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Learn to Play Go, Vol. 4: Battle Strategies Paperback – December 12, 2011
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[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 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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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. After reading this book I have ingrained in my mind that in most cases you should fight the ko. The chapter on capturing races is probably the weakest part of this book, since the explanation could have been so much more clear and precise. If you really want to understand how to evaluate capturing races, even extremely complex ones, read The Second Book of Go (Beginner and Elementary Go Books) by Bozulich.
Overall, there is enough helpful material here to make this book a purchase worth your while. Especially if you are in the range 15k to 7k.