Book Review: In the Beginning


In the Beginning

Description: In the first volume of the Elementary Go Series, Ishigure covers some basic principles and methods in the opening of the game. While a great overview of the beginning as a whole, this book is more suited for intermediate to advanced players as opposed to beginners.

[expand title=”Book Details” trigclass=”expandTitle”] [table] Title, In the Beginning (Volume 1)
Series, Elementary Go Series
Author, Ikuro Ishigure
Publisher, Kiseido
Published, 1st Printing April 1985 | Eighth Printing February 2006
Language, English
ISBN, 978-4-906574-10-6
Length, 152 Pages
[/table] [/expand] [expand title=”Table of Content” trigclass=”expandTitle”]

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1
    1. The First Moves of the Game
    2. The 3–4 Point
    3. The 3–3 Point
    4. The 4–4 Point
    5. The 3–5 Point
    6. The 4–5 Point
    7. Example Opening
    8. Extending Along the Side
    9. Pincer Attacks
    10. Invasions
    11. Extending into the Center
    12. Pushing and Crawling
  • Chapter 2 – Nine Concepts
    1. Make Your Stones Work Together
    2. Efficiency
    3. Play Away from Strength
    4. Thickness and Walls
    5. Open at the Bottom
    6. The Third Line and the Fourth
    7. Reverse Strategy
    8. Light and Heavy
    9. Attack and Defense
  • Chapter 3 – Ten Problems
[/expand] [expand title=”Synopsis” trigclass=”expandTitle” ] What did I enjoy about the book?

  • There is a LOT of content for such a small book.
  • Covers nine concepts that are useful for more advanced players.
  • Has ten practice problems that are graded on a scale as opposed to simply right or wrong.

What did I gain from reading this book?

  • As a beginner, I had a hard time grasping anything from the book.
  • As a more advanced player, I felt that I gained a better understanding of the opening. Though I will say that the boost in my confidence was only moderate.

What style of teaching does the book use?

  • Textbook Approach
    • Content is organized in a curriculum format and follows a lecture style of writing.
  • Primary Learning Mechanism:
    • Explanations with example diagrams
  • Other Learning Mechanisms:
    • Practice problems

What aspect can be improved on?

  • I would have liked to see more problems in the book to allow the reader to practice what he/she learned.

Is this book easy to read?

  • As a beginner, this was not an easy book to read. The material was rather dense and was difficult to understand. For players that are more advanced however, the book is written rather concisely and one will appreciate how much content is packed into such a small book.

Bottom Line

  1. If you are a beginner, steer clear of this book. This is for more advanced players.
  2. This book is more of a synopsis of the opening as opposed to a step by step guide to the opening.
  3. People are interested in learning about the opening should check out Opening Theory Made Easy first.
[/expand] [expand title=”Before I Read This Book…” trigclass=”expandTitle”] My Abilities

  • I was utterly brand new to the game when I first received this book.

My Perspective

  • I was looking forward to reading about the beginning steps that beginners should take.
[/expand] [expand title=”My Review” trigclass=”expandTitle” expanded=”true”] When I first read this book, I was an 18 kyu eager to learn all he could about go. Unfor­tu­nately, this was the first book I encoun­tered and it was so dense I was nearly dis­cour­aged from learn­ing any­thing more about open­ing the­ory. The rea­son this book receives a low score on read­abil­ity is due to the notion that it is an “ele­men­tary” book. With the West­ern edu­ca­tion sys­tem, most of us would assume that it should be appro­pri­ate for newer play­ers. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.
Its small size is decep­tively wel­com­ing, but the con­tent is incred­i­bly dense and cryp­tic for newer play­ers. This makes it near impos­si­ble to make any of the infor­ma­tion applic­a­ble to your games. So while you may be plant­ing seeds of wis­dom for a time when you will have an epiphany, it may be some time before you can see the fruits of your labor. After all, the last thing I want to see are peo­ple putting their pre­cious time and effort into a book that may not be as help­ful as they hoped. As a result, if you are a beginner, I highly rec­om­mend steer­ing clear of this book and start­ing with Open­ing The­ory Made Easy if you really want to learn more about the opening.
Now that my rant as a beginner is done, I want to turn the other side of the coin and emphasize the fact that this book has an incredible amount of information for such a small book. There are many nuggets of wis­dom in here for those who are able to actu­ally under­stand the book. In addi­tion, the last chap­ter con­sists of prob­lems that are quite use­ful in gain­ing a bet­ter under­stand­ing as to why some open­ing points are bet­ter than others.
Finally, I also want to mention the fact that this book does NOT cover fuseki patterns (e.g., Chinese opening, ninren-sei, sanren-sei, etc.). It is simply focused on establishing basic principles and methods behinds the opening. Nothing more than that.
[/expand] [expand title=”Recommended For…” trigclass=”expandTitle”]
  • Players looking for a thorough (but rather advanced) overview of the opening.
[/expand] [expand title=”Where Can I Buy It?” trigclass=”expandTitle”]
  • Amazon – $16.17 USD (shipping & handling not included)
  • GoGameGuru – $17.99 USD (shipping & handling not included)
  • Kiseido – $18.00 USD (shipping & handling not included)
  • SmartGo Books – $9.99 USD (e-Book for iPad & iPhone Only)
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Last Updated on August 1st, 2013

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By BenGoZen