Book Review: The Road Map to Shodan, Volume 2

The Basic Principles of the Opening and the Middle Game

Description: “In this book, 20 basic principles are presented. Each principle is accompanied by numerous examples and each section is followed by problems in which the application of these principles is required to solve them. The intuition of the novice player who studies the principles, examples, and problems presented in this book will quickly rise to the level of an expert go player.”

Book Details

Title, The Basic Principles of the Opening and the Middle Game
Series/Volume, The Road Map to Shodan (Vol. 2)
Author, Rob van Zeijst and Richard Bozulich
Publisher, Kiseido (LINK)
Published, “September 2014“
Language, English
ISBN, 978-4-906574-83-4
Length, 146 pages
Problems, 45 problems

Table of Content

  1. Preface
  2. A Brief Glossary of Go Terms and Concepts
  3. Section I: Extensions and Efficiency

    1. Principle 1A
    2. Principle 1B
    3. Principle 1C
    4. Principle 2
    5. Principle 3
    6. Problems 1 to 8
    7. Answers to Problems 1 to 8
  4. Section II: Confinement, Linkage, and Separation

    1. Principle 4A
    2. Principle 4B
    3. Principle 5
    4. Problems 9 to 14
    5. Answers to Problems 9 to 14
  5. Section III: Weak Stones and Weak Positions

    1. Principle 6A
    2. Principle 6B
    3. Principle 7A
    4. Principle 7B
    5. Principle 8
    6. Problems 15 to 22
    7. Answer to Problems 15 to 22
  6. Section IV: Handling Moyos & Escaping

    1. Principle 9A
    2. Principle 9B
    3. Principle 10
    4. Problems 23 to 28
    5. Answers to Problems 23 to 28
  7. Section V: Handling Thickness

    1. Principle 11
    2. Principle 12
    3. Principle 13
    4. Principle 14
    5. Problems 29 to 32
    6. Answers to Problems 29 to 32
  8. Section VI: The Third and Fourth Lines in the Opening & Defending Against a 3-3 Invasion

    1. Principle 15
    2. Principle 16
    3. Principle 17
    4. Principle 18
    5. Problems 33 to 38
    6. Answer to Problems 33 to 38
  9. Section VII: Turning a Moyo into Territory

    1. Principle 19
    2. Problems 39 to 40
    3. Answers to Problems 39 to 40
  10. Section VIII: How to Make Sabaki

    1. Principle 20
    2. Problems 41 to 45
    3. Answers to Problems 41 to 45

My Review


The Basic Principles of the Opening and the Middle Game, by Rob can Zeijst and Richard Bozulich, is the second volume to Kiseido’s new series: The Road Map to Shodan. Though the title might lead some astray, this book is not intended to be a definitive guide to all principles in regards to the opening and middle game. Instead, it would be more accurate to view the purpose of this book as a broad survey of common principles that beginner and intermediate players forget during their own games. And while some might write this book off as a simple marketing ploy, this book is truly a fantastic collection of principles that cover a wide range of material in an easy to understand manner.

Summary of Content

When first presented with the title, I must admit that I was initially skeptical of what it could contain. After all, I had already read 20 Principles of the Opening, Get Strong at the Opening, 501 Opening Problems, etc. To my delight, the content of the book exceeded my expectations. Just look at the topics covered: (1) Extensions and Efficiency, (2) Confinement, Linkage, and Separation, (3) Weak Stones and Weak Positions, (4) Handling Moyos & Escaping, (5) Handling Thickness, (6) The Third and Fourth Lines in the Opening, (7) Defending Against a 3-3 Invasion, (8) Turning a Moyo into Territory, and (9) How to Make Sabaki.

While the topics do not receive a comprehensive explanation of each topic, the book does a great job providing a survey of the topic with the key points highlighted. After all, don’t forget that this series is meant to be a guide for those who are kyu players looking to gain strength. So the most effective method for helping players do that is to provide the most common mistakes that players make and how to fix them. More advanced techniques and principles would naturally be reserved for other books.

Unlike most of the other books I have read, this book does an excellent job of keeping things as simple as possible. For example, instead of inundating the reader with numerous of examples taken from professional games, the examples consist of straight-forward examples that are easy to follow. In addition, each principle is given a good mixture of examples and explanation. As a result, novice and/or more casual players would not be overwhelmed and can digest the material much more easily.

Intended Audience

The strength of players who would benefit most from this book would be around 10k and stronger.

While there are other books out there that contain similar information in various forms, this book is best suited for players who approach the study of go with a more casual approach.

In other words, the material is written in such a way that it is quite easy to get through and absorb without multiple intense readings. That’s not to say that you can read it once and be done with it, but it is not so dense that you would have to reread a paragraph multiple times just to understand its basic meaning (let alone trying to apply it in your own games). In addition, the diagrams are short enough that it is not necessary to have a board in order to comprehend the flow of the stones (though it is certainly recommended if you have it in front of you).


The content is laid out in a way that is analogous to a textbook. First you have a section explaining the principles that you should learn along with a few examples to illustrate their point. The explanations are then followed up with a few problems for you to reinforce what you have just learned. And to ensure that you don’t accidentally glance at the solutions while trying to solve the problems, they are kept in a separate section after the problems are presented.

Analysis and Evaluation

The key to understanding the brilliance of this book lies in its accessibility to players of all kinds. Even when I consider players like myself who have read numerous books and take the game quite seriously, there is something to be appreciated about the simplicity to which this book approaches the topic. And though my understanding of this topic most likely has already encroached on dan territory, I still felt that the book provided a great reinforcement of things I knew and helped fill some areas that I didn’t realize were missing.

In terms of shortcomings, there is only one aspect that I would have liked to have seen: more practice problems. While there are a handful of problems to review each section, there was more than one occasion where I would have liked just a few more problems. To be clear though, this is not to say that the problems in the book do not cover the topics presented. It’s just I would have liked a few more than what is in the book.


While there will be players who may scoff at this book, Kiseido has done a great job of finally providing a stepping stone that beginner and intermediate players can actually benefit from. So if you have any interest in the topics mentioned above and think you could benefit from the style of teaching being used, then I highly recommend that you get a copy of this book pronto!

Where Can I Buy It?

  • Kiseido - $21 (shipping and handling not included)

Other Books in This Series…

  • Volume 1: Handicap-Go Strategy and the Sanrensei Opening (Making the Transition from Handicap to Even Games)
  • Volume 2: The Basic Principles of the Opening and the Middle Game
  • Volume 3: The Basic LIfe and Death Positions
  • Volume 4: A Survey of the Basic Tesujis
  • Volume 5: All About the Endgame
  • Volume 6: Sabaki: The Art of Settling Groups and Making Good Shape
  • Volume 7: Attacking Weak Groups
  • Volume 8: The Chinese and Mini-Chinese Openings
  • Volume 9: The Kobayashi Opening
  • Volume 10: Tasuki Openings
  • Volume 11: Parallel Openigs
  • Volume 12: The Shusaku Opening

Last Updated on October 19th, 2014