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Go, a Complete Introduction to the Game

Go, a Complete Introduction to the Game - Cho Chikun I've read quite a few introductory go books now, so I give this book 5 stars as the best one I have found so far for its stated purpose, which is to introduce the game to a complete beginner. Cho Chikun is one of the strongest go players in the world today. I've found that as in everything else, people who are really good at something are not necessarily the best teachers or writers on the subject, so I liked Cho's ability to talk to someone who is just picking up the stones for the first time and not intimidate them with his godlike go powers.

Cho really does cover all the basics, at an introductory level. He recommends starting off with a 9x9 board. Since I am no longer a rank beginner, everything he covered was already pretty basic for me - I didn't even have to think about the handful of problems he gave. I'm past the point where this book could teach me anything. But if I were to choose one single book to give a beginning player, right now it would be this one. Go for Beginners by Kaoru Iwamoto is good too, but I think he packs a little too much into a book the same size as Cho's book, and some of the final chapters may stump a beginning player. The Learn to Play Go series by Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-Hyun is more complete, but that's more of a beginner's course, and a new player might not want to take on several volumes to start with.

So, this one gets my highest recommendation for beginning go players. It's short but complete, and between chapters on basic go strategy and tactics, Cho talks about the history of go and go today, including professional go associations, how much money go professionals actually make, the handicap system, and computer go. Since this book was written in 1997, the sections on tournament prizes and computer go are now a bit out of date, but most of what Cho says about computer go is still true - there is still no go equivalent to Deep Blue that can beat an expert human player.