Dictionaries page

    Keywords: Books & Publications

If you want overviews on Go, rather than comprehensible fragments, one place to seek them would be the major reference works. This is not likely to be helpful to beginners, naturally enough.

Table of contents

Nihon Ki-in's encyclopedia series

The structure of the Nihon Ki-in's encyclopedia series is revealing:

Top Level

  • Great Joseki Encyclopedia (定石大事典) (2 volumes ) published 1986 and 1987
    • Chinese ed. title 定式大辞典
  • Great Fuseki Encyclopedia (布石大事典) published 1989
  • Great Tesuji Encyclopedia (手筋大事典) published 1992

These are anonymous corporate works, typically priced at 24000 yen for a large volume of 1000 pages in a slipcase. Out of print.

tchan001: Pictures of the above top level books can be found at this [ext] post

Middle Level

These are all in two smaller-format volumes, about 500 pages per volume, typical price per volume 2300 yen. The Joseki Encyclopedia is the updated version of the Ishida Joseki Dictionary. Volume 1 of the Cho book has been translated as the two volumes All About Life and Death. None of the rest has been translated into English. The Rin book has some recent material but is mostly about fuseki theory up to the mid-1970s. Volume 1 of the Fujisawa book is one of the important books to study at dan level. The Fujisawa tesuji dictionary has been translated into English, published by Slate and Shell in four volumes. The paper edition is, unfortunately, out of print, but they are available in e-book format from [ext] smartgo.

There is more info about these encyclopedias at [ext] http://www.nihonkiin.or.jp/pub/kihonjiten.htm (in Japanese).

Introductory Level

There are ten small encyclopedias, formally called the Nihon Ki-in Small Encyclopedias (日本棋院小事典). Each volume is pocket size, about 220 pages and 900 yen. No authors, marketed also as 'Quick' guides. Topics:

Five of the series books have been translated into English, by Yutopian as the The Nihon Ki-in Handbook Series.

Seibundo Shinkosha Dictionaries

A series of dictionaries from the 1970s published by Seibundo Shinkosha (誠文堂新光社) comprises much very good material. It included

More recently by the same publisher:

  • Small Joseki Dictionary by Kato Masao (定石小辞典)
  • Small Life and Death Dictionary by Kato Masao (死活小辞典)


The Joseki Dictionary here is the Small one, a cut-down version of the Igo Daijiten.

The Takagawa Fuseki Dictionary is quite different from Rin's. Where Rin's dictionary is a broad survey of fuseki practice up to the 70's, Takagawa's is much more an exposition of how he sees fuseki. (Takagawa, Fujisawa Hideyuki, and Go Seigen were considered the masters of fuseki of that time.) Like all experienced pros he has tried all kinds of fuseki in his career. In this dictionary most of the example games are with him playing either Black or White.

There is little enough in the Japanese encyclopedia and dictionary material that tells one about the middle game. One series of books that addresses this is the Igo Dan Players Series, initially over eight volumes - but perhaps not quite up to the editorial standards of a dictionary.

The progression here seems clear enough: towards the top amateur levels, you can get something about openings and tesuji from books; for the rest you are thrown back on the abundant supplies of pro games and problem collections.

A Korean series

For comparison, the titles of a Korean dictionary-style series, probably on the same general level as the Small Dictionaries.

  1. Handicap Baduk
  2. Trick Plays
  3. 3-3 Invasions
  4. 4-4 and 3-4 Openings
  5. Middle Game and Strategy
  6. Invasion and Reduction
  7. Poseok (i.e. fuseki)
  8. Haengma
  9. Soksu (bad style)
  10. Endgame

This has a different feel entirely - certainly more pragmatic, oriented towards fighting. The contrast only goes to support the general argument put forward by John Fairbairn on the Haengma / Discussion topic. There is new thinking coming out of Korea about the way to organise the material of Go/Baduk.

isshoni: I'm not sure this information belongs here, but for readers of Japanese, some of the titles above are available in Japanese: [ext] see for example this search on Amazon Japan or [ext] this other one on Junkudo or visit the Nihon Kiin's bookshop.

Other Joseki dictionaries

There have been a number of joseki dictionaries down the years. One that is cited elsewhere on SL is

There are certainly others, by Takagawa, Miyashita Shuyo. Of course the information in these compilations is uneven, and of limited value as a reference unless you want to make your own comprehensive study of some joseki.

A 1998 one-volume

seems not to be at all well known.

Charles Matthews

[ext] Link

BobMcGuigan: A small dictionary-like text on joseki that should not be lost sight of is

three volumes, published in Japan by Koma Shobo in 1981. It has a lot of insightful Kajiwara-style thinking.

[ext] Link

Online Life and Death dictionary

[1] Yose Jiten/Errata

[2] Sakusen Jiten in Japanese. also known as Strategy Dictionary.
[21] would combat be an as valid or better translation than strategy? tderz
作戰 zuzhn is given generally as 'conduct military operations', aka fight, which relate to each other as genus and species IMO.
However, strategy (戰略 (戰略) zhnl) is a different species of 'military operations' than tactics/fight/combat/battle. (S.o. with mil. experience could argue that strategy and tactics are not on the same hierarchical level, but that's not my point here)

I have the book: it would be possible to name it both ways (in English: i.e. 'strategy and tactics dictionary') - however from a linguistic view, which one is correct?

[3] Dave Sigaty: The Tesuji Dictionary by Segoe and Go is classic. Anyone who has the chance should grab it.

[4] The Chinese translation '围棋定式大辞典' from 1985 comprises 850 pages and 9971 diagrams (ISBN 7-5434-0248-3

Dictionaries page last edited by hnishy on May 18, 2018 - 01:42
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