go. Not only that, it also has several
example games that demonstrate these
elements as well as a section on the
'you'll probably never see these'
special-shape rules. As a beginner, I
didn't really need to look at it, but
I'm sure it will come in handy later
"Invincible" is a massive book with about 120 games. 80 are full commentaries with detailed analysis. The games here are magnificent struggles with large scale fighting being the norm. However Shusaku demonstrates his mastery of the positional features of the game and in every game he demonstrates his superb positional judgment.
The book contains thousands of lessons and is a great way to see the 3-4 point in action. These games are timeless and playing through them is like listening to great classical music or seeing a great artist in action before your very eyes. Invincible's lessons are supplemented by the history it presents along with every game and with a well-written introductory chapter (about 25 pages) documenting the history leading up to and including Shusaku's career.
If you love great games you will love this book. This book is well suited to anyone who is able to learn from professional games, although weaker players may find this book a struggle. Invincible is great at teaching through exciting struggles but its real strength is teaching and fostering a love for go and its culture.
Order from Samarkand at
www.samarkand.net or Kiseido at
Our Time: Somok (3-4 point Jungsuk)
Jungsuk is the Korean word for joseki. This book provides a well-commented treatment of 3-4 joseki in a form that is readable by middle strength and stronger kyus. The book is rich in information and I expect that it will also provide useful information for stronger players. All conference attendees at the recent 1st International Baduk Conference (Baduk is the Korean word for Go) received a copy from Chiyung Nam when they visited the Hankuk Kiwon. Until recently the English-language go literature has been dominated by translations of Japanese works, but recently works of Chinese and Korean authors have become available, a welcome trend that I hope continues.
Jungsuk claims to be the first Korean book on baduk translated into English, but I believe that Jeong Soo-Hyun's and Janice Kim's superb "Learn to Play Go" series lays true claim to that honour.
The book is structured around 113 "Primary Patterns". These represent the major variations of the commonly used 3-4 joseki as practiced in Korea today. Many of these are presented within a 'whole board' context and the emphasis is on current or modern variations. Secondary sequences related to these primary patterns are used to explore well-commented interesting variations. Most variations are extended into 'after joseki' and 'unreasonable play', 'modern play' and 'old variations are mentioned.
The authors encourage their readers
to "learn ... and then forget" their
joseki and to consider joseki choices
within the game context. They use
korean terms sparingly (sunsoo for
sente etc) and provide a glossary at
the back for terms that Western readers
may not be familiar with. The book is
beautifully bound with a high quality
cover, it is well printed and well laid
out with very readable diagrams and
What can one learn from studying low-handicap games between two professionals and a professional against a strong amateur? The list could be pretty long, including corner joseki, whole board fuseki, direction of play, middle game technique, sente and gote, honte moves and overplays. But the most important thing that I learned from this book is how professionals deal with over-aggressive moves and unreasonable challenges. This book helps weak players like me to build up confidence when playing against stronger players. It should be a great book for players between AGA 9k to 2d.
The book includes nine
fully-commented real handicap games
from 2 to 5 stones. While the two
professionals were playing against each
other, they engaged in lively and
entertaining conversations. When one
professional plays against an amateur,
both professionals comment after the
actual game and they often have
different ideas about an identical
position. Last but not least, this book
has a feature that I enjoyed very much:
there are about 7 to 8 questions per
game to test your strength, and you can
only find the answers after flipping to
the next page.
The Kan-zufu is a classic Chinese
book of life and death problems used to
school Go students seeking professional
rank. It has the original Chinese
introductory text and a translation
into Japanese. Following that are the
problems: two to a page with hints in
Japanese, and the answers to those
problems immediately on the reverse
Experienced go players sometimes deride this series, suggesting it's overly simple. With go books, though, as with go itself, simplicity is very often a virtue. Containing large diagrams, witty asides, and plenty of interesting go history and trivia, this series is perfect for those who are new to the game. Later volumes contain information that even mid-level players will find useful.
