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Learn to Play Go, Vol. 4: Battle Strategies Paperback – September, 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
Book 4 of 5 in the Learn to play go Series

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Editorial Reviews


[Learn to Play Go is] by far the clearest English-language introduction yet published. --Games Magazine

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 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: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Good Move Press; 1st edition (September 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964479648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964479647
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,482,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 30, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is currently the last of four books written by Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun. The first two volumes are designed to take a newcomer to the game of Go and help them achieve a modest but significant level of competence. The third volume is best suited to the player who has achieved some comfort with hand-to-hand combat and is ready to approach the more complex tactical and strategic levels of the game. This volume focuses on the middle game, where territory is truly lost or gained. A player must walk a tightrope between strategy and tactics in this phase while balancing attack and defense.
There is so much going on the board during the middle game that it is genuinely difficult to write a book that teaches more than a single facet of playing the middle game. This can make studying frustrating. What Kim and Soo-hyun have done is written an introduction to the middle game that, while it does not dig deep into the layers of complexity, provides a framework whereby the student can determine where best to focus. In doing so, they have achieved something unique.
The first half of the book focuses on the middle game itself. It opens with a section on invasion and reduction, followed by further material on battle strategies, attack, and defense. The second half discusses life and death. This includes the making of living shapes, the art of killing groups of stones, and handling capturing races. There is also a very good discussion on Ko fighting which goes into surprising detail. As is true of the entire series, the discussion is easy to understand, and examples are plentiful.
I should point out that the apparent organization of the book is a bit deceptive. The nature of the material is such that some serendipity is inevitable.
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Format: Paperback
The most attractive quality of this book is its ease of understanding. It introduces important strategic concepts of go such as reducing Vs. invading in a way even the most recent beginner can understand.

The pitfall is limited depth. In contrast to books from the Elementary Go Series (In the Beginning, Tesuji, Life and Death, etc.), Kim's Vol. IV - Battle Strategies gives the reader markedly less learning potential.

In my case, after the first reading the ideas had been acquired and there was little worth referring back to. I haven't picked it up since I read it. Whereas, books from the Elementary Go Series continue to challenge me and improve my game even after the 3rd\4th readings, and I expect they will continue to for months to come.

I might recommend Kim's book to the recent beginner looking for a light read. It's also well suited for young players who would have difficulty concentrating on the more dense books of the Elementary Go Series.

Overall, an enjoyable read, a breeze to understand, but lacking in depth when compared to other books available with the same price and topic. In my case, it left something to be desired.
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Format: Paperback
After a great start to this series, I was somewhat disappointed with volume 3 since I thought it lacked substance. That flaw is completely corrected here. The authors provide us with a manual packed with valuable information for conducting our battles. The material is still at a beginners level, but it will probably be useful even for some single digit kyu players (at least those below 5-7 kyu).

Before jumping into the tactical section of this book, we are presented with an explanation of the important difference between invasion and reduction. This is crucial, since invading when you should reduce provides your opponent not only the opportunity to profit from killing, but also it makes your opponent strong which he can use to help other sectors of the board. Likewise, if you reduce when you should invade, you are going easy on your opponent.

Then we jump right into the battle strategies. There are a broad selection of key ideas and elements presented to the reader. These are helpful and are illustrated with nice examples. It is true, the treatment of the topics is not very deep, but it does provide a very good basis to help the beginner with getting stronger. Players stronger 5 kyu will not find any beneficial information here. I am currently 7 kyu and even though I knew most of the concepts I found some sections that helped with my understanding.

Attacking, defending and life and death are some of the key chapters here. All have clearly presented information that is valuable to the reader. I did like the chapter on ko, since it gives us clear guidance on how to approach these fights. At my level I have been guilty of avoiding ko when I am ahead in a game and ended up losing as a result.
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Format: Paperback
The fourth volume in Kim and Hyun's Learn to Play Go series, aimed at lower kyu rank players, was much more helpful than volume three. There are many diagrams of realistic play situations, no longer the simple and obvious ones of previous volumes, but still simple enough for a lower-ranking player like me to grasp. We are not yet into the esoterica of advanced go, or dan-level problems. Most of the problems were challenging for me, but not over my head.

Battle Strategies is a basic tutorial in invasion and reduction, attacking, and making life. Most of the scenarios are middle-game sorts of situations. There is a lot of discussion of ko fighting and capturing races, including an introduction to the more mathematical aspects of go (counting liberties can become more complicated than appears at first glance).

I found this to be a valuable book. I am still not sure how far this series has gotten me; theoretically (according to Many Faces of Go) I am now 14 kyu, but sometimes I still make dumb beginner mistakes. I am starting to see the big picture, a teeny tiny bit, and recognizing patterns and playing blindly less often, but I know a real player will still slaughter me.

I wish this book had covered openings more, which is where I am still playing a bit wildly, and also a little more help with the big picture instead of focusing exclusively on small-scale battles. (This book is really more about tactics than strategy, in my opinion.)

Definitely a worthy investment for a beginning player, but there are certainly some topics for which you'll need to look elsewhere.
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