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Go by Example: Correcting common mistakes in double digit kyu play Paperback – 5 Oct 2010
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About the Author
Neil Moffatt was born in West London in 1957, moving to Cardiff in 1969 where he now resides. A degree in Electronics at Liverpool University took him to a 4+ year career as a Broadcast Engineer at BBC Radio in Central London. A career switch to programming involved a move to the IBM UK headquarters in Portsmouth, and the start of a 20+ year in IT. Health problems led to a self employed career as cabinet maker, artist, electrician, and more recently professional photographer and author. Neil is an emotional man, passionate about product usability, the Oriental game of Go, Liverpool FC and health. He still plays soccer regularly in his 50s. Personal web site : www.neilmoffatt.co.uk Learn Go game web site : www.learngo.co.uk
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This is fine, but on the first read I found the continuing game confusing as it went back to what had been played in the first place. Reading through once and ignoring the alternatives then reading a second time with the alternative play and then making up the game step-by-step on my board seemed to work well. In this respect, therefore, Neil Moffatt is working my Go brain far more effectively than it might have been!
That's where Go by Example written by Neil Moffatt fills a much welcome spot for mid-beginners which was not covered by any book so far : showing actual mistakes from real games and explaining how to avoid them.
It looks easy and unconventional at first sight : no long theories, no complicated diagrams, no Go problems, only examples. But there are really a lot of examples, and all of them have been carefully selected from actual mid-beginners' games. They are organized in chapters which each illustrates a general principle. The author shows frequent crucial mistakes, and every time he details how they arise, how they could have been avoided and what could have been a good play instead.
This could seem tedious and long, but is actually very clear, concise and easy to understand, because one of the strengths of the book is its innovative way of showing games : cluttered numbered diagrams are replaced by step-by-step sequences shown in detail. This makes a big difference for a beginner, since the book can be read anywhere without the need of reproducing the game on a real Goban.
In addition, the style is enjoyable to read even for non native English speakers, the book itself is of high quality with a nice layout, beautiful diagrams, good paper and printing quality, all at a very affordable price.
All in all, the book is the equivalent of a sum of teaching games lessons which can also be used as a reference book for the mid-beginner, and it can only be highly recommended.
Neil Moffatts book fills what in my opinion is a gap in the literature on Go strategy and tactics. While there are a lot of good books for absolute beginners and a lot of good books suitable for single-digit-kyu- or even dan-players, every player staying in the horrible state of being around 16 to 11 kyu yearns for help to improve her playing after knowing the basic rules and moves. It's a phase where you begin to see the light but end up feeling doomed very often. But even the books who aim at this target group - at least the ones I know - are quite different to this one in at least two aspects.
First, Moffatt's book does not only show you some reasonable ways of payling in the opening, mid- and endgame. Indeed every ddk-player surely knows that there are better ways of playing, thinking and fighting. Furthermore this book takes the beginners by the hand and lets them recognize themselves in the errors they make. Thus they can see what blunder they play, but they also understand that there are common mistakes that most players experience during their first steps. The book gives examples from real games - mostly from the KGS-server I cannot recommend enough for online playing - shows common mistakes and gives advice how to correct them. This way of training may just be what the especially helps ddk-players to improve.
Second, each of the diagrams in this book shows only one move at a time, the next move being displayed in the following diagram. (The usual way of course is to display a series of numbered stones in one diagram which let's you follow the game in your imagination or play it after on a board.) This way the student will see the playing evolve without knowing of the more or less rational structures that will result at the end. Sure an advanced player won't need this kind of diagrams because she is already good at reading and imagining of possibilities. And while it would be useless to print games and moves in that way generally, it is - in my opinion - a perfect way to teach a progressing beginner.
The book concentrates on two aspects: The first is improving your game by finding out about weaknesses (as over cautious play, narrow vision, not being aware of liberties of groups and the connection of stones etc.). The second part covers some ideas on how to move towards the single digit kyu player rank once you know about mistakes. You then have to know something about common moves (Joseki) and advanced life and death problems (in capturing races etc.). This part also has a useful addendum of life-and-death-status of common shapes.
I am still (stuck) within the middle of the target group of this book but it helped me to feel more relaxed and a bit like home there, that should be good foundation for further emancipation, because I have not intention to stay there forever. That said, regarding the innovative idea of teaching, the form of representation, the highly enjoyable style of writing and judging and - last but not least - the price I give my highest recommandation for this book.