The ABC's of Attack and Defense, by Michael Redmond. Slate & Shell; 2002.

It took me some time go get a copy of this; in the mean time, a guest reviewer kindly provided the following:

Tamsin Jones (BGA 1k, IGS 2k*) says:

Handicap go is extremely valuable because it emphasises the fundamentals. Here, Michael Redmond uses typical handicap sequences to illustrate the essentials of fighting-the ABCs of attack and defence. These are sealing the opponent in and disconnecting his stones, getting out into the open and connecting one's own stones, respectively. He shows you how these basics apply in different circumstances, such as double approaches, aiming at weak points, and moyo building. He also includes chapters on setting up miai points in the opening and on countering plays on the 5-3 and 5-4 points (these chapters are short but very welcome since they show alternatives to the usual joseki in which one invades the corner but ends up getting shut in).

Redmond's style is thorough but economical: he shows you how to play simply but correctly, without unnecessary adventures. Although he takes his examples from handicap games, everything he says can and should be applied to even games. What makes this a great book is that he articulates the simplest and most fundamental concepts in the clearest imaginable way: he has a way of making the things you "kind of know sort of vaguely" come into sharp focus. For example, I had been trying to make my play more "multi-purpose" for a while but with indifferent results. Then, I read this book and found myself making multi-purpose moves naturally, since Redmond's ABCs of attack and defence had shown me what I ought to be aiming at.

I'd recommend this book to anybody who wants to improve their fighting skills, not because it teaches you tesuji or clever techniques, but because it shows you how to apply them.

Now that I've read it myself, I'm pleased to second Tamsin's recommendation. What struck me most about this book is the balance that it strikes between details and principles. Normally, my tastes run towards books that are more on the theoretical side. (Perhaps because I can pretend that I understand them, without being so rudely confronted with evidence to the contrary...) Whereas, when I read books that give example after example, my eyes tend to glaze over fairly quickly.

This book, however, consists almost solely of examples, worked out in a fair amount of detail, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless. Each example was chosen to illustrate how an important principle manifests itself in a particular situation; the examples were worked out enough to drive the point home without going too far. The differences between examples show how details matter, while linking those details to general principles; they carried far enough that I felt that I had a chance of reading them out myself, instead of giving me the feeling that, if I could read out that far, I'd be a professional and have no need for the book.

david carlton <>

Last modified: Fri Nov 19 19:51:08 PST 2004