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January 15, 2007 10:53 PM   Subscribe

What's a good beginning Go book?

Someday, I'd like to beat my dad at this game. (I'm a long way off, as I can't even beat GNU Go on a difficult setting of 4, so it's certainly not going to be the next time I visit.) I think my progress might be helped along by some reading, though. I can't tell what's good, so help me out.
posted by ignignokt to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I like the Janice Kim books.
posted by carterk at 11:00 PM on January 15, 2007

Best answer: I second the Kim book.

But to be honest, even though I haven't had the chance to play Go yet, this PDF from the American Go Association does explain the basics and does go a bit into strategy and some ancient proverbs to keep in mind while playing.

Thanks for reminding me too, I wanna get into Go myself but I've been putting it off.
posted by champthom at 11:09 PM on January 15, 2007

How many stones does he give you? When you're the weaker player, a multiple stone handicap doesn't really seem like much. It wasn't until I became a strong player and started giving away stones to other players that I finally realized just how much of an advantage they are. (And how hard they are to play against.)

As you rise, what you'll find is that each stone less will take you twice as long as the previous one did before you're ready to move up again.

I commend you on your drive to improve your game, but know that this is a very complicated and difficult game to master, and it could take you years to catch up with your dad. You may never do it.

However, one thing might help you a lot. I taught Go to a friend of mine, and he worked up to the point where I was giving him 5 stones. Then he stalled there. The problem was that like many beginners he concentrated exclusively on the tactical. I tried to tell him what he was doing wrong, but couldn't get through to him.

So I invited him to watch me play a game with another friend, a guy I played even. My other friend knew this was a learning experience for my student, so didn't mind when my student asked questions. Afterwards, my student said, "That was not at all what I expected." And he improved by one stone the next game he played against me.

Find a couple of players at about your dad's level, and watch them play a game or two. You'll learn a lot.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:30 PM on January 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Some sites with reviews and info about Go books you may find helpful: gobooks.nemir.org (here's their beginner recommendation), Robert Jasiek's Go Book Reviews at gobooks.info and Steve Fawthrop's reviews. I've also got a collection of links for improving at go on my site.

May I suggest getting some practise in on one of the online Go servers, KGS or IGS are the big ones. If possible review games with other players, this is a great way to learn more and get insight into things you may be missing (it's certainly helped my game). Also, seconding SCDB, watch games of signifcantly better players and you'll pick up all sorts of stuff you don't think about when you're concentrating on winning.
posted by MetaMonkey at 11:34 PM on January 15, 2007

Definitely this one. Also, the elementary go series from Kiseido Publishing (scroll down on this page, first book is K10) is very useful.
posted by ctmf at 11:52 PM on January 15, 2007

Also, seconding SCDB, watch games of signifcantly better players

Personally, I would amend this to "Watch games of slightly better players." Watching games too much above your current skill level won't teach you as much, because so much will go over your head.
posted by IvyMike at 11:54 PM on January 15, 2007

Best answer: Luke, use the power of the wiki:

Sensei's Library is a wiki-based, extensive collection of Go related information. It is filled with active and knowledgeable contributors. It has recommendations on books as well but, for a beginner in particular, they have some relevant material available online. Excellent starting pages:

Sensei's Library: Pages for Beginners
Sensei's Library: Beginner Study Section

A great introductory book that I refer back to frequently is Go: More Than a Game by Peter Shotwell, Huiren Yang, and Sangit Chatterjee.
posted by i blame your mother at 3:07 AM on January 16, 2007

Seconding Sensei's Library.
posted by sleevener at 6:23 AM on January 16, 2007

Seconding K31 The Second Book of Go by Richard Bozulich. By far the best beginner book I've read.
posted by gmarceau at 6:38 AM on January 16, 2007

The elementary Go series ctmf linked to is great. My two favorites in that series are Tesuji and Life and Death.

While In the Beginning and The Second Book of Go are both excellent, they spend a lot of time covering topics that are difficult for beginning players to grasp, specifically fuseki moves and positional judgement.

Study lots of life and death problems. This will help your game in many ways. You will gradually learn to read several moves ahead, you will learn how to make good and efficient shapes, and you will learn how to exploit your opponent's weaknesses.
posted by mauglir at 7:12 AM on January 16, 2007

Thirding both the Janice Kim books and Sensei's Library.
posted by dfan at 2:08 PM on January 16, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, thanks, guys. I'll look through these recommendations and make my choice.
posted by ignignokt at 3:58 PM on January 16, 2007

Response by poster: Oh, I realize I may never reach this goal. He gives me six stones right now.

Unfortunately, there's not that many players in the area and fewer 3rd kup or higher ones, so he doesn't play much, either.
posted by ignignokt at 4:05 PM on January 16, 2007

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