The first volume starts at the very beginning by explaining the rules and outlining some rudimentary strategies. In the back, a paper board with stones is included. (This is somewhat difficult to play with because the pieces are so small.)
The second volume, "The Way of the Moving Horse," goes a couple steps beyond the most basic strategies. The third volume, "Dragon Style," contains some go aphorisms and a few analyzed sample games. The fourth volume, "Battle Strategies," contains more "advanced" strategies.
Of all the books out there, these
seem to me to be the very best for
introducing beginners to go. Volume
one, in particular, makes a perfect
gift for someone approaching the game
for the first time. The series will
eventually include nine volumes. The
fifth volume, The Palace of Memory, is
This book, part of a four part series is a nearly perfect book for the new player of go. Written in a simple, straight-forward manner, with illustrations for almost every concept discussed, the book allows the student to learn at his on pace, and is ideal for a quick review of any rule or concept. Regardless of the facet of the game being presented, the authors first give the simplest examples, and then build each chapter with increasingly advanced ideas- so that each aspect of go is completely discussed in an easy to understand, step by step approach.
The book is divided into two parts, covering fundamentals and basic techniques. Part I consists of eight chapters dealing with topics such as capturing, connecting, life and death, and ko. Part I also contains, in chapter 8, the score of an actual 19x19 game that the reader can follow, with excellent annotations, move by move. After the reader has learned "the basics," Part II, in six chapters, cleverly builds on that foundation with topics such as: capturing techniques, connecting techniques, capturing races, and ko fighting.
In addition to this excellent introduction to Go, Learn to Play Go, Vol. I also has two extra features that make it an outstanding book for the novice player. The first is that each chapter is followed by a section called "Try it Yourself" which amounts to a section of problems that test the ideas presented in the preceding chapter. The second is ten "extra sections", with from one to three pages, that are dispersed throughout the text, and give the reader more of a "feel" for the game. For example, one section explains go etiquette, another go strength, i.e. the rating system. One gives information about go on the Internet, and still another introduces the reader to some of the more famous players of the game. Another unique feature of this volume is that each copy comes complete with a reversible 19x19, 13x13 and 9x9 board, so that the reader can start playing immediately. The 'stones" are paper and can be difficult to use, but still a nice addition to the book, which is highly recommended for anyone from 30 to roughly 25 kyu.
This was the first English go book my parents bought for me, so I have a special feeling for it. In comparison with other go books, "Learn to Play" uses large pictures to demonstrate many variations and provides explanations of many go terms that will be very useful for a beginner. When I received this book, I was 21 kyu and it gave me a systematic view of attacking techniques, helping me a lot in my own attacking skills even though I could not fully understand all of the material in part 1, which covers middle game techniques such as invasion and reduction, battle strategies, how to attack, and how to take care of your stones or how to make good shape. While the second part of the book, which covers life and death and ko fighting, was a bit too easy for me I recently re-read "Learn to Play" and found Part 1 still very useful.
Anyone 12k or stronger can benefit from this book. Kageyama, a professional teacher and lecturer on Japanese television, observed four levels, starting around 12K, where his amateur students seemed to hit roadblocks. His book prescribes the same remedy at each level. Review the fundamental principles until practice and experience give you the confidence to make sound moves without hesitating. Repeat as needed.
For example, you'll have a much
easier time finding the best move if
you know at a glance whether or not the
ladder works. You won't have to look
for alternatives to an obvious move,
even though it seems wholly uninspired,
if you can see how effectively it
settles an urgent area. "Lessons" holds
up well under repeated browsing. It
comes in particularly handy when you're
looking for something to help you warm
up for the next tournament.
This book is one of the Elementary Go series published by Kiseido. I don't know why this book is Vol. 4, as I think it should be Vol. 2 since I'd prefer to read it right after Vol. 1 'In the Beginning'. If you want to study life and death, this book is a great one to start with. It begins with the simplest 'three-space' shapes and gradually moves to four-space, five-space, and more complicated shape such as, L+1, J and carpenter's square. Not only does the book discuss the life and death of those different shapes, but also teaches you how to make eyes, what are false eyes, how to attack, defend, and throw-in. Divided into 36 sections, there are a few problems to help you practice the new techniques at the end of each section. I read this book when I was 16k and found that while two-thirds of the material was easy, the rest was very challenging. "Life and Death" is excellent for both beginner and mid-level kyu players.
