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Getting Strong at GO: A Study Guide

As I started to study Go, I found it difficult to find a comprehensive listing (and location to buy) the books that I needed to get strong. I've attempted here to compile a list of the books you can use in your studies, with the added bonus that if you want you can click on the title or bookcover to purchase the book online. Books are listed in the order in which I suggest you study, but that is a personal preference. I've also marked the books with my subjective view of their difficulty.

Books marked with one stone are recommended for beginners

Books marked with two stones are for more advanced elementary books

These books are for more advanced study

Books for the beginner (in your first year of study):

Go, a Complete Introduction to the Game

By Cho Chikun. An authorative introduction to the ancient game of GO. Written with the Western reader in mind, by one of the strongest players in the world. It presents rules, tactics, and strategies of GO in a step-by-step easy to understand way. Besides showing how to play, it also contains essays about the world of Go which will broaden your knowledge and understanding as well as pique your interest. From history to modern tournaments, from traditional playing sets to computer Go, you'll find it in this book.

Master Go in Ten Days

By Xu Xiang and Jin Jiang Zheng. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Territory through connection and influence. While the title may be a BIT of an exaggeration, the book will help the beginning player along the path to reaching three or two kyu in strength. It is divided into ten lessons, from the basic rules (including both Chinese and Japanese counting methods) to tactics of life and death, sacrifice tactics, and eng-game tactics. Finally, three famous games are commented.

Graded Go Problems for Beginners: Vol. 1

Graded Go Problems for Beginners: Vol. 2

Graded Go Problems for Beginners, Vol. 4

Kano Yoshinori. The "Graded Go Problems" Series are the ideal books for players who have just learned the rules of Go. They bridge the gap between a beginner's book and the more "advanced" elementary books. There are almost 1,500 problems in these 4 volumes that thoroughly drill the reader on the fundamentals of play. Once you finish studying these four books, you will have mastered the elements of capturing and defending stones, life and death of groups, elementary tactics, the opening, and the endgame. This will give you a solid foundation for future progress in the game.

In the Beginning

Ikuro Ishigure. Go, the worlds foremost intellectual board game, begins with virtually unlimited possibilities on an empty board. Here, a 9 Dan professional go player explains how the game takes shape, bringing correct modern opening technique within reach of all players. Elementary in its approach, IN THE BEGINNING" illuminates depths of go strategy that few amateurs understand well. A good complement to this book is "Get Strong at the Opening."

Get Strong at the Opening

Life and Death

Life and Death problems provide a way to quickly improve your tactical ability. Study this book along with "Get Strong at Life and Death" and you will improve in your ability to kill your opponents stones and make your own live.

Get Strong at Life and Death


Tesujis are the tactics of the close battle. It is important to master tesujis if you want to have sound tactics. This book, and "Get Strong at Tesuji" will improve your fighting strength!

Get Strong at Tesuji

Get Strong at Handicap Go

As you begin to play go, you will probably have to play a lot of handicap games. One of the best ways to increase your strength at handicap go is to play a lot of games (use IGS!) and also to read this book and "Kages Secret Chronicles." Study hard and soon you will be the one offering the handicap!

Kage's Secret Chronicles of Handicap Go

Get Strong at Invading

Invasion and defense, attack and repel. These are the words that describe a compelling game of baduk or Go. Learn how to invade the moyos of your opponent and to repel his paltry attacks against yours.

Get Strong at the Endgame

Okay, so you've got the opening down, you know your joseki and tesuji. What about your endgame? Aha! Forgot about that part didn't you? You will never trully master the game into you study the endgame. It is here where points are won and lost, the battles of the middle game are concluded, and a victor is crowned!

Get Strong at the Joseki 1

The proverb says, "when you study joseki you lose two stones in strength." Of course, there is another that will tell you to neglect such study will cause you to lose four stones! Studying joseki will help you not only in the opening but in the middle game as well, because you will learn good intuition and tesujis along the way.

Tournament Go 1992

The first ever yearbook of professional go to be published in English. This book presents commentaries on all the top title matched played in Japan in 1992. That is not all... it also includes games form international title matches. A great introduction to the professional Japanese Go scene.

Beauty and the Beast: Exquisite Play and Go Theory

This book treats the major facets of Go theory from two perspectives historical, and practical. Classical Chinese treatises on go are referenced, and the development of concepts in modern play is described in detail. Each theoretical concept is shown applied to practical situations on the Go board, so that readers can quickly apply the concepts in their own games. The author illustrates with dramatic effect, how seemingly incomprehensible "bolts from the blue" that we sometimes call "equisite plays" are really firmly rooted in Go theory.

Invincible,the Games of Shusaku

This book has been called "the greatest go book ever written" on one of the greatest go players who ever lived. Shusaku was the leading player of go's golden age and is known as the Saint of Go. His perfect record of 19 sucessesive wins in the annual castle games played in the presence of the Shogun secured his reputation for all time. This book contains 143 games, 80 with full commentaries by professional go players.

Strategic Concepts of Go

Reducing Territorial Frameworks

Go Player's Almanac

Art of War

Okay, so this isn't a book about baduk or Go. But it can't hurt to study the most famous book on tactics and strategies ever written can it? Improve your fighting strength!


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