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 Post subject: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #1 Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:26 pm 
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38 basic josekis by Kiyoshi Kosugi and James Davies, the second installment in the brilliant elementary go series, though it is often overlooked. Only 38 Basic Josekis and The Endgame are not recommended on the go game guru recommended book list from the series.

I believe this book has been unfairly left on the shelf by many amateur players for a variety of reasons. My personal reason at first was because of the first book in the series In The Beginning. In The Beginning is a phenomenal go book that lays out the basics of the opening in a perfect manner. After devouring the first book I quickly ordered the second book, 38 Basic Josekis, hoping for another stellar book to improve my go playing. What we are met with is a book that is not nearly as engaging or story-like as In The Beginning. We have an odd hybrid of a book, one that is half reference, half lecture. I think most players may have flipped through it briefly and sometimes refer to it for some clarification on a joseki but quickly moved on to the third book of the series Tesuji as I did.

Some people might have not even purchased the book for a silly reason that I have seen many players adopt. The idea that learning joseki is not important because some pros or high ranked players made a similar off handed remark. The problem is that many people misinterpret what is meant when someone says that learning joseki is pointless or that pros try not to play joseki. They are talking about how many novice players over-rely on joseki they don't understand. This comes from not looking at the whole board nor understanding the direction of play. All joseki are useful in certain situations while erroneous in others. What one must do is to understand when a joseki should be played rather than just memorizing it and then blindly playing it. In Kageyama's Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go he essentially states that a player truly starts to become strong when he begins to properly use joseki.

38 Basic Josekis lays out the 38 most commonly used joseki in go. It is broken down into seven chapters that discuss one type of joseki, from joseki that start on the 3-3 point to the 4-5 point. Each section within a chapter discusses one joseki starting off with the basic framework and then moves on to its variations. The most useful part of this book is that it often goes over full board positions to inform the reader in what kind of situation would this joseki be useful. Furthermore the book allows novice players to see what kind of moves are natural and unnatural, good and bad, efficient and inefficient.

I believe that as a player is developing they should approach 38 Basic Josekis at least twice. The first time as merely a reference book and on the second time when they feel ready they should go through each joseki and learn it (not memorize it). What I have done for the past 38 days is that everyday I would complete one section, one joseki. Through this method of studying I now feel that I have a much better grip on joseki, as to when and when not to use them and even more importantly going through the book I better understand the natural moves of play.

I find this book to be appropriate for a wide range of ranks. For DDK this book can be merely a reference when you don't understand how a certain joseki works. Then when one reaches somewhere around the 8k level they can go through each joseki and study them. This book can be useful even for low dans because even at that rank players wouldn't know all of the joseki and their variations (all ranks based on the kgs ranking system).

I hope you have found this review helpful and that you will give 38 Basic Josekis a second look.


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Post #2 Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:40 pm 
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Subotai wrote:
I find this book to be appropriate for a wide range of ranks.
(all ranks based on the kgs ranking system).
Subotai, thanks for the review. May I ask what's your approx. level ? (in terms of KGS rating is OK)

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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #3 Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:18 pm 
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Thanks for the review, but this belongs in the Go Book Reviews subforum (viewforum.php?f=57). Can an admin move it there?

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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #4 Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:45 pm 
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Bah... Too many sub-forums to keep track of. And that one is a ghost town.

My problem with the book is that it could be called 38 Classic Josekis. That said, I agree with the reviewer's overall assessment.

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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #5 Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:05 pm 
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Greetings,
I think this is a very fair review and also agree with the point abo
ut joseki study being important.
I think a certain kind of hard working mentality can work doggedly through the book and that such an approach pays huge dividends. My own approach I cam up with through trial and error is somewhat different. I find the dictionary of 21st century joseki one of my fundamental learning tools. I play a lot of slower games on Dragongo and quite often consult these volumes between moves. Similarly, when reviewing faster games on KGS I identify typical mistakes and gradually eradicate them.
I find this approach more relevant to my needs and a lot more fun because it relates to a specific game I have invested thought and emotion in.
Best wishes,
Buri

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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #6 Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:08 pm 
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On KGS I am somewhere between 7-5k, I mainly play on wbaduk now though.

