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Getting better at Go requires that the game is played, and preferably reviewed. But when a match isn’t possible due to time or lack of an opponent, studying life and death problems can very helpful. I recommend starting with the basics, like low level problems. Some joseki and fuseki problems are ok too, but life and death, in my opinion, will serve you better. My first introduction to life and death was a book. That book is: “The Elementary Go Series, Volume 4 Life and Death”  This book is a good start, but where to go from here. There are many books on life and death, and some additional ones can be recommended if you ask.

As mentioned in the THANK YOU post on the home page, Tim Kington wrote a program called GoGrinder. This program is excellent for life and death problems, and the incorrect buzzer is a good deterrent for making a guess rather that reading the scenario out. You can even load problems from a book into the program. GoGrinder is available for android devices from the “Play Store”, on any computer that runs java linked from GoGrinder’s homepage, and on older iPhones. Unfortunately, Tim discontinued updating for iphone devices early on, but it will still run on older iPhones.

Move to harder and harder life and death problems as you get better, but go back to the easier problems on occasion too. Reading skill can be developed by the hardest problems you can manage, but the easier problems still help to make flaws instantly recognizable. In addition, easy life and death problems are built on common shapes that are exploited. Harder life and death problems will still fall back on these shapes, but the situation will be less developed and harder to see.

I wish you the best of luck with you Go journey, and as always, feel free to contact me at

The first step to getting good at playing Go is to learn the basic rules. One of the easiest ways is to use an interactive learning system. One of my favorites is “The Interactive Way to Go” (click the name for a link directly to the site) I like this one because it goes through the rules and gives playable examples as you proceed. The link takes you to a flash version, but a downloadable java version is available as well.

After the moves in the interactive tutorial series is second nature, I suggest playing a Go variant called the capturing game on a 9 X 9 board. This game plays like go, except the winner is the first to make a capture. This game helps to instill the need to keep stones connected as well as helps new players escape from traps designed to capture. Eventually a new player will get good enough that no stone or group of stones is captured until the very end, and the winner ends up being the player that surrounded the most territory.

At this point play Go as it is meant to be played. Record the games and ask someone to review them for you. I like to play though a game with a much stronger player one move at a time, while I identify the thoughts behind the move. The stronger player will show the flaws in reasoning that the opponent missed, as well as better moves that could have been made on both sides. Playing games and reviewing them is, in my opinion, the best way to improve. Life and death problems are good help as well, but can be frustrating if hard problems are tackled too early.

Go game board

Go game board

Go game board

Play games in person if possible. Go players have something in common with each other, and we love meeting new players regardless of their strength level. On the right panel of this site is information regarding the Columbus club’s meeting times and location. If the address is confusing, just remember next to Microcenter. I attend here when I can, but everyone there likes to see new players and will help anyone they can. Just ask.

There are many Go recording apps on iPhone and Android, just make sure it saves and allows undo moves for the random mis-click. If you are new to recording games, you can ask someone to record it for you so that you can concentrate on you game play itself.

That’s it for now. Please let me know with a comment or email if there is anything I can do to improve this site. My email is I hope to see new players at the Columbus Go Club soon.