Book Review: The Nihon Ki-in Handbook of Proverbs

Overall Rating: 5 / 5 Ponnuki

Basic Information

  • Title: The Nihon Ki-in Handbook of Proverbs (Volume One)
  • Author: Translated and Edited by Max Golem
  • Publication Date: March 19, 1999
  • Page Length: 163 pages


  • This is a fantastic book for players who want to be exposed to lots of different concepts without being inundated with dense diagrams and explanations.
  • The book covers a very broad range of material that makes it a valuable purchase for those who have a difficult time with some of the other more dense material.
  • Appropriate for 20 kyu and stronger.
  • Recommended for all players.

Detailed Review

Readability - 9 / 10

The Nihon Ki-in Handbook of Proverbs reads just like a book on fables. All of the proverb explanations (including diagrams) only ranges from half a page to two at most. The message is generally delivered in a very concise manner, which prevents it from being onerous to newer players.

One of the frustrating aspects about some other go books is the fact that the explanations can be extremely long and dense. This makes it difficult on two different levels. First, newer players get incredibly bored (and even discouraged) since the information goes way over their heads. Secondly, players who only have a chance to occasionally read find themselves stopping at odd places within an explanation of a concept. And by the time they return to reading again, they may have forgotten what was mentioned in the first half of the explanation.

As a result, it is perfect for any player who wants to do some light reading since they will easily finish a concept in its entirety in a single session.

Content Quality - 9 / 10

As you can expect from a book of proverbs, The Nihon Ki-in Handbook of Proverbs focuses on a broader overview of multiple topics. Its delivery of quality information in a concise and easy to read format is why it gets such a top rating. In addition, the fact that it covers the topic of fighting is fantastic since very few of the mainstream books spend any time of that area. If I had to gripe about a an aspect of content however, it would be that I would liked to see more material on endgame. Otherwise, the concepts and ideas provided are very valuable and will serve as a great foundation for players who will go off to read more in depth books.


The Nihon Ki-in Handbook of Proverbs continues to remain a classic amongst the go literature out there due to its availability and timeless advice. In addition, its ability to be light reading is a rare characteristic for many go books that I’ve encountered and is something I greatly appreciate. Any person even remotely interested in studying the game will definitely find this book to be a treasure trove of information.

Table of Contents

  1. Basic Moves and Concepts
  2. Good Shape and Bad
  3. Playing Ko
  4. The Opening
  5. Joseki
  6. Territorial Frameworks
  7. Life and Death
  8. Running, Connecting, and Capturing
  9. Clever Moves, Forcing Moves, and Sacrifices
  10. A Guide to Fighting
  11. A Potpurri of Proverbs
  • Yutopian for $17.00 (S&H included)

Last updated December 6th, 2012 - 6 kyu