Invitation to Go, by John Fairbairn. Oxford; 1977.

This is a short (85 pages) introduction to go. It contains information about equipment, etc., the rules, a few sample games, sections on basic tactics, the opening, and the middle game, and info about unusual positions, handicaps, and go elsewhere.

It's clear enough. I wouldn't write a beginners' book this way myself, though: a beginner doesn't need to know that the line separation on a go board is 21 and 23.5 mm before even seeing the rules or a sample game. The first sample game presented, a 13x13 game between novices, could stand to be broken up among more diagrams (and I wouldn't mind seeing a 9x9 game right at the beginning of the book, but I realize that not everybody likes that style), some of the examples seem a bit complicated, and I certainly don't think that beginners need to know about the different kinds of ko positions (e.g. indirect kos, ten thousand year kos) that can arise in a game. So in general I'd spend more time explaining the basics.

It's out of print right now. That's too bad, because it's a decent introductory go book that was distributed by a major publisher (as opposed to a go-specific publisher), and there aren't very many of those. (Or weren't when I wrote this review; more have appeared since.) But having said that, I would recommend many of the current beginners' books more highly than this one. For general information about beginners' books look here.

Update September 2008: It's in print again, reprinted by Dover.

david carlton <>
Last modified: Wed Sep 16 13:40:56 PDT