Book Review: Otake's Secret of Strategy

Otake’s Secrets of Strategy

Description: In the third volume of The Heart of Go Series, Hideo Otake 9P illustrates 10 fundamental strategic principles. Afterwards, there is a set of problems to apply what you learned. This is the followed up by a set of amateur game reviews and professional game reviews.

Book Details

Title, Otake’s Secrets of Strategy
Series, Heart of Go Discovery Series
Author, Hideo Otake 9P
Translators, Robert J. Terry
Publisher, Hinoki Press
Published, “December 2007”
Language, English
ISBN, 978-0-9788874-4-5
Length, 254 Pages

Table of Content

  • Forward
  • Ten Conditions of Go Knowledge

    *   Otake Strategy #1 - The Attacking Force Must Be Properly Deployed
    *   Otake Strategy #2 - Avoid Engaging Strong Enemy Forces in Battle
    *   Otake Strategy #3 - Understanding the Opponent and Oneself, If a Fight Occurs, There is No Contest
    *   Otake Strategy #4 - Attack at the Place Where It is Easiest to Attack
    *   Otake Strategy #5 - Fighting Does Not Arise for Fixed Shape
    *   Otake Strategy #6 - Controlling the High Ground is Fundamental to Victory
    *   Otake Strategy #7 - When Attacking, Think About How to Withdraw
    *   Otake Strategy #8 - While Keeping the Left in Check, Move on the Right
    *   Otake Strategy #9 - Make Use of Every Resource Available
    *   Otake Strategy #10 - Creative Application of Principles is Important
  • Chapter 1 - Practical Application of Strategy: Problem Collection

    *   33 Model Positions
  • Chapter 2 - Amateur Game Guidance

    *   Game 1 - A Game of Huge Reversal (5D vs. 5D)
    *   Game 2 - A Game with a Clash of strength (5D vs. 5D)
    *   Game 3 - A Professional Teaching Game (Professional vs. 4D)
  • Chapter 3 - Appreciating Famous Professional Games

    *   Game 1 - The Start of the Otake-Rin Rivalry (Otake Hideo vs. Rin Kaiho)
    *   Game 2 - A Masterpiece of Positional Judgment (Otake Hideo vs. Kobayashi Koichi)
    *   Game 3 - A Masterpiece of Sacrifice and Attacking (Honinbo Dosaku vs. Yasui Chitetsu)

Before I Read This Book…

After reading the first two volumes of this series, I have to say that I was feeling pretty apprehensive about this next one. The only glimmer of hope I saw was that Otake Hideo 9P would be discussing amateur games. I did not have very high hopes though. After all, a professionals secrets of strategy is something I thought would definitely go way over my head.

My Review

When I opened up to the first section, “Ten Conditions of Go Knowledge” (aka Ten Strategies for Go), I was incredibly relieved to actually see summarized concepts of what Otake 9P considered to be ten strategies that players should keep in mind. The explanations were a little complicated, but I felt hope as I was able to maneuver my way through them and not be completely lost since it was also relatively brief as well. This section was definitely a bit advanced, but I see no reason why a SDK (i.e., single digit kyu) would not be able to understand it with some effort.

Upon opening the first chapter, “Practical Applications of Strategy: Problem Collection,” I was afraid that I would find myself in the same boat as the last volume. To my greatest relief however, not only would I find this section to be one of my favorites; but I could actually understand what Otake 9P was trying to illusrate a good number of times and actually got the correct answers a handful of times! Woot! What a relief after being dragged through the mud in the last volume.

In the second chapter, “Amateur Game Guidance,” I couldn’t help but be thrilled at the fact that we would be going over amateur games. Now granted, the players tended to be in the high dan rankings, but the fact that they were amateurs seemed to put my mind more at ease. The figures and explanations are moderately advanced, but I see no reason why any mid to high single digit kyu player wouldn’t be able to follow with relative ease. In fact, I believe low single digit kyus might also be able to follow with some effort.

In the final chapter, “Appreciating Famous Professional Games,” Otake 9P continues the general review style you become accustomed to in the second chapter; but I have to say that the explanations seemed to be a bit more advanced. To be clear though, I wasn’t completely lost by any stretch of the means. It’s just that it required more effort than I would have liked. =)

Overall, I am glad that I did not give up on this series and really appreciate what Otake 9P did with this book. However, I would stress the fact that I still consider this book to be in the intermediate to advanced category. It’s recommended if you’re intending on intensely studying the game as if it were a course in school; but otherwise, it’s not what I would consider light study material for the casual player.


What did I enjoy about the book?

  • A lot easier to comprehend compared to the Volume 2.
  • Has problems that are not overly advanced and are quite helpful.
  • Seems like it was actually written for kyu players to actually understand.

What did I gain from reading this book?

  • A better sense of some of Otake 9P’s strategic principles.
  • Greater appreciation for being able to keep whole board perspective.
  • Increased confidence in that my abilities are improving.

What is the format of the book?

  • The problems are presented and are then followed by the solution and variations with accompanying explanations. Unlike Volume 2, the correct solution was very easy to identify which made for a much more pleasant experience.
  • The game commentaries are structured like most normal books: diagrams accompanied by their explanations.

What aspects can be improved on?

  • Honestly, for what the book was intended to do, nothing really comes to mind.

Is this book easy to read?

  • Mostly. There are a number of occasions where the phrasing or choice of words seems rather odd and can throw off the reader, but overall the translation is comprehensible (though it definitely does not read as easily as say Kageyama’s books).

Bottom Line

  1. An enjoyable read for those looking to learn about some strategic principles in go.
  2. Contains a nice set of problems that kyu players (around mid SDK) can solve).
  3. Decently heavy and dense study material that is not suited for casual players just looking for a light read.
  • Recommended for mid to high single digit kyus and stronger players looking for an intermediate-advanced book on strategic concepts.

Where Can I Buy It?

  • GoGameGuru - $22.99 (shipping and handling not included)

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Last Updated on November 2nd, 2013.