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Learn to Play Go, Vol. 5: The Palace of Memory Paperback – November, 2003
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In the preface of this book, Janice Kim says that she considered calling the book "My System." Of course, the reference was to Aron Nimzovitch's chess book with that title. That book stressed some elements of chess, such as the blockade and overprotection that had been underestimated or overlooked by many good players. Anyway, as I'm sure we all realize, that title simply would not do.
But it would have been the wrong title anyway. The proper title, had Kim wanted to make an analogy with chess, would have been similar to that of World Champion Wilhelm Steinitz's book from the 1880s (The Modern Chess Instructor). Needless to say, that sort of title would not have been appropriate here either, but it is the proper analogy.
Steinitz came up with about a dozen fundamental principles of positional play. And Kim has done roughly the same thing in this book. Of course, Steinitz was devising these principles himself, while Kim is simply repeating what has been well-known for centuries.
Or is she? The simple principles that she drums into us, all of which ought to be well-known to all low-kyu players, are not the whole story. The implications of these principles constitute the teaching she presents. For example, we all should know that the threat of a five-stone capture of a single stone (a pon-nuki with a friendly stone added touching two of the capturing stones) is inefficient. Kim shows an implication of this is that we ought not threaten to make such a capture, and an implication of not wanting to make such a threat is that we ought not form a "closed triangle" that will lead to us making such a threat.
She's turned a set of go proverbs into a coherent procedure for evaluating moves in most fights.Read more ›
One of the unique things about this series - and one of the things I like about it - is that they are written "broadly" instead of "deeply". That is, each book is written to a phase in your development as a Go player, covering the things that you're going to be seeing on the board during that phase - openings, fighting, end-game and all.
This is in contrast to most Go books, which cover a particular aspect in great detail, trying to cover the advanced and not-so-advanced aspects at the same time.
When I look for a new Go book, I always wish for some kind of guide as to what level it's appropriate for. Though there's a lot of individual variation in this area, I'll take a shot at it for this book: I would say that it's teaching material for 20k to 10k players. It would also serve as good review material up to, say, 5k, providing a fresh perspective and filling in some details.
Players below those levels would definitely want to go back to previous volumes in the series and work their way up to this one. Players above those levels might not find much new here, unless they've gotten there mainly through a lot of play and not much study - in which case they might still benefit from this presentation.
In studying the game, I'd gotten to the point where the opening and issues of shape were becoming important, and it's amazing how Kim's book just enlightened me on these sometimes difficult areas of the game. In one review for Volume IV of the series, a reviewer mentions how Kim interweaves advice on specific plays with general concepts. This effective technique is used here as well.
This is an excellent go book, but obviously it is not for everyone. If you've never played the game before, this is going to be way over your head, and I would suggest Volume I of the series. If you're familiar with the basics, Volumes II-IV are definitely worth reading. Once you've digested those (or equivalent material elsewhere), I totally recommend Volume 5. Not only does it continue the series' reputation for excellent go writing, it extends it.
"Pros are so conditioned to make the sente play, that we usually ignore the possibility of making the one point larger gote play. I've had the curious misfortune to actually have the one-in-a-thousand game where I lost by half a point on Korean national television because of this, which makes it worthy of inclusion in my Palace of Memory. But the real take-away conclusion is that you should be playing the sente endgame move 999 times out of 1000."
When I started (re)reading the Learn to Play Go series a few months ago, the above quote would have made no sense to me. After finishing volume five (the last in the series), it is perfectly clear, though my ability to spot sente and gote moves is still very primitive. However, all of the situations illustrated in The Palace of Memory were clear enough for me to follow, though I did have to actually set out stones on a board and work through some of the moves to convince myself that I understood it.
So, everything I complained about regarding the previous volumes, particularly the otherwise very good volume four, was addressed in volume five. This is a book for a beginner at the end of basic training and ready to start learning the intermediate aspects of the game, aspects I can now dimly and imperfectly sense.
The chapter Opening Guides, what I most needed help with, was probably the most valuable part of this book for me.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After a great first book, I have been less than thrilled by the following three books. They were good to very good, but I felt that they were a little shallow and did not provide... Read morePublished on October 19, 2013 by Sebastian Fernandez
I really enjoyed previous books in this series, but this volume has a number of problems. Proofreading of the text was next to non-existent, with many typographical errors. Read morePublished on August 11, 2011 by Joshua Wilkes
Extremely well-written book brought my game up more than a notch. Janice's writing manages to explain conceptually and instruct specifically at the same time, which is no easy... Read morePublished on June 25, 2010 by J. S. Carr
This book is a quick read and does provide some basic principles that help my game.
A good example of "once someone showed it to me I figured it out myself" :-)
This book lays a great foundation for fighting in Go. The book teaches about the basic shapes of fighting and also explains ideas and concepts of the openning. Read morePublished on February 1, 2007 by Phillip J. Gallegos
This is a very well written book, that makes lots of good points and demonstrates them well. It should not however be read without first reading and understanding the previous 4... Read morePublished on February 23, 2006 by Neal
Excellent book on learning the concept of this game. A great beginning.Published on October 2, 2005 by Michael T. Cronin
The learn to play Go series are a well written must have if you want to learn to play Go. This fifth book in the series is a great addition. Read morePublished on September 30, 2005 by M. Crocker
To begin with, the first 10+ pages (Introduction and The Templates of Fighting) seem like they've not been proofed-read. Read morePublished on August 26, 2005 by Standard Reader