Yes 38 classic joseki could be a new name for the book as we have to remember that this book was written in the 70s. Even though the book is a little dated it by no means that it isn't very valuable to learning go.

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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #7 Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:58 am 
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This was the book that put me off Go for 2 months. I found it very dry and uninteresting. The "basic" in the title lead me to attempt it well before I was ready for it.

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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #8 Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:38 am 
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I really like this book. I studied it quite carefully at 8kyu and I have gained a few stones since then with no other study. I'm not sure I remember any of the joseki in it, but its explanations of why certain moves are good or bad in certain situations was really eye opening, and improved my play a great deal.

Still, basic as it is, I wouldn't recommend reading it if you are much weaker than SDK. It is not laugh-a-minute stuff, either.

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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #9 Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:23 am 
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38 Basic Joseki was my first joseki book, and I was 8k then. Luckily, before reading it, I got Kageyama's advice to study josekis by trying to understand their moves. So I read 38 Basic Joseki, spending 4 hours per chapter to understand and learn every move. The book itself teaches little, except that it shows a useful selection of variations. Most of what I learned I did learn from my own thinking about meanings of moves and groups. Later, I made a similar experience with the Ishida. (At that time, there were no noteworthy other English joseki books.)

38 Basic Joseki and Dictionary of Basic Joseki can be useful, if the reader is willing to do by far most of the work by himself. Nowadays, joseki learners have a choice between buying such variations-orientated books or explanation-orientated joseki books already explaining all the reasons, meanings, concepts and principles. The former expect the reader to do most of an author's omitted work.

This is a reason why 38 Basic Joseki is considered somewhat dry, while In the Beginning is generally considered a better book of the Elementary Series.


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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #10 Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:29 am 
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38 Basic Joseki is the first book that I bought together with another Elementary Go Series few years ago from Kiseido.
Compared to the other volume, this book gives quite good explanation for simple joseki. But, to understand the variations, it will took for a while, especially if you are around 30 kyu until 10 kyu.

I think, 21st Century Dictionary of Basic Joseki written by Takao Shinji (9p) will give more insight and reference to most modern/classic joseki.

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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #11 Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:01 am 
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Recommended for 15k-10k (maybe a bit higher).

I have taken up Go again after quite a long absence and I read this book in its entirety. I own each volume in the Elementary Go Series and attempted to read this book before my absence but, like others here, I found it too dry. Especially compared to In The Beginning, which I enjoyed.

Before going too far I should mention that I am currently 11k on OGS, from ~14k a month ago. Though I was ~9k on KGS many years ago. I recognize that many people do not suggest books for players of my rank, but I enjoy reading and I often find it easier to fit reading into my schedule than playing a game that cannot be paused. I am certain that reading books has improved my game -- even if I might have improved more by playing instead.

From this point of view, I recommend this book to other beginners (15k-10k). But first let me point out what this book is and what it is not. This is not a joseki dictionary. It is merely an introduction and an overview of what is possible. But within that overview, the book provides the right amount of variations and explanation -- not too much, not too little. The book mentions which variations are complicated, sometimes how to avoid them, and does not go into further detail. I am happy with this decision given my experience and understanding of Go. If complicated variations were included, then I would be compelled to spend time reading material beyond my understanding.

Each section is dedicated to a particular approach move and each subsection is dedicated to a particular response to that approach. I appreciated that I could read each of these subsections in one sitting.

This book often explains why a joseki is useful in a particular board positions, or with a particular goal. And which variations maintain the corner and which abandon the corner for thickness. Along the way, some moves (good plays and missteps) are explained. Things as simple as "black cannot play this way because his lower group will be weakened and under attack" or "black can play away and still come into the center if white attacks again," which were helpful to me.

