AMERICAN GO E JOURNAL: News from the American Go Association

July 2, 2004

In This Edition:
THE $2.41 GO SET

SPECIAL GO REVIEW EDITION: We‘re very pleased to offer a Special Go Review Edition this week. We hope these reviews will help you take go along with you on your travels as we head into the Fourth of July weekend and the summer vacation season. In addition to several traveling sets, we‘ve included books our reviewers feel are especially well-suited to being on the road (or in the air), and our final review
will be handy if you need to teach new players. Safe travels, on and off the board!

THE $2.41 GO SET
Review by Anton Ninno
      We all want to play go on the best set available because so much of the enjoyment found in this ancient game comes from handling the equipment. Ask any go player and they‘ll tell you there‘s something special in the feel of cool, smooth go stones and the sound heard when clicking them down on a wooden board.
     However, it‘s not really practical to take a high-quality go set on a trip. They‘re expensive, and losing one can be a tragedy. Now that fine go sets can easily be purchased on the Web, many new players don‘t have an old set to toss in your trunk, beach bag or backpack. But you can still find inexpensive sets in Asian grocery stores: a folding board will usually cost about $10 and a set of glass stones is another $10.
     Want something even cheaper? No problem. Print out the 9-line, paper board on our club‘s website http://groups.yah For only $2.41, you can play quick games and teach beginners using 40 nickels and 40 pennies. Tape four of these 9-line boards together to make a 19-line board, gather 180 nickels and 181 pennies, and you‘ll own the world‘s cheapest, full-size Go set for under $11.

Review by Eric Lavigne, AGA 8k
      Sifting through the bowl. Feeling the cool glass enveloping my hand. Lightly grasping a stone between two fingers. Listening to the click as the stone finds its place. I appreciate the feeling of placing stones on a real board, yet this is not the traditional go board that many of you are imagining. It is a marble board.
      Created with my own hands when I first learned to play, it is a symbol of my love and dedication for this game. Designed much like a Chinese checkers board, the marble go board has 361 indentations to hold
the marbles in place. While a traditional table board can be disturbed by a dropped stone or a careless elbow, the marbles on this board stay in place as the board is tilted at a 45 degree angle. Such incredible
stability is ideal for playing outdoors or in a car. As an added bonus, you can split the board into four 9x9 playing fields with 37 blue marbles, ideal for simultaneous teaching games with new players.
NOTE: Eric‘s one of a kind marble go board is not commercially available, but he says “it‘s easy to build if you have the right drill bit.” For details, email him at
PLUS: check out photos of the board at
http://plaza.ufl. edu/lavigne/ufgoclub/marbleboard/

By Yang Yilun 7P
Published by Yutopian Enterprises,< /a>
163 pages, $11
Reviewed by Lawrence Ku, AGA 4k
      This book is one of the pocket-sized go series published by Yutopian Enterprises. I really like pocket-sized go books because when I travel, I can take them with me. Whenever I am on an airplane, inside
a car, or get bored, I just take the book out of my pocket and start doing some practice problems.
     There are 80 problems about 3-4 joseki, mainly about how you should play when your opponent deviates from joseki. For each question, there is one diagram for the “Correct Answer,” one for the
“Variation,” and one for the “Failure.” I love the book because the question is on one page, and the answer is on the next page, so you will not accidentally spot the answer.
      I have realized that this book is very useful for learning how to play an opponent who does not like to follow joseki or when you play black in a handicap game. When I was a low kyu player, most of my
opponents did not follow joseki at all, and now that I am a high kyu player, I have found out that many of my opponents deliberately do not follow joseki. This book teaches you how to effectively prevent your
opponents from tricking you, and it might even give you inspiration to trick others. I recommend this book for players from 1k-15k.

Twenty Strategic Principles To Improve Your Opening Game
By Otake Hideo 9p, Translated by John Power
Published by Kiseido,
167 pages, $15
Reviewed by Bob Barber, 1k
      I love this book. It‘s the one I carry when flying on a plane. Here are the very basic fundamentals we all need to start a game correctly: 3rd line vs. 4th line; extend in front of your shimari; don‘t permit hane at head of two (or three) stones; don‘t push from behind, etc. Each of the 20 principles is well illustrated, and the reader is asked to find the proper next move. There is a section on shape: empty triangle bad, ponnuki good. Don‘t atari automatically. Don‘t contact weak stones. Make moves with more than one meaning. Play away from strength. And don‘t try to save every last one of your precious stones.
      Most of us have heard these admonitions countless times. For those who haven‘t, this book will be a real eye-opener. And for those who have, this book offers valuable reinforcement with very clear diagrams...few stones on the board, and stick to the basics. Having a good opening will not ensure that you win the game. But if you come out of the opening with a better position, it‘s your opponent who will be chewing her nails, and not you.

