2016-06-26 last update, 2001-09-18 first day, Robert Jasiek

INDEX | GO | STUDY | ISBN -
[My book reviews on David Carlton's page] - Go teaching - Suppliers

Go (Weiqi, Baduk) ISBN Rating List

Introduction
Titles and ISBN
Ratings
General Topics
Major Teaching Methods
Read When EGF
Studying with Books
Tables
Appendix on Ratings

Introduction

This pages gives ISBN and subjective ratings of go books. It also denotes their general topics and major teaching methods and suggests when to read them. The author is a German 5 dan, is becoming a go book author, and has read almost all of the books. He read hundreds further (mainly Japanese) books but does not have access to them any more or has not had time to include their information yet. He does not know any Asian language. Thus "reading" an Asian book means interpreting diagrams, numbers, signs, text structures, and text references. Still almost all Asian books restrict comments to a "This move is good for black, that variation 2-A-B-5-C is favourable for white." style. Therefore and because of  the author's good analytical skills he can interpret the books easily. If there is a problem at all, then it is about overinterpreting a book's contents rather than getting too little information from it.

Titles and ISBN

For English books the original titles are given. Asian books have a best guess of what their titles might be; translations have sometimes been taken from other sources. The ISBN (international standard book numbers) are correct to the author's best knowledge. However, no guarantee is granted. Still missing ISBN of English books will be added later. ISBN starting with 89 indicate Korean books.

Ratings

The ratings are subjective but apolitical. They are independent of author or publisher. These are the meanings of the signs:
 
++ very good
+ in between average and very good
o average
- in between very bad and average
-- very bad

Rank Improvement is after reading once. Most books qualify as - or -- because they are considerably away from ++ books. If the author has read a book meant for weaker players, then he compares it with similar books for a similar audience and assumes the rank improvement to have taken place earlier. Each ++ book for single digit kyu players has or would have increased the author's strength by considerably more than one rank. Improvement becomes the harder the stronger a player is; so any book's effect on a high dan player could only be expressed in fractions of a rank.

Topical Coverage refers to covering all professional 9 dan knowledge. Thus most books qualify as --. This is harsh but considered appropriate because a player has only finite amounts of time and money he can spend on books. The listed general topics are referred to. A book could only ever be ++ in case of a restricted general topic like rules. So what is a + book, which currently hardly exists? Its rating indicates that just a few books on the same general topic would be enough to acquire a professional 9 dan knowledge of it.

Aims' Achievement generously assumes the author to have intended the teaching result. So many books should have + or ++. The rating also acknowledges the major teaching methods and the intended audience.

To be fair, my own books are marked with (*) in the Title column. Also see the Appendix on Ratings for a discussion about fair ratings.

General Topics

The contents' general topics are stated. Currently the following occur:

Major Teaching Methods

The major teaching methods are those identified as being consistently used in a book by the author of this webpage. An empty space indicates his lack of time for identification. Currently the following teaching methods occur:

Read When EGF

This is a suggestion of the most suitable range of EGF (European Go Federation) ranks for reading a book. k means kyu and d means amateur dan. The author's German rank is a tiny bit stronger than the same EGF rank. Motivated players weaker or stronger than a range's bounds should not necessarily feel restricted.

Studying with Books

Principally books can be an excellent tool for improving one's strength. The author's strength is mainly the product of applying autodidactic skills to go books. Whether this works for you depends on your ability to learn from books. It also greatly depends on the quality of books. Unfortunately, it has been very low so far. When these lines are being written in 2001 there has not ever been any book close to a ++/+/++ rating. Thus even more so than hopefully a few years later it really requires a reader's motivation to learn. There are four important ways to learn from books: Sometimes a specialized book might be necessary as long as there is no better one. Reading many books does not hurt, however, the rare best books can improve one's strength more than a hundred times as fast as the worst books.

