Do Not Pass Go
August 2, 2004 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I'd like advice about how to begin learning how to play the game of go--I'm specifically thinking of recommended introductory texts for the absolute beginner, but anything else useful you have to say is welcome.
posted by Prospero to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You will probably find this article at kuro5hin and its ensuing discussion useful.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:53 AM on August 2, 2004

Prospero, I too have been teaching myself the game. There are numerous sources online to draw from, including regular online games with others worldwide. You'll have no trouble finding stuff.

As for books, any book is good at the beginning. Most get deep into strategy and positioning (especially those colorful thin ones I cant recall the name of), but the only way to really learn is to play play play.

Let me know if you want to meet online for a game sometime...
posted by Dantien at 11:55 AM on August 2, 2004

What do you all who know what you're talking about think of the Many Faces of Go software? I've thought about buying it, and enjoyed the free download (which regularly beats me).

If the MFG had good guidance as to why a move was stupid, that might make it feel like a more worthwhile investment.
posted by jasper411 at 12:12 PM on August 2, 2004

on the other hand, if mfg could give explanations for its moves that were simple enough for you to understand, it wouldn't play very good go.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:22 PM on August 2, 2004

I have the book Go (Teach Yourself) and I found it very informative, the many pictures make it a lot more useful than all of the web sites I've found so far. The other component to getting good at Go is to go on Yahoo and get your ass kicked over and over and over.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:24 PM on August 2, 2004

When I first learned to play, I grabbed the only book that the local Borders had which I can't even remember the name of. I learned the basic rules from there, and the rest of my (admittedly meager) Go education has come online. Almost entirely from this site. I haven't played in a while now, but I'd also be up for an online game if anyone is interested.
posted by Inkoate at 12:30 PM on August 2, 2004

There is no resource that I can recommend more highly than the Dragon Go Server. Online correspondence games with opponents from all over the world and a wide range of skill levels. Plus a built-in ranking system, so you can trace your progress.

I find correspondence games a better way to learn that live games for a few reasons:
1. It's easier to make the time to play. You don't need a few hours free: you look at your game and make a move during any five-minute lull in the workday.
2. Since there's no pressure to make a move quickly, you'll find yourself considering your moves and analysing your position much more carefully, which means that you'll learn more with each move.
3. It gives you the opportunity to play several games simultaneously, which means you'll see a wider cross-section of positions and playing styles. It's also good for motivation: even if you're getting your ass kicked in one game, you'll have other games that remain close and exciting.

Don't spend too much time reading books or websites. Though these are a good way to learn the rules and some very basic strategy, you won't be able to appreciate more complex strategy discussions without some playing experience. The best way to learn is to play, play, play!

My Dragon Go Server user name is "noah". Go ahead and contact me for a match once you're signed up. I'm still pretty much a beginner myself.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:44 PM on August 2, 2004

Other pluses for the DGS, while I'm thinking of it:

-If you're looking at your game at the same time as your opponent, moves can be made in more-or-less real time, so there's not necessarily the delay associated with correspondence games.
-There's a comment feature, and you can invite a more experienced opponent to comment on your moves. A lot of the people there are very helpful.
-It's free!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:49 PM on August 2, 2004

Tel's Go Notes is a good very basic introduction. A great way to learn and have fun while doing it is to watch the Hikaru No Go anime. It is 75 episodes long (without the specials) and after every episode they have something called Go Go Igo! where they first teach the rules of go and then go over basic positions. The anime is great and will make anyone who watches eager to play go.
posted by Hypharse at 1:20 PM on August 2, 2004

Kawabata's Master of Go is a play by play account (in the form of a novel) of a famous match in 1938. It is not a how-to for beginners learning the game, but it is full of layperson-accessible information about the game's challenge, history, and strategy.
posted by scarabic at 1:45 PM on August 2, 2004

wow noah, 5-1

pretty good record. i've never played before but would be up for a game some time.
posted by jacobsee at 2:16 PM on August 2, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the links, people.

By the way, off the link at kuro5hin above, I found this interactive tutorial that taught me the essentials in about two hours. And for Mac OS X users, this piece of freeware seems to play pretty well: well enough to beat me handily, at any rate.
posted by Prospero at 5:47 AM on August 3, 2004

The Graded Go Problems series is very good. Igowin is good, but the 19x19 versions aren't very challenging. Sensei's Library (which Inkoate also pointed out) is one of the best wikis around, Go or otherwise.

Also, playing OTB (over the board) is more fun.

Remember, "Lose your first 100 games quickly." (Go proverb.)
posted by callmejay at 9:37 AM on August 3, 2004

the other component to getting good at Go is to go on Yahoo and get your ass kicked over and over and over.

Ah. So it's like nethack.
posted by namespan at 6:36 PM on August 13, 2004 is fab. work through the korean problems and you're cool as a cucumber.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:13 PM on August 16, 2004

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