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Learn to Play Go: A Master's Guide to the Ultimate Game, Vol. 1 Paperback – 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Learn to play go Series

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Editorial Reviews


By far the clearest introduction yet published in English. --Games Magazine

About the Author

Janice Kim was born in Illinois in 1969. She became the first female student at the Korean Go Academy and entered the professional dan ranks in Korea in 1987, the first Westerner ever to do so. She won the Fuji Women's Championship in 1984, took second place in the World Youth Championship in 1985, and third place in the EBS Cup in 1994. In 1998 she represented the US in the Bohae Cup. She was promoted to 3 dan in 2003. After graduating from New York University, Ms. Kim authored the five books of the Learn to Play Go series and founded the online Go company Samarkand. In 2008, in an effort to explore similarities in strategy games, she played in the World Poker Tour's Women's Championship in Las Vegas and placed fourth. She currently resides in the San Francisco bay area with her husband and two children.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Good Move Press; 2nd edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964479613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964479616
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,306,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By W. Poon on July 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
I don't get the superlative praises which have been lavished on this book. I became interested in Go recently, and if you've played the game at all, you realize very quickly that knowing the rules alone doesn't get you very far in terms of figuring out how to play it! Given that, I was looking for a beginner's book which goes beyond teaching the rules - which are fairly simple anyway, but also imparts enough guidance and insights in terms of strategy and tactics that a beginner would start to feel comfortable about playing it - what to look for, how does one approach different phases of the game, etc. Perhaps this is too much to ask of a single beginner book to Go, but I found this book particularly lacking in that regard relative to others of its kind. I didn't come away after finishing it feeling much more confident about knowing how to play the game as when I started reading it. I've browsed through Iwamoto's(?) "Go for Beginners" and found it to be a more complete introduction and just as straigtforward to follow. Since then, I've started reading the "Graded Go Problems for Beginners" series and found it to be the most helpful in terms of learning the game.
Not that the praises for this book is wholly undeserved. This is a very well-exposited introduction to the game. Whatever it covers, this book takes you by the hand and treats in a easy-to-follow manner. Coupled with the easy-on-the-eye layout, this may well be the gentlest introduction to the game that you can find. ("Go for Dummies" may be a more apt title as another reviewer has noted!)
In summary, my advice would be to consider this book if you are a complete beginner (ie. with no knowledge of the game) and find other introductions to be overwhelming.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first book is a series of four (as of 2002) which are intended to help a potential player go from a complete beginner to a reasonable competent amateur. This is no trivial undertaking, for the simplicity of Go's rules hide and incredible complexity of play. Not only are bad habits hard to undo, but the gap between the lower levels of play are so large that it can be very discouraging to climb the first few hills.
What Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun have done here is to present the central ideas of the game in a careful, step-wise manner that is readable by anyone from about nine years old on. If a parent were willing to take the time, he or she could use this book to learn enough to teach a much younger player. Yet the information presented is still substantial, covering the basics of life, forming territory, capturing, connecting, and Ko fighting. I hate to admit it, but I found a thing or two in it that I had forgotten.
Frequent examples and questions are provided so that the reader has many opportunities to test his or her knowledge. Little bits of Go history are provided as well. In the back of the book is a cardboard folding board and pop out playing pieces. These are a really too small for a playing adult, although they would make a neat lightweight traveling package for working out puzzles and playing in unexpected places. It does allow a child to get some practice playing before then investment in a decent board and pieces it made.
I have been recommending this series to people for some time, since really good texts for beginners are rare. However, I have never taken the time to read them from cover to cover. Having done so, I am quite impressed. I do think that at one should buy at least the second volume in this series as well. This book reads very quickly, and one needs a bit more for a fair start. One thing is certain, it would be hard to get a better start at the world's most popular board game.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Janice Kim's book, "Learn to Play GO" for the second time. It is fantastic. I bought the book based on a suggestion from somebody on the Yahoo game server. It's actually a funny story. I started playing the game after reading the rules very quickly. The rules I read made no mention of eyes. This, as you all know, caused me great pain when playing. I lost a 9x9 game 81-0. My opponent offered, "Do you want some advice?" I said, "Sure." His reply was simply, "Buy Learn to Play Go by Janice Kim." I bought it the next day and have since bought four more copies as gifts for friends. It's actually just a ploy on part to get more people to play with. ;-)
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Format: Paperback
This was the first book I bought to learn Go. If you're looking for an introduction to the game, this book is a good choice. I wouldn't worry about others who claim this book is too shallow or easy. It gives you the fundamental tactics you need before you can appreciate bigger concepts. Other books don't do so well at explaining beginning concepts because they forget what it is like to be a beginner and brush over concepts too fast.
One word of caution: Go proponents love to say how simple the rules of Go are. However, they are ignoring scoring issues which make the rules complex. As a beginner, it is very confusing to know how to end a game because of "dead stones". The authors don't even touch on this issue until almost half-way into the book, where they explain a real game. Unfortunately, the only words the authors give at this point are "Dead stones are taken out at the end of the game. It is not necessary to play extra moves in order to capture them." A little more explanation would have been nice. They don't even mention what kind of scoring they are using (Japanese), which punishes you for playing extra moves.
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