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 Post subject: Go book reviews
Post #1 Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:06 pm 
Gosei
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I actually wrote these reviews for Haengma.net but since Nexik has a lot to do in the moment and no time for updates, I decided to publish them on my own.
Plan was/is to review "501 Tesuji Problems", "Making Good Shape", "Reducing Territorial Frameworks", "Life and Death: Intermediate Level Problems", "Attack and Defend", "38 Basic Joseki", "Invincible", "Rescue and Capture" and the Graded Go Problems for Beginners series, too. We'll see how it goes : D

I'd like to know, if you find them useful (do you miss facts e.g.?) or if you have a different view on those books?
Any other tips or suggestions are also welcomed : )


I didn't want to make separate threads for each review, since I don't know how interested you guys are in those. If the overview gets too bad or if there's a consensus that due to search-matters different threads would be great, maybe a moderator can split this post.



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Mastering the Basics, Volume 2 – One Thousand and One Life-and-Death Problems
    - compiled and edited by Richard Bozulich (244 p. | 1001 problems); Kiseido Publishing Company


As part of the “Mastering the Basics”-series, “One Thousand and One Life-and-Death Problems” is designed to help your reading and vital point spotting to climb to the next level and lay the foundation to enter the Dan ranks.
The general level of this book is in my opinion between low single digit Kyu and double digit Kyu. Towards the end it becomes harder but the reader will experience that he will also benefit by repeating the problems he has already solved.

Divided into six parts with increasing difficulty (one-, three- and five-move problems), one has to either bring Black to life or kill White's group, thus one isn't only learning to spot vital points for killing but also vital points to make eye-shape for oneself, which often tends to be neglected.
As a regular study book “One Thousand and One Life-and-Death Problems” has only one diagram showing the “best” right answer with little explanation, so one is asked to refute moves, which are not shown, for oneself. Sometimes it appears that a second answer could be right, here the reader is asked to verify that the answer given in the book is the best in terms of Ko-threats and such.

It should be save to say that by solving all of these problems one has to deal with every existing Life-and-Death Tesuji (like Snapback or “Under the Stones”) multiple times, so finding those moves in one's own games will be much easier. This also includes familiarizing oneself with building a dead eye-shape, exploiting a shortage of liberties, sacrificing techniques like making an eye false and so on.

In conclusion: “One Thousand and One Life-and-Death Problems” is a powerful tool to build up strength and confidence in reading out sequences. As far as I know, it is the only book in English offering so many problems with increasing difficulty, which makes it the best choice for studying this matter.




Opening Theory Made Easy – Twenty Strategic Principles to Improve Your Opening Game
    - by Otake Hideo 9 Dan (170 p.); Kiseido Publishing Company


This book is a jewel for everyone seeking for a bit more guidance than what is offered in “In the Beginning” of the “Elementary Go Series”.
Here the opening is clustered into twenty easily understandable principles, divided into three chapters: Fuseki Fundamentals (e.g. extensions, pincers, Moyo), Good Shape (e.g. how no to harm your own stones, empty triangle) and Strategy (e.g. attacking, reducing, sacrificing). Everything you will read in this book deals with something you will experience in every game you play, what makes it very easy to apply.

“Easy” is furthermore the term which describes best how the book teaches and shows you every principle. The author uses a lot of diagrams, which indicate for instance the difference of you playing at a certain point or if your opponent gets it. At the same time, although the point of every principle is clearly stressed, the author never goes much into detail, which makes it easy to follow and aims at an understandable guidance for beginners.

In my opinion, this book is a must-read. It has everything one could possible want to have explained about the first dozen moves.




Get Strong at Go Series, Volume 6 – Get Strong at Tesuji
    - compiled by Richard Bozulich (184 p. | 534 problems); Kiseido Publishing Company


"Get Strong at Tesuji" might be one of the most powerful problem books for beginners in Go and together with "Tesuji" by James Davies easily one of the most powerful Tesuji books in English at all.
With its 534 problems divided into four difficulties, you have a book at hand that will drill your eye, mind and intuition to spot and use Tesujis in your own games.

