Book Review: The Fighting Styles of Kato Masao and Seo Bong Soo

Master Play: The Fighting Styles of Kato Masao & Seo Bong Soo

Description: In this X volume of the Master Play series, Yuan Zhou does a magnificent job taking amateur players through what is actually considered “fighting style” in the professional world of go. Due to the chaotic nature that go can take in crazy cross-cuts and blown out battles, it is no surprise that many kyu players might consider themselves “fighters,” but once you read this book, it might open to your eyes as to what fighting really means.

Book Details

Title, The Fighting Styles of Kato Masao & Seo Bong Soo
Series, Master Play Series
Author, Yuan Zhou
Publisher, Slate & Shell
Published, “2009”
Language, English
ISBN, 1-932001-45-X
Length, 484 (iPhone) Pages (Smartbook Version)

Table of Content

  • Introduction
  • A Brief Biography of Kato Masao
  • Kato’s Big Breakthrough
  • Kato at Full Strength
  • A Brief Biography of Seo Bong Soo
  • Seo Becomes a World Champion
  • Seo Stops Another Top Japanese Pro

Before I Read This Book…

Like many kyu players out there, I always considered myself to have a “fighting style.” After all, my games consisted primarily of big battles and trying to kill things. If that’s not fighting, what is right? Well I wanted to find out for myself whether I could see my go in famous professional players actually known for their fighting. So as I’m in a bit of a haze in my journey at the moment, it wasn’t long before I found myself purchasing this book to try and shed some light on my own style.

My Review

Similar to the previous volumes I read (Master Play: The Style of Lee Changho and The Style of Go Seigen), Yuan Zhou began each section with a brief introduction to the player’s background. Being as I am still quite unfamiliar with the professional go scene, it was very entertaining while very informative. Without the introductions, I imagine that the game review would not have been nearly as enjoyable.

In this volume, Zhou reviews two monumental games from each players’ career. With each one, the diagrams are usually quite short and the accompanying explanations really helped me to follow the games without much issue. It definitely feels like the explanations were written with kyu amateur players in mind.

It was just utterly astounding seeing how these infamous “fighters” actually played.

Yet again, Yuan Zhou does not fail to amaze me with how he is able to explain what is going on in the board.


What did I enjoy about the book?

  • Focused on a topic of great interest to me: fighting.
  • Did a great job showing what “fighting” looks like at the professional level.

What did I gain from reading this book?

  • Realization that “fighting style” is actually different from what I thought.
  • Better understanding of what fighting is.
  • Greater appreciation for Kato Masao and Seo Bong Soo.

What is the format of the book?

  • Standard game review structure: Game Sequence –> Explanation –> Variations –> Explanations –> Repeat.

What aspect(s) can be improved on?

  • No complaints here.

Is this book easy to read?

  • Yes. The diagrams are short and the accompanying explanations are easy to understand.

Bottom Line

  1. Games and explanations are not overbearing and relatively easy to follow.
  2. Really helped to start shedding light on what “fighting style” really is.
  3. Highly recommended for anyone interested in seeing professional level “fighting style.”
  • Kyu players interested in seeing great examples for actual “fighting style.”
  • Players who are fans of either Kato Masao and Seo Bong Soo and would love to learn more about them.

Where Can I Buy It?

  • Slate & Shell - $17.50 USD
  • SmartGo Books - $6.99 USD (e-Book)

Other Books in This Series…

Last Updated on November 16th, 2013.