One of the first chapters gives you an overview over the different choices for the first move in the corner. The presentation is similar to “Direction of play” although it is perhaps the first book that includes the 5-5 point. The discussion covers the basic intention for playing on a certain point in the corner and describes weaknesses, major and minor development directions. Basics follow-ups are demonstrated by examples. In this context I am thinking that the section about asymmetry of 3-4, 3-5, … was very useful. I’m a SDK (KGS) but I have never thought about the consequences and possibilities of this point. Perhaps it is too simple. But that’s the character of this book: Much of the content is not really hard, but that doesn’t mean that I am aware of these simple facts when I am playing.
The next two chapters cover approach moves and corner enclosures. Different criteria are used for a categorization. ( near, far, high, low…) General features and principles are completed by some examples. The explanations are short, but the style is very clear.
Also true for the whole book: This book presents the basic principles and ideas. It is a guideline but not a practice book. Almost everyone knows the principle: third line – territory, fourth line – power. But even if i know this i still have to learn how to put this knowledge in a general context in a game. I have to admit that I make sometimes moves in the opening without keeping in mind which other moves are possible. Perhaps there is much trivial stuff in this book but it reminds me very well on the most basic principles/ideas and I think that’s the point where I have to start. Again.
Back to the content: The chapter about pincers gives some basic ideas for playing high/low, near/far/very far and also some example from games. In my opinion pincers josekis are sometimes very complicated, so I am not sure if this kind of basic advice will have an impact on my games. Nevertheless there are also some negative examples given where dan-players have violated the basic rules.
There are also some short sections about “Not playing a pincer” and “returning the pincer” but I think that is more for the completeness.
The next three chapters are the major part of the book: Move types, Meanings of a stone and Development Directions. These chapters are a pure reference. At least that is my feeling. For a beginner this could be very useful to explore the ideas behind basic moves. The definitions are again crystal-clear and the examples are very instructive.
A proper terminology is good to have but at the moment I am not sure if this is an essential step for improving in general or joseki. If i need a one-point-jump or a diagonal-jump to separate groups is a question of technique and reading rather than terminology.
Another example: You will find definitions for thick and light shapes. Of course, a definition (although the book delivers also good examples) does not teach you, how to handle these shape types. That’s still a matter of experience or a lot of try and error in other words.
When I read through these chapters I sometimes think: “Simple, trivial… Why I am reading this beginner-stuff?” Kageyama has advised us to study the fundamentals but I think that everybody has to find out for himself where he/she starts with studying the fundamentals. In the chapter “Meanings of a stone” i found some new insights, so it is perhaps worth a reading if you want to polish your knowledge. But I think that you should not expect to learn something very much new. You cannot compare it with books like “Tesuji” or “Attack and Defense”. You should treat these chapters as a tool to think in a more specific way about that what you are doing on the board. No more and no less. Currently I randomly pick out a sections from “38 basic josekis” and analyses the moves with my new glasses. Of course, it is not special to recognize a move as a “thick block” or a “connection block”. But in other cases it is sometimes quite interesting to compare my opinion/experience with the content of this book. On the other side you will need more than this book when you analyze a joseki. Perhaps the second book
( I hope that it will be available soon), but at first technical skill. ( reading and Tesuji knowledge )
The last chapter “Miscellaneous” contains some very useful sections:
“Evaluation of Territory” is a topic you will find in an extended form also in a book like “Positional Judgement” but the presentation in this book is enough for the first time use.
“Local Move Selections” is a topic that reflects the fact that most kyus do not have the habit to evaluate the possibilities in a certain situation. Again this might be a simple but powerful advice.
The Section about extensions is very good. The proverb “Extend n+1 lines from a wall that is n stones high” doesn’t deliver the correct solution in every situation. Sometimes you make your move on step closer to the wall. But why is this correct? I don’t know another book where this issue has been discussed.
The book ends with some problems. You are asked for the meaning of the stones or for a good extension distance for example
Now the big question: Is this a good book?
It depends. As a reference it is excellent. The classification is very comprehensive and all points are reduced to the essential in a very clear style. ( But again I have to notice that much of the content is indeed simple.) On the other hand: When I see that the author put this book on the same level with books like “Tesuji” and “Attack & Defense” ( regarding rank improvement ) that is a comparison that could be difficult when a player has past the double digit kyu level. I think that a reader of this book has only the chance to improve from this book when he uses the terms and guidelines definitions in this book consistently over a longer time. If you expect to learn new tactical skills most of the content of this book is probably not compatible with your expectations. But when you have reached a point where you want to begin with structuring your knowledge this book can be a very good starting point.
P.S.: I think my english is not so good. Sorry for that.