Life and Death: Intermediate Level
I just received my first Go Journal,
the Fall 2001/Winter 2002 issue and
find it well put together, very much
informative and enjoyable reading.
Having recently started playing Go,
anything and everything I can find to
help my game is welcome.
At 36 x 34 cm, this magnetic set is large enough to play a comfortable game on, yet still small enough to use for study. The metal of the board wraps around at the center seam. It's possible to gently fold the board closed and have stones on the tenth line maintain their grip when I put the board away on a shelf (standing upright on its 1.9 cm edge). The designer knew that games and study are sometimes interrupted while the table is put to a more pragmatic use, like dinner.
The playing surface features a
wood-grain print in light yellow-tan,
like Katsura. My first reaction as the
set was opened: "How can magnets stick
The bowls are black plastic. They're shallow and broad, which makes them a bit unwieldy to screw open and closed. Getting the knack of it took me a few days.
The set has a nice carrying case, and the bowls are wide so they pack well into the case, which must reflect the dimensions of the folded board. (I made a cork template to hold the bowls more firmly during travel. Otherwise they bump around.)
This high-quality set is worth the
expense for its combination of utility
and elegance. Kiseido also offers MG20
(32 x 30 cm), which I am guessing is
the MG25's little brother. I'm sure
they'll be glad to tell you if you
Every so often something comes along
that changes everything. The internal
combustion engine. The personal
computer. The 4-slice toaster.
We all recall our first encounter
with the monkey jump. An overplay!
Well, an annoyance. Errr, looks like
big trouble. How the blue blazes can he
get away with a move like that?
find for us weak/middle kyu players! If
you are weaker than 9 kyu and you play
in a club dominated by strong kyu
players and dan-level players, you
probably spend most of your time
playing handicap games. If this is so,
this book will be very useful for you.
Although it is called a "Dictionary" it
does not provide simply brief catalogue
of handicap joseki and tesuji like many
of the other dictionaries - it actually
explains fundamental principles of
handicap play in terms that weaker
players can understand. The book is
written from Black's perspective. Each
handicap level - from nine stones down
to two is covered. Most diagrams have
only seven or eight moves. Each diagram
has comments on the key concepts
illustrated. The nice thing is that one
can actually develop an instinct for
the shape of the stones and how they
move. The book is designed for you to
see what moves are possible and the
reasons for their choice - with a
consistent strategy in mind. It not
only shows the 'good' variations, it
also shows some 'weaker' variations and
explains the difference. I suspect that
the book is written for players in the
15-10k AGA range. I am sure that study
and application of the principles
within the book, (with the view of
understanding rather than memorization)
will result in you becoming a stronger
PDAs have become popular among Go
enthusiasts to record and review games.
A new application can now put an
extensive joseki dictionary in the palm
of your hand.
The program can be used on any handheld device running Palm OS 2.0 or greater (Palm, IBM Workpad, Handspring, Sony CLIE) and is approximately 79k bytes. There are a couple of limitations worth noting. Once a corner is chosen, all subsequent plays are made in that corner. Additionally, if the first move is a pass, only the top left corner joseki are displayed.
A free trial version can be
downloaded at www.smart-games.com. The
trail version enables only 5-5 joseki
and disables some navigation features.
