Jungsuk in Our Time, by Seo Bong-soo and Jung Dong-sik. Hankuk Kiwon; 2000

This is a Korean joseki dictionary. So far, only the first volume, covering 3-4 point joseki, has been published.

The obvious question is: how does it compare to Ishida's dictionary and Rui's Essential Joseki? I haven't done a detailed comparison between the three, and I'm not a good enough player for the relative merits of different joseki dictionaries to have much of an impact on me, but here's what it seems to me:

Ishida's dictionary certainly contains the largest amount of material. Having said that, it's almost two and a half decades old; so certainly if you're a high-dan player, you'll want access to more up-to-date information than that, and even I (currently an AGA 1 kyu) run into lines that aren't in that volume. Jungsuk in Our Time is much more up-to-date, but also significantly shorter: two volumes instead of three may not seem like much of a difference, but the Jungsuk volumes are also less dense (averaging around 3 diagrams per page instead of 6). (But the Jungsuk volumes are longer, too.) Overall, the two complement each other nicely, I would think.

Essential Joseki is much more comparable to Jungsuk. Both are relatively up-to-date and relatively short compared to Ishida. In the one joseki that I spot-checked, it seemed that Essential Joseki gave more different lines but Jungsuk went into some lines into significantly greater depth in lines it did consider. Essential Joseki may be a tad denser than Jungsuk, but Jungsuk has more pages in its first volume than Essential Joseki does (and, judging from the prices for the Korean versions, its second volume will be longer still).

Some other distinctions about Jungsuk: it translates most of the technical terms into English, but, as you may have guessed from the title, what terms it doesn't translate it leaves in Korean. There's a glossary in the back that translates those terms and gives their Japanese variants; it didn't take me at all long to get used to this, and actually I think it's a nice reminder that Japan is no longer the exclusive center of the go world. Also, it presents joseki in whole-board diagrams much more than the other books do. At first, I rather enjoyed this, since the whole-board context is an essential part of selecting the joseki, but as I got further into the book and more complicated joseki were discussed, the whole-board diagrams usually left the other corners empty. Still, it's a nice touch in places.

If you're a kyu-level or low-dan player looking for a reference, I would probably recommend that you buy Essential Joseki instead of this one, but only because it's a single volume and is more widely available; this book's combination of selectivity and depth might actually be more of a recommendation otherwise (at least once the second volume appears). High-dan players will probably want to have all three joseki dictionaries.

Read Robert Jasiek's review.

david carlton <carlton@bactrian.org>

Last modified: Sun Aug 10 20:53:50 PDT 2003