Designed as a problem book with six problems on each right page and answers along with explanations on the left, it's actually for the reader, who has a basic understanding of Tesuji and local assessment – despite the fact that “Get Strong at Tesuji” praises itself as a book, which is “aimed at the player who has just learned the rules and played a few games”.
Generally, the reader gets one to three lines of explanations of what to achieve in this problem and is asked to find the best way to do so. But not all problems await with a clear task, many just demand the best local play. And that's where difficulties might arise.
Despite the fact that “Get Strong at Tesuji” and “Tesuji” by James Davies share the same topic, there is a lot that sets them apart. Besides the more structural approach of “Tesuji” and its clear tasks involving only a handful of just introduced Tesujis, you will find and have to solve many problems in “Get Strong at Tesuji”, which don't fall under the moves one might have learnt through “Tesuji”.
One could say, “Get Strong at Tesuji” deals with a more open understanding of Tesuji, as you are quite often asked to make a solid or thick position, good shape, life for yourself and so on, regularly combined with ending in Sente, thus searching for and using forcing moves.
Actually, that's what makes this book rich. To value tiny-looking moves, which have a powerful impact on the local situation – that's Tesuji!

As said, “Get Strong at Tesuji” offers four difficulties from one star (25 to 10 Kyu), two stars (10 to 5 Kyu), three stars (5 to 1 Kyu) to a couple of four stars problems at the end of the book, which are Dan level. This makes the book ideal for studying in the single digit Kyu ranks, as you can quickly browse through a dozen of problems without spending much time on them.
It is also recommended to have read “Tesuji” beforehand as you will have an easier time figuring out the problems – especially if you are used to solve a lot of Life-and-Death problems, which have a totally different approach.

All in all one can say, “Get Strong at Tesuji” is the ideal book to hammer home the understanding of basic Tesuji application.




Elementary Go Series, Volume 3 – Tesuji
    - by James Davies (198 p. | 264 problems); Kiseido Publishing Company


“Tesuji” is a book one can't emphasize enough for the progress in the game of Go. Its clear structural approach in teaching Tesujis by using chapters with the different field of applications makes it the perfect book for both a Tesuji reference and for studying.
In 16 chapters, of which the first one contains the famous explanation of how to successfully read out a sequence, “Tesuji” shows the application of Tesujis with diagrams and good explanations and asks you both directly after learning the new Tesuji and at the end of every chapter to use the learned Tesuji(s) to solve a couple of problems.
This way, the reader gets theory and practice in a very good mix and will not be overburdened with knowing and being able to use all the Tesujis at once.

The reader will learn about:
- Capture the Cutting Stones
- Amputate the Cutting Stones
- Ko
- When Liberties Count
- Linking Groups Together
- Cutting Groups Apart
- Into Enemy Territory
- Escape
- Sacrifice to Gain Tempo
- Tesuji for Attack
- How to Connect
- Making Shape
- Ignore the Atari
- Double-Threat Tesuji

“Tesuji” is a real beginner book. You could start with it right away after learning the rules, although one might not recommend it without having played a dozen games, because one might lack the connection to the game. Furthermore the reader is required to read out a lot of sequences, so practice with doing so (e.g. experience with life-and-death problems) is useful.
The book and the problems become easier the better you know certain shapes, since spotting a Tesuji is often connected with a certain shape in which it appears.

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 Post subject: Re: Go book reviews
Post #2 Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:30 pm 
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Excellent reviews - thanks!

For some reason, I find 1001 L&D Problems to be more boring/dry than Get Strong at Tesuji and Graded Go Problems. This is probably because neither the difficulty nor the problem type change much throughout. I still agree that it is a must-have tsumego book for kyu players.


A very minor suggestion--I think you should feel free to use a more relaxed/colloquial tone in your reviews. Saying "one" instead of "I" or "you" can sound stiff if done too often. There may also be ways to rephrase. But this is a minor point. The content is excellent--short and to the point.

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 Post subject: Re: Go book reviews
Post #3 Posted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:56 am 
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judicata wrote:
Excellent reviews - thanks!

For some reason, I find 1001 L&D Problems to be more boring/dry than Get Strong at Tesuji and Graded Go Problems. This is probably because neither the difficulty nor the problem type change much throughout.

The problems in 1001LD are also more artificial, which can be tiring.

