Baduk TV English: Gu Li vs Lee Sedol – Searching for Exquisite Games: Episode 44

Searching for Exquisite Games is a Baduk TV series that reviews some of the best games of Go from the last few decades. The commentators are Yoon Seonghyun 9p and Shim Wooseop 7d.

Episode 44 looks at the final round of the 10th Nongshim Cup, played on February 19, 2009. Gu Li plays black and Lee Sedol plays white.

Gu Li vs Lee Sedol

Video: Gu Li vs Lee Sedol

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Transcript of the video

Translated by Oh Chimin 7d

Edited by David Ormerod 5d

Searching for Exquisite Games: Episode 44.

Hello! Today's theme is exquisite games from team tournaments.

We're going to look at a game played between Lee Sedol 9p and Gu Li 9p at the 10th Nongshim Cup.

Lee Changho 9p didn't participate in this tournament.

Because of that, Lee Sedol's role was very important.

He'd performed very well, in many competitions, except for the Nongshim Cup.

As team captain, he'd just defeated Chang Hao 9p from China.

This match was the final round.

At the time, these players were also going meet in the final of the LG Cup.

So this was a crucial game for them.

Let's have a look at the game.

Gu Li plays black, Lee Sedol plays white.

This was Lee's first time participating in the Nongshim Cup.

He'd been eliminated in the preliminary rounds in previous years.

In contrast, Gu had played in the Nongshim Cup several times.

However, he didn't perform very well.

He'd have wanted to make up for his unsuccessful record in this tournament.

Watching games between these two is always interesting.

They ran into each other at such a crucial stage in the tournament.

The opening looks calm.

Gu's fuseki is very good.

In an interview, Lee once commented on Gu's weakness.

According to him, Gu has a certain weakness that can't easily be explained.

Is it a kind of intangible weakness then?

This splitting move looks normal.

Lee said that he's aware of Gu's weakness despite having difficulty putting it in words.

In general, Gu reads and forms judgments very quickly.

However, this quickness of thought sometimes leads to over confidence.

I guess that this was the subtlety which was Lee trying to explain.

The opening was very calm.

Gu enlarged his moyo.

Lee invaded here immediately.

Are there any other choices?

White can invade here, or at 3-3 too.

Lee intended to play at 3-3 if black attached here.

Is such an invasion possible?

If black blocks, white can connect up.

This move is frequently played.

Gu's choice here was rather special.

It was an interesting asking move.

We were wondering why he didn't respond to the invasion directly.

However, there was more to this move than meets the eye.

If white answers here, black will attach.

Then white will invade at 3-3.

Let's have a look at that sequence.

If black hasn't made this exchange, then he should jump here.

It's a kind of joseki.

Since the top is quite open, white can invade again.

If black exchanges this move first, his answer will be different.

Instead of the jump, this attachment is more powerful.

It looks more efficient.

Because black can remove his weakness.

And, at the same time, it applies pressure to white's group.

This was Gu's plan.

What if black plays here now?

Lee wouldn't answer, obviously. He'd resist like this instead.

Now this shoulder hit doesn't guarantee sente.

If black pushes through, white can also extend here.

White's stance looks wonderful, and black's influence becomes smaller.

That's why Gu played an asking move first.

Well, that move was quite meaningful.

But, as we'd expect, a player like Lee wouldn't simply answer.

He could read Gu's intentions very easily.

So this jump was Lee's resistance.

After that exchange, white captured black's stone.

Black attached, then split white.

At first glance, the result seemed even.

But, soon after, we realized that it was better for black.

Let's analyze the moves. We often see this kind of fuseki.

And look at this. It's a very bad exchange for white.

If white becomes stronger here, he can choose other moves later.

This invasion is possible, as is this capping play.

After this exchange, white needs to have a good followup for moving this stone out later.

However, this is nearly a forcing move.

If there's one more stone there, it's very hard for white to fight.

If white tenukis, black can rescue his stones like this.

Therefore, this one is nothing more than a useless stone.

How should white have played then?

Park Junghwan said the jump was ok.

But, according to him, white should've responded here now.

If black attaches here, white can connect up now.

If white does so, black's center stones will be floating.

This group has no base.

If black kosumis, white can fight well here.

