Beginner Study Section / Discussion

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Robert Jasiek: The current recommendations for reading books are too selective and partial. Before editing the parent page, I would like to know your preference: 1) Remove all links to specific books, add one link to the go books list. 2) Mention every at least good book suitable for beginners, so that there are one to four recommended books per topic. - Besides, I have another question: What, for the sake of the parent page, is a "beginner"? E.g., the book The Basics of Go Strategy is for SDK, but I would not call every SDK a beginner. IOW, should every good book suitable for kyus be mentioned?

Herman: I think there is great value in recommending a few books per section. Which books to recommend is always in flux, as old books go out of print or are considered out of date, and new books appear and improve on the material. I think 1-4 books per section is reasonable. Beginner is, to me, 15 kyu and weaker. But if there is scant material on a subject for that target group, I think that it is better to list books for 5-15 kyu than to list none at all.

Robert Jasiek: Good ideas. So I have added a few books. Please feel free to add a few more books I might have overlooked.

Bill Spight: Go pedagogy is not really very well understood, particularly in the early stages. There are certain basic concepts to master, but if you understand them reasonably well, you are already a fairly strong amateur!

I have the fond notion that play on small boards gives a good start, even though I never even played on a 9x9 when I was learning, but always on a full board. The 3x3 teaches that the player with an eye has the advantage in a fight. The 5x5 shows how to live with 2 eyes, and a mistake can lead to a ko.

When I was learning there were few go books in English, and I was unaware of the Japanese go books. Mostly I learned by playing, and my weakest opponent was a 5 kyu. In less than a year I was 4 kyu.

What did I learn during that first year? Certainly not tesuji. It was then that I got a book on tesuji. I didn't even know the basics. Certainly not life and death. I didn't even know the basic vulnerable shapes. Certainly not shape. One of the first Japanese go books I bought dealt with shape. It was a real eye-opener. (I loved it.) I remember three things that I learned during that first year that I think were very important to my progress:

  • Play the whole board. Think on a large scale.
  • Make efficient plays. Make your stones work together.
  • Throw stones away.

Dieter comments on Bill: You have told so before and it has made me reconsider my strong opinions on TeachingPaths more than any other comment. I still think you are the exception, but nonetheless other exceptions will exist and then again we have maybe been wrong all the time and more players should be initiated the way you were. The problem is that I think one can better stick with one approach until the need for another approach is apparent. The Korean university of Baduk can't come soon enough with a sound statistic study on this subject.


  • Dieter: I think Basic instincts should come much earlier in the learning process.
  • Stefan: like where?
  • Jan: I agree with Dieter here. I think it should be moved to before 5, Fighting - possibly even to before 4.

Jan: Here's why I think BasicInstinct is important.

  • First of all, they are easy to learn. No complicated reading or vague discussion about influence :-)
  • Second, they usually help - otherwise they wouldn't be basic.
  • Third, I think beginners don't have a chance of actually applying the more advanced concepts (they can study them of course) since the player who does have some BasicInstinct will never let the situation get that far.

I've recently started teaching the game to a lot of novices (my friends at the Biton Go Club?) and there even seems to be a more basic skill needed to play the game: knowing the Basic Edge Patterns. Sure, you get to see them after a while, but it still brings back painful memories of my first struggles against IgoWin.

Grauniad: Should Section 11 (Strategic Concepts) of Beginner Study Section be extended to reference Strategy of go - introductory, perhaps modified as suggested in Strategy of go - introductory / Discussion? (:-)

Should there be another Section on tactics that refences Basic Tactics of Go, or is this covered elsewhere on the page?

Ectospheno: I think the EssentialGoTerms link is more than adequate in section 0. What is Go? The links to the foreign go terms are just confusing to a beginner and should be removed. Does a beginner really need to know the kanji for aji along with its direct translation? I'd say no.

Gresil: I think EssentialGoTerms shouldn't be anywhere near section 0! Look at the contents. Semedori? Joban? Ponnuki? Instead of teaching something of practical significance, that page only intimidates and confuses the beginner.

Bill: I agree. I think that there are many go concepts to learn, and learning the terms for those concepts helps. However, you don't start with a hodge-podge of strange terminology. (And many terms on the page, like the ones Gresil mentions, are not really essential, are they?)

unkx80: So I have removed all references to Go terms from section 0, and put some of them to the interlude after section 9.

Also, the essential go terms list seem much more than essential, I might consider swapping it with common go terms (currently an alias to essential go terms). And then deprecate (and delete) the basic go terms and beginner go terms aliases altogether.

BillSpight: The most important thing, I think, is to study what you enjoy studying. :-)

Anonymous: However, it's a bad idea to neglect topics you enjoy less.

Anonymous: A harmony is required, like in life. Studying enjoyable topics only, will result in poor player... Goal-oriented studying is less enjoyable though. Am i right?

Archaic: It's possible you can reach a certain level of clarity in go, being that you have cleared away most confusion of the basics, as with anything. So keep up the hard work, and it will pay off when you realize you're no longer having brain crashes and your interpretation of the game is at a certain level. It is possible to achieve a certain level in Go (pertaining to skill, which is what defines the amateur expert), do realize that it's not impossible to attain a certain mastery of the game. Go is definitely not an endless tunnel, so don't get discouraged. As long as you are able to continue practicing, you can still make improvement. Study what's most important.

Also try to look at what your opponent does also, so you can learn from him.

Just to list out some real guidelines, what go is about after learning the rules:

1. the basic mechanics such as life&death 2. then the overall principles/ideas/concepts/theory in strategy such as positioning in the opening (mirror go is not necessarily a special topic, just a strategic technique) 3. concrete analysis of sequences etc. where-in ideas come to life

Lastly, keep in mind there are exactly 4 different types of moves in Go and this is the order in which you should play them in regards to importance: namely,

1. a general and principled move (based on positioning) 2. a specialized strategic move which is what most people teach. 3. a very basic move that isn't listed in any particular book but is a technical move which serves to expand your territory or capture stones. 4. And obviously, there is also the last move which is to copy your opponent's move, but this is more special than anything.

tapir: Imo the page touches some quite advanced topics but misses on what I consider basics such as Basic Instinct, Cutting / Connecting and Sacrifice. I would largely remove book references from this page - when you start buying books you likely stopped learning from a self study course already.

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Beginner Study Section / Discussion last edited by RobertJasiek on September 4, 2014 - 13:33
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