The 2005 Go Player's Holiday Gift Guide
You see them in every publication these days: gift guides. There are gift guides for techies, fitness enthusiasts, corporate executives, fashion victims ... the list goes on and on.
But I haven't yet seen a gift guide for Go players, ... so I decided to try starting one of my own.
For 2005, I'm focusing on books for beginners. These are taken from the titles that I know best and, for the most part, have already read. Give the URL for this post to someone who's in a position to play Santa to you. Feel free to add other suggestions to this list in the comments.
Note: I (unfortunately) get no royalties or special treatment from any of these vendors for endorsing their books. These recommendations are my own independent assessments that I made on my way up to 20 Kyu.
For The Absolute Beginner
Available from Samarkand
For those just starting out, Janice Kim's Learn To Play Go, Vol.1 stands out as one the best (if not the best) introductory book to Go. Its contents are well-structured and easy-to-understand. Exercises at the end of each section test your understanding of rules, basic strategy and basic tactics. This was the book that Chiyo-Chan and I started out with; playing in one of the lounges of the MGM Grand Hotel while on a family vacation in Las Vegas.
The book includes cardstock 19x19, 13x13, and 9x9 boards as well as cardstock stones. These will allow you to get started even before you get your first goban.
For Those Who Are Past Introductory Books
If I knew back in late June what I know now, I would have bought these three elementary-to-intermediate books after reading Volume 1 of Learn To Play Go.
Haruyama Isamu and Nagahara Yoshiaki have put together an excellent post-introductory book which I like a little better than The Second Book of Go. It therefore gets my gift recommendation here. The six chapters of Basic Techniques of Go cover tesuji, fuseki, 4-9 stone handicap games, handicap fuseki, handicap joseki and yose. The 3rd edition was rewritten to minimize the use of Japanese terms.
I had done Kyu Reviews on both Opening Theory Made Easy and The Nihon Ki-in Handbook of Proverbs. Those of you who had read the reviews know that I gave both of these books a rating of five out of five. They should give you a strong power-up to your game.
This stuff isn't supposed to be beginners' material, but what player wouldn't want to have analyzed games of Shusaku and Go Seigen to study in their quest for shodan? It would be hard to find anyone among us who wouldn't want to have either book on-hand in their library.
Invincible, is a rather large Go book and it contains 143 of Shusaku's games (80 of which are commented on by 9-dan professionals). To the best of my knowledge, it is the only major compendium of his games that is in English.
A Way of Play for the 21st Century, which I once quoted from, was compiled from Go Seigen's lectures on the Go program, Igo Koza, which were broadcast by NHK from October 1996 to March 1997.
Surprisingly, the writing of these two books is quite accessible (particularly that from Go Seigen's) and even lower kyu players may get some snippets of wisdom to strengthen their games.
Give Them Lots of Problems
Reading is the muscle of Go. We've heard that many times and we've all heard that the best way to flex that muscle is by solving Go problems. Kiseido has four books to help test and develop your reading abilities; grouped according to level of difficulty.
- 30-25 Kyu
- 25-15 Kyu
- 15-8 Kyu
- 8-3 Kyu
Available from Kiseido