The resistance was ok, but the next move was a bit problematic.

Yes, white should've been more patient.

By suppressing white's stone, black succeeded in the first battle.

Lee enclosed the bottom left corner calmly.

After that, Gu expanded his moyo.

In response, Lee entered black's moyo with this reducing move.

This move was conceivable.

So all of the observers were amazed by black's response.

I'll show you the sort of responses we'd usually expect.

This looks a bit submissive, and this attachment is a good combination.

If black hanes, white cuts.

How about this kosumi?

This area is still open.

After exchanging these forcing moves, white will escape.

This would be a successful reduction.

And then white's stone from earlier doesn't look that bad.

So, many people thought that Lee's move was nice.

This jump was Gu's choice.

He left the decision to Lee.

Maybe yes, but not many people recognized how wonderful this move was to begin with.

As time went by, it was revealed to be a very nice move.

It looked rather slow at first.

However, black can attack the entire group if white tries to rescue his stone.

Here's another aim. Black can push here later.

This push and cut has become very powerful.

This jump would help a lot.

Instead of allowing white to become flexible, attacking the entire group was a good idea.

Because of that, this jump received good feedback from many observers.

It was an unusual, but nice move.

Lee had to jump out.

After that, he exchanged this attachment.

By attaching here, white got out into the center.

Since Lee had made a reduction, he had to save his stone now.

Up to here, white successfully separated black.

Gu jumped again, aiming at the aji here.

It was hard to ignore this area now, so Lee defended.

The aji was quite frightening for white.

And this group wasn't in grave danger, so white tenukied once.

This attachment was also praised by the observers.

White's position was already solid, so this move was sensible.

This hane looks too passive. How about capturing the stone?

After this exchange, black will start attacking white.

And this stone would affect the life and death of white's lower right group significantly.

Yes, now white's eye space is narrower.

In an emergency, white might want to hane here and play a tiger's mouth in sente.

Locally, the attachment wasn't a good exchange. But it wasn't that bad either.

However, look at these stones. This exchange is very bad for white.

Although black's exchange is bad too, white already had territory here.

In contrast, white's exchange significantly weakened his group.

Therefore, this exchange is profitable for black.

So Lee had to fall back.

The timing of that exchange was excellent.

After that, Gu began attacking this white group.

This looks a bit uncomfortable.

This jump looked in both directions. It was a calm and nice move.

And this attachment shows Gu's strength.

It demonstrates his outstanding opening skills.

The jump looked a bit loose, but it was more powerful than any other move.

White attached here, to get eye shape.

It was also a forcing move.

Lee's very good at sabaki (managing groups).

After this hane, Lee made shape to live.

This attachment was still effective.

White had secured an eye here.

Being enclosed here would be painful for white.

Even if white can survive, he has to pay a great deal in the process.

So Lee moved out here.

This hane was essential.

I thought that white wasn't strong enough to play here. This move demonstrates Lee's style of play.

Not many people can play like this.

White could make an additional eye by playing here.

He can also make a ko, to get more eye shape.

Since he'd already fallen back earlier, playing passively wouldn't give white a chance to win.

Gu had no choice but to cut immediately.

Both players were about to raise the stakes.

After black cut here, the game became complicated.

This extension was sente.

Here's some aji. Black can separate white by attaching here.

To prevent this, Lee peeped here.

Since this peep is a forcing move too, white's practically connected.

Despite being weak here, white was able to repair his shape.

Many Korean players were investigating this game.

And the Chinese study group was also watching it.

They published some variations in a Chinese Go magazine.

I noticed some differences between each nation's analysis.

The Chinese players said Lee's extension here was loose.

Then which move did they suggest instead?

They proposed this push.

Can white capture black like this? Such a move goes against basic principles.

However, this could apply more pressure to black's group.

But we had a different idea.

This looks very powerful.

But, after this push, black can attach here.

White has to cut, and black cuts too.

Since this atari is sente, white has to atari to rescue his four stones.

Then black ataris here.

Isn't black in trouble? He's got a cutting point here.

But this hane is possible.

What if white cuts here?

In response, cutting here is a very nice counter!

If white connects, black can move this stone out.

There's no proper answer for white.

Even though black only has three liberties, white can't manage his groups.

Therefore, white has to extend.

