American Go E-Journal » Tools: books, software & hardware

TUTTLE PUBLISHES BOZULICH’S “WINNING GO”

Saturday October 9, 2010

Tuttle, the mainstream publisher of three books on go by Peter Shotwell, has added another title, but this time, he is only the co-author, while the principal author is none other than Richard Bozulich, the architect of the Kiseido catalog. Winning Go, like his Kisedo publications, is a problem book. But whereas other problem books usually focus on a a single subject — joseki, tesuji, life-and-death — Winning Go gives us a little of everything. Problems from all aspects of the game are organized into one book, designed to help kyu-level players discover their strengths and weaknesses, with suggestions for further study. Personally, I prefer the Kiseido format, where several problems appear on one page, and you turn the page to see the answers. Here the answers appear below the problems–cheaters beware! If you have made it solidly into the SDK range, you should easily solve most of the problems; but it’s a unique resource for advanced beginners. I’ve been playing a friend some nine-stone games, and I’m putting it on his Christmas list. — reported by Roy Laird

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NEW GO GAME VIEWER DEVELOPED

Monday October 4, 2010

Neil Moffatt reports that he’s developed an “HTML5 canvas based go game viewer and rudimentary editor.” Says Moffat, Secretary of the Cardiff Go Club in Wales, UK, “It embraces ideas such as access to key moments in games via a list of clickable position descriptions, and a list of alternative move sequences by description.” The site includes games for beginners, josekis, “guess the next move” and game commentaries. In most games, a list of key game positions is presented. Click on ‘Black has now created a large moyo’, for example, and you will be taken you to that exact board position. Moffatt adds that “The site as it stands is in essence a kind of go blog, but it may develop beyond this” and notes that it does not work with Internet Explorer. “It may or may not be palatable to a large audience,” he says, “The user testing to date seem to be relatively happy with it.” Click here to check it out and let Moffatt know what you think at moffatt.neil@gmail.com

NEW IN PRINT 2010 (PART III): Six More Important New Works

Monday September 20, 2010

First off,  Slate and Shell added three more important titles to their catalog this year. Magic On The First Line is a compendium of eponymous oddities that only the great Nakayama could have come up with. In Understanding Dan Level Play, Yuan Zhou 7d continues his popular “Understanding . . . ” series by analyzing his own games as the US representative in the 2009 Korea Prime Minister’s Cup. And with New Moves, Slate and Shell adds an important new author to its roster — Alexander Dinerchtein, a 3P in the Korean system, better known as “breakfast” on KGS. By “new moves”, the author seems to mean trick plays. Dinerchtein charges $3-$5 per trick on his hamete.net site — by that measure, 25 plays for $18 is quite a bargain.

The burgeoning Korean English-language publishing industry has produced a full thirty titles titles in the past few years, all of which are available from Yutopian.  Now comes the first extended attempt to discuss haengma, a Korean construct that is difficult to translate, but has something to do with the natural flow of the game. Janice Kim called it “The Way of The Moving Horse.” This Is Haengma by Sung-rae Kim and Sung Ki-Chang, and Master of Haengma Sung-ho Beck, try to explain this elusive way of understanding the game. And the Korean titles keep on coming.

I’m on Yutopian’s “send-me-everything-as-soon-as-the-ink-dries” list, so a few weeks after the Congress, I got my copy of 21st Century New Openings, Volume 2, also by Sung-rae Kim. It’s so new it’s not even listed on the Yutopian site  yet, but it looks good. Kim continues his discussion of modern changes in opening strategy, with extensive discussion of the mini-Chinese opening and others.  Now that komi is 7.5 points, some pros feel that Black has to play more aggressively, making many of the established openings obsolete. This series is some of the fruit of that thinking. Possibly a must for the serious competitor.  To see a comprehensive annotated list of go books in English click here.
- Roy Laird

