Reading go books is a great way to improve, it helped me a lot when I was in the kyu ranks especially. There are some amazing books out there, but also some less impressive works. I hope that I can help you find some good books by sharing my experiences.

I used to give number ratings but it became a bit difficult to do that, so instead I have divided these reviews into categories of amazing, good, ok and not recommended. I also give my difficulty level estimation by the KGS or EGF scale(they are fairly similar). If you only know your AGA(American) rank then that's about 2 stones weaker in general. My own level is KGS 2 dan.

I hope these reviews will help you find go books that you'll enjoy.

Amazing Go Books

Good Go Books

OK Go Books

Books I don't Recommend

Some Interesting Books I Haven't Read

Amazing Go Books

Opening Theory Made Easy

Opening Theory Made Easy

This is a great book that will explain how to think during the opening. More specifically, Opening Theory Made Easy teaches about extensions, multi purpose moves, typical shape mistakes, usage of some common joseki, basic attack and defence, as well as a few examples on reduction and sacrificing stones, all within the opening stages of the game. The book is very well organized being divided into 20 "principles". Each principle is like its own little chapter where a certain concept or situation is explained.

This book is a fairly quick read. I personally read it for the first time when I was around 8 kyu in about 3 hours. The book is light in text, but instead uses many diagrams which works really well, the diagrams are clear and easy to understand. This book is primarely a DDK book though, so some of the topics may seem a bit basic for SDKs. However, if you are 6-10 kyu, I believe this book will clarify some aspects of your opening, like it did with mine, making you stronger fast. Opening Theory Made Easy really improved my game and is maybe the best go book I have read. I would recommend this book to anyone who is below 5 kyu, especially to the weaker single digit and stronger double digit kyus.

Recommended level: 20 Kyu - 6 Kyu.


An amazing book on the opening of go for kyu players.

The Good
  • THE book for understanding how to play in the opening, a must for kyu players.
  • Teaches the direction of play in the opening very well.
  • Easy to follow, very clear explenations with good examples.
  • Very well organized with its 20 smaller chapters.
The Bad
  • Somewhat short(170 pages).

All About Thickness

All About Life & Death

All about thickness is a book written in 1990 by Yoshio Ishida 9p, and republished in 2015. All about thickness goes over topics such as extending from influence, attacking, reducing, invading, and joseki choice. The best moves for both sides are explained in each situation. There are 45 example problems in this book, and the first 5 are dedicated to handicap go, the rest being even games. At the very end of the book, there's a few pages of proverbs related to thickness.

Each example starts off with a full page diagram of a complete go board posing a question or situation. This diagram has arrows, short texts, and area markings "drawn" on top of it to visualize thickness and what's going on. These are followed by another full page diagram with the same kind of markings, along with the typical go diagrams with accompanying text to explain variations. This kind of presentation may sound strange, but the vizualizations makes the book very engaging and easy to follow. It's light on text compared to many other books, but there's enough to understand what's going on. The visualizations help convey the information in a very nice way.

There's not much negative to say about this book, the only criticism I have is that it has maybe a bit too much complicated joseki, including a few taisha variations. It's really not that bad at all though, most of the joseki are useful since they are all related to using or negating influence. I recommended this book to anyone who feel they need to understand influence better or want to improve their direction of play.

Recommended level: 10 Kyu - 1 Kyu.


A great book that explains the value of thickness or influence, how to use influence and how to play against influence.

The Good
  • The vizualisations help explain influence in an unusual but effective way.
  • Teaches the basics of direction of play in regards to influence.
  • Engaging and easy to read.
The Bad
  • A few complicated joseki examples.

All About Life and Death 1 & 2

All About Life & Death

The all about life and death books by Cho Chikun are great for kyu players. In volume one, basic life and death situations are explained. You'll mainly learn about life and death on the second line and in the corner. The problems are well explained and extremely useful to know.

Volume 2 deals with second line, third line and fourth line shapes, in addition to life and death in the corner. There's also a dedicated chapter on invading the 4-4 point. My favorite chapter however, is the last one, which deals with various ways of invading the 4-4, 3-4 and how to find good invasion points in the opponents framework. These invasions are really helpful for kyu players especially, since the positions explained in this chapter often appear in real games.

