In The Beginning/Reviews

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  • Jan: This was the first Go book I read after Go for Beginners. I liked it a lot then, because I was hopelessly confused by the sheer size of a 19x19 goban, especially in the opening - any help was welcome!
  • As I write this (18 months later) I've finally bought it and I don't really like it anymore. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons. First of all, the subject matter is not difficult for me now but I think the treatment is going to leave a beginner confused due to lack of examples. The explanation of the various points in the corner only talks a bit about claiming territory versus taking influence - I like the approach in The Second Book of Go a lot more where actual sequences are shown which makes the discussion more concrete.
  • The 'nine concepts' in the second chapter are covered, clearer or more extensively, by a lot of other sources, such as The Second Book of Go, Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go, Attack and Defense - the book and of course Sensei's Library. This actually goes for a lot of material in the first chapter as well.[1]
  • Finally, I think the ten whole board problems at the end are not enough: they should have been covered more thoroughly (since they are quite hard if you've only read this book). If problems are what you want, read Get Strong at the Opening instead.
  • All in all, I don't think this is a really bad book but if you read some more about the subject, this book will probably end up redundant.

[1]: To illustrate my point, I've linked up the table of contents with the Library :-)

  • TaoVegan: For what it's worth, I would like to add my two cents here. This was my first book dedicated to the opening fuseki. My knowledge of the opening was very simplistic at the time and I decided to focus on this area of my game for a while. After reading many reviews, on SL and other sites, I decided on this book. I found this book to be a great learning experience. As a weaker player working hard to improve, I found the simply stated concepts and techniques to be very useful and enlightening. To be sure, I had encountered some of these concepts and techniques in other material but never presented in such a clear, concise, and most importantly synergistically structured approach. I'm not qualified to state if this is the best book available or to dispute any of the above comments, but I am qualified (as a weaker player once new to the study of the opening) to say that it can be very helpful in developing an understanding of the opening. See my /Study Notes.
  • Samiroopo: Most people I've talked to say mainly bad things about this book and recommend alternatives. Similarly to TaoVegan, for me this was the first book dealing with fundamental go concepts like influence, opening theory, light/heavy, efficiency, thickness, and all those interesting things. I can say without regrets that it's much better than trying to study without any material. The lack of examples didn't really bother me back then, as Internet Go is open every day and it has both high and low level games going on all the time. Afterwards I bought 501 Opening Problems to go along with In the Beginning, and they were a really neat combo.

About if Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go is somehow better than In the Beginning, I have no kind of clue. Maybe the other book is better then. Maybe you'll get a good deal for buying all the books from the Elementary Go Series at once. Attack and Defense is a must-to-have anyways. =D

  • Fwiffo: I just got this book and have found it to be incredibly helpful and perfect for my current skill level (mid-teen kyu). True, I like Kageyama's Lesson's in the Fundamentals of Go better (even just as an entertaining read), but In The Beginning focuses strictly on fuseki, and in greater detail. I haven't found the examples to be lacking, and the limited of problems is a small issue; there are many sources of problems in other books and on the web (still wouldn't hurt to have more in the book though.)

I've found it very helpful to have a book devoted to the opening because it's hard to get good beginner's information on the subject. Game reviewers usually only touch on it lightly because it's a bit abstract and hard to explain to beginners (and perhaps, hard even for the reviewer to have a strong grip on.) Perhaps if I were a stronger it might be less useful, but at my skill level it's perfect. It's not particularly expensive, so I feel like I've already gotten my money's worth even if it ends up collecting dust in a few months.

  • Shaydwyrm: I've had this book and Opening Theory Made Easy for a while (I've just reached mid-kyu level), and I think together they have made the biggest contribution of any reading I've done thus far. That said, I found that Opening Theory Made Easy was much easier to understand at first, and the concepts were broader and easier to apply in general. Having read that first, In The Beginning was much easier to understand. There is a lot of overlap between the two, and I wish there was one book that covered both of these, but I'd say Opening Theory Made Easy is probably more suitable for lower level players, and In The Beginning is probably good for stronger players who still feel that they are weak on the fundamentals of the opening.
  • wad: As a relatively new player, I would say that this book raised my strength by about 3 stones, in and of itself. This is mainly because there were a couple of basic concepts that I hadn't figured out, that were explained here. As an example: which side of the shimari is best to extend along an edge. Where before there was confusion, there is now some light.

In The Beginning/Reviews last edited by Dieter on March 11, 2005 - 13:27
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