Handicap Go, by the Nihon Kiin. Yutopian Y33; 2000.

This ise th entry on handicap go in the Nihon Ki-in Handbook series. It has a somewhat hard-to-classify style: it's like a dictionary in that its contents are structured taxonomically (in this case by the number of handicap stones and, within each number, by the initial patterns of stones that are played); but it's not nearly as comprehensive as a dictionary would be. Like a dictionary, the text consists entirely of examples; but the examples play out much longer than examples in a dictionary would.

Given its style, the book seems well done. It seems to me to have done a decent job of picking important representative patterns for each number of stones. The discussion of each sample pattern plays out for long enough that you can get a pretty good feel for the key ideas that are important when playing according to that pattern, and the key pitfalls that you can go into. (The games typically go up to the very beginning of the middle game.) And I found the discussion to be easy to read.

This style of book isn't for everybody, of course: if you want to see overarching theory look elsewhere. And, while my eyes didn't glaze over nearly as fast while reading this as they do while reading a dictionary, I did start to skim the book when I reached the second half. I expect that weakish players (double-digit kyu or upper single-digit kyu, say) would find it tough going; but of course those are the players who are also most likely to find themselves playing high-handicap games. (Though the book does go all the way down to three-stone handicaps.) But if the style doesn't sound offputting and you want to see many examples of how handicap games could start, give it a look.

david carlton <carlton@bactrian.org>

Last modified: Sun Aug 10 21:00:18 PDT 2003