Learn to Play Go with Learn to Play Go (Part 5)

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Learn to Play Go 5

Introduction

So far, I have reviewed how Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun’s Learn to Play Go Series introduce Go to an absolute beginner, discuss the flow of Go from start to finish, suggest the proper mindset required in gameplay, and show some techniques during fighting. In the last Volume, The Palace of Memory, Janice Kim focuses on the guidelines and templates she learned from Jeong Soo-hyun.

Who should read it?

Anyone who has read Volumes I to IV should read the last volume and get the best from the series. Those who has reached low double-digit kyu rating or high single-digit kyu rating should also read this volume to sharpen or improve their knowledge base.

What can I learn from it?

Instead of the creative title, The Palace of Memory, Janice Kim could have titled Volume V as Guidelines: Shapes, Opening, and Endgame. Shapes are essential from start to finish in Go. Kim then steps back to give guidelines for the opening and a short study of some basic jungsuk (joseki) then leaps forward to endgame guidelines.

I have reread Volume IV, and I will reread it again until the lessons from it become ingrained in my mind. I will also reread Volume V for its value. I think both Volume IV and V are vital to the give any go player a solid foundation on the fundamentals of Go.

The templates for fighting include tactics when two opposing stones are in contact or when apart by one-point, by a knight’s move, and in a diagonal. Guidelines of shape discusses the logic behind the hane during the attachment, the cut and extend, adding another sacrifice to a stone on the third line, attacking at the center of symmetry, connecting after a peep, and the hane at the head of two or three stones. The chapter on shape guidelines also focuses on the efficiency of the tiger’s mouth, the one-point jump, the bamboo joint, the knight’s move in response to a cap, and the ponnuki. One of my favorite in this volume is this quote about the squeeze:

“Water’s cold but fish don’t freeze,

If the net don’t work then try to squeeze.”

I will not list the opening and endgame guidelines because I think their value are more from the discussion rather than the guidelines themselves. I think that these guidelines, if understood properly, apply for any rank.

Why is it great?

Kim’s discussion of the templates and guidelines are all very easy to read and understand. One can simply memorize the sequences and guidelines from this book, but Kim makes sure readers will not fall for the memorization trap. I invite readers to focus on the discussion for each template or guideline.

The threat of the memorization trap increases when studying joseki. Kim introduces some of the common and must-learn josekis, but readers must study and understand these josekis and the myriad other josekis from other sources.

How can it improve my knowledge and gameplay of go?

I am not sure how much Volume V can increase ones strength, but I am sure that the contents of this book are essential at any level. Go basics and fundamentals are important for me. I think they are the foundation to get stronger and play a more beautiful game. The Palace of Memory, along with the first four volumes of the Learn to Play Go Series, will give beginner to weak kyu players the best and strongest foundation available.

END

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