Registration is $20.00 and well worth
the investment. Registration unlocks
all dictionary functions and entitles
the user to free future maintenance
Go players are quick to see patterns
on the board and then to explore how
those patterns are similar to and
different from other patterns. In his
novel "Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead
Game", Herman Hesse tells the history
of a future culture which has created a
refined and isolated academic community
of game players. Their calling in life
is to explore the patterns in every art
and science. The parallel and
harmonious patterns in mathematical
proofs, Bach Fugues, historical
weavings and every other human endeavor
are then linked, documented and
annotated in a set of Mega-patterns -
The Glass Bead Games.
book is the missing piece of the
puzzle. Yes, empty triangles are bad
and dumplings are horrible, and never
get split apart - but isn't all that
rather obvious? After reading endless
game comments stating that "Black makes
good shape" or "White has bad shape,"
but never why, finally I am given rules
and many examples concerning
shape-thought. Following the section on
theory and practice come 245 problems
to pound the concepts into one's skull.
Reasons and alternatives are provided
with the answers. This is real
teaching. The problems are a delight to
work out. I set them up on a board and
try various lines until I understand
how to handle the situation. Many of
the problems were encountered in other
books, but never were explanations so
lucid and valuable. The final section
contains two games buttressed with very
thorough commentary. Again, the "whys"
are emphasized. This is terrific study
A game of go is much like a story. It has tension, drama and conflict. If you win, the story has a happy ending, if you lose, a sad one. This inherent drama is one reason the prize-winning novelist Yasunari Kawabata was able to take a particularly momentous game of go and transform it into one of the greatest Japanese novels of the 20th century.
"The Master of Go" is a fictional account of fact. As a budding writer, Kawabata was commissioned by a newspaper to report on the 1938 retirement match between Shusai (the last hereditary Honinbo) and Kitani Minoru (given the fictitious name Otak‚ in the novel). Because of Shusai's failing health, the game extended over six months, and was played in over a dozen different sessions at various locations around Japan. After the war, Kawabata transformed his newspaper accounts into this extraordinary novel, eventually winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968.
The game itself plays a central role in the book. Game records are sprinkled throughout along with detailed analyses of the match. Yet this novel is much more than just an elaborate game record. The Master of Go, like much post-war Japanese literature, maps the rough and difficult terrain between traditional Japanese society, represented by the Master (Shusai), and contemporary westernized society, represented by Otak‚. As such, the book is as much about Japan's defeat in World War II and the waning of traditional Japanese culture and values as it is about the match. It's a sad but intensely beautiful story, filled from start to finish with tragedy and pathos.
The Master of Go holds a special
place in the hearts of go players not
only because it focuses on the game we
love, but because it incorporates that
game into a work of the highest
literary art. Every go player should
read this book. Most, if they are
serious about the game, will read it
Kiseido's first published book in
the new "Mastering the Basics" is a
book of life and death problems,
consisting of 1001 life and death
problems, primarily taken from the
Nihon-Kiin's book"1,2,3 de Tokeru
I traded chess for go in May of this
year. I played in my first tournament
here in Colorado the first weekend of
November and managed to score three out
of four points, which put me in the
10-12 kyu range.
"Game analysis is the process of
estimating fairly accurately the
relative territorial prospects of each
player at key stages throughout the
game, including a correct
interpretation of the weak and strong
positions," says Cho Chikun, pretty
much summing up the theme of this
How does a strong professional play if given three, four or five stones by another pro and asked to demonstrate victory with clear, straightforward moves? How much could you learn given access to the pros' thoughts as their game unfolded?
Three complete and deeply annotated games are the heart of Pro-Pro Handicap Go. Eight additional games carry through to about move 50. The book is visually striking. The main diagrams take up most of the 7" by 8" pages, and no diagram gives more than a few moves.
If you're like me and take handis
more often than you give them, or if
you want to glimpse professional
thinking on the white side - this text
is great. Unless you're stronger than
9-dans like Ishida Yoshio, Takemiya
Masaki and Cho Chikun, you'll learn
something. The book has many bonuses.
