The fourth book in the Essentials of Go
series by James Davies
and Akira Ishida
, and the only one that I've read. The whole series is supposed to be excellent, but this is the best one, from what I've heard.
Davies is a American 5-dan amateur Go player and professional Go writer, and Ishida is a Japanese 9-dan professional player.
The book deals with the middle game, which is, at least on the surface, the most complicated part of the game (fuseki, or opening, appears fairly simple, since there are so few stones on the board, but is arguably more complicated than middle game because of the possibilities). It is during the middle game when players are attempting to attack their opponent's weak groups, and strengthen their own. Attack and Defense deals with three main aspects of the middle game:
- Attacking the opponent's weak groups when the balance of power is in your favour, in order to build territory, or further increase your strength.
- Defending yourself from attack in order to shift the balance of power so that it is possible to go on the offensive yourself.
- Reducing and invading large-scale frameworks (moyos).
The level of difficulty of the book is pitched at players who are in the range of around 10 to 15 kyu
. I'm 10 kyu, and found it very useful (in fact, I feel about one or two levels stronger, just having read it, and my play in the last few days seems to reflect this). It has ample examples and problems (most of them taken from real games played by Ishida) to illustrate the concepts as it introduces them, and the final chapter consists of 20 problems so that the reader can test how well he understood the ideas presented.
The writing is clear and concise, and although he generally restrains himself, there are a few places where the reader can tell that Davies has a sense of humor. The examples are chosen to be appropriate for the target audience, illustrating the concepts in a straightforward manner, without the confusing tesujis that often crop up in professional games.
Like all English-language Go books, it is quite expensive for its size and quality of printing (it's a tiny paperback, and mine cost 25$ Canadian), due to the small market for such books, but well worth it for anyone in the double-digit kyus who wants to improve his or her middle game.