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Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go

(Beginner and Elementary Go Books)

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  334 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Many Go books promise to explains the fundamentals; here is one that really keeps its promise. Kageyama's subjects are connectivity, good and bad shape, the way stones should 'move', the difference between territory and spheres of influence, how to use thickness and walls, how to train yourself to read, where to start looking in a life-and-death problem - matters so fundam ...more
Paperback, Third Printing , 268 pages
Published 1987 by Ishi Press (first published July 1978)
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Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: go, gaming, non-fiction

Dia. 2. Black blocks at 1, of course. There is no need for him to wonder what White may do afterward. Given a chance like this, only a feeble-minded player would be uncertain where to play - 'not this point, not here either, perhaps I should leave the position as it is.' Black's hand should be trembling with eagerness to play 1. He should be overcome with emotion.

Toshiro Kageyama doesn't mince words. Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go may be visualized as Kageyama-sensei leaning over your go bo
it me
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: go-weiqi
Likely the only book on improving at Go which can also be enjoyably read by someone who doesn't care about the game.
This is far from just a collection of diagrams and technical explanations. Using his Japan of the 1970s for analogies, Kageyama shows you the importance of fundamentals in all areas of the game. He admonished you for being such a scrub and tries his best to open your amateurish mind to the beauty of professional class moves.
It's an often very funny book that deserves its fame in
Isaac Rains
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot about how to play Go from this book, even though many of the lessons went over my head, but I can't imagine a more entertaining instructional book for the game of Go than this one. Kageyama must have been a real character, as this book is filled with personality, jokes, and tricks. Certain passages had me laughing out loud, and people nearby were very confused when I tried to explain how funny this book about the game of Go is. I'll certainly be rereading this one at some point.
Charles Frayne
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many of the finer points of this book went over my head. I can't quite see when a two-space extension and a three-space extension are totally different moves. But Kageyama puts it best when he says "Experts can finesse their way out, bunglers can bungle their way out, but everybody should break through white's enclosure somehow." This book covers the fundamental concepts that will help you think about Go, even if details and specific applications still elude you, and it does an excellent job. Wh ...more
Chloe Moon
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This and Ishigure's "In the Beginning" were my first Go books. I read this as a 15-20k. It was far beyond my ability to understand, but I did learn from it. It's a very entertaining read. Kageyama has a great attitude about him, and hops from topic to topic in a lightfooted manner.

I've reread it around 10k and got a lot more out of it, but it was still beyond me. 5k now, I anticipate that when I return to it as a 1d, it will still be beyond me, and I will continue to learn from it!
Jamus Sumner
Apr 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the books on Go I've ever come across, I've learned more from Kageyama than I have from any other source. I've read this book three or four times now and each time I gain new understanding. Absolutely invaluable source for anyone looking to get stronger.
Zachary Littrell
Kageyama was a crusty old man, but with a dry-as-toast sense of humor. He's just about everything you expect and want from a Go teacher: he rambles about baseball, squeezes in references to long-dead samurai, and playfully badgers his pupils for being dumb enough to make bad moves.

This is the perfect must-read book on Go, except for one thing: it sure ain't for beginners. Kageyama himself explains his mildly wonky definition of who is a 'beginner.' He assumes you're already familiar with joseki,
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic! Written in a very personal style that is easy to identify with rather that scholarly or formal. It even had me laughing out loud a couple of times.

It takes the view that fundamentals are worth going over again and again, sort of like spring training in baseball. No matter how long a player has been a pro, they always start with fundamentals. All other skills proceed from them.

I know that I will be reading this book again and again for my own "spring training" any time of the year. Thi
Valentyn Danylchuk
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Perhaps I did not pick up all the insights at my level. The main value for me is the inspiring, persuasive way the author drives the simple principles, like reading ahead with due diligence, or staying true to proper moves. He explains that the main difference between a pro and an amateur is the mind discipline. Pro player acts on 100% confidence, resulting from studying and analysis, without any rushed moves or wishful thinking. Adopting this mindset, even with small knowledge to start, is the ...more
Adrien Lemaire
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book that I had bought many years ago and never took the time to read, because I preferred playing than studying the game.

Made me want to play Go again, but unfortunately I won't find the time for that hobby. Still, the exercises inside the book were an excellent refresher and quite stimulating. I recommend for all levels up to shodan.
Ken Parel-Sewell
Great book that isn't all diagrams. Kageyama actually gives good advice, resets your head.
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite thing about this book is the style. It talks directly to the reader as if the reader were questioning what they were being taught. And this is great because the information can sometimes seem so simple that you do find yourself questioning it.

I would say about 75% of this book is just focusing on its diagrams and examples. The diagrams are well done and the book uses them effectively. I was almost always able to simply read the book and didn't get out a board to look at a position un
Leandro Ribeiro
Regardless of what the title might suggest, this is not a beginner's flavored book. If you still get vertigo at the sight of an empty 19x19 board, then you're better off with - hell, I don't know! This is the first book about Go I've read, so I cannot suggest anything other than playing 100 games, or something, and pick this one up when you're above 15kyu, or something. Kageyama is not teaching the fundamentals of Go, but rather the value and importance of such fundamentals. He's preaching at al ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book. As others have noted it's not a good first book. It explores fundamental concepts, not the rules and mechanics of the game. You should have no doubt what a legal move is, and fully understand Ko & Seki, know how to kill the basic shapes that are either dead or alive depending on who has sente.

