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

Go Review: Monkey Jump Workshop

Monday December 1, 2008

by Phil Waldron
The first encounter with a monkey jump is an intimidating and frustrating experience. In an instant, once promising territories vanish and three-eyed groups become corpses. Most players learn to deal with the monkey jump by trial and error, but all too often they obtain only passing familiarity. For those looking for true mastery of the technique, a big jump comes with Richard Hunter’s “Monkey Jump Workshop.” Sensibly enough, Monkey Jump Workshop begins with the monkey jump at its simplest: a basic reduction against a solid territory. The standard counter-moves are analyzed before considering how things change when the surrounding position is altered. Even subtle differences can be important, and this chapter illustrates this point admirably. All of the important considerations are presented with elegant examples without getting bogged down by details. Coverage continues with the monkey jump in the context of life-and-death situations and ends with a presentation of several professional games in which the monkey jump appears. Distributed throughout is an impressive collection of monkey-jump problems, both of the yose and life-and-death variety. If all this seems like a lot of material to cover in a single book, it is, and the coverage is somewhat uneven. I was particularly impressed by the treatment of the monkey jump as an endgame move, while the chapter on the monkey jump in professional play is presented as a series of uncommented game diagrams that feels like filler material. Part of the difficulty seems due to the origins of the book; the chapters began as a series of stand-alone articles in the British Go Journal, and as a consequence are generally well-organized individually but do not flow together and mesh poorly with the supplementary material added later. This also limits the book’s value as a reference text, which is unfortunate given both the quantity and quality of material contained. Although it needs a good editing job, the Monkey Jump Workshop is a worthwhile addition to the go collection of a kyu-level player. The book is by far the most comprehensive treatment of the topic available in English and contains all the information necessary to become a master of the technique. Monkey Jump Workshop is available from Slate and Shell Publishing.


Discounted GoGoD Offer

Monday December 1, 2008

“Prepared to do its bit for the credit crunch,” GoGoD is offering a discount on the upcoming new Winter 2008 edition, reports T Mark Hall. “Our normal prices, for a single issue, or for an issue now and one more up to a year later, are respectively 20 and 25 pounds Sterling (30 and 35 Euros, or 40 and 50 US dollars),” says Hall. “For a limited period up to December 8, we are making those respective prices 15 and 20 pounds Sterling, 25 and 30 Euros and 30 and 40 US dollars.” GoGoD now includes a database of almost 55,000 games, database software, and a large encyclopedia, “We estimate that this gives you the equivalent of almost 200 books,” adds Hall, who notes that GoGoD prices include airmail postage. Paypal payments accepted; email Hall at or chat with him (Tmark) on KGS.


New Tools For Teachers

Monday November 24, 2008

A set of 200 Go Puzzles for Beginners, Oliver Richman’s River Mountain Go Curriculum and Go For Kids author Milton Bradley’s new Improve Fast In Go website are among several new materials The American Go Foundation is making available to go teachers on the AGA’s Methods page, where numerous other curricula and materials are already available. The AGF recently learned of the existence of the Go Puzzles, developed by Paul Smith for the British Go Association, which also publishes numerous materials for teachers. The new links expand the range of materials for use in a classroom or after-school setting. “The AGF is doing more than ever to support go in the classroom and in after-school settings,” says AGF Board member Roy Laird. “More than 70 active go teachers responded to our recent annual program survey, exactly double the number that responded last year. Among them they’re reaching a total of nearly 1000 new players this year. We hope these materials and other new AGF programs, like our new Teacher Store, will help them to do even more. They are leading the way to our next generation of players.” Photo: Six-year-olds play go on a hand-made go board at the Peninsula School, a progressive school in Menlo Park, CA; photo by Christopher Manning.


New Go Mag Launched

Monday November 17, 2008

A popular social room on KGS has now branched out into a slick online publication. Founded in November 2007 by Eric Dunham of Avon, Minnesota, The Enclave room on KGS quickly grew to be the single largest social room on KGS outside of Computer Go. “As the numbers grew, so did my ambition,” Dunham says in the first edition of The Enclave, which is subtitled “A Premium English Language Go Magazine” and was produced earlier this month. The 38-page magazine — available only as an easily downloadable PDF — is indeed impressive in both scope and production, featuring a fascinating range of go material, including a very interesting interview with Alexander Dinerchtein 3P and an article about the latest developments in go-playing computer programs. Other articles in the premiere edition include a lesson for beginners, a first-hand report from the Norwegian Go Championships and life and death problems. With high production values, excellent pictures and well-edited text, The Enclave is a welcome addition to the small but growing world of English-language go publications. Dunham hopes to continue publication of The Enclave as a free bi-monthly publication with instructional material, game commentaries, articles and reports about the game.


iPhone Go Apps

Monday November 10, 2008

“There are now 4 iPhone apps relating to go on the App Store,” reports Berlin-based Chuck Smith. “Your readers might be interested in a quick summary of them,” he says, adding “Full disclosure: I’m the developer of Go Player.”

Stones (free): Play Go with someone next to you. Drag stones from two beautiful Go bowls onto the board. Click here.

Tetsuki (free): Play or watch Go on the Internet Go Server (IGS). Click here.

SmartGo touch ($9.99): A full rich-study experience full of options especially suited to stronger players. Click here.

Go Player ($3.99): Geared more toward casual players, randomly chooses from over a thousand games to show which one can either play at a quick pace or slow down and play through move by move by tapping anywhere on the board. Click here.