Book Review: Graded Go Problems for Beginners Series

Overall Rating: 5 / 5 Ponnuki

Basic Information

  • Title: Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Volume 1 - 4
  • Author: Kano Yoshinori
  • Translator: Richard Bozulich
  • Publisher: Kiseido


  • The best starter English tsumego books available on the market.
  • This series is a classic for tsumego.
  • It features an array of topics to help players reach the next level.
  • Recommended for any player remotely interested in getting stronger.

Detailed Review

Readability - 10 / 10

So how does one give a rating on readability to a book primarily consisting of diagrams? Very simple: the solutions. Especially for those who haven’t traversed the vast world of tsumego, authors are not always the most capable of explaining the solution in an easy to understand fashion. Another aspect that I also consider are the quality of variations that are provided. More often than not, players who get the problem wrong will have a difficult time seeing why their solution doesn’t work. Selecting the variations and/or common mistakes that players make is critical to understanding the problem and getting stronger at reading.

This series serves as the model that I compare all other tsumego books to. The solutions are very clear and easy to understand 99% of the time. You’ll occasionally run into an oddball where you are stuck as to why your answer doesn’t work, but I assure you that the book is correct. I recommend getting a stronger player to help explain why it doesn’t work so you don’t get stuck on your solution.

In addition, while there are some who may critique the series for having the solutions in the back of the book (as opposed to right after the problem) and having hints for how the problems should be solved, I find that these two aspects are actually beneficial to the series for two particular reasons. First, one of the popular recommendations for solving tsumego is to solve it without ever looking at the solutions. As such, this format is suited for that type of studying. Secondly, while the hints to serve as a crutch to the readers, I think that they are help what make the series truly for beginners.

Content Quality - 10 / 10

The key to high quality tsumego is teaching players patterns that are widely applicable. While this might seem common sense, I have run into plenty of tsumego (even the beginner ones) that consist of scenarios that seem very odd. Since most people play go as a casual hobby, these obscure tsumego will only serve as a detriment to your efforts since you will most likely never run into them.

With that in mind, I am delighted to inform you that this series provides extremely high quality tsumego that will become valuable in your play. You will be exposed to fundamental concepts without being inundated with over complicated sequences or dense diagrams. In addition, the wealth of topics that are packed into the book is phenomenal (see the table of contents in Volume 1 for a glimpse). Yoshinori does a fantastic job providing the reader with small doses of each topic so that tsumego study never becomes dull.

Final Thoughts

This series is a classic for its fundamental go problems that every player will encounter on their way to the top. As I mentioned before, the quality of problems can vary greatly out there; but I assure you that the problems in this series are nothing but top notch. If you practice and complete the entire series, I guarantee that you will easily land within the realm of SDK’s before you know it. Definitely well worth your time and effort.

Finally, I must warn you NOT to buy these books from Amazon. They are almost always overpriced considering the fact that they’re usually used.

PS. Since you’re going to spend the money anyways, if your finances can handle it, I recommend purchasing (at least) the first two books since I have a feeling you’ll get through the first one pretty quickly. =)

PPS. For individual book reviews, see the links below.

  1. Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Volume 1 [Review]

    1. GoGameGuru - $20.99 (S&H not included)
    2. Kiseido - $21.00 (S&H not included)
    3. SmartGo Books [E-book] - $4.99 (Apple users only)
  2. Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Volume 2 [Review]

    1. GoGameGuru - $20.99 (S&H not included)
    2. Kiseido - $21.00 (S&H not included)
    3. SmartGo Books [E-book] - $4.99 (Apple users only)
  3. Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Volume 3 [Review]

    1. GoGameGuru - $20.99 (S&H not included)
    2. Kiseido - $21.00 (S&H not included)
  4. Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Volume 4 [Review]

    1. GoGameGuru - $20.99 (S&H not included)
    2. Kiseido - $21.00 (S&H not included)

Last Updated December 24th, 2012 - 6 kyu