Tables

Games

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Appreciating Famous Games -- games -- entertainment, examples 15k-3d ++
The World of Chinese Go -- games -- entertainment, examples 10k-3d ++
Invincible - games o examples 8k-6d ++
Tournament Go 1992 - games o examples 5k-6d ++
Kido Yearbook 1992 - games o examples 5k-7d ++
Go Seigen's Games - games o examples 2k-7d ++

Opening

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Fuseki Dictionary (Takagawa Kaku) none + opening, strategic choices, strategic direction, stone development o examples 4k-6d ++
Fuseki Dictionary (Rin Kaiho) + opening o dictionary, examples 2k-6d ++
Fuseki Encyclopedia (Nihon Kiin) o opening o dictionary, examples 2k-6d ++
Opening Dictionary 89-7990-037-6 - opening -- selection, examples 13k-5d ++
Modern Opening (Kweon Kyeong-un) none + opening o selection, examples 2k-6d ++
Between Fuseki and Middle Game 89-8385-068-X - opening -- examples 5k-5d ++
A Way of Play for the 21st Century -- opening -- examples 5k-5d +
The Power of the Star Point -- opening -- examples 10k-1k o
The Chinese Opening -- opening -- examples 10k-1k o
The 3-3 Point -- opening -- 5k-1k o
Opening Dictionary 89-7990-037-6 - opening -- examples 8k-3d ++

Joseki

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Joseki Volume 1: Fundamentals (*) ++ joseki + principles, classification, examples 18k-3d ++
Joseki Volume 2; Strategy (*) ++ joseki, strategy + principles, methods, examples 18k-7d ++
Joseki Volume 3: Dictionary (*)+joseki+decisions, classification, methods, principles, examples 10k-3d++
Easy Learning: Joseki (*)+josekioprinciples, examples13k-1k++
Joseki Encyclopedia (Nihon Kiin) -- joseki o dictionary, examples 2k-6d ++
Dictionary of Basic Joseki - joseki o dictionary, examples 5k-5d ++
Jungsuk in Our Time - joseki -- dictionary, examples 5k-5d ++
Star Point Joseki - joseki -- selected examples, dictionary 8k-3d ++
Essential Joseki -- joseki -- selected examples 5k-3d +
Essential Formulas 89-7849-182-0 - joseki -- examples, tactical selection 5k-3d ++
Choice of Jungseok 89-7990-094-5 o joseki -- examples 2k-6d ++
Get Strong at Joseki -- joseki -- examples 10k-1k +
The Great Joseki Debate -- joseki -- examples 8k-1d +
Modern Joseki and Fuseki -- joseki -- examples 5k-1k -
Lee Changho's Novel Plays and Shapes -- joseki -- examples 2k-6d ++
38 Basic Joseki -- joseki -- 12k-5k ++
Whole Board Thinking in Joseki - strategic joseki choices -- examples 5k-5d ++
Dictionary of Fighting on the Sides 89-7990-033-3 - middle game joseki -- sorted examples 8k-1d ++

Middle Game

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Invasion and Reduction Vol. 1: 89-7990-043-0
Vol. 2: 89-7990-070-8
Set:    89-7990-042-2
o middle game - examples 2k-6d ++
Techniques of Attack 89-7990-075-9 o middle game -- examples 1k-6d ++
The Middle Game of Go -- middle game -- examples 5k-1k -
The 1971 Honinbo Tournament -- middle game -- examples 5k-3d ++
Reducing Territorial Frameworks o middle game - 5k-1d ++
Nie Weiping on Go -- middle game -- 5k-5d +
Golden Opportunities -- middle game -- 5k-5d +
Beauty and the Beast -- middle game -- 5k-6d ++
Direction of Play none - middle game problems -- sorted examples 4k-4d ++
The Basic Principles of the Opening and the Middle Game978-4-906574-83-4+middle game, opening-principles, examples9k-5ko

Endgame

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Endgame 1 - Fundamentals (*)++endgameoprinciples, examples18k-1k++
The Endgame - endgame -- principles, examples 10k-3k +
Get Strong at the Endgame -- endgame -- examples 10k-1k +

Handicap

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Pro-Pro Handicap Go -- handicap -- examples 5k-3d ++
Handicap Go - handicap -- 15k-5k +
Galactic Go Volume 1: 1-889554-47-2
Volumes 2-4: not available yet
Set: 1-889554-65-0
o handicap, joseki, technique - examples 4k-4d ++

