Book Review: 38 Basic Joseki

38 Basic Joseki

Description: In the second volume of the Elementary Go Series, Kosugi and Davies outline 38 basic joseki that players might find helpful in their games.

Book Details

Title, 38 Basic Joseki (Volume 2)
Series, Elementary Go Series
Authors, Kiyoshi Kosugi and James Davies
Publisher, Kiseido
Published, 1st Printing December 1975 | Eighth Printing February 2007
Language, English
ISBN, 978-4-906574-11-4
Length, 246 Pages

Table of Content

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: 3–3 point joseki
  • Chapter 2: 3–4 point joseki; part 1
  • Chapter 3: squeeze plays
  • Chapter 4: 4–4 point joseki; invasion and tsuke
  • Chapter 5: 4–4 point joseki; kakari
  • Chapter 6: 3–5 point joseki
  • Chapter 7: 4–5 point joseki
  • Glossary of technical terms


What did I enjoy about the book?

  • There are joseki covered in here that are not typically covered by sites like Eidogo or Josekipedia.
  • Explanations are pretty short and concise.

What did I gain from reading this book?

  • As a beginner, I had a hard time grasping anything from the book.
  • As a more advanced player, I had more appreciation for the unique josekis they showed. However, I am still not confident in saying that I know all 38 basic joseki very well.

What style of teaching does the book use?

  • Textbook Approach

    • Content is organized in a curriculum format and follows a lecture style of writing.
  • Primary Learning Mechanism:

    • Explanations with example diagrams

What aspect can be improved on?

  • Though I’m not a fan of this book as a whole for beginners, there are no complaints regarding the overall content quality and presentation.

Is this book easy to read?

  • As a beginner, this was not an easy book to read. The material was rather dense and was difficult to understand. For players that are more advanced however, the book is written rather concisely and one will appreciate how much content is packed into such a small book.

Bottom Line

  1. Best viewed as a review of joseki rather than a study of it.
  2. Contains unique josekis such as how to handle a 3-3 invasion if you already have a one point jump.
  3. Not very helpful for beginners looking to understand more about the game.
  4. Definitely more appropriate for advanced players who already have a very firm grasp of the game.

Before I Read This Book…

My Abilities

  • I was utterly brand new to the game when I purchased this book.

My Perspective

  • I was hopeful that I would be able to memorize all the basic joseki that people normally encounter in their games and apply it to my own. Little did I know that my perspective was very naiive and very impractical.

My Review

The length of the book is a double-edged sword for most readers. On one hand, the explanations of each joseki are short enough that you are done reading it before you get bored. On the other hand, the brevity of the explanations means that the explanations are more abstract and at a higher level. While this may be good for stronger players look­ing to reinforce their under­standing of joseki, most of the explanations will be but empty words to the average player.

This book delivers in regards to covering a good num­ber of pop­u­lar josekis and their variations. On the other hand, I found that learning anything practical from this book was rather difficult. It hits so many points in the explana­tions that anyone with a weak foundation in concepts such as whole board thinking will be unable to put anything to practical use.

Fortunately, there is a redeem­ing qual­ity to this book: the sec­tions on the vary­ing josekis on the 4–4 point. It does an excellent job explaining positions that Eidogo does not have. For example, how to handle a 3–3 inva­sion when you already have a small knight’s move.

At the end of the day, this book is best viewed as an exposure/review book for joseki. You might pick up a thing or two here and there, but for most players it will be rather difficult to apply it to your own games since the position always changes. If you are looking to study joseki like you would for a class, then a good place to start would be the Dictionary of Basic Joseki by Ishida Yoshio. Also, for those who already have a basic sense of joseki and want more guidance on why certain choices are better than others in different board positions, be sure to check out Whole Board Thinking (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2) by Yilun Yang.

  • Experienced players looking for an overview of some common joseki that they might encounter in their games.

Where Can I Buy It?

  • Amazon - $16.20 USD (shipping & handling not included)
  • GoGameGuru - $17.99 USD (shipping & handling not included)
  • Kiseido - $18.00 USD (shipping & handling not included)
  • SmartGo Books - $9.99 USD (e-Book for iPad & iPhone Only)

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Last Updated on August 1st, 2013