Baduk TV English: Lee Sedol vs Gu Li – MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango – Game 1

This is Lee Sedol’s special review of game 1 of the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango. The game was played on January 26, 2014. Lee Sedol plays black and Gu Li plays white.

Lee Sedol vs Gu Li

Video: Lee Sedol vs Gu Li

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Transcript of the video

Translated by An Younggil 8p for

Edited by David Ormerod 5d

How will people look back at the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango in the future?

Let's have a look at some important moments from the match.

Kim Seongryong 9p is with me. Hello.


Lee Sedol 9p won the Jubango.

I'm very happy to be able see him again after his victory.

It must have been very tough for Lee, both mentally and physically throughout the match.

However, I imagine 2014 was an unforgettable year for Lee, because he won the Jubango.

Yes, I agree. His victory was widely celebrated by his fans as well.

This is a very special game review with Lee Sedol, and I'm excited to be able to discuss these games with him.

Hello! First of all, congratulations!

You must have given many interviews already, but would you say something about the match for this special review please?

It's been some time since the Jubango finished, but immediately afterwards I was extremely happy!

For me, it was more important than any of the international titles I've won in the past.

[14 international titles]

There were rumors about a jubango with Gu Li for a long time. How did it come about in the end?

Actually, Gu Li and the Chinese Weiqi Association didn't seem to want a jubango to begin with.

However, when I defeated Gu Li at the 2012 Samsung Cup, and both games were won by half a point. That was the trigger, I think.

The sponsor, Ni Zhanggen from MLily, is a huge Gu Li fan. He was disappointed with Gu's loss and started organizing the match.

I see. The games from this match were very dramatic and some people said four ingredients were necessary for the Jubango.

Firstly, the two players should be good rivals, like Lee and Gu. And secondly, the match should be strongly desired by Go fans.

Thirdly, there should be a decent sponsor. And finally, the Go associations (China and Korea) had to agree to the match.

Therefore, this sort of international jubango is very hard to realize. And after the match was officially confirmed, Lee said this,

"The player who loses will be hurt greatly, so I hope the match will end with a 5-5 result."

Luckily I won the match, but I still think that.

Fortunately, Gu Li didn't seem to feel great damage from the defeat, and I was relieved.

Anyway, I really want Gu to recover from this loss.

Hmm, isn't it something like this? If the score was at 5-4 and Lee won the last game, it could be more regretful for Gu.

However, since it was 5-2 before the last game, maybe Gu already thought that it was hard to win the match?

Well, I have no idea about that. Anyway, I wanted to play the last game with the score at 5-4.

I really wanted to face that situation whether I won or lost.

It's hard to say after winning the match, but there were some things I regretted.

Games 5 and 7 were regretful. I wonder if there were good reasons to play those games in the high mountain areas?

If those games were played in other places, the match would have gone to game 10, I think.

So, you wanted to play all ten games, but in the end the score wasn't well balanced.

Yes, the final score was 6-2, which looks like a one sided match.

When Lee won the first two games, many Go fans expected the match would end 6-2 in Lee's favor.

However, the mood changed dramatically afterwards.

Game 1 of a jubango is very important, isn't it? Although, it wouldn't be as important as in best of 3 or best of 5 matches.

Yes, right. Game 1 is the beginning of the match whether it's a best of 3, 5 or 10 game match. Game 1 is always important.

It's very important to win the first game, to deliver a quick punch against your opponent.

If you look back, how did you feel about game 1 of the Jubango?

I was much too excited and tense during game 1, as I've already said in other interviews. I over-strained myself.

I should have been in that form for game 4 or 5, but I got too excited, without warming up, and I couldn't maintain my top form afterwards.

I didn't pace myself. Matches generally become more tense as they progress, but I was already tense in game 1! I didn't control my emotions well enough.

Do you mean you didn't warm up properly for the match?

Neither Gu nor I were in our best form when the Jubango began.

I thought too much about how I must win, and that over-strained me. Gu Li was the same.

Anyway, let's have a look at the game 1, which is very important in a jubango.

The MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango, it was the beginning of a new chapter in Go history.

It's already been about a year since then.

Yes, right.

I can see your daughter too.

Yes, it was very rare to have time with my daughter before a game.

Was it your first time?

Yes, right. I felt her presence was very uplifting.

Nie Weiping 9p was the referee for the game.