Problems

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Dramatic Moments on the Go Board -- problems -- entertainment, examples 5k-1k o
Test Your Go Strength -- problems -- examples 10k-1k o
100 Challenging Go Problems - problems -- examples 5k-5d ++

Tactical Reading

TITLEISBNRANK IMPROVEMENTGENERAL TOPICSTOPICAL COVERAGEMAJOR TEACHING METHODSREAD WHEN EGFAIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Tactical Reading (*)o (after reading once) or ++ (when always applying the theory) readingoprinciples, methods, decisions, examples, increasing difficulty13k-3d ++
Report of Choong-am ResearchVol. 1: 89-7990-069-4
Vol. 2: 89-7990-072-4
Vol. 3: 89-7990-073-2
Set:    89-7990-068-6
oreading-examples2k-7d++

Tesuji

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Tesuji Encyclopedia (Nihon Kiin) + tesuji o shape classification, examples 5k-6d ++
Tesuji (Davies) ++ tesuji -- shape classification, examples 12k-5k ++
Get Strong at Tesuji -- tesuji -- examples 10k-1k +

Tsumego

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Kansufu + tsumego o examples 5k-6d ++
Gengen Gokyo + tsumego o examples 2k-7d ++
Hatsuyoron + tsumego o examples 3d-7d ++
Igo Hatsuyo-ron o tsumego -- examples 2k-6d ++
The most difficult problem ever / Igo Hatsuyoron 120 978-3-940563-18-7 - tsumego -- (tsumego in general) or + (the specific problem) examples 7k-7d ++
Modified Tesuji Dictionary 89-7186-580-6 - tsumego -- examples 5k-5d ++
Graded Go Problems for Beginners - tsumego -- examples 20k-1d ++

Life+Death

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
First Life and Death (*)++life+deathoprinciples, methods, examples 30k - 5k ++
Life and Death Problems 1 - Basics (*)+life+deathoprinciples, structure, examples20k - 5k++
All About Life and Death + life+death -- shape dictionary, examples 5k-3d ++
Life and Death (Davies) -- life+death -- shape classification, examples 15k-5k +
Yang Yilun's Ingenious Life and Death Puzzles o life+death -- examples 1d-6d ++
Get Strong at Life and Death -- life+death -- examples 15k-5k +

Shape

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Dictionary of Basic Shapes 89-7067-162-5 o shape - dictionary, examples 12k-3d ++
Soksu Clinic 89-7990-046-5 o shape -- examples 5k-6d ++
Soksu Dictionary 89-7990-034-1 -- shape -- examples 10k-1k +
Creative Shape Development 89-7849-150-2 - shape -- examples 5k-6d ++
Tesuji and Anti-Suji of Go -- shape -- examples 5k-1k +

Semeai

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Capturing Races 1 / Two Basic Groups (*) + semeai + principles, classification, methods, examples 18k - 7d ++
Counting Liberties and Winning Capturing Races 1-932001-04-2 + semeai o examples, principles, classification 12k-6d +
The Theory and Practice of Semeai 978-0-9819121-5-8 +semeaioprinciples, classification, examples5k - 3d +

Miscellaneous Tactics

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Cross-Cut Workshop 0-9706193-6-7 o cross-cut - examples, shape classification 10k-3d ++

Fundamentals

TITLEISBNRANK IMPROVEMENTGENERAL TOPICSTOPICAL COVERAGEMAJOR TEACHING METHODSREAD WHEN EGFAIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
First Fundamentals (*)++fundamentals,
strategic concepts
- (fundamentals in general), ++ (fundamentals for beginners) principles, entertainment, examples30k-4k, most suitable for 20k-8k ++
Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go++fundamentals,
strategic concepts
-- (fundamentals in general),
- (fundamentals for intermediate players)
principles, entertainment, examples12k-1d++
An Encyclopedia of Go Principles978-4-906574-79-7oprinciplesoprinciples, examples10k - 3k-

Strategy

See "Joseki Volume 2: Strategy" under Joseki.

