Train Like a Pro
American e-Journal review, republished by permission of the American Go Association
Reviewer: Philip Waldron
Vol. 1 ISBN 0-90079-26-8 Vol. 2 ISBN 0-90079-27-6
While everyone dreams of having a professional teacher to pass on the secrets of the game, there really is no substitute for hard work. Flipping through a book at the end of a long day passes as study for many, but for the dedicated student Korean publisher Oromedia brings the Train Like a Pro series.
The two books in the series resemble school textbooks, with each providing thirty days of study on a variety of topics. Tactical problems generally cover common shapes, while the joseki and opening sections focus on basic lines of play rather than obscure traps and variations. Clearly the goal is to focus on the basics rather than presenting unusual novelties, a decision of which I heartily approve.
I was particularly impressed with the final two sections of each day's problems. Rather than presenting individual positions, the endgame section comes as a near-finished game on a 13x13 board, with instructions to mentally finish the game and calculate the final score. The technique combines the importance of both local tesuji and strategic understanding of the overall board and works extremely well. Finally, each day's studies present positions from professional matches, which are quite difficult but nicely illustrate go “in the wild”. Taken together, each day's problems take about an hour and are aimed at the mid-dan level player.
The Train Like a Pro series is best described as a mental workout for players looking to practice their fundamentals and I give it two thumbs up. These are not books that pass on the divine secrets of the game's masters, but rather instill the value of patience and hard work. In the end, those are probably the only secrets worth knowing.