Book Review: Master Play – The Style of Lee Changho


Master Play Lee Changho Cover

Master Play: The Style of Lee Changho

Description: In the first volume of Yuan Zhou’s series “Master Play,” Zhou provides amateur players with insight into the legendary Lee Changho. Zhou provides two in-depth commentaries on two of Lee Changho’s games to illustrate Lee Changho’s brilliance and why his famous “calm and solid” style it is so effective. Very useful for kyu players who find themselves consistently in violent games.

[expand title=”Book Details” trigclass=”expandTitle”] [table] Title, Master Play: The Style of Lee Changho
Series, Master Play
Author, Yuan Zhou
Publisher, Slate & Shell
Published, “2007”
Language, English
ISBN, 1-932001-38-7
Length, 71 Pages
[/table] [/expand] [expand title=”Table of Content” trigclass=”expandTitle”]

  • Lee Changho Wins His First World Title
  • Lee Changho Wins a Second Fujitsu Cup
[/expand] [expand title=”Before I Read This Book…” trigclass=”expandTitle”] When I first started learning about modern day go professionals, it’s to no one’s surprise that one of the first names I came upon was Lee Changho. Not only was he extremely famous, but it seemed he was undisputedly #1 at the time (although he might have started dropping ranks by the time I learned about him). So it goes without saying that I was curious what made him so strong, and thus it led me to purchasing this book.
[/expand] [expand title=”My Review” trigclass=”expandTitle” expanded=”true”] Similar to Master Style of Play: Go Seigen, you are initially greeted with a fun little dialogue between Yuan Zhou and two amateur players to give an introduction on Lee Changho and his background. After a couple of pages of this, Zhou then dives right into the game reviews.
One of the things that I enjoyed about the game diagrams in this book is that they are often only a couple moves long. This makes it a lot easier to follow what is going on and allows weaker players to have a chance to understand what is going on. In addition, the variations are kept to a minimum in order to keep a focus on Lee Changho’s style instead of go theory and technique.
Upon finishing both game commentaries, I am glad that I finally took the time to gain insight into Lee Changho’s style. It’s quite simple and straightforward when compared to Go Seigen, but it is one of the more appropriate styles that I feel kyu players should check out first. This is because Lee Changho’s games convey the prime example of how one does not have to risk battles of epic proportions to win games, which is something I think many kyu players never take the time to learn or realize.
At the end of the day, this is a book that is best suited for those looking to get a glimpse into Lee Changho’s style and what it means to play calm go. Definitely recommended for kyu players.
[/expand] [expand title=”Synopsis” trigclass=”expandTitle”] What did I enjoy about the book?

  • The introduction on Lee Changho was very entertaining and informative.
  • The game commentaries focus on Lee Changho’s brilliance and style instead of go theory and technique.
  • It is very easy to read and work through.

What did I gain from reading this book?

  • Having my eyes opened to how even the simplest of moves can still determine a decisive victory.
  • Realized how greedy my style of go is.
  • Realization of how I need to learn how play more calmly.

What is the format of the book?

  1. A biography of Lee Changho that is a few pages long and reads like a story.
  2. Game commentaries that follow the standard structure of diagrams accompanied by their explanations.

What aspect can be improved on?

  • No complaints here!

Is this book easy to read?

  • Yes. The book was easy to read and work through.

Bottom Line

  1. A fantastic introduction to Lee Changho and his rise to fame.
  2. Contains two memorable games that illustrate the unyielding strength that Lee Changho posseses.
  3. Well worth the price of admission if you are interested in learning about Lee Changho and his style of go.
[/expand] [expand title=”Recommended For…” trigclass=”expandTitle”]
  • Players who are interested in learning more about Lee Changho’s style.
  • Players who are interested in reading in-depth but understandable commentaries of two of Lee Changho’s games.
[/expand] [expand title=”Where Can I Buy It?” trigclass=”expandTitle”]
  • Slate & Shell – $15.50 USD (shipping and handling not included)
  • SmartGo Books – $4.99 USD (e-Book)
[/expand] [expand title=”Other Books in This Series…” trigclass=”lastExpandTitle”]
  • Master Play: The Style of Lee Changho
  • Master Play: The Style of Go Seigen
  • Master Play: The Style of Takemiya
  • Master Play: The Fighting Styles of Kato Masao & Seo Bong Soo
  • Master Play: The Territorial Styles of Kitani Minoru & Cho Chikun
  • Master Play: the Playing Style of Seven Top Pros

Last Updated on October 10th, 2013

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<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="4127">4 comments</span>

  • Great review. Is the style easy to change throughout the game in case you need to adapt to a new situation? (This question is under the presumption that you have already played with style.)

    • When it comes to style of play, it’s more of your general approach to the game as opposed to a rigid sequence like joseki for instance. But oftentimes, the play style you start with will have large implications on future play (which is to be expected since the opening determines what the middle game looks like).
      So while you should always adapt in your games, realize that a style of play is more of a general approach to the game that carries out for most of the game. For example, most of the time, when you start playing a territorial style, you will find it near impossible to switch to moyo later on.
      Does that make sense?

By BenGoZen