By Toshiro Kageyama
Published by Kiseido,
268 pages, $15
Reviewed by Christopher Gronbeck, 4k
      Toshiro Kageyama‘s “Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go,” first published in 1978, is not your typical go book, in that its format diverges from the conventional strict focus on diagrams, analysis and
problems. It covers critical fundamental go concepts, to be sure -- common tesuji, the fundamentals of shape, liberties, endgame strategy, cutting and connecting, etc.-- but it‘s written almost as a conversation
with Kageyama, drawing unabashedly from his personal experience. He is concerned with process as much as content: not just what‘s being learned, but how you learn. And he‘s not afraid to go off on tangents
about television, baseball, or traffic safety posters.
      The book succeeds by being interesting and alive...I could almost hear Kageyama‘s voice when he concludes: “Joseki are not to be learned, but to be created.” the material in this almost-300-page volume is appropriate for an unusually wide audience, since the style and exposition is so intriguing; certainly anyone from 15 kyu to low dan levels would find it interesting, useful, and definitely entertaining.

By Rin Kaiho 9P
Published by Slate & Shell, www.slateandshell com
42 pages, $7
Reviewed by Lawrence Ku, 4k
      Anyone who‘s made it to shodan has undoubtedly had the “yo-yo” experience. You know, that time when you went up and down, from 1 kyu to 1 dan and back down to 1 kyu again. All those games you should have won but lost because of a silly mistake or a move you didn‘t think through thoroughly.
     Come Up to Shodan uses three actual games between high kyu players to illustrate their common mistakes. For each game, Rin analyzes the following: opening strategy, joseki selection, taking big points and
vital points, invasion and reduction, and middle game fighting and tesuji. When you read this pamphlet, what Rin discusses seems very simple to us, but these are the mistakes that we make over and over.
      This small pamphlet mainly focuses on game strategy, so if you are looking for a book on the endgame or life and death, this is not the right book for you. This book really helps you avoid some common mistakes, and it will help you remember to think a move through thoroughly before you play it. How you utilize the skills presented in this book will affect how quickly you achieve the rank of shodan. Believe it or not, after I read it two times, I achieved the rank of shodan in KGS. I recommend this book for players from 1k-10k.

by Yasutoshi Yasuda 9 Dan
Published by Slate & Shell, www.slateandshell com
74 pages, $10
Reviewed by James Bonomo, 1k
      “Let‘s Play Go!” is an unusual little book, squarely aimed at prospective go teachers, especially those who might be hesitating, unsure of how to start. Crisply describing Mr. Yasuda‘s introductory
“Capture Game” approach, the author‘s enthusiasm for teaching shines through, just as it does in his earlier “Go as Communication: The Educational and Therapeutic Value of the Game of Go.”
      Beginning with a sequence of illustrative questions, problems, and model games, Yasuda builds from the Capture Game to the threshold of real go. For teaching, these sections can even be used almost as a
script, complete with built-in problems. And yes, it really is very easy to introduce a group to go with this method; you can divide a group in two parts and have them playing the Capture Game as teams in under 15 minutes. Mr. Yasuda doesn‘t discuss how to divide a group - I‘ve found it useful to have children play in some set order, for example, simply to make sure they are all involved - but such details aren‘t critical.
     The book is not an introduction to real go, though. It doesn‘t adequately discuss several subjects that are difficult for beginners - seeing a snapback, and understanding how that differs from a ko, for
example. Most importantly, it doesn‘t adequately explain how a game ends which is the hardest thing for new players to grasp, particularly using the territory scoring that Mr. Yasuda shows. The best description
of ending the game that I have seen is by Charles Matthews, in his “Teach Yourself Go”.
      Overall, “Let‘s Play Go!” is an ideal encouragement and plan for anyone who has a short session to introduce go to a group. I‘ve found this approach interests and involves children very quickly. For anyone with more time to teach, additional material would be needed. Some books besides Mr. Matthews‘s above are in print - “The Book of Go” by William Cobb (also from Slate & Shell) uses the same method, while the series by Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun (from Samarkand) cover much more, albeit in multiple volumes - and there are other alternatives as well. Additionally, there is material available on the web, much linked to from the AGA website. One notable resource is Susan Weir‘s curriculum at http://www.weirdo which has detailed lesson plans for 14 sessions. For those wanting only a good introduction to the Capture Game, and encouragement to teach it though, “Let‘s Play Go!” is ideal.

Ratings are on the web! Check the website; http://www.usgo.o rg for the full list.

GET YOUR TOURNAMENT RATED! Send your tournament data to

AGA CONTACT LIST: For a full list of AGA officers, contacts & their email addresses, go to:
http://www.usgo.o rg/org/index.asp#contactinfo

Published by the American Go Association

Text material published in the AMERICAN GO E JOURNAL may be reproduced
by any recipient: please credit the AGEJ as the source. PLEASE NOTE that
commented game record files MAY NOT BE published, re-distributed, or
made available on the web without the explicit written permission of the
Editor of the E-Journal. Please direct inquiries to

Articles appearing in the E-Journal represent the opinions of the
authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the
American Go Association.

To make name or address corrections, notify us at the email address
below. Story suggestions, event announcements, Letters to the Editor and
other material are welcome, subject to editing for clarity and space,
and should be directed to:
Editor: Chris Garlock