One thing I would like to point out is that the chapter on ladders is in many ways the most important, and is NOT to be skipped by any reader of any level. It is easily a helpful
Jun 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not really a beginner's book, but an excellent "second" go book -- excellent to go back to once you've started to figure out how go works. It really does deal with the basics, but at a fairly high level; at least it seems high to this weak player -- probably about 20-18 kyu right now. Although some books hold your hand a little more and might be a little clearer or more organized, I credit this book in particular with my recent improvement. Kageyama has a very engaging, conversational and straig ...more
Jul 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Go players from about 15k and stronger
This book is an amazing aid for the intermediate level go player, and very readable, to boot.

Kageyama-sensei was easily as gifted a writer as he was a go player, and his sarcastic, chatty style will have you laughing out loud or cringing as one of his barbed comments hits close to home - not that it's a bad thing.

It's more valuable as a tool to teach you how to look critically at your own go and accept your weaknesses than as an instructional book, but that said, it is still a very useful book.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reread this astonishing Go game book once a year and although I do not get better at a rate that I'd prefer, this book does accomplish the goal of concentrating one's thoughts on how one approaches one's game, and how one can rethink bad habits, and gain new ones so as to experience more satisfying Go game experiences. This is a Go book that is worth its reputation: its well written, funny, and deep. It's concise as well. Whether or not the book "works," it certainly is no waste of time. In fa ...more
Pete Schwamb
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to say what I like best about this book. The style is very entertaining; it's like hanging out with an incredibly wise and goofy old man. The humor and sarcasm is no distraction from the lessons, either, but rather serve to underscore the points he's making.

I'm looking forward to re-reading it again. I've already re-read several chapters, and feel like my game has benefited each time I've opened it up.

It's maybe not the first book you should buy about go, but once you understand the ba
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: go
Packed with valuable information about the game of go, and unique for its readability and focus on "approach" to the game, rather than specific skills. Broken up with anecdotes about the author's life as a professional go player, Lessons in the Fundamentals feels like recreational reading at times. Nonetheless, taking Kageyama's lessons to heart will definitely improve your game, at pretty much any level of play.

If you want to improve your game, but don't necessarily know how to go about it, thi
Zach May
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: games, go
This is a truly amazing book for the intermediate player. Kageyama's style is wonderfully conversational and imminently funny. Of course, that would be worthless if the book weren't full of fascinating strategic and tactical insights. From the go books I've read, most are either short on depth or overly abstruse. While Lessons does occasionally descend into too-deep analysis of sequences, it generally strikes a good balance between clarifying difficult concepts and considering the concrete impli ...more
Jul 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some quotes to give you the flavor of Kageyama's useful yet personal style:

from p.31: ...when there are two ways to capture with one move, the firmer way is correct.
from p.67: The real meaning of 'getting ahead' is 'bending around the enemy's leading edge.'
from p.166: If you do not feel the same tightening in your chest as when you close your eyes and picture the face of a lover, you do not love good shape enough.
from p.204: Read it; it won't read itself.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: go-baduk
I've read this quite a number of times now. It's the first book I reached for when returning to the game after a long break. Gives some good insight in to how you should approach the game and how you should be thinking while playing. Also gives a very brief overview of what the important topics to study further are, and how to approach that study.
I don't spend a great deal of time reading go books; I prefer to play, review games and solve problems, but the time spent with this is well worth it.
Dec 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, go
This book is designed to be read when you start to feel stagnant in your growth at Go. Kageyama rightly highlights the two biggest blocks for most people: 10-9k, and 2-1k. I've read it two and a half times now, each time when I felt like I didn't quite know how to keep getting better, and each time it helped me keep advancing.

The writing is fun and enjoyable, and because it's more about attitude than calculation, it's easy to read. Definitely check it out if you're ever feeling blocked.
Zachary G. Augustine
You know how to play and now want to learn. This is the best intermediate level book according to the internet and I have to agree--it goes much deeper than an introductory book. If you're brand new, Go for Beginners is the best place to start.

4 stars because I don't understand it fully enough to say if it's great or amazing.
I stopped part-way into the book; it's at too advanced a level for me.

The conversational style added a lot of colour - the author recalls a cantankerous yet brilliant old teacher I had - but the book required a lot of pre-existing knowledge and didn't give a full and complete treatment of the topics raised.
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Kageyama (and translator) mix instruction with a sense of humor that delights. A great book for Go players of a wide variety of strengths. Teaching the novice a solid foundation for strategy, and reminding the more experienced player of what they'd forgotten.
To be read, and reread, and reread...
Steve Paulson
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: go
A must read for any Go player.

I admit to not understanding 90% of it during my first reading yet enjoying it immensely.

About a third of the way through my 2nd reading and am maybe up to 25% understanding.

This is a book that you can read repeatedly and still feel almost like you are reading it the first time.
Jonathan Funk
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My only criticism of this book is that it doesn't truly start 'at the beginning'. It assumes a basic knowledge of the game which a person may not have when picking it up.

Otherwise it covers a BROAD spectrum of strategy lessons from basic to advanced. The anecdotes and analogies are great and help to break up the otherwise dry content.
Han beng Koe
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the name is 'fundamental' it is not a book for a beginner.
I am a Single Digit Kyu (SDK) player and this suits well for me somehow.

The book is mainly discussing the importance of fundamental and how does professional apply the fundamentals.
The language is excellent, I recommend this for all go enthusiast!
Jul 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For reference, I am not good at go, a very weak amateur. I found this book to be an excellent interweaving of technical and intuitive aspects of the game, along with a well written style that made it interesting to read rather than a chore of studying.
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