There is mention of this book being outdated but I think that fact is besides the point. Using outdated joseki is not going to make or break a beginner's game. I think that the principles explained in the book are worth learning and that the joseki provides a sufficient basis from which to expand into other online joseki resources. However, a player significantly stronger than me would likely already understand the principles in this book and then be disappointed by the limited variations.


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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #12 Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:00 pm 
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CDavis7M wrote:
Recommended for 15k-10k (maybe a bit higher).

{snip}

There is mention of this book being outdated but I think that fact is besides the point. Using outdated joseki is not going to make or break a beginner's game. I think that the principles explained in the book are worth learning and that the joseki provides a sufficient basis from which to expand into other online joseki resources. However, a player significantly stronger than me would likely already understand the principles in this book and then be disappointed by the limited variations.


Let me add that now with the ubiquity of bots for review, it is worth checking joseki in one's own games, A lot has changed in the AI era. Also, at the DDK level I wouldn't worry too much about joseki sequences longer than 10 moves deep. For one thing, your opponents may well deviate before then. For another, the danger of learning joseki moves is that you will not look for, and find, better plays for the particular whole board situation. If you think that a play is good, but it isn't part of a joseki that you know, play it anyway. You need to develop your own judgement. :)

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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #13 Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:40 pm 
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There is a nice senryu (the limerick version of haiku) that comments on the behaviour of the chap who regularly goes to his go club looking to pick up easy wins: he avoids the players who do NOT study joseki.


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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #14 Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:04 pm 
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John and Bill, I am honored to have your replies and I believe we are in agreement.

In the quoted portion I was attempting to state that I felt like 38 Basic Josekis taught me more than joseki. In fact, I have only memorized the standard approaches, the possible responses, and some of the follow-ups. But I have gained intuition to continue from there. For instance, 38 Basic Joseki compares the weakness of opposing groups, looks at which stones placed in the corners and on the sides, identifies key points for attack and defense, and identifies when to sacrifice stones. I give much more consideration to these concepts now. Maybe there are better books for this purpose. But I own this one.


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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #15 Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 9:04 am 
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CDavis7M wrote:
John and Bill, I am honored to have your replies and I believe we are in agreement.

In the quoted portion I was attempting to state that I felt like 38 Basic Josekis taught me more than joseki. In fact, I have only memorized the standard approaches, the possible responses, and some of the follow-ups. But I have gained intuition to continue from there. For instance, 38 Basic Joseki compares the weakness of opposing groups, looks at which stones placed in the corners and on the sides, identifies key points for attack and defense, and identifies when to sacrifice stones. I give much more consideration to these concepts now. Maybe there are better books for this purpose. But I own this one.


Your review really interested me. Where can you buy the book? I prefer to read it on paper. I will never get used to e-books. Like a dinosaur.

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 Post subject: Re: A Review of 38 Basic Josekis
Post #16 Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:39 pm 
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KayBur wrote:
CDavis7M wrote:
John and Bill, I am honored to have your replies and I believe we are in agreement.

In the quoted portion I was attempting to state that I felt like 38 Basic Josekis taught me more than joseki. In fact, I have only memorized the standard approaches, the possible responses, and some of the follow-ups. But I have gained intuition to continue from there. For instance, 38 Basic Joseki compares the weakness of opposing groups, looks at which stones placed in the corners and on the sides, identifies key points for attack and defense, and identifies when to sacrifice stones. I give much more consideration to these concepts now. Maybe there are better books for this purpose. But I own this one.


Your review really interested me. Where can you buy the book? I prefer to read it on paper. I will never get used to e-books. Like a dinosaur.


I think you can still order directly from Kiseido, and it's also available on Amazon. Though the current stock is from Amazon's own printing service and people have complained about the quality of the printing. I have one book Go book printed from Amazon and I think it's OK. The pages are white compared to the yellowish pages of the original books. There is some reduction in the cover image. But the book reads fine.

Here are a few samples that I quickly found in the book. I can see why a more experienced player would just easily recognize these situations, take the advice for granted, and discount this book as merely having outdated joseki. But I found these discussions helpful since this I am just learning to recognize these considerations.

Image

Image

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