Lee's wife and daughter were there too, which was unusual.

You started game 1 with the support of your family.

Actually, it was the first time that your wife and daughter had come to a match, wasn't it?

My daughter came to me and kissed me on the cheek. That wasn't just rare for me, but for all pros.

Did the sponsor ask you to bring your family to the match?

No, I asked to the sponsor if my family could come with me.

I thought I was going to win the 2013 Samsung Cup.

So I imagined that my family would come with me when I was in high spirits.

However, in reality, I lost the final, and I was in bad form in other tournaments at the time.

I wasn't sure if bringing my family was a good idea. They were a great source of support to me, but also a burden.

Hyerim (Lee's daughter) is very young, but when she grows up, visiting game 1 will remain an impressive memory for her.

She's still very young, and at the time, it seemed like she didn't completely understand what we were doing over there.

That's because she was too young.

Yes, I agree.

As she grows up, she'll understand more about what was happening, so it will become a more memorable day for her.

If you keep the video and show her later, she'll be proud of her father, and will be happy that she was present for an important moment in Go history.

How wonderful it would be, to be there in that important moment.

By the way, Lee won game 1 with support from Hyerim. Let's have a look at the game.

Lee Sedol 9p was Black.

Yes, Lee Sedol played Black.

I spent quite a long time on move 3.

That 3-4 or the other. The first move was planned, but the 3rd move was hard to choose.

If I chose the other 3-4 point, Gu might have played on the star point.

Then, the High Chinese Opening is becoming more common these days, but the original Chinese Opening was still popular at the time.

I wasn't sure if this Chinese Opening was better or, if Mini Chinese style was.

I expected that Gu might play at 3-4, as in the actual game.

Oh, you mean if you play that 3-4, White might play this 3-4? I see.

I feel like this Chinese Opening is solid and safe.

However, approaching here isn't like that. It's rather active, I feel.

In the end, I chose this opening, because I wanted to play more actively, with fighting spirit.

I see. I can feel your over-excitement from the first two moves.

Gu responds with this one space jump a lot when he plays against me.

My original plan was this.

Oh, splitting right away!

So, you mean that you expected Gu to jump here because he plays like that a lot?

Right, and now, I didn't like the idea of White's approach here.

Hmm... somehow, I didn't feel like I wanted to play this sort of game.

That's just what I felt at the time.

Actually, I overlooked White's play in the game. I didn't expect White to play these moves right away.

However, isn't it necessary to extend here?

Yes, Black should.

And when White played here, it was hard to choose the next move.

Approaching here is nice afterwards.

Anyway, I split here now.

That split was what you wanted to play earlier, but the sequence was different.

You're right. Let's analyze the shape and the sequence. If White kicks here, Black won't extend now.

But, in the game, Black extended. That's why I said that White would approach here instead of kicking.

Black can also play here now.

Yes, right.

Black extended here anyway, and White's pincer is nice.

And look at Black's next move. Do you mean that's slack?

Yes, right. Black should extend one space further.

This move is ambiguous, and it's not good enough.

I see. So we can say that the result was unsatisfactory for Black, based on your analysis.

Therefore, the opening so far was already slightly favorable for White.

White approached here.

Yes, that approach was reasonable.

If White presses here, like he did later in the game, Black would enclose, and the position is nice. There's some bad aji for White as well.

In addition, Black's left side has good potential. Therefore, White's approach was right.

I jumped out, but developing the corner with a knight's move or a one space jump is also conceivable.

It's difficult to say which is best. Very difficult...

Did you spend some time on this move, or did you play quickly here?

Oh, there's no single move which was played quickly in game 1. I took my time for every single move in this game.

I see. You took your time throughout the game.

Yes, I did.

To be honest, I didn't expect this move while I was playing.

I didn't think about it, but after Gu played there, I realized that it was very big.

You mean that this is a multipurpose move?

Right. White can play a kosumi, or other moves, in sente later.

So it was very big. I didn't expect that kosumi actually.

It looks like Gu played a couple of unexpected moves which interfered with Black's plan.

It was my fault, because I didn't anticipate that attachment.

However, this kosumi showed Gu's special sense of play in the opening.

If so, where did you expect White to play instead?

I thought White could move this single stone out, or approach the corner.

However, this kosumi seemed to be better. It was really good.

That might mean that Gu knows your style of play very well.

Yes, that could be true. And also, Gu is always ahead in the opening, whenever he plays with me.

