Category: Books

Summer Reading

Go Books has been growing: now at 105 books, every Go player can find the right books to improve. The backend has changed completely to enable the Mac version (and Android in the future), and books updated with fixed typos or new languages are now automatically synced to your devices.

The improved syncing has also led to some bugs with books not showing up or not opening properly. I’m sorry about that; in most cases, choosing “Register Your Purchases” in the iOS app will fix it. Plesase let me know if you still experience issues. Unfortunately, travel plans keep me from releasing a fixed version until late July. (I’ve made that mistake before.)

Whether you’re heading to the Go Congress or the beach, this is a good time to prepare for upcoming battles.

  • Solve problems: Practice solving problems so you’re ready when they appear on the board. Choices range from “Graded Go Problems for Beginners” to “Gateway to All Marvels: The Xuanxuan Qijing of 1347”.
  • Focus on one pro: By playing through many games of a particular pro, you’ll soak in their style. There’s “Invincible: The Games of Shusaku”, “The Games of Fujisawa Shuko”, and “The Life, Games and Commentaries of Honinbo Shuei”. If you don’t think you’re ready for that level of pro game analysis, start with Yuan Zhou’s “Understanding Pro Games” and his “Master Play” series.
  • Study openings: “The Chinese Opening” and “Patterns of the Sanrensei” will prepare you for specific openings, while joseki books (combined with joseki pattern matching in SmartGo Kifu) will arm you with more choices to achieve a good result in the opening.
  • Improve your technique: You know your weak spots. Getting lost in the middle game? Study “Attack and Defense”. Losing points in the endgame? Study “The Endgame” and “Lee Chang-ho’s Endgame Techniques”. Getting killed when you invade? Study “Reductions“ and “Invasions”. It always pays off to study the fundamentals.

Enjoy your summer!

Go Books for Mac and iOS

I’ve released the updated Go Books app for iPad and iPhone. Thus Mac and iOS versions of Go Books now access a common database, making your book purchases portable: use your Mac to enjoy books you’ve bought on your mobile device, and buy books directly at to read on your Mac, iPad, and iPhone, as well as Android devices in the future.

To register the books you’ve bought, choose Register Your Purchases in GoBooks on your iPad or iPhone, confirm your email, and your books should appear in the Mac version of Go Books. Note that your book purchases are linked to your email; there is no need for a password. Check here for more details.

As this drastically changes how Go Books works, there’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong. So please let me know if you run into any issues. If your books don’t show up, try Restore Previous Purchases. And bear with me as everybody hits the server at the same time.

Invincible is a treat on the iPad, but full-screen on your Mac takes it to a new level. Enjoy!

Update (2015-01-05): While it worked fine for most, a number of users have run into a crash on Register Your Purchases. I’ve figured out what’s going wrong; sorry about that. I’ve submitted an updated version to Apple and requested an expedited review.

Update (2015-01-06): That crash has been fixed in version 4.0.1.

Minutes for Go

One of your New Year’s resolutions may be to study more Go. If you can sit down for hours with a board, perfect. More likely, you’ll just have minutes here and there. Take advantage of SmartGo Kifu to use those moments for Go.

Replay pro games

  • Pick a random pro game. (Tap the Go to Game icon at the top left of the game list, choose Random Game.)
  • Turn on automatic replay, maybe 3 seconds per move.
  • Pause replay as necessary to think about what’s going on.

Guess next move

  • Pick a random pro game (see above). Maybe filter games by your favorite pro first.
  • Turn on Guess Next Move. (Tap the Tools button in the lower left of the board, choose Guess.)
  • Try to figure out where you would play. SmartGo Kifu will give you feedback: right move, right move but wrong timing, right area, or not even close.

Study problems

  • Pick a set of Go problems at your level.
  • Start working through them.

Study joseki

  • Pick one of your recent games in My Games. Replay to a corner position you’re wondering about.
  • Turn on joseki analysis for that corner. (Tap the Tools button in the lower left of the board, choose Joseki.)
  • Check out what moves professionals have played in that position.
  • Explore how games with that joseki typically develop from there. (Tap on the joseki stats at the bottom to see the list of games matching that joseki.)

Study fuseki

  • Tap on the New Game button above the My Games list, choose New Empty Board.
  • Turn on fuseki analysis. (Tap the Tools button in the lower left of the board, choose Fuseki.)
  • Explore your favorite opening.

Read biographies of pro players

  • Tap on the Players icon above the list of pro games.
  • Tap on a player name.
  • Read John Fairbairn’s mini-biography for that player. (You can also see these biographies by clicking on a player name above the board.)

And Go Books adds many more opportunities to study on the go, both problems and games.

Happy New Year!

Another Step for Go Books

You can now buy Go books and read them on your Mac; another step towards making Go Books available on multiple platforms (an Android version is in development). However, the corresponding iOS app has not been released yet, so books you’ve bought on your iPad won’t show up on your Mac yet. Click here for more details.

