Archive: undefined/2010

My First Steps

As someone who had no background of the game (and I mean NO background since none of my family members even knew how to play the game), the first step I would have to take was to figure out the best way to learn the game.

For those who are also starting out, here are the pros and cons for your main options:

#1. Tutors/Online Go Schools

  • Pros: One of the fastest ways to learn since it’s interactive and since tutors are generally high level you will (hopefully) rise in level quickly due to their insight and guidance.
  • Cons: Tutors are expensive for trying to just learn the rules and basics.
    #2. Friends and/or Go Clubs

  • Pros: Like the tutor, one of the faster and funner ways to learn as well due to it being interactive.

  • Cons: There have to be clubs you are able to go to in your area that also match with your schedule. And well… you have to have friends that play Go in order to learn from friends.
    #3. Books, Websites, and Software

  • Pros: You can move at your own pace without scheduling conflicts.

  • Cons: It can be difficult and confusing to decide what books to buy and the best way to maximize your efforts. Also, it costs money for books and software (for the most part).
    So, if you are anything like I was (with no friends who played Go or money to hire a tutor), you are most likely looking at curtain number 3! First off, I did a lot of research and bought a couple of books in hopes of learning tons of information. After my initial venture, I’m going to start by telling you NOT to buy any books just yet. Over the next few posts, I’ll be reviewing and clarifying a lot of the books, websites and software out there that might lure brand new Go players.

For now, head to The Interactive Way to Go (English) to get started on how to learn Go for FREE!


To begin, I think every story deserves an introduction as to how it all began.

As a child, I have always been fascinated with the yin-yang symbol and the concepts it embodied. As one may predict, any pattern that even slightly resembled the yin-yang would peak my interest (even the basic color combination of black and white). Anyhow, one day (like many others), I came across the widely acclaimed Go manga known as Hikaru no Go.

The funny thing is that the main thing that caught my eye about this series was the fact that the protagonist seemed to have a black and white hair combination (aka yin-yang reminder). Anyone who has watched the actual anime (or looked at the image above) will know that Hikaru (the protagonist) actually has blonde and black hair (and that I’m an idiot because all manga’s are drawn in black and white….).

Regardless, the manga definitely sparked my interest in Go. Even though my brother (who coincidentally at this time started taking the Go culture class at Chinese School) and I attempted to start learning the game at this time, it wouldn’t be until after I entered and graduated college to begin taking another look into it.

It wasn’t until just a month ago when I was watching Criminal Minds (Season 1: Episode - Extreme Aggressor) and saw the linked clip:

For those unaware of my background, anything to do with psychology or philosophy will definitely enter the realm of my intellectual interests. After watching this scene, I decided to look back into one of the few games which has held its original nature for all the years it has been in existence. From that point on, my quest begins.


Welcome to BenGoZen! As you might’ve read in the description, this blog is for anyone looking for some personalized Go experience and advice. In case some of you haven’t had the pleasure of reading ChiyoDad’s blog, he has about three years of blogging logged in. Even though he has some great information, I thought I’d take to a blog with a more personal touch and hopefully more guidance for those who are new to the game or are looking to improve.

So in case you are wondering how the blog got its name, it’s quite simple.

Ben - My name

Go - The name of the game and a pun on the verb as well.

  • Zen - The calming state I get when playing the game.

= BenGoZen!

In addition, it’s also three mono-syllabic words strung together with a rhyme which I thought would be catchy. (Hopefully I won’t be the only one)

As the blog posts fill up, be sure to use the search box if you are searching for something specific. I’ll keep the titles simple so that you’ll hopefully find what you’re looking for without much difficulty. (e.g. If you want book reviews, type “book reviews”)

In addition, any links that I post up on the sidebars are sites that I personally have verified and believe to be useful or reliable. This is particularly directed at the “Places to Buy Go Stuff” list since I wouldn’t want you purchasing from anywhere that I had no experience with. Also, the links and blogs will be exclusively English for now since I assume a number of players reading my blog won’t know Japanese of Chinese. If there is a demand for it, let me know and I’ll start posting those blogs too.

Sorry for the long introduction, but I hope it gets you a better idea of what BenGoZen is all about and how to best use it for your Go needs.