The Book of Go

I finished reading The Book of Go last night, which isn’t to say I’m doing with it, as there are a lot of Go problems that I’d like to go back and work through again in a while.

The book comes in a unique format: spiral bound and including 9×9 and 13×13 Go boards and the pieces to play. And it provides a nice overview of the game, but really it often left me either scratching my head or thirsting for more. I still am a bit confused by scoring and how to deal with ‘dead pieces.’ The suggestion is to keep playing if there’s a dispute over whether a piece is dead, but it seems to me that you can force the other player to give up terrain that way. I would’ve like to have that explained in more depth (and that’s just one example…there were a few concepts that I thought were dealt with a bit too briefly).

Of a more personal nature is a problem with how the game is taught. The author begins by teaching “First Capture Go” which is a kind of sub-set of the full game. This is great if you have someone to play with, but in my case I was playing against a computer program or via various internet sites, none of which supported this variation of the game. I’m sure this is a great way to teach, *if* the reader has a friend who is also trying to learn the game.

It would’ve been ideal to include a CD-ROM with a version of “First Capture Go” for readers to practice against. The cd could’ve also included some of the excellent open source Go products on the net.

Still, as an introduction to Go, the book succeeds; by the time you’re finished with it you’ll probably have either decided that Go isn’t the game for you, or you’ll be ready for a more in-depth book.