2015 Update: These books used to be out of print but Ishi Press have now reprinted them. Apparently the quality of the reprints aren't the best.

Recommended level: 15 Kyu - 5 Kyu.


A good compendium of life & death for players at the 15 kyu - 5 kyu level.

The Good
  • Useful problems for the most common life & death situations in the corner and on the side.
  • The problems on invasion are great.
The Bad
  • The quality of the newly printed versions may not be the best.

Good Go Books

The Learn to Play Go Series

Learn to Play Go

The learn to play go series is a set of 5 books which is designed to take you from a complete beginner to at least 10 kyu(of course, you wont get this strong only by reading books). Everything is explained in great detail and there are many examples given for the different concepts. You'll learn about the rules of go, life and death, basic shapes, the opening, the endgame, attacking, invading and more, basically everything beginners should learn. Joseki is also explained, but not that much, so don't expect to learn all the basic joseki with this series, for that you should get a joseki book such as 38 Basic Joseki or study joseki at the many resources online. All of these books have problems at the end of each chapter where you can test your acquired knowledge.

Volume one is an absolute beginners book that teaches things from scratch. It explains the rules of the game, teaches basic concepts like how to connect your stones efficiently, simple life and death problems, how to play kos and how to count when the game is over. This book does the job very well in introducing baduk to the complete beginner.

Volume two teaches the basics of a range of topics. It covers how to play in the opening(such as extensions, enclosures and approaches), the basics of invading and reducing an opponents framework, how to attack your opponents stones, how to make a base and some basic shapes as well. Another concept this book focuses on is "haengma", which basically is how to play from your stones or groups "moving" them around the board, thus the title of the book: "The way of the moving horse". In addition to this it further expands upon the topics of life and death, liberty races and ko fights which volume 1 started, and it even has a dedicated chapter about the endgame where it shows some simple end-game techniques.

For a beginner some of these things can get kind of overwhelming, since this book covers a lot of topics. In the preface it says that the book is meant to take you to 12 kyu. Just remember to take your time with the book and don't think you'll master everything in one night.

Volume three is meant for those already at the 15-12 kyu level. Make sure you understand volume 1 and 2, and have played a number of games before reading this. This book is interesting because it teaches good style. It goes into topics such as when to be defensive and when to attack, how not to be greedy and how to play calm. The book shows a lot of typical mistakes beginners make, and demonstrates how they didn't follow different principals. It also goes deeper into the topics covered in book 2 like attacking and how to play in the end game. This is a good book to read once you understand the basics of how to play go and have played some games.

Volume four digs deeper into middle game strategies, and covers attacking, reducing, invading, ko fighting and group settling. There is some stuff in here that even many single digit kyus don't follow, like how to correctly play lightly and profit from attacking. There's also a good chunk of simple life and death problems with explanations.

Volume five starts off by giving examples of contact fighting techniques, and after that teaches basic shapes for a good 70 pages. The second part of the book further expands upon topics explained in previous books like the opening and the endgame. This book also teaches some joseki and how to think when faced with unknown variations.

A common thread for book 2-5 is that they cover a lot of similar topics, just on a more and more advanced level as you progress through the volumes.

Recommended level: complete beginner - 10 Kyu(depending on what book).


A great series for newcomers and kyu players in the double digits. For newcormers, you really don't need more than the first 2 books.

The Good
  • Probably the best introduction to go in English.
  • Well-written, with clear and good explenations.
  • Easy enough to follow for the beginner, the pace isn't to fast nor to slow.
  • Teaches the basics of everything from the opening to the endgame.
  • The self-tests at the end of each chapter are great.
The Bad
  • Not that much on joseki.
  • Volume 2 might seem overwhelming at first for newcomers since it covers a lot of topics, but if you have read volume 1 it shouldn't be difficult to understand.
  • You may or may not like that this series tries to cover a little bit about everything in each book. The series can end up feeling a little dry by the last volume since it goes back to the same topics.
  • 5 volumes is a lot. For newcomers I'd say start with volume 1 and 2. Make sure you play a lot of games as this is more important than reading 5 books.