Judgement

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Positional Judgement 1 / Territory (*)+judgement+principles, examples8k-4d++
Positional Judgement 2 / Dynamics (*)+judgement+ principles, methods, examples5k-5d++
Positional Judgement (Cho) - judgement -- examples 5k-3d ++
The Theory and Practice of Analysis 978-0-9819121-7-2 -judgemento principles, methods, examples5k - 3do

Strategic Concepts

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Strategic Concepts of Go ++ strategic concepts -- principles, examples 5k-3d ++
Strategic Fundamentals in Go - strategic concepts -- 5k-5d +

Fight

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
Fighting Fundamentals (*)++fightoprinciples, structure, decisions, examples 13k-5d++
Attack and Defense ++ fight -- principles, examples 10k-3k ++
The 36 Strategems Applied to Go - fight -- principles, examples 5k-6d ++
Get Strong at Attacking -- fight -- examples 10k-3d +
Get Strong at Invading -- fight -- examples 10k-1k +
Attack and Solution 89-7849-151-0 -- fight -- examples 5k-5d ++
Aggressive Ideas [?] 89-7849-123-5 o fight -- examples 5k-5d ++
The Breakthrough to Shodan - fight -- 5k-1d ++
Killer of Go -- fight -- 5k-3d +
Kato's Attack and Kill -- fight -- 8k-1k +

Technique

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
[?] 89-7849-148-0 -- technique -- examples 5k-3d o

Perception

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
The Happening Theater of Baduk [?] 89-86555-73-5 - perception -- examples 5k-6d ++

Specialized Strategic Concepts

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
All About Thickness - thickness -- examples 8k-1d ++
Fighting Ko -- ko -- 15k-1k -
A Compendium of Trick Plays -- hamete -- 8k-1k ++
Beyond Forcing Moves - kikashi -- examples 5k-3d ++
Master of Haengma 89-7990-014-7 + stone development - examples, increasing difficulty 7k-6d ++
Haengma Dictionary 89-7990-036-8 + stone development - examples 5k-5d ++
The Direction of Play - strategic direction -- 5k-3d ++

Miscellaneous

TITLE ISBN RANK IMPROVEMENT GENERAL TOPICS TOPICAL COVERAGE MAJOR TEACHING METHODS READ WHEN EGF AIMS' ACHIEVEMENT
The Treasure Chest Enigma -- entertainment -- entertainment, examples 30k-6d ++
First Kyu -- entertainment -- entertainment 30k-6d ++
The Master of Go -- entertainment -- entertainment 30k-6d ++
Die Mitte des Himmels -- entertainment -- entertainment 30k-15k ++
The Go Player's Almanac -- encyclopedia -- encyclopedia 30k-6d ++
Hankuk Kiwon Guide Book -- handbook -- handbook 30k-6d ++
Go: International Handbook and Dictionary -- handbook -- handbook 30k-10k -
Mathematical Go Endgames -- mathematics - mathematics, examples 15k-6d ++
On the Rules of Go -- rules - mathematics, examples 15k-6d ++
Dictionary of Go Names -- names + dictionary 30k-6d ++
The Vital
 Points of Go
-- -- 8k-3d +

Appendix on Ratings

On LifeIn19x19, the user Mivo asked: "On your list, the only two Joseki books that got a '++' for 'rank improvement' are the ones that you have written. One other book got an 'average', the rest gets '-' and '--'. [...] this pretty much invalidates the whole list, at least from my perspective." Here is my reply from 2011-12-04 why I think that all rank improvement ratings are fair relatively to each other:

The following refers to only the "rank improvement" rating.

Joseki 1 Fundamentals gets a (++) because its contents together with the contents of a yet to be written similar book Middle Game Fundamentals amounts to over 50% the knowledge I acquired for my improvement from 3d to 4d. Therefore the book would have been worth over 1/4 rank in that dan range. Due to the exponentially growing learning difficulty with increasing strength, this is worth about as much as one or two kyu ranks. Books with such an increment as a kyu I have rated (++): Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go, Tesuji (Davies), Attack and Defense, Strategic Concepts of Go. The latter alone and especially its first, theory part sufficed to make me about 2 stones stronger. Joseki 2 Strategy contains, among other things, over 2.5 times as many strategic concepts and discusses some of them in greater detail. Reading the Ishida thrice made me another ca. two ranks stronger and most of the related information is in Joseki 2 Strategy. Part of the rank improvement was due to learning josekis by heart (and understanding them); this is not in this volume, so of those extra two ranks maybe a bit more than one is also available as information in Vol. 2. It has more information on other topics though and they amount to about one or two ranks I would have gained from reading the book. Therefore my estimate is that this book would have made me 2 to 5, probably ca. 3 to 4 ranks stronger. Anything less than (++) rating for (my) rank improvement by Joseki 2 Strategy (if I had had such a book as a 5 kyu) would be a great understatement.