Try forecasting key moves. Learn
skillful plays from the pros in sidebar
diagrams. Enjoy photographs of 22
well-known professionals. Get
I first noticed Carol Dufour's woodworking on eBay about six months ago because his go boards kept showing up in my searches. They were unusual, made of oak and butternut. When he offered a truly unique go board made of purpleheart, I ordered it immediately for $200, including protective packaging and shipping from Canada. Purpleheart, Leguminosae Peltogyne, grows in South America and is not endangered. The wood is incredibly dense and is difficult to work, quickly dulling edged tools. The breathtaking purple calls to the wood artist. You have seen it in wood sculptures, pool cues, marquetry, flooring, and in custom tools for the discriminating woodworker. Carol is an expert cabinetmaker; his knowledge and skill are evident. Eleven sticks were machined and planed, carefully aligned and matched for color and grain, and pressure-clamped to form the slab. As the wood ages, movement will be balanced by the opposing orientation of the grain. The grid looks silk-screened but was hand-applied using a gabarit, or drawing gauge. Several undercoats of varnish ensured the ink could not bleed. The lines are a bit thick but laser-straight. My board is 1-5/8" thick, the feet make it a nice 2-1/2", and it weighs a hefty 30 pounds. The board plays beautifully with a pleasant sound and plenty of eye appeal. The striking purple color contrasts sharply with warm shell while complimenting cold slate creating a unique visual treat.
Visit Carol Dufour's site at http://www.boardgamego.com
Leah is adrift, restless. Landing in Beijing after a string of flights from failed romances, she falls in with other expatriates. A chance encounter with a young weiqi master she saw on TV leads to . . . well, let's stop there and not spoil it. Let's just say that a few twists and subplots later, we learn what Dorothy . . . er, Leah is really looking for. (Hint: There's no place like it.)
Along the way, we see weiqi on TV, on the street, in a club, at home. On TV, Master Sun (played by Asian Jimmy Smits clone Geng Li) teaches how to "attack from a distance." With an inevitability that Sidney Sheldon would love, the insight Leah gains enables her to turn the tables on the cad who jilted her, and jilt him right back. Catherine Kellner plays Leah with Sarah Jessica Parker-like insouciance.
Restless is the first English-language film made in modern Beijing, and the first US-China cooperative filmmaking venture. Don't look for any scathing indictments here, just a basically lighthearted look at some young people falling in and out of love in China while trying to "find" themselves. Watch for a nice subplot about Leah's Asian-American friend, a hunky bimbo delivering his grandfather's ashes who gets more than he bargained for in return.
It's a pleasure to see weiqi in an attractive setting, even without so much as a brief reference to the actual nature of the game. (An uninformed viewer could leave with the impression that weiqi is a "variation of chess," as The New York Times mistakenly reported.) Pi, the recent cult hit in which the monomaniacal main man discovers the secret of the universe on the go board, gave the game a lot of visibility, but didn't leave people wanting to learn more about it. Restless, on the other hand, is a film you can recommend to your friends on its merits, and after they see it they may well ask you some interesting questions about weiqi.
If you're looking for a truly great
film about weiqi, turn to The Go
Masters, the first (and thus far only)
joint venture between the Japanese and
Chinese film industries. If you can
find this out-of-print 1982 sprawling
saga of World War II and the Japanese
invasion of China, you are in for a
once-in-a lifetime treat. Think of it
as Go With the Wind. If you find a
copy, let me know.
This slim little book is based on material presented by Mr. Yang during a recent "Yang workshop" in New Jersey. It is available via the Wings Across Calm Water Go Club web site. The book consists of two parts, the first illustrating important concepts and techniques necessary for creating sabaki (a flexible, light position) and the second a review of essential sabaki guidelines followed by sample problems and solutions.
an extremely slim volume for such a
huge subject. Nevertheless, it should
prove a useful addition to many
player's go library. With so many books
on various aspects of go now available,
it is truly astonishing that this is
the first book ever to be devoted
solely to the subject of making sabaki
(at least in English). Not only does
this book provide the reader with a
clear analytical framework for
assessing sabaki situations, it
introduces a number of important
concepts not well discussed elsewhere.
Even with this book, there is still a
huge hole in the literature for one of
the major publishers of go books to
develop a much larger treatment on the
topic with many more examples and
practice problems. In the meantime,
this seminal volume should enjoy a wide
readership. The last time that John
Stephenson transcribed material from
one of Mr. Yang's lectures, (How to
Destroy and Preserve, 2000), it rapidly
disappeared from print. This book is
even better and more useful than the
prolific teacher, author, and regular
attendee of the US Go Congress, Mr.
