The 16th LG Cup is full of surprises: Lee Changho faces young guns

The main tournament of the 16th LG Cup kicked off on June 12 2011 in Seoul, Korea, with the obligatory lavish opening reception.

There have been several early surprises and, going into the quarter finals, Lee Changho 9p is the only contender with a solid track record in international Go tournaments.

The players draw… fans?

The players drew fans to determine pairings

In recent times, tournaments have tried to outdo each other in coming up with novel ways to decide pairings. The 16th LG Cup was no exception. Players were asked to pick out paper fans to determine the draw.

The two players who selected fans with the same numbers inscribed on them would play each other in the first round.

Round one serves up some unexpected results

Round one, on June 13 2011, saw several of the tournament favourites get knocked out.

Gu Li (9 dan, left) defeated by Lee Changho (9 dan)

Gu Li 9p, Kong Jie 9p, Cho Hanseung 9p, Lee Sedol 9p and Chen Yaoye 9p were among the casualties.

Some of these were due to pairings between top players such as the match between Cho U 9p and Choi Cheolhan 9p, where Choi was victorious, and the match between Gu Li 9p and Lee Changho 9p.

Round two – expect the unexpected

Round two took place on June 15 2011, and decided the quarter final line up. Given the high level of the field, more top players were eliminated.

Title holder Piao Wenyao goes out

In particular, Piao Wenyao, who won the 15th LG Cup, lost to young gun Kim Jiseok. Xie He, continued his good form and knocked out Park Younghun. Xie He maintained a 71% winning rate in Chinese domestic tournaments throughout 2010 and is worth keeping an eye on.

Kim Jiseok (7 dan, left) eliminates title holder Piao Wenyao (9 dan)

Iyama Yuta takes on Lee Changho

Perhaps the most anticipated match was Iyama Yuta’s game with Lee Changho. Iyama has been in good form recently. At the end of April he won the Judan in Japan. He followed this up by defeating both Gu Li and Lee Sedol in the recent Bosai Cup. Many people saw this as a breakthrough for Iyama.

Lee Changho (left) strikes again, knocking out Iyama Yuta (9 dan) in 102 moves

On the other hand, Lee Changho – the Stone Buddha – is never easy to beat. He is a baduk legend and his fans have eagerly awaited his return to form in recent years.

It’s too early to say whether Lee is back, but his victories over Gu Li and now Iyama (in 102 moves) are giving his fans new hope.

The final results for the round of 16 in the 16th LG Cup

The quarter finals will be played in November 2011 where Heo will play Xie, Lee will play Chen, Won will play Jiang and Qiu will play Kim.

In the tradition of the LG Cup, the final will be held in February 2012.

It will be interesting to see whether the Stone Buddha can show a thing or two to the much younger players who’ve made it to the final rounds.

Game record: Iyama Yuta vs Lee Changho


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Gallery of photos from the 16th LG Cup

Are you surprised?

Have these results surprised you? They certainly surprised me. I’d love to hear what you think about them, leave your comments below.

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About Jing

Jing likes writing, and can occasionally be convinced to play a game of Go. Even though she doesn't play Go as often as she once did, she still enjoys following the professional Go scene and writing about it on Go Game Guru.

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  1. I hope Lee Changho will be able to win the (last?) international title of his career.

    I wonder about b13… does it have any special meaning? There seems to be bigger endgame moves around…

    • Lola, I’ll ask David or Younggil about b13 for you.

    • DanielTom says:

      White B13 is just huge… Actually, after that White’s left side is so big that Black is behind by some 20 points – that’s why Iyama Yuta resigned

    • David Ormerod says:

      Interesting question Lola.

      Yes, as DanielTom said, B13 is a very big endgame move that reduces the remaining endgame potential of black’s D12 stone.

      Lola is right that there’s more to it than that though. B13 is sente against black’s corner. If black ignores it and plays S18 for example, which is also very big… White could first exchange G15 for H15 in sente and then play to kill black’s corner with D18. If black now plays D17, white plays E18 and black still dies.

      After B13 black would have to defend the corner, then white would probably play another big endgame move at S18 and white is winning comfortably. Black would’ve read all this out before resigning.

      There are quite a few different possible sequences in the top left. Please let me know if you need more details about how white kills black.

  2. Muchas gracias por la información, estás haciendo un gran trabajo, te felicito (^¿^)

  3. elementc says:

    What makes you think that Lee Changho is going to quit so soon?!

    • Lee is about ten years (or more) older than most of the other players left in this tournament. That being said, he’s still definitely the one to beat and I don’t think his career is over yet.

  4. scwizard says:

    E3 isn’t a move I often see, but from the result it seems to me that E3 was an extremely brilliant move.

    • I’m not sure, I’ll ask David and Younggil to let you know what they think about this too.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Lee’s E3 is a very calm and solid move. It requires a lot of self confidence to play a move like that. I doubt I could play this move personally, as it seems like white needs to deal with black’s right side position with a move like R8 (which came two moves later). I think even many professional players would’ve played on the right hand side instead of E3 here.

      For move 19, black has the option of expanding his framework with black M16, white M17, O16, P17 and black plays around L6. Lee must’ve been confident that he could deal with this sequence, as both players would’ve been aware of this (more normal) possibility. The fact that Iyama chose not to play this way and took territory with C17 also shows a kind of confidence.

      Locally though E3 is the best move to finish the lower left position. This kind of solid move is typical Lee Changho’s style and he can do this because of his excellent middle game and endgame skills. Another player who I can imagine playing like this is Gu Li.

      I think rather than a brilliant move, E3 is a matter of style. The good placement of E3 came from white’s good play later in the middle game.

  5. scwizard says:

    Do you have the record of Gu Li versus Lee Changho? I would like to see that game.

  6. I wrote something at L19 ( using this post as a springboard for talking about players’ accomplishments. It’s very mildly critical–Lee Changho is not the only player with a track record left in this pool.

    • Justin, great post for highlighting some of these players’ achievements. It’s always hard to find the right words, isn’t it? I did pause to think about how to phrase that sentence about Lee’s track record when I was writing it. I think it’s really exciting that all these great players get a shot at the LG Cup. When you look at wins in international titles, Lee is just in a class of his own. That doesn’t mean that other players, like Xie He, aren’t brilliant.

  7. Cool game, I would like to see the Gui Li v Lee Changho… They are two of my favorites