Go for Beginners, by Iwamoto Kaoru. Pantheon; 1972.

This is the book that I learned how to play go from, and I like it a lot. It starts out with a sample game and a fairly long discussion of the rules; in then presents some very elementary tactics and strategy (e.g. a few tesuji (like getas), basics of life and death, about 10 pages of elementary strategy), and has a couple of sample games to finish things off.

Like I said, I think it's a very good beginners' book. It's well written and it has a good choice of topics. The one caveat is that it covers a lot of material in a not so long amount of space, so it's not as gentle as some books are. In particular, the exercises that it gives after each section can often be quite difficult, so don't feel bad if you don't get them (indeed, if you're completely stumped by many of them) the first time you read the book. But even though you won't get everything in the book the first time you read it, most people should have no problem learning the rules of the game from this book (I like the technique of starting off with a sample game, to give you a feel for how the game works), and it will stand rereading more than many other beginners' books.

It was originally published by Ishi (it's Ishi G8), but is now published by Pantheon; I think that there's even a Pantheon hardcover edition, though I've never seen it. It's available in many bookstores. For comments about the relative merits of different beginners' books, look here.

Gaétan Gouge says:

Here's my short take on two introductory go titles. Iwamoto's book is more complete in its coverage of the game, with more basic stuff on tactics and strategies and is easily purchased in any good book store. Cho's book is an easier read with nice tiny essays on the GO scene and The Second Book of Go by Bozulich, second edition has been reworked especially to integrate well with it. Best value if you're not sure about liking GO in the long run but you're fairly confident in your abilities to learn the game is to grab Iwamoto now and wait for The Second Book of Go as it's still going to be a good read.

Patrick Bridges (NNGS 7k*) says:

I learned from this book, and was very pleased with it. It's a bit dense, so you really have to go slowly through it, and take your time working through the examples. The strategy of using basic rules and walking through a simple 9x9 game worked really well for me, as I knew of no one else (locally) to teach me the game. It's nice that the book has several later sections that introduce life and death, simple strategy, etc. If I was going to recommend one book to get someone started, this would be it.

cover pic

david carlton <carlton@bactrian.org>

Last modified: Sun Aug 10 20:54:07 PDT 2003