This is an updated version of The Go Player's Almanac. It has historical and cultural information about ancient, classical, and modern go, information about classical and modern players, and information about tournaments, rules, go records, and Japanese terminology.
If you haven't read the earlier version and are looking for a book that goes beyond advice on how to play the game, this is probably the book for you. The history is good basic information about where go has been in the distant and more recent past. The tournaments info explain what all these tournaments are that you might have heard about. The section on Japanese terminology is the ultimate glossary, if you ever need one. (It gives the Japanese terms in kana and/or kanji as well as Roman characters.) But I actually ended up enjoying some of the more random chapters most of all. There's a few pages on go in poetry, a chapter on go equipment, a chapter on exactly how one ascends through the ranks if one is a Japanese professional. None of that is important to know about if you just want to play the game, but somehow the way that it filled in gaps in my knowledge that I didn't even know were there made me really enjoy the book.
What if you have read the earlier version? It's basically the same idea, in paperback this time, with half again as many pages. The history and culture section has been fleshed out, in a way that points out some of the flaws of the older version. The older version started with a few short articles by William Pinckard on go's ancient history and culture; these were, in retrospect, a bit of a grab bag in that they were rather on the mystical side (with comments on the sound of a stone and liberated minds and the Tao already on the first few pages). That's still there in the new edition, but with some more scholarly articles added on go in China, as well as new articles on go in the west, the origins of go, and go in art (with color illustrations). The modern section is more up-to-date with more info on China and Korea than before (including a complete list of Korean pros and of Chinese pros who are at least 4 dan). The glossary has been enlarged, with the nice addition of a page giving info you need to read problem books. (The section on Mathematical Go is the only omission that I noticed, and I don't miss it at all.)
I only wish that the new material went farther. The history and culture section now feels like it can't make up its mind as to how to proceed, mostly because those William Pinckard articles are still in there. (Though there are other strangenesses - e.g. why is the section on Go in the Edo period organized as a copiously annotated list of go players, rather than a more traditional history?) The new material on China and Korea is a welcome addition, but it's still too sketchy. So, while I highly recommend the book to anyone, and think that this edition is a definite improvement to the earlier edition, there's still room for improvement; maybe in another decade.
Last modified: Sun Aug 10 20:54:16 PDT 2003