THE RETURN OF BADUKBOOKS

Monday September 13, 2010

Alexandra Urban’s Badukbooks is back in business. Badukbooks specializes in a veritable treasure trove of Korean go books, many never seen – or very hard to find – in the West. A wide range of material, from the Baduk Nara book series for beginners to life and death books – choose from the just-published Hye-Yeon’s Creative Life & Death I, the 4-volume Sahwal series or the 20-volume Classic Life & Death collection – to Lee Chang-ho’s 2-volume “Brilliantly Beautiful Endgame,” and the “New Moves, New Shapes” yearbooks from 1999 and 2000. Though many of the books are in Korean, some are in English, and each are clearly marked on the site. After a year-long hiatus, Urban says she’s back in Korea “this time at least for 3 years,” and is willing to try to track down any Korean go book Western players are interested in.

NEW IN PRINT 2010 (PART II): A Beginner’s Bonanza

Monday September 6, 2010

by Roy Laird
The past year has produced a notable bumper crop of books for beginners and newer players — the so-called DDK (double-digit kyu) range. Jonathan Hop, a 3D amateur, published So You Want To Play Go?, a three-volume series that aims to give the reader the knowledge to improve ten ranks per book; if it works, at the end you’ll be ready to aim at shodan. Click Volume One, Volume Two and Volume Three to learn more about each book. 21st Century Baduk for Beginners is the latest offering from Sung-rae Kim, the author of several other works in the growing number of English-language works from Korean publishers. Some of these early efforts suffered somewhat from clumsy English, but Diana Koszegi 3P helped with this translation, suiting it more fully to the idioms of the English language. Finally, we note the publication of Go Made Easy by Sam Sloan. Sloan, better known as the last non-lawyer to argue before the Supreme Court, and for suing the US Chess Federation, has also written beginner’s books and DVDs on chess, shogi, Chinese chess and poker, while also delving into more, um, unusual subjects. Visit his home page for more information. All the new beginner books are available from Yutopian.
Next week: Six More Important New Works

EYES OF WOOD, HANDS OF STONE, HEART OF PAPER

Sunday August 29, 2010

To play go,” writes programmer Reg Braithwaite, “one needs a huge amount of humility and patience. At first I thought I lacked these qualities, but then a funny thing happened: I purchased my first-ever mountain bike. In cycling, I receive regular positive feedback. I can measure my improvement with little things like occasionally feeling myself hit the balance point when working on a ‘1/2-1/4 to manual wheelie drop.’ Or popping the front wheel up onto a bench and driving the rear wheel up and under me. In go, I received no such affirmation. I play, I lose, and games are too long to be able to identify the specific mistakes without extensive personal coaching. I simply don’t know whether I am succeeding or failing when I make a move unless it’s a spectacular blunder.” Click here for the rest of Braithwaite’s thoughts on go, bikes and learning in Eyes of Wood, Hands of Stone, Heart of Paper, including Wood & Stones, his program to turn your iPad into a go board for playing face to face.
- thanks to Steve Colburn for passing this along

NEW IN PRINT 2010 (PART 1): Classic Games

Saturday August 28, 2010

by Roy Laird
Strolling through the vendor area at this year’s U.S. Go Congress, I realized that it’s time for some updates on what’s happening recently in the small but active world of go publishing. Watch for posts over the next few weeks and feel free to email me with suggestions of 2010 go books I should mention.

The first thing I noticed was that it’s been a busy year for GoGoD co-author John Fairbairn, who has embarked on an ambitious project with his publisher, Slate and Shell: a series of books on the ten-game matches Go Seigen played when he was at the top of the go world. Drawing on multiple original sources, each book provides extensive historical material, and integrates game commentary from a variety of sources.   Kamakura, covering Go’s first matchup during WW II with Kitani Minoru, came out last spring. It was followed by Final Summit, describing the last jubango, against Takagawa Shukaku in 1955-56. Then came 9-Dan Showdown, focusing on two ten-game matches and two shorter encounters with with Fuijisawa Kuranosuke (later Fujisawa Hosai), one of the great players of the 1940′s and 1950′s. In a change of pace, Fairbairn also translated The Go Consultants, in which Kitani and Seigen team up against Segoe Kensaku and Suzuki Tamjiro for a “consultation game.” Inspired by a similar practice among Western chess masters, in a “consultation game” the two-player teams discuss the game while it is in progress.  Stay tuned — more exciting titles are on the way!
Next week: A Beginner’s Bonanza