Yang is well known to the American go
scene. “Sabaki” is based on
lectures given by Mr. Yang during one
of the annual 4-day intensive workshops
held each June by the Wings Across Calm
Water Go Club. For those familiar with
Mr. Yang’s other excellent works
(such as the Whole Board Thinking in
Joseki series and his Ingenious Life
and Death Puzzle series), this little
tome will get right to the heart of the
topic. In section 1, Mr. Yang begins by
discussing the importance of managing
weak stones. He presents the reader
with a series of questions to help
evaluate weak stones and decide which
course of action is appropriate. The
following 78 diagrams and explanations
illustrate the principles of sabaki in
real-game context, with examples of
good, bad, and
“insufficient” play to show
when to run, live quickly, or
sacrifice. The remainder of the book
covers practice problems, beginning
with six sabaki guidelines, followed by
12 “black to play”
half-board problems. While sabaki is
important to all levels, this material
presented will be most accessible to
mid-kyu through dan level players.
Higher kyu players can benefit if they
approach the book as a tool to help
improve their overall judgment relative
to handling of weak stones, rather than
getting bogged down in some of the more
“Sabaki” is available as a
limited numbered first printing for
$12.75 per copy plus $2.25 per order.
Orders can be placed online using
PayPal / creditcard from the Wings
Across Calm Water Go Club website at:
http://www.wingsgoclub.org/ , by going
to the section on books. Checks can
also be sent directly to John C.
Stephenson, 446 Lincoln Ave., Wyckoff,
The ads for the play "Split" promise
that "The breakup of the 'perfect
couple' stuns and unsettles their
immediate circle of friends. Toss in
one overly complicated Japanese game, a
couple of married swingers and a few
obscure frog references and what you
have is a serious comedy about life's
Weaker players often think of tesuji as the killing moves stronger players make against them. Yet often tesuji (strongest local moves) result in no killing at all and can have profound whole-board relevance. Sakata Eio's book, while loaded with death, shows that implementing a tesuji can also mean getting to live in sente, or giving up stones in return for unconquerable influence, or turning an awful situation into a slightly less awful situation.
There are three reasons this book is a valuable learning tool. First, each of the more than 60 problems is accompanied by not only the correct solution but also by the incorrect solutions (anti-suji), as well as detailed explanations. Second, some problems arise from joseki or deviations from joseki and, where applicable, Sakata shows how the problem developed. Third, in many cases the problems build off each other. A certain problem may be almost identical to a prior problem with, say, an extra stone. Sakata shows how such subtle differences on the board can dramatically affect one's ability to employ a tesuji.
The presentation style of the book
gives the reader more than just an
ability to recognize a tesuji in a
contrived example. One learns to
recognize the rationale behind the
tesuji and not simply the tesuji
itself; a rationale that can be applied
to much more than just the 60 examples
in Sakata's great book.
One of the Kiseido's "Elementary Go" series, "Tesuji" is divided into 16 chapters, each consisting of several sections focusing on one tesuji or technique. At the end of each section, there are several questions to answer and at the end of each chapter there are review questions on the whole. The final chapter poses a series of challenging problems, all with answers and some with more than one variation. The book is very easy to follow, with clear diagrams covering more than 50 tesuji. While some are fairly easy, some are very challenging. I read this book when I was 14k, and there are chapters where I can answer all of their questions, but there are a few chapters where I only can answer half of the questions. "Tesuji" will improve your strength by at least one to two stones if you are a low or middle kyu player, although players of all strengths will benefit from reading it. Available at http://www.kiseido.com/
Tesuji Made Easy is computer software with a huge collection of go problems (2440), illustrating a diverse range of technique in subcategories such as ko, shape, sacrifice, reducing or extending liberties, and sabaki, under six main themes: Life (425), Death (618), Attack (259), Defense (325), Capturing Races (217), and Endgame (596).
