The one book you would recommend a beginner to start with


There’s so many books, so I was wondering what would be your ONE BOOK that you would read if you were a beginner all over again?

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You are right that there are lots of books out there. There is no simple answer because I think it depends on what you mean by a ‘beginner’. However I think the book that helped me the most in those early days was:

“The Second Book of Go” by Richard Bozulich.

It gives a simple outline of a lot of the basic concepts like joseki and tesujis.

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I would recommend discovering the rules of the game and the basics of atari, capturing, eyes, etc. by playing and looking things up online, instead of reading a book. It’s the most fun way to learn anyway.

Perhaps not suitable for a complete beginner, but more for a 20k-10k (although the author argues everybody should benefit from his book): I really loved Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go by Kageyama Toshiro. I think it is most suitable to players who are already familiar with basic strategy, life & death, ladders and such, but the style of writing is very light and amusing, and it is filled with anecdotes, a lot of them not even about go.


I agree with Vsotvep. Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go by Kageyama Toshiro.


Cornel also agrees.

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Perhaps a testament to the quality, it’s unfortunate that all copies on eBay and Amazon are going for at least 45 USD.

I did just find THIS though…


I appreciate your helpfulness but publicly linking to copyrighted material might not be the way to go. :confused:


Imho, 45 dollars for a good skill book is not that much, especially one that has 270 pages.


As I understand, that Internet archive is a nonprofit organization that abides by fair use policies, similar to a public library.

Further ethical treatment of material falls to the user (i.e. Don’t go making and disseminating unauthorized copies all willy-nilly)

And I believe they remove content if the original publisher does object to it, unless the information is already in public domain.

Your thoughts?


Well I’m not a copyright expert (nor proponent), just like to err on the side of safety. :slight_smile:


@smurph Heard.

No, I suppose not. But 45+ dollars for a used book isn’t a great deal either. Since it is available as part of a free and legal online archive, I just figured I’d throw that option out there.

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I was a “beginner all over again” 19 months ago, after more than 40 years away from the game. I read Kaoru Iwamoto’s Go for Beginners (Ishi Press, 1972), which seems pretty good. It was once well regarded, but there may be better beginner’s books around today—I don’t know.


I strongly recommend this one: Robert Jasiek – First Fundamentals

Check out the sample pages (PDF)—you might find that you’ll learn something valuable from them already!


The “Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go” is definitely a good book but I think I’d not recommend it to a total beginner.

BTW you can get it for cheap in Europe:


I second this. I’ve got The Second Book of Go and I switched from it to First Fundamentals. SBOG seems like it may be helpful after I have more experience and have learned to read and recognize more basic joseki patterns. First Fundamentals feels like it’s immediately useful to me. It works by setting out principles and then provides numerous detailed examples, and each section concludes with problems to be solved to consolidate learning. Answers are provided. I like this book a lot and expect I’ll gain quite a bit from it over multiple readings.

I was impressed enough with FF that I also just purchased Robert Jasiek’s First Life and Death. It’s still early days for me, both for these books and for Go generally, but I have a much greater sense of learning something from R.J.'s books whereas the variety of other suggested 2nd books have left me feeling like I’m just reading as a chore with a hope and a few desperate prayers that I’ll get something out of them eventually. For me, that’s not a great feeling.

For a very first book, I liked Cho Chikun’s Go: A Complete Introduction to the Game and the first couple books from Janice Kim’s Learn to Play Go series. Kim’s books feel breezy. They’re very fast reads and introduce a lot of very basic material very simply. Cho Chikun’s book I found had maybe a bit more depth, but it was good to have the reinforcement of both.


Although their webshop smacks of 1997, Kiseido (the publisher) has the book in print for $24. I believe you have to mail them the book references you want to buy, and they will give you a shipping quote.
I’ve sucessfully bought from them on a number of occasions, although I’ve lately used their “European arm”, Schaak en Go Winkel Het Paard, in Amsterdam.

I’d also recommend “The Second Book of Go”, which is very useful in that it lays a first map for all the phases of the game (fuseki, joseki, chuban, yose), and explores them in some detail. I found it quite useful as it lay a “skeleton” for the game onto which I could later add knowledge from other books. Not really a begginer’s book, but I’m also quite fond of Otake’s “Opening Theory Made Easy”.

But I do second the opinions here endorsing “Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go”.

Hope I helped.


Let me be the odd one out here. I started this book 3 times and always gave up again, feeling I could learn nothing whatsoever from it. With so many people suggesting it, it surely must be a great book objectively. But it may not be for everyone. It surely isn’t for me.

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There’s a go shop in my city?! How did I not know this

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A stone’s throw from Amsterdam Centraal: :slight_smile:

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Yeah I take that road whenever I cycle…

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