Get Strong at the Opening

Get Strong at The Opening

This book is a problem book consisting of 175 opening problems. It covers the most standard openings(ninren-sei, sanren-sei, the Chinese opening and the Shusaku opening). By doing the problems in this book one will get a better understanding of the standard openings and how to play against various approaches and early invasions in general, as well as get a better sense of direction in the opening.

I liked this book because by doing the problems I felt that my opening strength increased, and it helped me get from 1 kyu to 1 dan. The only thing that maybe is not so great is that it is slightly old(first printing 1996, second printing 2005), so it doesn't cover the most modern opening patterns. I recommend this book to anyone that wants to get better at the opening. If you are a kyu player get this along with Opening Theory Made Easy.

Recommended level: 10 Kyu - 4 Dan.


A good problems book on the opening that will challenge you.

The Good
  • Covers several opening patterns, followups and possible invasions.
  • Great for stronger single digit kyus and low dan players that wants to sharpen their opening abilities.
The Bad
  • Doesn't cover the most modern openings.

Tesuji(Elementary Go Series Volume 3)


First, a short reminder of what a tesuji is. Tesujis are "clever plays", which means good moves that may not look obvious at first glance. Learning tesujis will help improve your reading and help you recognize good shapes in your games. Knowing a tesuji your opponent doesn't know can also be game-deciding.

Now for the book. Tesuji is written by James Davies, and is a part of the elementary go series, but there is no need to have volume 1 or 2 before getting this book since they cover completely different topics. Tesuji is a beginners guide to tesuji and a pretty well-known and well-liked book in the go community.

Tesuji is organized into multiple chapters covering certain topics, and each of these topics have a few sections dedicated to certain famous tesujis. The theory behind the tesujis are explained along with multiple examples. At the end of the sections a couple of problems are given, and at the end of each chapter a larger set of problems(typically around 10) are given covering all the tesujis for that chapter. I can see how Tesuji would be great for those around 15-10 kyu, because some space is spent explaining beginner go concepts before explaining the tesuji related to it, like the importance of cutting stones and what a multi-step ko is. This is just as much of a theoretical book as it is a problem book, so reading this as a strong kyu player may bore you since the concepts are fairly introductory. There are over 300 problems and examples in Tesuji(This is combined, not sure of the exact number but that's what it says on the back of the book), and the level of these problems range from about 20-5 kyu.

What's great about this book is that it's a nice introduction to various tesuji, and that the tesujis themselves are given their own sections so they are easy to look up later for reference or for a quick refresher. I thought this book was somewhat dry, but that's probably because I read it too late(1 kyu), I'm not sure a 15 - 5 kyu player would feel the same way. I think it's probably a great way to introduce tesuji to players of this level, however for stronger players I would rather recommend a book like Get Strong at Tesuji instead.

Recommended level: 15 Kyu - 5 Kyu.


A good introduction to basic tesuji with easy to look up chapters for the tesuji.

The Good
  • Goes over several "famous" tesujis that are handy to know.
  • I like that it has a "self-test" at the end of each chapter.
  • Has both easy and more difficult problems for all ranges of kyu(The final problems are perhaps even dan level).
The Bad
  • I personally found this book to be rather dry, but that may be because I didn't read it at the proper level.

Get Strong at Tesuji

Get Strong at Tesuji

Get strong at tesuji is a pure problems book which contains 534 tesuji problems. These problems come in 4 degrees of difficulty marked 1 star(*), 2 star(**), 3 star(***) and 4 star(****). The 1-3 star problems are scattered throughout the entire book, while there are only 10 four star problems in total, which start appearing on problem 433. The one and two star problems are fairly easy to do and are for the most part simple shape problems, I'd say that they are both around the 15-10 kyu level. The 3 star problems are a bit more difficult, but still below 5 kyu in difficulty for the most part. The 4 star problems are about 5kyu - 3 dan in difficulty, so in all this isn't a dan level book, with the exceptions of a few 4 star problems.

Get Strong at Tesuji is very well organized, 6 problems on one side of the page, and the 6 answers on the back, and so it continues throughout the entire book, with only the correct answer being explained for each problem. This book is therefore very easy to pick up when you only have a couple of minutes to spare to solve some problems.