IGOLOCAL, GROWING RAPIDLY, YET TO HIT CRITICAL MASS

Thursday August 26, 2010

Barely a month after launching, IgoLocal already has more than a thousand users. IgoLocal enables players to find and contact each other, and there are now 1131 users in 62 countries, with 449 of those in North America and 570 in Europe. The network is growing at 35 new members each day, reports founder Chuck Thomas, “and that number is trending upwards.” Users “are still figuring out how to use the system to the best benefit of their communities,” says Thomas. “1,100 users may sound like a lot of go players, but it’s actually an absurdly tiny number when spread throughout the entire planet.” Thomas says he can “easily envision a quarter million users on this system,” and says that “At the current rate, it may be another two months before we begin to reach critical mass.  This is fine – the users who are already on the system are able to go about their business, and one day they’ll receive a PM or even a game challenge from a previously-unknown rival, who is well matched to their rank.” Thomas points out that “Igolocal keeps working for you even if you forget about it for a while,” and admits that “Even I have only the faintest idea what the end result will be. This has never been done before.” Two hundred of the IgoLocal users are dan-level or stronger and two professionals are also registered, Jennie Shen 2p in Santa Barbara, and An Young-gil 8p in Sydney, Australia. The site supports six languages, English, French, German, Dutch, Russian and Japanese, and volunteers are now working on Italian, Polish and Chinese translations.

KISEIDO OFFERS VOLUMES OF PROBLEMS

Monday August 23, 2010

There’s theory and there’s practice. In go, practice means studying problems. Kiseido is five volumes into an ambitious seven-volume series of problem books for dan-level players originally published in Japanese by the Japan Go Association. Now available: Graded Go Problems for Dan Players; 300 Life-and-Death Problems, 5-kyu to 3-dan; 300 Tesuji Problems, 5-kyu to 3-dan; 300 Joseki Problems, 1-dan to 3-dan; 256 Opening and Middle Game Problems, 1-dan to 7-dan. These problems are designed to develop your intuition and to provide exercises for developing your ability to analyze positions deeply and accurately. “These are not problems that you can skim through in a couple of days,” Kiseido warns. “Each problem requires serious thought to obtain the maximum benefit.” Click here for details and to order.

SHOTWELL’S UPDATES ON GO HISTORY & STATS

Monday August 23, 2010

Peter Shotwell, author of Go! More Than a Game, has published two articles based on subjects in the upcoming update of his book to the AGA’s Bob High library. The first [PDF] is a look at his re-dating and re-interpretation of early Confucian thoughts on go, and the second article [PDF] covers some research done on the statistical properties of go games by Dr. John Tromp.  Traditionally, the Confucian ideas about go have been thought to be quite negative, but Shotwell took account of the fact they were actually written in a small area in northeastern China over a period of only about 50 years in the late 3rd to early 2nd centuries B.C.E, (instead of the usually-thought “hundreds of years”). When the full contexts were looked at, he found that the writers were clearly using go only to aid their comments on their evolving attitudes about filial piety, and that the only aspect of the game they disapproved of was fanatical play to the detriment of moral duties.  The last Confucian go writing appeared c. 260 B.C.E. and it was only 120 years later, after the Warring States period had ended and peace was restored, that writings with high praise for go (indicating a great increase in skill) appeared and the earliest game board was found. The second article, which includes an interview of Dr. Tromp, notes his incredible figures for the longest possible go game (longer than the universe might last), compares the vast numbers of possible positions for chess and go (like comparing the nucleus of an atom to the size of the universe), and the total number of possible games (for example, there are 386+ billion for 2×2 boards).  Shotwell gave a presentation at the recent U.S. Go Congress looking at both of these topics and some others that will appear in the update to his book.
- Jake Edge