Galactic Go, by Sangit Chatterjee and Yang Huiren. Two volumes (so far). Yutopian Y27, Y32; 2000, 2002.

This is a sequel to their Cosmic Go. That book was about four-stone handicap games; this is the first two of a projected four volumes about three-stone handicap games. The first volume covers games where white's first move is on a 3-4 point and black makes a low approach move; the second volume covers situations where black's move is a one-space high approach, a two-space approach, or a tenuki. I haven't read the second volume yet, but it looks a lot like the first volume.

This book is very different from Cosmic Go. That book had one idea that it wanted to drive home, so it presented joseki giving the background for the idea, and some problems outlining possible alternatives that they didn't have room for in the joseki section. But three-stone handicap games offer up many more possibilities right from the first move of the game, so the authors are taking a different approach: the book consists of twenty chapters, each of which takes a three-stone handicap game quite a long way, until well into the middle game. This is very different from books which, for example, present some general theory about thickness and then show examples of how to develop thickness: this book doesn't have the general theory, but the examples are taken much further than in other books. As an additional twist, the examples are presented in problem format rather than as commented games: so where a game commentary would stop and present an alternative diagram, this book stops and asks you to think about the next move, and then presents both the correct next move and the actual game continuation.

Alas, it doesn't work for me. In fact, I guiltily confess that I couldn't even finish the book: I've read or skimmed the first half of the chapters, but that's it. There are a few reasons why I'm having a hard time with it. One is the format: I'm used to reading commented games, but not used to reading commented games presented as a series of problems. I think it's an interesting idea, though not for the lazy; unfortunately, right now, I'm feeling a bit lazy! Another problem is that the problems are simply too hard for me: problems book don't work for me if I can't get most of the problems! I don't mind having to think hard about the problems, but if I get most of the problems wrong and don't feel any more confident about my correct answers than my incorrect answers, then it's not a good experience for me. I'm an AGA 1 kyu; perhaps the problems would work better for stronger players. I'm not even sure about that, though: I suspect that a random player of the same strength as the white player in this book would have somewhat different strengths and weaknesses as the white player in this book. Reading this book feels to me somewhat like watching a pro analyze another amateur's game: interesting enough to watch, but not anything like having a pro analyze one of my own games. Finally, I wish that there were more general comments in this game: not necessarily a single overarching theme as in Cosmic Go , but at least some sort of theoretical framework that the examples supported.

If you're a dan-level player who wants to put an unusual amount of effort into reading a go book, you might want to give it a try, but I wouldn't recommend it to others.

david carlton <>

Last modified: Sun Aug 10 20:59:59 PDT 2003