A small complaint I have about this book is that some of the 1 and 2 star problems were very easy(to the point where I wouldn't even call these tesuji problems), but even these problems are still good practice for fast problem solving i guess. Even though I read this book as a 1 dan, I liked it and felt that it helped sharpen my reading and tesuji abilities.

Recommended level: 12 Kyu - 2 Dan.


A great problems book for kyu and low dan level players. The level ranges from 15 kyu - 5 kyu for the most part, with a few harder problems as well.

The Good
  • The type of tesuji are mixed throughout the book, rather than dividing these by chapters. I prefer this as it doesn't give the answers away, and makes for a better learning experience in my opinion.
  • Well structured and easy to pick up.
  • Overall a nice collection of tesuji problems.
The Bad
  • Only 10 "4 star" problems out of 534.
  • The difficulty gap between the easier and harder problems felt a bit too large. Some I solved in just a few seconds while others would take a few minutes. I liked that the difficulty was scattered though, rather than steadily increasing.

Positional Judgment - High-Speed Game Analysis

38 Basic Joseki

Positional Judgment is written by the famous go player Cho Chikun, and gives us an insight into how he judges the game. If you are looking for a book about a mathematical approach to counting, or a book on counting techniques, this is neither. While the first chapter explains how to evaluate territory, the focus of the book is more about whole board judgment and finding the important moves to turn the game in your favour. This is the kind of book that might help your "feeling" for how the game is going and what you should do next.

Positional Judgment is 179 pages long. The diagrams are half-page sized or smaller, and the rest filled with text. While this isn't a thick book, there are many examples and positions where you can practice. It took me about 6 hours to finish this, but if you study deeper, and take the counting exercises more seriously than what I did, this can easily be a 10 hour book. The first couple of chapters were rather basic, and I felt I already knew what it was trying to teach, while the further in I got, the more advanced it became.

The majority of the book are various whole board examples where one is to estimate the score and find appropriate moves. There are good examples on direction of play and how to reduce moyos in this book. The last 30 pages are game reviews from 2 of Cho Chikuns own games in 1982. Some of these review diagrams have plenty of moves numbered, so they are hard to follow unless you study on a goban or find the games online. Personally, I found both the games online quite easily. While clicking through these games I found a diagram error early in the first game, which persists throughout the entire review. It's nothing too crucial, but it kind of ruined one of the examples where one is asked to find the right move. I can't say for sure if this error is in the book or online, but I checked 3 different sources and they all had the same move. The games themselves are interesting and I have nothing negative to say about the reviewing.

Recommended level: 6 Kyu - 3 Dan.


An interesting book about counting and whole-board judgment that is sure to help given enough time.

The Good
  • Lots of examples. If you study this book seriously it should help your estimating and judging abilities.
The Bad
  • Felt at times a bit dry.

OK Go Books

38 Basic Joseki(Elementary Go Series Volume 2)

38 Basic Joseki

The title of this book may be a bit misleading, there are far more than 38 joseki variations in this book. 38 Basic Joseki is 246 pages thick with probably well over 100 joseki variations in total, but there are 38 initial joseki positions which are examined, each leading to several variations. That being said 38 Basic Joseki focuses on the most common joseki and their variations, leaving out the more complicated or less played ones(such as the large avalance), but some of the variations in this book will still be too complicated for double digit kyu players. I re-read this book as a KGS 1 dan and although I knew many of the variations, there were more than a few I didn't know. When to play what joseki is clearly explained by giving several examples, and the author also explains what might happen next after many, but not all of the variations.

Some translations aren't the best. Japanese go terminology is used instead of their English counterparts throughout the book, and many people, especially beginners may not understand what all these words mean, i.e. "shicho" instead of "ladder". However, at the end of the book, there is a glossary explaining the Japanese words, so this really isn't much of a problem at all. A perhaps stranger choice though is calling pincers for squeeze plays, which is confusing since the squeeze play is a common tesuji in go unrelated to pincers. Again, not much of an issue, but I thought I should mention it. Another issue is the age of the book. The first printing was in 1973, and the last in 1998, so it doesn't contain the most recent joseki variations. It's up to you to decide how important this is. Most joseki haven't changed, but there are a few variations left out.