I was hesitant about attacking White's single stone, because White's territory would become too big.

That's why I tried to move out anyhow, but Black couldn't get a good result with this.

Oh, I see.

This wedge was necessary.

So, as we can see, Black played here. I can't say it's the right haengma.

Was there a better haengma though?

No, not really... but the opening was already bad for me.

Which means, there's no alternative for Black, but the flow of the game was already good for White, right?

Yes, that's right.

As expected, Gu Li was ahead in the opening.

When White haned here, hmm... a pro wouldn't block here.

This jump was right. Amateur players should be careful not to block.

Yes, I can see that.

White jumped here, and... the game was smooth and favorable for White so far.

This cut is why Black didn't block earlier.

Yes, we'll see.

It's a single path.

Yes, right. White wanted to extend, but Black's bamboo joint is practically sente.

Therefore, White couldn't extend. And cutting here was the right sequence.

This connection was right.

Yes, if White takes this stone, Black can play this kosumi in sente later.

That's the idea. Now only the atari is sente for Black.

So far, White's haengma and the shape in the center were very nice and smooth. While Black's position doesn't look nice, does it?

Yes, it looks like Black is just connecting his stones, but White looks active and lively.

White's center group looks nice, and the corner territory is big as well.

In addition, as you know, the komi is 7.5 points in the Chinese rules. I thought the game was going to be tough at this stage.

You've played quite a lot of games in China. How do you feel about the Chinese rules with 7.5 komi? It's one point more.

I felt the difference was big to begin with. However, the komi doesn't really worry me these days.

If you could choose your color?

White, for sure (under the Chinese rules).

If it's 7.5 points komi, I think White is slightly better.

Then what about 6.5 points komi?

That's difficult to answer. It's 50/50 I think.

It depends on my mood and feeling on the day. So if you could choose your color, it would depend on the day's feeling? Yes, right.

I played in the center, because the flow of the game was bad, and the komi was 7.5 points. However, it should be played here.

You just said this move was wrong, but Korean pros who were watching this game thought this move was very nice. That's Lee's typical style.

Hmm... yes, it doesn't look bad at first. I thought about this move a lot... let's continue.

White exchanged an attachment in the corner and then attached here.

Now, it looks like Black must block here, but White will cross cut, and the fight doesn't look promising for Black.

That's why I haned here and connected. Now, when we have a look at the stone in the center, isn't that Black stone floating and doing nothing?

Yeah, I can feel the difference when I listen Lee's live commentary...

When the other Korean pros were watching the game live, they thought this was Lee's plan, and Black's top left corner became solid and strong.

That's not true. White could have just reinforced with one more move in the center. The actual game was still alright for White.

White attached here in the game.

Yes, let's continue then.

Lee's opinion here differs quite markedly from other pros.

At the time, pros thought White didn't gain much from attacking.

It was alright for White. White's shape is still very good.

Those exchanges could become bad, but not too bad, for White.

However, Black's stones shouldn't be played here, because it's not urgent.

If we continue a few more moves, we can see what's happening more clearly.

Black eventually played here, and if you look at Black's shape...

Yes, it looks like Black's just escaping.

Right, that's not a good shape, especially if Black can't jump.

Here was White's first mistake. As a first mistake, it was big and crucial.

White should have played in the center, don't you think?

Where would you play if White played here?

Hmm, maybe play around there, or block here. Probably I would block here.

I see. You would block here.

Yes, then the game continues. There's still bad aji in the corner. If White hanes here Black can't capture.

White can also cut and fight here, because the peeping is always sente.

The game would still be good for White like this.

In the game, White haned in the corner right away.

White wanted to see where Black would respond... something like this.

What if Black connects on the 2nd line?

That's also possible and White wanted Black to answer, wherever, so he could see.

Gu thought this was well timed, but Black didn't respond.

Black played here, and White's center group's suddenly became thin and weak. Earlier, Black's group was weak.

I see, the situation was completely reversed.

That's right.

You said, that probe was badly timed, but Gu thought it was a well timed, right?

Yes, but because Black didn't respond...

I see, so it was a big mistake, because White missed an urgent move in the center.


And even now, White should have played here.

Do you mean that this is the vital point?

Yes. White can make an eye here later, and Black doesn't feel like cutting here to capture on a small scale.

In the actual game, I played here.

And that's a big difference?