That does not mean that necessarily every reader becomes that much stronger or even stronger at all from these two books. Preference for teaching and learning style and learning ability from application of generalising contents plays a great role.

Joseki Encyclopedia (Nihon Kiin) (--) : This is a great heap of variations, the type of book for the proverb "Learn josekis by heart and become 2 stones weaker.". Since (as my webpage explains) my rating refers to reading a book only once, reading that encyclopedia only once won't help at all for becoming stronger. A first reading of 10,000 variations is good for creating confusion.

Dictionary of Basic Joseki (-) : Reading the three volumes once helped a bit but real understanding came only during my second and third reading when I could concentrate on actually getting insight rather than only following move by move without understanding yet, as during the first reading when I did not know most of these josekis yet. Dictionary of Basic Joseki can qualify for (++) if one spends three months or more for reading it daily for several hours.

Jungsuk in Our Time (-) : In quality it is similar to Dictionary of Basic Joseki.

Star Point Joseki (-) : As before. The fact that it contains some 4-4 variations Dictionary of Basic Joseki does not have does not avoid the necessity to approach the unfamiliar variations at all before one can try a deeper and broader understanding.

Essential Joseki (--) : It is a variation-orientated book with relatively few josekis and significantly fewer, scattered go theory hints in the text than Dictionary of Basic Joseki. Accordingly it gets a worse rating.

Choice of Jungseok (o) : It has instructive examples for the sake of teaching strategic choices. It lacks generalised go theory though. If it had refined its contents by more powerful teaching strategies, it could easily have gotten a better rating. It leaves the work of revealing the contents to the reader though.

Get Strong at Joseki (--) : Teaching by examples only. Take a dictionary and its interesting moves and make problems out of them. It is better to read Dictionary of Basic Joseki and consider each next move to be a problem; you get many more variations, many more problems and a broader selection of them. Since that dictionary qualifies as (-) after reading once, (--) for Get Strong at Joseki is appropriate.

The Great Joseki Debate, Modern Joseki and Fuseki, Lee Changho's Novel Plays and Shapes and other similar books (--): Teaching by examples only. Small selection only. Therefore much less useful than Dictionary of Basic Joseki.

38 Basic Joseki (--) : I spent 4 hours per joseki to actually learn something. With an ordinary "reading once", I would have learnt and remembered essentially nothing. The book can be (+) after hard work but only then.

Whole Board Thinking in Joseki (-) : These books actually try to teach something general, so at least a (-). However, as soon as trying, they also already stop again. Much space of the pages is wasted. The selection of strategic choices is limited and the reader is left with most of the work of identifying them from the text or diagrams. Choice of Jungseok teaches significantly better. So (-) is right for Whole Board Thinking in Joseki.

The other two books in the list I would need to dig out to be sure which they are.

Altogether there are many (-) or (--) books in the joseki section or the list altogether because of too one-sided teaching by (often even dictionary style) examples. Principles, generalisations, structure, general advice on joseki study are missing. Fundamentals, strategic concepts, analysis methods, move meanings, group meanings, strategic lines, strategic planning and often strategic choices are hardly any and mostly not any topic at all in almost all (especially) joseki books. Almost all the didactics is left to the reader's autodidactics, sheer effort and ability to reinvent go theory.

See the contrast to my joseki books: Vol. 1 and 2 do not have the many variations yet (that is for Vol. 3) but have everything else missing in the other books: essential knowledge for understanding and application in general. That kind of contents giving books (on other topics) with much smaller scope already a (++) for rank improvement, see above.

***

In case of topical coverage, the absence of exhaustive generalising theory in almost all books is even more widely spread. My advertisement since about 1996 for more general knowledge in Western books has, I hope, at least had some effect: An increasing percentage of books has at least a few (instead of previously none) principles etc.