Get Strong at the Opening, by Richard Bozulich. Ishi K51; 1996.

This is a book consisting of 175 full-board problems on the opening. This is not a book on joseki, but rather a book designed to help develop your sense of the proper direction of play. The problems in the first half of the book concentrate on the niren-sei, sanren-sei, Chinese, and Shusaku openings; the problems in the second half are more general. All problems are taken from Nihon-Kiin publications.

I just finished reading the book; I enjoyed it, and I hope I learned something from it. Like the other books in the series, the problems are varied enough to keep you interested while having some repetitions of themes; for example, in the first half, there are four problems on a page, one from each of the four openings mentioned above. So you don't see two of the same sort of problem on the same page; however, the Chinese opening problem on one page might be a sort of continuation of the Chinese opening problem on the previous page. And there's enough explanation to be convincing on most of the answers, so you don't feel lost after seeing the solution.

The existence of so many problems on the Shusaku opening is, perhaps, a little strange given how rarely it's played these days (at least at clubs and tournaments that I've been at and in professional games), but I suppose that, if you want to concentrate on a specific, well-known fuseki that emphasizes 3-4 points, you don't have too many to choose from; certainly the lessons that you'll learn from that fuseki will transfer to many other 3-4 point situations. Many of the problems leave you the entire board to chose from, but starting about 2/3 of the book, there are a bunch of problems where you have to chose from A, B, and C; probably a good idea, both because I was getting a bit overloaded by the time I reached that far and also because it let them ask harder problems than they could otherwise.

I'd recommend the book to anybody who isn't completely flummoxed by the problems in Ishigure's In the Beginning. Don't feel that you should actually be able to do all of the problems in In the Beginning correctly: the problems in this book are no harder and often easier than the problems in that book. But if you have no idea where to begin on the problems in that book or how to choose between four or five moves that all look equally plausible, you should get more playing experience and read In the Beginning and Otake's Opening Theory Made Easy some more first. But if you find that you're having a hard time translating the concepts into those books into successful openings in your games, reading this book might well prove helpful.

Update: I just (July 2001) reread the book, and I still like it a lot. It was nice to see problems that I had trouble with before that I can easily do now: for example, I seem to have gotten much better at figuring out how far away to play from thickness. So I'm learning! And I think this book is helping, and has pointed out some areas where I'm still weak (e.g. I leave behind weak groups in order to play moves elsewhere more than I should).

cover pic

david carlton <>

Last modified: Sun Aug 10 20:54:30 PDT 2003