Then black jumps here. It's quite complicated.

The connection here was weak, and this group can hardly be attacked.

The push may be conceivable, but I don't think this is the answer.

However, there were reasons why the Chinese players recommended this variation.

I'll show you that in a moment.

But even if white pushes like this, black can deal with it.

This was Chinese players' opinion.

In contrast, Korean players thought this move was fine.

We can compare both variations.

This kosumi looks quite obvious now.

However, Lee had another move in mind.

Gu tried to manage his group first.

Even though this area was weak, Lee had prepared a move.

He tried to cut black again.

The ladder was favorable for white. This seems to be the strongest move in this situation.

Lee believes that offense is the best defense.

Black had no choice, but to play here.

Even though it was powerful, I think it was too much.

First of all, white's position isn't solid enough.

So Gu countered first, before looking after his own group.

The aji here was quite nasty.

In response, Lee haned here.

However, this throw-in was a good combination.

It's a basic tesuji.

Because of his shortage of liberties, white couldn't connect here.

If white tries to save the two stones, more stones will die.

But aren't those stones pivotal?

Yes, but this wedge was a nice counter.

It'd be nice if it was possible.

Even though white couldn't play here, this move was sente.

That's true. Black has to capture these stones.

So white's position became more solid.

Because of that, black couldn't answer like this.

Black had to play here, and it created a cutting point on the outside.

So black's position became weaker.

Gu showed us a good combination, but Lee also had a nice move up his sleeve.

Since this move was sente, the wedge was very powerful.

As a result, Lee was able to grasp an opportunity to change the flow.

Black's combination here looks cool, but Chinese observers criticized this move.

Is that so? It seemed like a good tesuji to us.

They suggested this move instead.

First of all, black can prevent the wedge.

If black can rescue this stone, it seems hard for white to manage his weaknesses.

This seems quite tricky.

It aimed at some cutting points.

White could connect all his stones if he wanted to.

However, there are some problems after doing so.

Black can squeeze like this, taking away white's liberties.

Above all, it seems unpleasant for white.

White's group is in grave danger.

It's a big problem.

How should white respond then?

White shouldn't save his stones.

Inevitably, he should trade.

White can cut this group, but this extension is a forcing move.

So that's what the trade looks like.

After that, black will cut and capture white's stones.

White needs to play elsewhere now, but there's a problem.

Wasn't that group completely dead?

If black ataris here, he can connect to this stone later.

The aji is quite annoying. And these stones look very big as well.

If there's no aji at all, it's playable for white.

But if white has to spend another move here, then it's clearly better for black.

That's how black could've punished white's aggressive moves.

I guess that's why Chinese observers recommended tighter moves for white.

Fortunately for Lee, Gu was satisfied with this situation.

If the throw-in hadn't been good enough, he'd definitely have found this move.

Capturing the cutting stones is usually good.

I think that's why Gu chose this.

However, this wedge was also a very good tesuji.

So Lee was able to weather the storm successfully here.

Gu couldn't connect his group.

If he'd tried, white would have connected too. That creates miai.

This move exposes a cutting point.

So Gu pushed here first.

This atari was sente. Gu had to cut here.

Lee extended. If black connects like this, white can still cut here.

Black had to defend his weakness.

After that, Lee cut here.

This might have been painful for Gu.

They traded a group for some important stones.

After white pushed, Gu captured these three stones.

Now this cutting point was exposed.

At the same time, black created a weak point here.

If white connects, black can extend his ataried stone and capture several stones.

In response to this atari, couldn't black counter-atari like this?

That's conceivable, but both sides had to fight for sente now.

This point was vital.

In addition, capturing white's stones creates this aji.

So it isn't actually that big in terms of territory.

Because then white can hane and erase black's territory at the bottom.

The center was very urgent.

After connecting, Gu haned here.

Even after white defended here, black could still capture some of white's stones.

That's why Gu didn't capture more stones earlier on.

Then he cut here.

Lee couldn't rescue his two stones, because his other stones were too weak.

So the fighting settled down, and Lee secured his corner.

It was a big change.

Black had attacked white's groups, while white had managed them.

White successfully managed his big group, capturing these stones.

That was white's achievement.

Black wasn't able to deliver the coup de grace.

