So! I did indeed have a go at the problems in this book, and despite the 25- to 20-kyu rating, I did not get them all correct on the first go!
Part of this is because I was zipping through the problems. On a few occasions, I didn’t read properly and got caught out, and in a few other cases, I didn’t pay close enough attention to who was meant to play.
If I’d been a bit more careful, I have no doubt that I would have made 100% (or at least very close) with not very much effort, but this was a nice little reminder that one does need to read and shouldn’t take things for granted, even when they have ‘beginners’ in the title!
As with Volume 1, I thought the book covered an excellent range of topics, and I would most certainly recommend Volume 2 for players in their teen-kyus (and early single-digits, for those who have not come across the series before).
Given my success rate for Volume 2, I suspect I’m going to need to set aside some serious thinking time for Volume 3!
I recently discovered an old piece of paper with notes from the very first time I went through my very first problem book, Kano Yoshinori’s Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Volume 1. I think this was the third book I read about Go, after two introductory books (Teach Yourself Go by Charles Matthews and Go for Beginners by Kaoru Iwamoto).
I read through the entire book this morning, just to revisit. It was so fun to have my notes which included a list of problems I got wrong, a smaller list of problems I got wrong repeatedly, and a list of things I needed to play out on a board. I also have a few questions like ‘why is white here illegal?’ (answer: self-atari) and a message of despair over a problem that required one to give up a small clutch of stones in order to make a group live (‘but I want it ALL!’). I’m so happy to have my notes – it was so fun to have a glimpse into my double-digit kyu brain and, after the nigh-impossible problems I’ve been doing, it was a nice break.
Even though the problems seemed extremely easy this time around, the book still really impressed me. So many of the fundamentals were right there, and the range of material covered is excellent. It’s a wonderfully comprehensive book of first problems, and, frankly, I have a hard time imagining how it could be improved. I think it provides an excellent foundation in most aspects of the game.
The only (very minor) problem I had with the book is that I was a bit demoralised by the recommended rank on the cover. The book is supposedly for 30 to 25 kyu players, but some of the problems require a bit of advanced thinking for an absolute beginner, particularly a few of the tesuji and life-and-death problems. Luckily, I had someone around who could tell me, ‘yeah, ignore the rankings; some of these aren’t 25-kyu problems’. Even just this evening, I heard them jokingly described as being for professional kyu-level players, which made me smile.
I remember reading Volume 2 (and have my notes from that as well), but I don’t think I made it through Volume 3, let alone Volume 4; I might just have to give them a look-through now….
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.
In the absence of anything happening around these stones, can the two black stones be connected or has white just cut?
Click here for the discussion.
In 2006, I bought some collections of Go problems from Zhen Zhu on e-bay. He was very helpful in suggesting books that would be appropriate for my level, and provided extremely helpful translations of some of the main Chinese characters needed to understand the problems.
Weiqi Zhongji Jieti Xunlian (Go Intermediate Problem Solving Training) was one of them. I brought Book 1 along with me on holiday.
I find the level of these problems just about perfect for my current level, and for the situation. They require enough thought to make them interesting, but aren’t so complex that I need to lug a goban with me through the streets of Wroclaw. I’m making enough mistakes that I feel I’m learning something, but not so many that I feel that I’m in over my head.
I think it can sometimes be hard to find collections of problems pitched at the right level. This one feels like a very nice fit for my ~8 kyu. Of course, I’m taking it a bit more leisurely since I can’t read the commentary in the solutions. It’s a nice book for a little on-the-go practice.