There’s nothing more satisfying than returning to a book that one put down once-upon-a-time because it was too impossibly difficult and finding that it has magically become readable. This was my experience with Takeo Kajiwara’s The Direction of Play.
I remember looking at the book when I was somewhere between 19-15 kyu. I enjoyed Chapter 1, but gave up soon after that because I didn’t feel I understood what was going on.
This time, I felt I was able to at least follow the commentary and appreciate what was going on. I think I am a long way away from being able to apply the ideas in the book to my own games (I only got two of the seven problems correct in Chapter 7), but I still feel it was worth reading at this stage. If nothing else, it gave me a little insight into whole-board thinking, and presented a framework with which one can think about one’s games (i.e. the idea of considering the direction in which stones exert their power). I’m just beginning to think about reviewing professional games, so I really appreciated reading the in-depth analysis of the games that were included.
It’s difficult for me to formulate a take-home message for this book – I read it hoping to get a general feel for direction of play rather than for specific techniques or strategies. I liked the imagery in the book, and I think it may prove useful to think about stones as radiating power, and reaching out toward different parts of the board. Hmm. When I come to put these sorts of things in words, it all sounds a bit nebulous. I suppose that’s because of the nature of the book. It’s definitely one of those reads where the sense of a general concept begins to glimmer through a lot of specific examples which need to be taken as a whole.
Perhaps a reread when I’m stronger is in order. There was a lot of talk about when to depart from joseki and when various joseki are good or bad. I didn’t get the sense that I had to know lots of joseki to follow the text, but I suspect I’ll get more out of some of the examples once I can consider the positions with a repertoire of joseki at my fingertips.