However, he made white's center stones very weak by capturing white's cutting stones.

In this battle, both sides exchanged some blows.

But white had been a little unsuccessful on the right earlier.

Therefore, the observers said black was still slightly better at this point.

Gu pushed here.

Lee strengthened his center group.

Both players focused on thickness.

White's moves aimed at an invasion here.

Black fortified this area.

Lee secured another corner.

Gu tried to maximize his moyo.

Instead of the kosumi, black can also play like that.

But he was thinking about moving his stone out too.

He intended to apply pressure to white's center group.

If black plays here, white can weaken the aji with this forcing move.

The extension is another forcing move.

Clearly, moving the stone out was Gu's intention.

However, Lee would never defend like this.

This moyo was becoming larger.

Lee had to invade it. Where should white start?

If white invades at the 3-3 point, black will simply block here.

Even if black chose this, he'd still let white connect.

The top is good enough for black.

Even though black had already reinforced the top left, Lee invaded there.

Another battle was about to begin.

In the fuseki, Gu took the initiative.

However, Lee was able to overcome a difficult situation.

Moreover, Lee's excellent at invading.

So the game was becoming more interesting.

The game the middle game was underway. Let's continue after the break.

Today we're looking at a game from a team competition, played by Lee Sedol 9p and Gu Li 9p.

There had been many complicated variations up to this point.

At the beginning, Gu succeeded in the first battle.

Later on, Lee got out of danger with his tesuji.

After that, he invaded, to change the flow.

In terms of potential, black was clearly leading.

But if white could destroy black's moyo at the top effectively, he'd still have a chance to win.

White also had large territories on the board.

The focus of the game was on Lee's sabaki.

Gu started by enclosing white.

In response, Lee invaded here again.

If white plays like this, black will block and let white connect.

Instead, Lee wanted to reduce black's moyo more substantially.

Capturing this stone was black's privilege.

Because of the possibility of this wedge, white had to answer here.

Lee played an asking move.

This hane was sente, of course.

Lee was trying to make his group flexible.

If black ataris, white can start a ko immediately.

There's a nice ko threat in the center.

It's an absolute threat.

This ko was too risky for black.

So Gu played here, and it was a good move.

In terms of shape, it was a vital point.

Lee exchanged this move.

Then he played a kosumi.

This was a crucial moment in which Gu could change the flow.

In general, Gu tends to be optimistic about his positions.

He thought he was leading by a big margin.

The Chinese observers were disappointed with Gu's choice here.

Gu ataried here.

Was he aiming at both of white's groups?

Locally, it prevented white's forcing move here.

Normally, this sort of move is sente, because of this ponnuki.

But right now, this area was urgent, so Lee tenukied.

After that, both players made a compromise.

The Chinese observers said black should've attacked white's group more severely.

White has no choice but to connect here.

It seems that white can't escape, so he should connect first.

Then black can attach like this, or even here.

White can't connect.

If white can't survive, it's a huge problem.

There are no escape routes here.

Because of the cutting point, white has to connect.

If black blocks here, there's no way out.

Isn't the game over then?

How should white answer instead? It's very difficult.

This push may be an option.

Then black will cut right away.

It's clear that white's in trouble.

However, Gu wanted to keep his position solid. He thought this would be enough.

But his judgment wasn't right.

Since white was trying to rescue his group, black should've attacked it first.

He needed to focus on this group, but his move wasn't firm enough.

The center wasn't that important right now.

There was some aji here.

This atari was nasty for black.

After that, white escaped easily.

This corner became weak, so black had to look after it.

After this peep, black had to answer again.

If Gu had been leading by a wide margin, his choice would have been fine.

However, the situation wasn't that good.

Thanks to Gu's lenient moves, Lee destroyed the top side very easily.

During the escape, Lee didn't suffer from black's attack at all.

This wedge would've been the finishing blow.

In a way, Go is similar to baseball.

Once a crisis ends, we usually expect a change.

After Lee resolved the crisis, his moves were brilliant.

Before playing here, Lee asked Gu how he'd answer in the corner first.

I thought the previous move was a simple endgame play.

This move was unexpected. Gu would have been surprised by it.

It's not easy to predict.

What if black separates white?

Then white can hane here.

In response to this cut, white ataris.