Understanding joseki is important for getting good at baduk, as you'll feel much more comfortable experimenting in the opening and being able to choose the best direction. 38 Basic Joseki does a great job of teaching the whens and hows in regard to joseki and direction of play. This isn't among the most advanced joseki books though, as it's primarily aimed at kyu players, but I believe low dan level players that wants to brush up on their joseki knowledge will also benefit from reading it.

There are many essential joseki here, however they can quickly lead into variations too complicated for those trying to learn the basics, which is perhaps the biggest failure with this book. It can be overwhelming for ddks but also skippable for dan players. All in all it's a good introduction to essential joseki and when to play these, just don't concern yourself with the more complicated variations. If you're a double digit, or weaker single digit kyu player, don't attempt to learn everything in a few sittings, as some of the variations will be too difficult. Instead read through it, learn the more simple variations and basic ideas, and try the joseki in your games.

Recommended level: 12 Kyu - 2 kyu.


38 Basic Joseki is a good book for learning joseki. Unfortunately it's a bit outdated, and can feel a bit too dense for beginners.

The Good
  • Teaches a lot of basic joseki.
  • Great explanations of the joseki themselves and when to play them.
  • Most low dan players will also learn from the more advanced variations.
The Bad
  • The book doesn't cover the newest joseki variations, so it's a bit outdated.
  • Some strange terminology.
  • The title is misleading. While the book has 38 starting positions, there are many more variations. Beginners might feel overwhelmed by the material. Don't expect to learn all the joseki in one night, week or month, instead ignore the more advanced variations until you are ready.
  • May seem a bit dry. Some people just don't like studying joseki, so I can understand they may find it boring. The author doesn't try to be witty or anything like that to make it seem more interesting. Personally I think joseki is interesting by itself. Anyway, I thought I should mention it.

Perceiving the Direction of Play (The Heart of Go - Volume 1)

Perceiving the Direction of Play

I've also made a video review for this: Video review on YouTube.

Perceiving the Direction of Play is written by Kobayashi Satoru 9 dan(Not the guy that invented the Kobayashi opening, that's Kobayashi Koichi), and is a problems book aimed at improving your whole board thinking.

This book has 4 chapters. The first chapter explains a few examples of direction of play as an introduction to the topic, as well as 3 interesting game reviews from the first Honinbo, Honinbo Sansa and his rival Kashio Rigen. These games are from the 16th century, and at that time whole board theory wasn't very developed. The author points out several direction of play mistakes in their games.

Chapter 2 deals with direction in joseki, chapter 3 with direction in fuseki, and chapter 4 with direction in fighting. These 3 chapters consists of 15 whole-board problems each. Each problem have about 4 diagrams showing some incorrect variations as well as the correct one, and sometimes there's also a diagram showing a brief continuation of the game after the situation.

For each problem there's also a diagram with the moves numbered up until the problem is posed, called "The course of the game". I like that the author included this, it's nice to study the previous moves as well. I thought that some of these diagrams could have needed more comments though, because several of the problems are posed at around move 40, with only a few brief comments to explain the game.

Another small issue is that the diagrams aren't labeled as incorrect or correct, which can makes studying these somewhat confusing, since you wont know which one is showing the correct answer before having read the comments next to it. For the most part the "In the actual game" diagram is the correct one, but not always.

I read Perceiving the Direction of Play as a KGS 2 dan and felt that I was just about strong enough to read it. I got many of the answers wrong, however for the most part my answers were explained by the author, so the book didn't feel too difficult. The book doesn't present you with multiple-choice options for any of the problems. The author gives you a small hint for each problem though, but it doesn't give away the answer by any means. The fact that you have to look at the whole board, judge the status of each group, and in addition figure out the best local continuation, whether this is a joseki, a sabaki sequence or a series of attacking moves is what makes this book challenging. I would also like to mention that a lot of these problems are related to attack and defense, even in chapter 2 and 3.