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Post #4 Posted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:13 am 
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damn, now I want to buy at least 1001LD and get strong at tesuji...
...and maybe hardcover Invincible cause I always wanted it anyway and they're sold by the same company... :)

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 Post subject: Re: Go book reviews
Post #5 Posted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:04 pm 
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Thank you very much for the feedback, I'm glad you find those reviews helpful.

"1001 Life-and-Death Problems" offers very artificial positions, that's true, nevertheless in the end it comes down to the same vital points, which arise in a lot of in-game positions. Furthermore the book understands itself - in my opinion - as a tool to boost your reading power and confidence not as a book about common life-and-death positions (see "All about Life-and-Death").
However I think the book has at least three to five ranks difference in difficulty. Just because you have to read out five-move- instead of one-move-sequences e.g.

But when it comes down to either "1001 Life-and-Death Problems" or the Graded Go series, I have to admit I would take the latter. It's more entertaining and offers more variation, since it also deals with the opening, capturing races, Ko, middlegame and so on.

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Post #6 Posted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:13 pm 
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SoDesuNe wrote:
"1001 Life-and-Death Problems" offers very artificial positions, that's true, nevertheless in the end it comes down to the same vital points, which arise in a lot of in-game positions. Furthermore the book understands itself - in my opinion - as a tool to boost your reading power and confidence not as a book about common life-and-death positions (see "All about Life-and-Death").

I agree with all of that. What I meant was just that it can be more tiring to analyze an artificial position than one that naturally appears in a game, because there are fewer standard features for your brain to recognize.

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Post #7 Posted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:42 pm 
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Thank you for the reviews. I bought Open Theory Made Easy after I played my first 19x19 game and ended completely confused about what to do on a such bigger board. It was incredibly helpful, and every time I start wondering about how to play best in the opening, I go back and read it again.

Quote:
“Tesuji” is a real beginner book. You could start with it right away after learning the rules, although one might not recommend it without having played a dozen games, because one might lack the connection to the game.

I'm studying Tesuji at the moment. It's a great book, but I disagree with this: I think it's completely useless if you haven't learned some of the most basic game tactics, and that doesn't happen after only a dozen games. Having played a good deal of 9x9 games and maybe worked through graded go problems 1&2 would be better before opening it.

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 Post subject: Re: Go book reviews
Post #8 Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:42 am 
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SoDesuNe wrote:
“Tesuji” is a real beginner book. You could start with it right away after learning the rules, although one might not recommend it without having played a dozen games, because one might lack the connection to the game.


Wow, really? I find many of the problems to be extremely hard (the ones at the end of each chapter, not the ones following the introduction of each tesuji). The whole chapter on ko tesujis is very hard for me to follow.

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 Post subject: Re: Go book reviews
Post #9 Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:55 am 
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Koroviev wrote:
SoDesuNe wrote:
“Tesuji” is a real beginner book. You could start with it right away after learning the rules, although one might not recommend it without having played a dozen games, because one might lack the connection to the game.


Wow, really? I find many of the problems to be extremely hard (the ones at the end of each chapter, not the ones following the introduction of each tesuji). The whole chapter on ko tesujis is very hard for me to follow.


Tesuji is certainly not a book for beginners. Even DDKs will find much of it difficult.

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Post #10 Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:08 pm 
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No, Tesuji is not for players who haven't played a handful of games, and a big handful at that.

If you can borrow it from someone, you could look at it and Life and Death as early as 20kyu (my college library had both books). There's a range of difficulty in the material, and the early sections are quite straightforward.

If you have to buy them, you might wait. I suppose it depends on the size of your book budget and how much it would pain you to have books sit on the shelf without reading them in full.

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 Post subject: Re: Go book reviews
Post #11 Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:07 am 
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Maybe "beginner book" was misleading as it of course deals with a more advance matter. I guess a better term would be something like introductory book like "Opening Theory Made Easy" or "In the Beginning" is for the opening.


Koroviev wrote:
The whole chapter on ko tesujis is very hard for me to follow.


Ko is subject, which a lot of SDK still feel uncomfortable with (me included). Just read the first page of the chapter, where Davies describes amateur attidude towards Ko situations ^^

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