A Scientific Introduction to Go, by Yang Yu-Chia. Yutopian Y34; 2003

This book wasn't at all what I expected. I'm kind of tired of introductory books, and I expected to be bored by reading yet another one. From the word "Scientific", I expected a humorless, driven book with an axe to grind. (I love science; I don't like people who misuse the term "scientific" in a polemical fashion.) And, from the rest of the title, I expected, well, an introduction to go.

None of these is true. Instead, it's a strangely charming book. It wanders all over the place. It has these crude little pictures that I really love. It has nice historical interludes and interludes on famous go players (lots of Go Seigen ones in the first half of the book, Lee Changho ones in the second half of the book). It has these weird little intellectual puzzles that happen to involve a go board and stones.

And, while there is lots of go content, it isn't really an introduction to the game. It doesn't ever lay out the rules. It presents the concepts in a somewhat peculiar order. (And, while I'm carping, it could have used some more editing.)

I don't really know who would be the target audience for the book. It might work as an introduction if you also had a more experienced player to show you the basics. It might work as a second book to read after another introductory book. Honestly, it might have a hard time finding a niche at all. But it certainly has its nice points, and I'm glad that it exists.

david carlton <carlton@bactrian.org>

Last modified: Thu Nov 13 21:22:08 PST 2003