Go: A Complete Introduction to the Game by Cho Chikun (edited by Richard Bozulich) is the best book for absolute beginners to learn about the game of go. The flow of the lessons guides the reader a step at a time through the ladder of basic go learning. Anyone will finish the book not only with the knowledge about the basics of go but also familiar with the game as it is beyond the board.
Who should read it?
Cho Chikun’s book caters to people who are absolute novices to the game of go, i.e. people without any idea about the rules or basics of go. It also gives a complete appreciation of the game outside the simple rules and complex gameplay. However, the book also offer a quick refresher course about the game for beginners who have played a few games.
What can I learn from it?
Chapter 1 focuses on the rules of go and a sample game on a 9×9 board. The last part teaches how to count territory in Japanese Rules.
Chapter 2 defines what liberties are and how to capture a stone or a group of stones.
Chapter 3 discusses the illegal move called suicide. It also differentiates between real and false eyes and neutral points. One also learns the minimum requirement for a group to live. The chapter ends with an advice about dead groups and capturing them.
Chapter 4 introduces the concepts of a ko with an example ko fight on a 9×9 board.
Chapter 5 is the best chapter of the book in my opinion. It teaches how to link stones from solid and diagonal connections to connecting on the edge. Cho Chikun also proves that one-space jumps on the fourth line and two-space jumps on the third line are always connected.
Chapter 6 shows examples of basic capturing techniques: double atari, ladder, net, and sacrifice.
Chapter 7 is about capturing races. It teaches how to count inside and outside liberties, what a seki is, what a shortage of liberties is, why one eye beats no eye, how to increase liberties in a capturing race, and what the values of certain eye spaces are.
Chapter 8, Life and Death, teaches how to force opponent in making false eyes, how to kill certain eye spaces with placement moves, and why there is death in hane.
Chapter 9 gives an example of a nine-handicap game.
Chapter 10 discusses basic opening strategy: corners first, enclosures, approach moves, and pincers.
Why is it great?
Cho Chikun gives simple and easy to follow discussions. Besides from learning the basics of go, Cho Chikun also included essays in between chapters for beginners to appreciate the game of go through its history, modern tournament, equipment, and computer go.
How can it improve my knowledge and gameplay of go?
The reader will learn how to play go after reading Cho Chikun’s book. However, the basic rules and strategies may not be enough to win games immediately as go is a complex game that requires consistent practice and study. The reader does finish the book with more appreciation and enthusiasm for the game. It is better to start one’s journey through go from something rather than from nothing.