I seem to be much more efficient at reading go books when on holiday than in normal life. I suppose it’s because there are long stretches of time when I’m on a coach/train/aeroplane/metro with nothing to do but read things that won’t make me too motion-sick. Go problems are good for this as there is usually some looking-away-from-the-book-whilst-thinking moments to break up the reading.
On my most recent adventures, I read Test Your Go Strength by Naoki Miyamoto from cover to cover.
The format of the book is great for travelling. There are 50 problems in all, 20 fuseki, 20 middle-game and 10 endgame problems. In each case, a whole-board situation is presented along with 5 possible moves. The reader decides a move and then the next several pages discuss the benefits and problems with each possibility. A score is given for each move, so one can add up one’s score for each section and the entire book.
The scoring is extremely generous – I ended up with a 2-dan rank overall, and a 3-dan rank for the endgame section (even though I think I’m less strong in the endgame in general).
I enjoyed the problems, and not just because of the generous scoring. The solutions to the problems weren’t obvious to me, and I had to think quite a bit in several cases. In several of the whole-board situations, I wouldn’t have thought of any of the proposed moves – the move I would have played wasn’t included in the options. This made me think through each of the proposed moves and compare it to the moves I would have made, which was useful. It made me consider moves that I would not have imagined on my own.
The text helpfully comments on each of the 5 options presented. In several cases, some of the presented options are big moves locally or would, in general, be the correct solution, but because of the specific whole-board situation, aren’t the optimal move. I found this focus on whole-board thinking very useful, as the problems nudge one into thinking about the ramifications of a supposedly ‘local’ move on later parts of the game.
The commentaries are relatively brief, making this a good book for reading on-the-go when one might not have an extended amount of time to review a long sequence of moves.
In my version of the book, there was an extra stone in the diagram for Problem 49. The diagram printed on the page where the problem is introduced looks like this:
In all the solution diagrams, however, the bottom right-hand corner looks like this:
Based on the commentary, I believe this latter position is what was intended.