About 30-40% of the problems are from classic texts, mainly "Guan-Zhi-Pu". They are graded from 1 to 5 stars in difficulty, with most between 3 and 5 stars, too difficult for low kyu players. You set the number of guesses you allow yourself for a problem, and your rank is then adjusted depending on whether or not you solve it. The quantity and quality of illustrated variations vary greatly. For some problems there are few or none.
The shortcomings of the program itself are extensive. By far the most serious is the inability to place stones to explore variations. No analysis is possible, if the move is not in the database a 'Lost!' dialog box appears and the problem resets. You can't take back or undo a move, or reset a problem. You need to switch to another problem and come back.
The program is slow, taking several seconds to switch between problems on a 486-100 with Windows 98. If you change problems while the program is illustrating a variation it will hang. A distracting red square appears on the star-point to allow cursor key entry, and almost always covers one of the stones in the problem. It can be moved but not taken off the board altogether. The 'number of guesses' option is off by one (if you put 2, you will get 1).
The grading feature doesn't function properly. After solving only one or two problems the software will promote you. It keeps promoting you for resolving the same problem, which you may easily find yourself doing if you look at problems more than once. If you want to restart the ranking you need to edit the score file, which causes runtime errors. Each problem is identified by either 'have solved', 'not solved', or 'wrong answer', but are misidentified even when the program is first installed. A DOS-era style program window that won't fit at 640x480 resolution and won't fill to 800x600, a unique Pokemon-like picture associated with each rank that can't be removed, and corny sound events round out the amateurish presentation. There are also some errors in the variations. In a subvariation of Problem 1, 'Capturing Stones/Destroy Opponent's Eye Shape', Black puts his whole group into atari instead of starting a ko, while in Problem 5 of 'Endgame Moves/Invade', White appears to needlessly connect after blocking the monkey jump.
The bottom line is that this program
really seems to still be in beta.
Nevertheless, if all you want is for it
to display a Go problem and the correct
solution, you will probably be happy,
anything else and it will be
disappointing. Beginners less than 10
kyu will definitely want to give this
one a wide berth, picking up books like
Tesuji, Life and Death, Attack and
Defense, and Endgame from the
Elementary Go Series to cover the same
ground at a challenging level for about
the same price. High kyu and dan
players may be willing to tolerate the
program's shortcomings to have access
to such a large number of classic
problems, but will have to resign
themselves to setting up many problems
on the board.
Ma's interesting book explores the resemblance between warfare and go tactics and strategies, based on the ancient Sanshiliu Ji [The Thirty-six Stratagems]. The stratagems, structured in six sets of six schemes each, are illustrated in the same number of brilliantly selected and commented games. Briefly explaining the meaning of the military stratagem, Ma continues by presenting a selected game that illustrates a similar go tactic, accompanied of course by thorough strategic and tactical analysis and explanation. Although the traditional maxims of go cover the tactics and strategies of the game, this book succeeds in bringing a completely unique and new approach that might be closer to our thinking and is one of the most entertaining go books I have read. In addition to learning a lot, it's also a real pleasure to read.
This book stunningly presents 50 games from top Japanese title matches and top international competition. All the analysis and variations in these books are by top professionals.
Unlike the dry commentary sometimes found in other books, "Tournament Go" book brings the games to life with descriptions by both the players and high-ranking observers. This book spreads out the game and includes many variations, doing full justice to the games.
Matches include: Cho Chikun's
incredible fight-back for a three game
deficit, Kobayashi Koichi and Otake's
struggle in the Meijin, and a fierce
clash between Shuko and Kobayashi
Koichi in the Oza. "Tournament Go" also
contains Lee Chang-ho's defeat of Rin
Kaiho to become the first teenage world
champion. All players above beginner
will find this book useful but stronger
players will find more even "gems" in
this magnificent book.
This classic is a treasure chest of stories, game commentaries and problems by the well-known Japanese pro (5-Dan at the time of publication, now 6-Dan), prolific writer of go books for himself and for many famous professionals, and peripatetic teacher.