After white plays this tiger's mouth, you can easily feel that something's gone wrong for black.

Because of that, this jump was a beguiling move.

In such a quick game, this kind of move can confuse an opponent.

However, Lee's opponent was Gu Li.

In the midst of a crisis, Gu found this move.

Could white answer like this?

No, black will attach and cut here.

It creates strong aji for black, at a minimum.

Top players are able to counter strongly, even as they absorb a blow.

Gu was still able to take profit while facing a crisis.

This move was also meaningful.

If white cuts, this atari is good.

White has to capture this stone, then black will connect here.

This atari will be sente later.

It's much better then this extension.

Lee had to fall back here.

Then Gu let white connect.

And defended his own group firmly.

We thought this was the best sequence for both sides.

But the Chinese players pointed out something else.

Was there anything better than this?

When black attached, there was an interesting move.

I thought white had to connect immediately. Could there really be another option?

That's what I thought too.

The Chinese players suggested that white play this hane first.

At first glance, it looks like a bad exchange.

Can white even fight now?

But this atari is amusing.

Black can't connect, so he needs to capture white's stone.

After that, white can play here.

That's sente. Black must connect.

If white connects now, black can't make two eyes anymore.

Does black need to fight a ko then?

The group can persevere with this combination.

However, it's a hanami ko for white (a ko in which one has nothing to lose).

Black can't withstand this.

This hane is much more powerful than it looks!

So black can't block here.

And if black falls back, white can atari here.

It's painful. Can black survive this?

It's a big loss in terms of territory. Furthermore, black can't save his group.

Well, maybe this group can survive with this move?

What about this move for white?

You're right, so black can't live.

That means black can't choose this variation either.

Therefore, the best response is to separate white.

How should white connect then?

White should atari here first.

After this tiger's mouth, this push is necessary.

How does the life and death situation look for black now?

This throw-in is essential. [Ed: After that, black can live with the tesuji at 1-3 (T17), instead of the push.]

If white plays around here, black can capture white's two stones in the corner.

Although it's not a direct ko, white can make a hanami ko like this.

Is a ko still possible?

Yes, it's a one step ko.

But even if white doesn't win the ko, white has nothing to lose.

After producing some threats, white can start the ko.

This will be a burden for black.

If white can get two moves in a row elsewhere, it can have a great effect on a close game.

The aji itself is a big problem for black.

Gu could've faced a crisis.

Black can't block, because of this atari.

In response to this, white can connect to the other side.

This move was found because many players were analyzing the game together.

It's not easy to play such a move in actual games.

If this were a life and death problem, many players would be able to find the answer.

However, connecting here was good enough for Lee.

Before that, managing this group was a bigger problem.

I think the variations in Go seem infinite.

Both sides compromised like this.

After that, Lee connected here.

And another battle started.

I think capturing these stones is the proper move.

Well, Gu captured this white stone spending two moves.

But this ponnuki wasn't effective enough.

If white connects, black has no target to attack.

It's nearly a disaster.

At this point, Gu realized that the situation wasn't good for him.

He wasn't in a position to compromise, so he played a severe move.

He might've thought that he was behind.

Before fighting, Gu exchanged this move.

Black had to connect his group.

After that, Lee started attacking black.

The situation had changed at this point.

Gu left aji in the corner by peeping.

To rescue black's group, Gu had to aim at white's weaknesses.

Then he came out.

But I think he should've attached here.

Fighting in this direction would have been better.

Let me show you an example.

To shut black in, white has to cut here.

But black can cut here now.

So black can utilize his previous exchange.

If white captures this stone, black blocks.

That's just one possible variation. Anyway, this group can't be captured easily.

However, Gu's choice was problematic.

There was a variation which would have finished the game here.

Lee couldn't carry out it due to the shortage of time.

In the actual game, he fell back here.

I can't believe that a player like Lee played like that.

He should've cut here at once.

Isn't it a capturing race? I think black must save his stones.

Yes, and then this is an excellent move which increases white's liberties.

If black exchanges this, white has only two liberties here.

If white plays here, he can gain some more liberties.

If black cuts here, white has six liberties. [Ed: Actually five, Mr Yoon miscounted here, but white can still win.]

What about black's liberties? [Ed: So white must atari from the other side instead.]

