Programmed human learning and the best beginner books

I personally prefer “programmed learning” where a concept is introduced and explained, then drilled with dozens of similarly-themed problems/puzzles in increasing difficulty to reinforce the concept. Then when the same situation arises organically in a game, I feel much better equipped to recognize it and respond appropriately.

Now I’ve got Janice Kim’s 5-book series (Learn to Play Go) and while it is broad in scope, many of the basic studies do not go very deep. In some cases a principle or tactic gets introduced with a single example before moving on to something else.

I understand that Go is an immense game and the author is trying to cover much ground as quickly as possible, so I’m not trying to deride her efforts in that regard. But there is a marked lack of material density compared to books I have used to learn other games. The graphics and text are quite large and spaced generously alongside abstract doodles, which is a fairly inefficient use of space. I would have preferred to see that space used for more examples and puzzles to reinforce each concept.

Is there another beginner series that takes a more programmed approach?
I have heard the Level Up and Jump Level Up series are good, does anyone have a comment on those?

I am averse to building a library of redundant study material but I don’t mind acquiring more if it means I can build a thorough understanding of fundamental play.


Despite having purchased a lot of Go books, the only strategic ones I got were Ishida’s “Attack and Defense” as well as “Sabaki” by Yilun Yang, both very digestible in little time. I suppose if you’re looking for a treatise of beginner material, there would be… Cho Chikun’s Go: A Complete Introduction to the Game and Kageyama’s Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go. Since I have not read these, I cannot tell you how detailed they are, though. I have read good things about Go Seigen’s A Way of Play for the 21st Century, despite being fairly old a book - if you’re into fuseki.


Basically what I’m looking for is a book that covers each topic with a whole bunch of exercises to practice each technique. For example:
Here is a snap back capture. Here are things to look for that will tell you a snap back is possible. Now here are 50 tsumego puzzles where a snap back is the solution.
Here is a ko fight. Here are 50 different ko scenarios where you must find the best play for black or white.

Does such a book exist where tactics and techniques are sorted by type in sufficient volume that a player can drill each one extensively?

Ok answering my own question. The Level Up series follows each concept with 24-36 problems to drill them in one by one. Yay!


As a fellow Learn to Play Go series reader, I would suggest combining it with a basic tsumego series like Black to Play! Train the Basics or Graded Go Problems for Beginners.


Thank you!

I really like “Tesuji” and “Life and Death” in the “Elementary Go Series”

There are not a huge amount of problems per concept, but it does follow the general structure that I think you may be looking for: introduce a concept then problems testing you on that concept. I think they provide a well curated and broad coverage of beginner/intermediate skills.


I’ve been going through the “Level Up” series and I like these books. I’m not sure what you mean about density - the books introduce new notions one at a time so the progress is very slow from one chapter to the next - but that’s precisely what I like about them, giving you lots of exercises to drill down one thing at a time.

The other baduktopia books (essential life&death and the joseki book) also seem good, but I haven’t dug into them as much yet.

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you may try
A lecture costs 1€ to watch and you can get the training system, which is highly effective to train after lectures.
Only Problem: You can buy the system for one year only and that’s 49€

At the moment they have a 1 month free subscription so it may be good for testing if it is for you

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I mean how thoroughly each topic is explained, and how much information is contained relative to the number of pages.

The Kim series is not dense at all, there are just tons of fluff and filler pages. Plus the diagrams and text are overly large. And, as aforementioned, most new concepts are introduced with just a single example and a brief final review. So for the 175+ pages in each volume there is really not much information and training as I’m used to getting from well-written chess books.

I’m glad to hear the level up series doesn’t have the same problem. I want lots of exercises sorted by topic with thorough explorations of each concept.