Novel Plays and Shapes

American e-Journal review, republished by permission of the American Go Association

Reviewer: Philip Waldron

ISBN 1-889554-52-9

When I first heard that a book bearing Lee Chang Ho’s name had been translated into English, I was initially dubious. In Asia, it is common practice to issue poor go books under the name of a new title holder, and wondered if this might be the case here. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find “Lee Chang Ho’s Novel Plays and Shapes” to be a highly original and useful addition to my go library.

Each of the book’s fifteen chapters is devoted to a single new move, typically a joseki variation or branching point in the opening. The analysis is extremely thorough (46 diagrams in one case), providing the major strategic variations before coming to a (not always favourable) conclusion about the new move. The discussion of positions focuses largely on issues like prospects for development and the relative value of thickness and territory. These strategic concepts take some playing strength to understand, and the book will be most useful to dan-level players.

While the quality and quantity of analysis present in this book is excellent, it does not come as a light read. Being largely focussed on the full-board position, the book does not pay much attention to some of the tactical details. Readers are expected to fill in the blanks on their own, a style that seems to be common in Korean go books. Whatever the merits of the approach, which I personally favour, it does provide interesting problems for study.

“Lee Chang Ho’s Novel Plays and Shapes” aims to present the thinking and analysis behind some recent innovations in professional and fills that goal admirably. This book will be invaluable for players looking for study material, but those needing a light read for the subway should probably look elsewhere.

“Lee Chang Ho’s Novel Play and Shapes” is available from Yutopian

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