There are five liberties, so black dies.

It's not a complicated calculation at all!

Can't black increase his liberties by cutting here?

That's white's only concern. But there's nothing to worry about here.

After this exchange, white plays here.

Let's try this.

Black can make seki.

But the corner isn't alive yet, so seki doesn't work.

Look at black's liberties.

White needs three moves to capture this group. Then the other group has five liberties again.

White still wins by one liberty.

Black couldn't win the capturing race.

I'd like to ask Lee whether or not he saw this move.

Or maybe he wanted to avoid complicated variations.

Both the Korean and Chinese observers agreed that Lee could've finished the game here.

This variation is quite straightforward.

So I was surprised to see Lee miss such an opportunity.

As a result, some weaknesses were exposed.

There was a cutting point here.

This battle looks complicated.

Therefore, Lee fell back.

Black played some timesuji (moves intended to get more time on the clock).

Lee focused on strengthening his group.

Gu aimed at some aji in the corner.

Lee tenukied, and Gu cut here.

If black plays here, white can capture black with this hane.

After that, white captured this stone.

Before capturing these stones, black tried to gain some profit here.

Since Lee fell back, I think he was optimistic about the position.

He chose safe moves.

After black captured white's stones, Lee defended the left side.

At this point, a surprising move appeared.

Since black's group wasn't alive here, this move looks normal.

Then white should complete this area.

Then it's nearly the endgame.

Now it's time for positional judgment.

But I don't think Gu had confidence in this variation.

But if black plays here, white can easily capture the corner.

Here's the vital point. It's an easy life and death problem.

This hane was Gu's choice.

I guess he wanted white to answer like this.

However, if white pushes here, black still isn't alive.

If white cuts here, it's a ko.

So black can't live unconditionally.

If black loses the ko now, the hane will be wasted.

I'm wondering whether black had enough ko threats to play like this.

I guess Gu wanted to provoke Lee into starting a ko.

He thought it was hopeless with ordinary moves. That's why he chose this move.

Since his success at the top, Lee had tried to simplify the game.

In contrast, Gu's moves had become more desperate.

Because of Gu's resistance, the final battle was about to start. Let's continue.

We can evaluate Gu's resistance after the battle concludes.

If one side perseveres, the opponent has to answer carefully.

We call this a 'fierce move'.

Instead of looking after his group, Gu played an endgame move.

Gu resisted, since he was confident about the ko.

However, Gu's last threat was unprofitable.

Indeed, this stone died in vain, locally speaking.

Even if black won the ko, the profit wouldn't be that great.

However, Gu was losing points during the ko.

Gu often reverses a game when he's behind, but his opponent was Lee Sedol.

And Lee's also very good at reversing games.

Therefore, he knows how to respond when an opponent tries to complicate things.

That threat was also damaging to black.

Since the ko was too big, Gu couldn't avoid making these kinds of threats.

But if such harmful threats are allowed to accumulate, the damage can become large.

Lee gave up on the ko fight.

Instead, he took a big point.

Black had to finish the ko.

Black haned on the first line, and white completed his moyo on the left side.

At this point, Lee was sure that he'd win the game.

In contrast to the complicated battles in the middle game, Lee played simply in the endgame.

294 moves, white (Lee Sedol 9p) wins by 3.5 points.

By winning the final round, Lee brought the trophy home for his country.

In the end, this hane was Gu's do or die move.

Since black played two threats that damaged his own position, Lee didn't need to win the ko.

Therefore, playing at 1-2 was the proper move.

Then, if white plays a knight's move, black can attach and cut.

This combination is a commonly played tesuji.

With this atari, black can reduce white's territory.

Chinese observers argued that both players had to fight for half a point at this stage.

We agreed that the game would be very close, but thought that Lee would win by a small margin.

This was the Korean players' analysis, and I think it's more precise.

We played the game out until the end.

Gu's instincts here were great, but it wasn't enough to reverse the game, unfortunately.

In winning this game, Lee achieved a great deed in his first appearance in the Nongshim Cup.

However, Gu beat Lee in the final of the LG Cup soon afterwards.

Nevertheless, Lee Sedol played well as a substitute for Lee Changho 9p.

This brings to the end of today's review.

Thank you!

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