Book Review: Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go

Overall Rating: 5 / 5 Ponnuki

Basic Information

  • Title: Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go
  • Author: Toshiro Kageyama 7-dan
  • Translator: James Davies
  • Publisher: Kiseido
  • Publication Date: May 1978
  • Page Length: 272 pages


  • A hybrid of theoretical/conceptual explanations along with problems to illustrate the ideas.
  • While may seem advance, Kageyama’s personality really shines through and makes this such an interesting read (regardless of your level).
  • Appropriate for 20 kyu and stronger.
  • Recommended for all types of players.

Detailed Review

Readability - 10 / 10

When it comes to readability, I’m not sure there’s a single go book out there that can outclass Kageyama’s ability to show his humorous and delightful personality through his writing. There is almost never a dull moment in this book. Often times, he will seem to be going off on a tangent (like baseball), but he will always find a way to bring it back full circle to emphasize one of his points. His pragmatic and straight forward advice is something that every go player can make use of, regardless of how strong you desire to be. In fact, even if we set aside the actual treasure trove of go advice that is in this book, I would argue that the entertainment value of his writing makes the book worth every penny.

Content Quality - 10 / 10

Although this is not your classic tsumego book, it does have a similar style to the Elementary Go Series where there are a few problems at the end of most chapters. In addition, I will be the first to admit that some of these problems are rather difficult and can be discouraging if you are under the impression you need to be able to solve them the first time you see them. In fact, the value of this book lies in its ability to expose you to so many different concepts and ideas. Considering the size of the book and the how short each of the chapters are, the amount of content he covers is nothing short of incredible.

Final Thoughts

Although this is my third time reading the book, and it still has not lost a bit of its charm. I continue to learn something new every time I read it, and never fail to crack a smile when Kageyama goes on one of his rants about how amateur players always try to find shortcuts to reading ladders. Nonetheless, this is truly a classic that I believe will never be outdated. So do yourself a favor, and if you are going to only have a small collection of go books, this is definitely one you will want to have.

Table of Contents

  1. Chapter 1: Ladders and Nets
  2. Chapter 2: Cutting and Connecting
  3. Chapter 3: The Stones Go Walking
  4. Chapter 4: The Struggle to Get Ahead
  5. Chapter 5: Territory and Spheres of Influence
  6. Interlude: Lecturing on NHK-TV
  7. Chapter 6: Life and Death
  8. Chapter 7: How to Study Joseki
  9. Chapter 8: Good Shape and Bad
  10. Chapter 9: Proper and Improper Moves
  11. Chapter 10: Tesuji: The Snap-Back; Shortage of Liberties; The Spiral Latter; The Placement; The Attachment; Under the Stones
  12. Chapter 11: Endgame Pointers
  13. Appendix: Game Commentary: Beating the Meijin
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Last updated March 8th, 2013 - 6 kyu