John Power and Richard Dolen translated the material in this book from the original Japanese. There are seven essays regaling us with stories of historic episodes in Japanese go, tidbits of go culture, and the life of Japanese professional players. For example, there is the story of a life-and-death problem that perplexed strong professionals but was easily solved by an amateur 9-kyu player. Then there is the essay on how one can become stronger by learning how to resign at the right time. The book is graced by the inclusion of haiku poems which Mr. Nakayama's father, a noted haiku poet, wrote when shown the essays.
There are also three very detailed commentaries on fascinating professional games, in which we can share the atmosphere in which the game took place as well as the character of the players. Finally, the book concludes with 20 wonderful whole-board problems with solutions, including several of Mr. Nakayama's trademark long ladder problems and finishing with one by the great Dosaku (or perhaps his disciple Inseki, Meijin) in which Black captures 72 stones but can't make two eyes. This is not an instructional book, but you will probably read it more times than any other go book in your library. Reading and savoring it will immensely increase your pleasure in playing go. Many of us thank our lucky stars that we could buy a copy from Mr. Nakayama himself at a go congress, or from Ishi Press, which sold them for a while.
Currently, availability is limited,
since the book is out of print.
Yutopian www.yutopian.com advertises
copies for sale at $60.00. The website
lists a copy for sale autographed by
the author, for $50.00 (look under the
heading Japanalia 5: Books about Japan
(in English)). Finally, Amazon.com will
look for a used copy, quoting a price
estimate of $27.50. Speaking for
myself, the book is cheap at twice
Often I play over a recorded game between strong players, but the thoughts of the masters are not terribly accessible to a go apprentice like me. I want one of the players to magically appear and explain some of the mysteries to me.
The folks at Slate & Shell must understand my dream. A main goal of theirs is publishing good material to help kyu level players improve. Yuan Zhou's excellent book is subtitled "an AGA 7-dan explains some of his games." His annotations of the seven games in this book are both copious and accessible.
Zhou describes the thoughts behind both strategy and tactics. He tells why the big points are big points. He points out the trick moves. He makes it clear when and why he varies from conventional lines of play. Really nice are the many sidebar diagrams that show alternative ways of playing or the consequences of blindly following reflex moves.
Playing through these games has
helped me a lot. Even if I knew a
concept, the author's clear manner of
expression reinforced the lesson. I
imagine the revelation of Zhou's
thought processes would be interesting
to dan as well as kyu players.
The first time I approached this
book, I knocked at the gate of learning
and was turned away. A year later,
after reading a column called "A Taste
for Thicknesss" in some old Go Worlds,
I realized how painfully sketchy was my
understanding of this fundamental way
of thinking. Returning to Utilizing
Outward Influence was a logical
Diagrams -- large, clear, easy-to-read diagrams -- occupy two-thirds of the page surface within this book. The text is also clear and easily read. With too many go books I find myself paging back and forth, wading through digressions embedded within a discussion of technique, and left with cryptic evaluations of alternative lines of play. Go Siegen (and the translator and the layout artist) have done an excellent job of avoiding these traps.
The material comes from Go Siegen's study group over the years 1994-1997. The master takes as his starting point standard joseki, then he infuses them with new ideas and best play as he sees it for both sides. He examines everything from the whole board perspective (so you see at least four joseki unfolding). This way of thinking is absolutely vital to his analysis. As a beginner, I am hungry for teaching that relates the whole board to the lesson at hand. Go Siegen provides that nourishment.
Perhaps most valuable are the many diagrams detailing alternative lines of play. The author not only shows the plays, he talks about their rationale and why white or black rejected them. Learning from mistakes is as old a school as exists. Comparing in diagram form the right way and the wrong way(s) is highly educational.
A Way of Play for the 21st Century
repays careful study with many fresh
"If you put too much stress on
winning and losing you won't last.
You'll burn out. You can only make the
best play you can make at any time.
That's all you can control."
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Last updated on October 5, 2004