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Learn to Play Go, Vol. 3: The Dragon Style Paperback – 1998
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[Learn to Play Go is] by far the clearest English-language introduction yet published. --Games Magazine
A book of great beauty and wit. --The American Go Journal
A book of great beauty and wit. --The American Go Journal
About the Author
Janice Kim was born in Illinois in 1969. She became the first female student at the Korean Go Academy in 1983 and entered the professional dan ranks in Korea in 1987, the first Westerner ever to do so. She won the Fuji Womens'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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I should've read this one at that time too. It's very basic. I agree with the reviewer who complained that the content was pretty slim. That's the point of view of a player with a bit of experience. If you're a beginner with a few extra bucks, this should be helpful for you. But if you're clever, or if you have some experience on the 19x19 board, I recommend skipping this one and moving on to "Basic Techniques of Go" or "The Second Book of Go." Those two books cover the same information, plus a lot more.
I read this book in one day, without a board, and there are only about two things I want to review later.
Tonight I'll start volume four...
Alas, this is not a perfect world. Go is a vast game, and few ever completely understand it. If a player is to improve, a time will come when he or she must study the game itself if they are to develop. Subtle bad habits of play become self destructive when facing stronger players. These latter also seem to have a magical ability to pull victory out of despair even under handicapping.
Now is the time to address the third volume 'The Dragon Style.' Despite the magical title, the purpose of this volume is to make a player aware if good and bad habits, and to begin to teach the fundamentals of strategy. To learn now one must begin to read. Read positions, read the games of others, sometimes even try to read minds. The majority of this book walks a play through several games in detail, carefully explaining the purposes of each move.
Really, this isn't hard work. With enough information to understand what each player is trying to do much can be learned from this study, It is, after all, far easier to see the whole game when it isn't the one you are playing right now. The problem, of course, is finding a source of games that are annotated intelligibly and enjoyably. Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun provide some good examples. These will provide the basis for studying others.
There is nothing especially draconic about the 'dragon style.' It is sensible, thoughtful play that considers everything. Of course, this is easier to say than to accomplish. This book provides a good start along the path of reading games. If it has a failing, it is that it does not provide a list of good sources of games for study. Many are available, but not all analyses are suitable for all levels of players.
Anyway, back to this book, the parts I liked were the commented games. The second part of the book presents three commented games and these have a pretty high instructional value. Two of them are handicapped games and we get to see a little bit about the strategy to use in these games, which is very useful to the beginner since in many cases she will be playing black with some kind of handicap. The other game is an even game between two professionals. Even though it is a rather complex game, the authors focus on explaining the major aspects to the reader and do a very good job at that.
The book ends with a test similar to the one presented in volume 2. To summarize, the reason why I am giving this book only 3 stars is that I feel that the first part was the result of a lazy effort and was there just as an excuse to say they were giving the beginner more insights. There is not value in that, the games are the meat of this book, and in that part, I would have given a 4 star rating.
I was hoping this series, as popular as it seems to be, would be the Go equivalent of Yasser Seirawan's "Play Winning Chess," but this series has nothing in comparison. I agree with other reviews that describe the books' lack of depth. There is actually so little information presented in the first four volumes, that they might as well be combined into one book for the same price as one of the books. There are also glaring typographical errors throughout every copy.
Don't let the glossy covers fool you, in my opinion, this book series is nothing but a money grab. (Half of this book is analysis of arbitrarily chosen games, a great way to fill up pages! a lousy way to teach a beginner how to play Go)
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