Underappreciated Go Books

by Anders Kierulf


Preparing royalty payments is a good opportunity to look at the popularity of different books. For most Go books, their sales volume makes sense. But for some, I’m clueless as to why their sales are slow. I guess it’s easy for good books to get lost among 85 other books, so here are a few that I think deserve more attention.

“Life and Death: Intermediate Level Problems” by Maeda Nobuaki 9 dan: These 110 problems by ‘the god of life and death problems’ are well-designed and build on each other. The SmartGo Books edition has been prepared by Richard Hunter with a lot of attention to detail and really takes advantage of the interactive format.

“Rescue and Capture” by Yilun Yang 7 dan: 80 cool problems that involve capturing or saving stones.

Both those books are appropriate for single-digit kyu players, and also work well on the iPhone. A latte may help you win one game, but for the same price, these books will keep your brain going for hours and prepare you for future wins.

“The Life, Games and Commentaries of Honinbo Shuei” by John Fairbairn: Many players know about Honinbo Shusaku due to “Invincible”, but few know much about Honinbo Shuei. This full biography presents detailed commentaries on seventy-nine of Shuei’s games, and tracks the emergence of his pure but elusive style.

“The Games of Fujisawa Shuko” by John Power presents commentaries on all 40 games that Fujisawa Shuko played in the Kisei tournament as he defended the title against challenges from most of the young stars of the day: Kato Masao, Ishida Yoshio, Rin Kaiho, Otake Hideo, and Cho Chikun.

If you think analysis of professional games is beyond your level, start with Yuan Zhou’s “Understanding Pro Games” and the “Master Play” series discussing the playing styles of various pros.

“Patterns of the Sanrensei” by Michael Redmond 9 dan: Moyos can be fun; opponent moyos can be scary. Whether you play the sanrensei or need to know how to defend against it, this book gives you six basic patterns to handle different responses. Michael Redmond then discusses these patterns in the context of twenty games of his games. He’s the only native English speaking 9 dan, and the clarity of his explanations is refreshing.

“The most difficult problem ever: Igo Hatsuyôron 120” by Thomas Redecker: Inoue Dosetsu Inseki (1646 - 1719) created an exquisite full-board problem that may have finally been solved. The sequences are absolutely amazing, and every stone on the board has a role to play. This is a perfect problem to set up and discuss at your Go club.

Do yourself a favor and give these books another look. They deserve it. And their authors deserve more royalty payments.