I’m still working to get all the publishers onboard with selling books outside of the iOS app; I’m still waiting for final approval from Kiseido, Yutopian, and Good Move Press. Until then, those books will only be available on iOS.

As always, please let me know if you run into any questions or issues.

Update 2014-11-19: Kiseido has agreed to extend digital books beyond iOS.

Update 2014-12-21: Good Move Press is in, so you can now buy the five books in the Learn to Play Go series for the Mac.

Update 2014-12-30: Add Yutopian, which means all books are now available on the Mac.

Grid View in Go Books

Go Books 3.1 adds a grid layout that shows just the covers, making it easier to scroll through many books:

Books grid layout

This update also adds three new books by Slate & Shell, bringing the total to 94 books:

  • New Moves by Alexander Dinerchtein 3 dan & An Younggil 8 dan: Twenty-five new opening moves are examined carefully, looking at various possible variations in responses and continuations. This book will enable you to surprise your opponents.
  • The Monkey Jump by Richard Hunter: Suitable for both kyu players and dan players, this is a completely rewritten and greatly expanded version of the popular Monkey Jump Workshop. Includes 147 problems.
  • Playing the Endgame: A Brief Introduction by William S. Cobb: This pocket sized book introduces important concepts that you need to know to begin playing the endgame effectively.

Also, Board N’Stones has added a Dutch translation of “Black to Play! Train the Basics of Go (30-25 Kyu)”, so you can now choose to read that book in German, French, Spanish, Dutch, and English.

There is more work in Go Books behind the scenes, but not quite ready to be revealed yet. For now, enjoy the new features and books, and stay tuned.

Notes in Go Books

The most requested feature for SmartGo Books: bookmarks and/or notes. I had planned to tackle that later this year, but when Scott Jensen came up with an exquisite update for the app icon, I had no choice.

Go books ios icon

To add your own notes to any paragraph or diagram, just tap and hold on a paragraph (or diagram), then choose Add Note. To find your notes and navigate between them, tap on the move number at the bottom of the page, tap the bookmark icon on the right, then use the slider to go from note to note.

Page select full resolution

The user interface is very minimal at this point. I anticipate adding more support for notes in future versions, once I know better how you actually use them. Please let me know what you’re missing. Notes are not yet synced between devices, that’s definitely on the list.

This version of Go Books also adds four new books and several translations, for a total of 91 books, including books in German, French, Spanish, and Japanese.

Underappreciated Go Books

Preparing royalty payments is a good opportunity to look at the popularity of different books. For most Go books, their sales volume makes sense. But for some, I’m clueless as to why their sales are slow. I guess it’s easy for good books to get lost among 85 other books, so here are a few that I think deserve more attention.

“Life and Death: Intermediate Level Problems” by Maeda Nobuaki 9 dan: These 110 problems by ‘the god of life and death problems’ are well-designed and build on each other. The SmartGo Books edition has been prepared by Richard Hunter with a lot of attention to detail and really takes advantage of the interactive format.

“Rescue and Capture” by Yilun Yang 7 dan: 80 cool problems that involve capturing or saving stones.

Both those books are appropriate for single-digit kyu players, and also work well on the iPhone. A latte may help you win one game, but for the same price, these books will keep your brain going for hours and prepare you for future wins.

“The Life, Games and Commentaries of Honinbo Shuei” by John Fairbairn: Many players know about Honinbo Shusaku due to “Invincible”, but few know much about Honinbo Shuei. This full biography presents detailed commentaries on seventy-nine of Shuei’s games, and tracks the emergence of his pure but elusive style.

“The Games of Fujisawa Shuko” by John Power presents commentaries on all 40 games that Fujisawa Shuko played in the Kisei tournament as he defended the title against challenges from most of the young stars of the day: Kato Masao, Ishida Yoshio, Rin Kaiho, Otake Hideo, and Cho Chikun.

If you think analysis of professional games is beyond your level, start with Yuan Zhou’s “Understanding Pro Games” and the “Master Play” series discussing the playing styles of various pros.

“Patterns of the Sanrensei” by Michael Redmond 9 dan: Moyos can be fun; opponent moyos can be scary. Whether you play the sanrensei or need to know how to defend against it, this book gives you six basic patterns to handle different responses. Michael Redmond then discusses these patterns in the context of twenty games of his games. He’s the only native English speaking 9 dan, and the clarity of his explanations is refreshing.

“The most difficult problem ever: Igo Hatsuyôron 120” by Thomas Redecker: Inoue Dosetsu Inseki (1646 – 1719) created an exquisite full-board problem that may have finally been solved. The sequences are absolutely amazing, and every stone on the board has a role to play. This is a perfect problem to set up and discuss at your Go club.

Do yourself a favor and give these books another look. They deserve it. And their authors deserve more royalty payments.