Book Review: All About Ko

Overall Rating: 8 / 10 Ponnuki

Basic Information

  • Title: Mastering the Basics, Volume 6: All About Ko
  • Author: Rob can Zeijst and Richard Bozulich
  • Publisher: Kiseido
  • Publication Date: September 2007
  • Number of Problems: 121 Problems
  • Page Length: 250 pages


  • A solid book that serves as a great reference on ko while providing problems and example games.
  • Appropriate for 1 dan and stronger.
  • Recommended for serious players who really want to study ko.

What I Expected

  • A thorough explanation of ko and introduction of new ideas I never thought of with ko.
  • Explanations on determining the value of ko.
  • Problems to illustrate the different aspects of ko.

What You Can Expect

  • A good introduction to a lot of different concepts involved with ko battles.
  • Best explanation for determining the value of ko that I’ve seen thus far.
  • Problems and example games that help to illustrate the different concepts introduced in the first half.

My Thoughts as a 5 Kyu

To begin, I’d like to clarify that I was not able to fully study and absorb all the material in this book. There are an array of reasons for this, but the primary one being that I have very little motivation to actually learn all the details about ko since I feel that I still have a wide gap in the rest of my go knowledge that mastery of ko would not be very rewarding at this point in time.

For those who have looked at the Table of Contents, it is very clear that that Zeijst and Bozulich both took great care to make sure just about every aspect of ko was covered. Granted, while some of the sections are rather short (e.g., a few pages), the explanation are concise and clear enough that the brevity of the section will not hamper your learning ability.

Finally, this is the first book I’m recommending for dan players and above. There is a really big reason for this: mastering ko battles is _utterly useles_s for kyu players unless they already have a solid understanding of everything else already (e.g., positional judgment, attacking and defending properly, direction of play, etc.). And based on what I’ve heard from stronger players, kyu players would be dan level if they already had a solid grasp of the other fundamentals of the game.

If you really want to get this book however, I would recommend simply reading the explanations on the various aspects of ko; but don’t spend an exorbitant amount of time on the problems.

Table of Content

  1. Preface
  2. Some Important Terms and Concepts
  3. A Glossary of Japanese Terms Related to Ko
  4. The Two Ko Rules
  5. Chapter One: Ko in Action
  6. Chapter Two: The Value of a Ko
  7. Chapter Three: The Value of a Ko Threat
  8. Chapter Four: There is No Ko in the Opening
  9. Chapter Five: Adjacent Ko Threats
  10. Chapter Six: Be the First to Take the Ko
  11. Chapter Seven: Flower-Viewing Kos
  12. Chapter Eight: Maximizing the Number of Ko Threats
  13. Chapter Nine: Ko Threats that Lose Points
  14. Chapter Ten: Invalid Ko Threats
  15. Chapter Eleven: Creating Ko Threats
  16. Chapter Twelve: Using Ko to Make Sabaki
  17. Chapter Thirteen: Double and Triple Kos
  18. Chapter Fourteen: Approach-Move Kos
  19. Chapter Fifteen: Two-and Three-Stage Kos
  20. Chapter Sixteen: The Ten-Thousand Year Ko
  21. Chapter Seventeen: Bent Four in the Corner
  22. Chapter Eighteen: Super Kos
  23. Chapter Nineteen: The Carpenter’s Square
  24. Chapter Twenty: Problems and Example GAmes
  25. Appendix: Further Reading
  1. Kiseido - $25.00 (S&H not included)

Last updated June 9th, 2013