There are 45 problems in this book, 15 for each chapter. Even though this isn't a lot compared to other problem books, the book is 224 pages long, so it's actually longer than most go books. However, I feel that the last chaper "direction in fighting" either needed more problems, or shouldn't try to tackle too much at once. There are sabaki, reduction and general attacking problems within this chapter, so it's fairly diverse(or random) and seemed to lack an overall thread.

A dissapointment with this book was the binding. After opening it a few times the pages started to fall out. Maybe I was just unlucky, but from my understanding this seems to be a recurring issue with books from Hinoki Press.

Despite its issues, this is overall a good problem book, and I would recommend it to those that are 1 kyu or stronger, but below 1k kyu and it's probably too hard. If you're 5 kyu or weaker, I recommend that you get Opening Theory Made Easy instead, which also deals with the direction of play in the opening.

Recommended level: 1 Kyu - 6 Dan.


An advanced book with though but interesting problems on direction of play. The binding is terrible.

The Good
  • The 3 game reviews in the first chapter were very enjoyable(they're only 6-7 pages each though).
  • Many interesting problems.
  • If you're a dan level player looking for challenging problems on direction of play, this might be a good choice.
The Bad
  • The binding on my copy didn't do its job.
  • Some of the comments are maybe a bit too brief.
  • The diagrams aren't clearly labeled as being correct or incorrect.
  • The last chapter seemed a bit random.

Otake's Secrets of Strategy (The Heart of Go - Volume 3)

Otake's Secrets of Strategy

Check out my video review here: Video review on YouTube.

This is a book written by the same author who wrote Opening Theory Made Easy, which is one of the reasons why I got this book, as I really liked that one. The book focuses on attack and defense and direction of play in the middle game. It emphazises how important it is to have a somewhat aggressive style in order to take control of the game instead of falling behind. If you have a passive style, this book might help you with that. It's broken up into 3 parts: an introduction to principles, problems, and then finally game reviews.

The introduction is really nice, as it explains a list of 10 principles, related to attack and defense and whole-board(center) control. The introduction uses 18 pages for explaining these principles. I really like these kind of principles, as it simplifies ideas a lot. The examples are clear and easy to understand. However, the principles only have 1 or 2 examples each, I feel it wouldn't have hurt to include a few more, to drive the ideas home.

The first chapter consists of 33 whole board problems spanning across a little over 100 pages, with attacking and/or center-control in mind. The various, but not all principles are highlighted in these examples. Again, I wouldn't mind more problems. 33 problems isn't a lot, but for what's there, they are great.

The rest of the book consists of 100 pages of game reviews, chapter 2 being for amateur games, and chapter 3 for professional games, 3 games each chapter. Some of the principles are revisited, such as those related to center control and creative fighting(like not following joseki and standard shapes), the author also really ephazises agression. There are also some great examples on sacrificing stones in these reviews, but strangely sacrificing stones isn't really a part of the 10 principles. Overall though, it didn't feel like enough principles where revisited, so it almost felt as if I was reading another book.

One thing I noticed is that in some of these reviews(mostly the amateur games) the author will sometimes say that a move is "obvious", without explaining why. These type of comments really aren't helpful, especially since in some cases these "obvious" moves weren't obvious to me. Overall, the reviews are good, so If you like game reviews in general I think you will like this part of the book, especially the Dosaku game is really interesting.

I think this could have been a great book had the book consisted of a few more pages explaining the principles, and a lot more problems instead of including game reviews, as I found the first part of the book to be a lot more engaging and helpful. I found a diagram error in problem 3, and what I think might be an error in problem 5, but other than these i didn't notice any errors. Keep in mind that this is a "The Heart of Go" book, so the binding isn't any good. I was super careful with this book but still the binding came a bit loose. Luckily no pages have fallen out.

Recommended level: 5 Kyu - 3 Dan.


An interesting book that teaches good style. The first half was great, but the reviews weren't what I expected. Poor binding.

The Good
  • Being presented with a list of principles is nice.
  • The problems are interesting and a good way to enforce some of the principles.
  • If you're a passive player this might be the book you need. The author emphasizes a good aggressive style.
  • Overall a well written book, I never got bored with it, although I much preferred the first half to the second.
  • Unlike with Perceiving the Direction of Play, the diagrams are nicely labeled.
The Bad
  • Just like with Perceiving the Direction of Play, the binding is terrible.
  • Some of the game review comments were confusing.
  • I didn't find the second half nearly as useful as the first. I guess this depends on what you prefer though.

Books I don't recommend

Go for Beginners

Go For Beginners

This book teaches the rules of go, life and death situations and basic shapes you should know. You'll also learn basic strategies, opening moves and some invasions. This beginners book covers what you need to know to advance to around 12-15 kyu, which is similar to the stuff in volume 1 and some of volume 2 of the learn to play go series. Overall I like the learn to play go series better, because the layout and the way it is structured is better in my opinion. The learn to play go series also covers the topics in greater detail and spends more time on the basics. Some of the examples in this book are maybe a bit too difficult too quick, the reader will immediately be hit with examples from real games. The pacing of this book is rather fast, so not the best for the complete newcomer in my opinion.

Recommended level: 25 Kyu - 15 Kyu.


A decent book for beginners that teaches the basics of go, but might be confusing for the complete newcomer.

The Good
  • Covers all the basics of the game that beginners should learn.
The Bad

Pure and Simple - Takao's Astute Use of Brute Force

Go For Beginners

Pure And Simple has 4 chapters, the 3 first being various problems on how to play thick and/or attack, the 4th being 6 game reviews from when the author Takao Shinji won the Honinbo title in 2005.

The book sets out to teach the value of playing solidly before attacking. The problems are for the most part interesting, and will challenge strong kyu and low dan players.

While the problems are interesting, too much space is spent on reviewing the games before and after the board position where the problem arises. I felt that the focus was taken away from what I wanted to learn. In fact, all the problems in this book combined amount to 26, which didn't feel like enough.

I only briefly looked over the game reviews before dropping this book. The reviews seem fine, but not what I picked up this book for. If you like studying pro games you might get more enjoyment out of this book.

Recommended level: 3 Kyu - 5 Dan.


The Good
  • The problems themselves are for the most part interesting.
The Bad
  • The book lacks focus on what it sets out too learn, with too much general reviewing.
  • Not enough problems, which goes back to the previous point.
  • Some diagram errors.

Some Interesting Books I Haven't Read

Invincible: The Games of Shusaku

Invincible: The Games of Shusaku

Invincible: The Games of Shusaku is a 420 page book which explains 80 of Shusakus greatest games in depth, and in total the book has 143 games. The book follows Shusakus life, showing his games in chronological order.

This is a book I don't have in my collection. The thing is I'm just not that interested in pro game reviews. It's likely I'll pick this up at some point though.

Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go

Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go

I wanted to include this book since it's a very popular semi-beginners book for the game of go. As a matter of fact, it's probably the most praised english go book out there. Personally I only read the first few chapters of it and didn't like it that much. I just didn't like the teaching style of the author, and I thought that The Learn to Play Go Series simply was a lot better. Like I mentioned though, a lot of people love this book, so maybe I got the wrong impression of it. However, I don't plan on going back to it any time soon.

The Second Book of Go

The Second Book of Go

The Second Book of Go is a go book for strong double digit kyus. While beginners go books usually covers all aspects of go that beginners should learn, the more advanced go books usually focuses on a particular topic. This book however covers many different topics in go. It's a well known book that has gotten great reviews. Personally I missed the opportunity to get this book when I was at this range, so I haven't read it.

Go! More Than a Game

Go! More Than a Game

Go! More Than a Game uses an original approach to teaching go. Apperantly, besided explaining the rules of go through teaching games on the different board sizes, it also contains a bunch of essays on go in culture, and the history of go in depth. I haven't read this book myself, but thought it sounded like something new players to the game could be interested in.

The Master of Go

The Master of Go

This book won't teach you baduk, but is instead a semi-fictional novel about the master of go(based on Honinbo Shusai), and the game he played against an up and coming player named Otake(based on Minoru Kitani) in 1938.

First Kyu

First Kyu

First Kyu is a fictional novel about a teenager that want to become a professional player.