Yes, it's a big difference.

If White plays there, Black can attach in the center, and this is also possible.

White connects, and Black blocks here. White's center group is a bit thin.

So do you still think responding in the top left corner isn't urgent?

No, there's no time for Black to go back there.

I see.

By the way, this variation still seems to be better for White than in the actual game.

White should have played like this...

In the game, White pushed, and Black played at the vital point.

If White just connects, Black will go back to the corner. This hane is small.

Black will respond with the tiger's mouth.

Right, capturing Black's two stones is nothing special.

That's why White hanes first, to take sente, and Black shouldn't respond as White hopes.

This is the actual game...

The shape of the connection wasn't bad, but the attachment was too painful for White.

That attachment feels like a heavy punch.

The roles of attacker and defender were completely reversed in this area.

You're right. White tried to save those stones in the actual game. I thought that perhaps he was planning to abandon those center stones.

When White poked here, I realized that he was going to save the center stones.

After White trades like this, he has to save the center stones, because of his huge loss in the corner.

You must have thought the game was good for you at this point, right?

Yes, the flow of the game is good for Black.

Oh, the game's already reversed and is good for Black now?


It can't be good for White if he has to play this sort of haengma.

Only about 20 moves earlier, Black played this sort of weak haengma.

Only a few minutes ago, Lee Sedol said the game was good for White.

Well, we can see how things have changed. Why is White's stone here, right in the corner?

Meanwhile, this Black stone isn't yet captured. Black can extend or headbutt later, but White's stone is completely wasted.

I felt that the game was definitely good for Black - slightly more than 10 points on the board.

That means, we can say Black's already winning?

Yes, right.

There was something wrong with my reading here. I wanted to atari here now.

You mean now?

Yes, but I discovered this wedge later.

Oh, I see. Because of that White stone, that wedge is working now.

I can see that it's a mistake.

Yes, so Black should have ataried first and then pushed.

In this case, I think White should cut and capture, because that group is too thin.

Then Black will attack White's center group. However, we can see the difference in the actual game.

Black started to attack the center anyway, and pushing on the left was sente.

However, blocking on the 2nd line isn't sente anymore. Which means, the left side is open.

If Black had ataried first, White wouldn't have been able to come into the left side like that.

Even though Black loses some points here, it's small compared to what Black earns on the left side.

So, you mean you didn't think about White's wedge at first, but found it later.

Yes, right.

Black should have ataried first, and then pushed. I see.


That was my mistake. It was clearly a mistake, but it wasn't big.

So, fortunately, it didn't affect the game that much.

That cap is wonderful.

Yes, Black feels so good with that cap.

There's a saying "don't play in the middle of the elephant's step".

But, if White plays there, would you push and cut right away?

No, Black wouldn't be able to do that.

Actually, that's what I was going to say. White should have played here in the game.

Oh, I just asked you that question in case our viewers were wondering, but White should play there, wow!

In general, people say you should never play there.

That's why Gu didn't play there and jumped instead.

Let's continue the game. There's nowhere for White to go.

Yes, that's a pity for White.

White just played here, meaning he had to play here anyway. So we should ask; were these exchanges were helpful?

Oh, you mean White didn't have to exchange those moves?

That's right. Those exchanges helped Black.

When Black peeped here, White had to connect, and White's shape in the center became very bad.

These Black stones were all on the vital points.

Yes, that's true.

At least Black wouldn't have been able to exchange the peep in sente if White hadn't jumped earlier.

However, Black missed a chance to finish the game here...

If Black had played here first, and then haned here, the game would have been tough for White.

Do you mean Black doesn't need to play around here?

No, I mean Black should have exchanged that move first.

So, White played there first in the game, right?

Black's not worried about White's other moves, but after that attachment it was too late to make the exchange.

Black responded and White cut.

If this extension works well, it should be best, but...

I can't say this move doesn't work, but it's risky.

Where would White play next?

White would move out, and Black should push.

Then should White extend here?

No, that extension doesn't work, because Black will cut White like this.

White should hane here.

I see. White should play severely here.

Black cuts and White extends. That's possible, or... White could also atari and push.

Anyway, Black didn't need to fight like this, because Black was clearly ahead, right?

Yes, there are many possible variations. Gu thought this variation was still bad for him.

However, there weren't any better moves, so he attached in the center.

But for me, fighting like this wasn't good enough, because I was winning.

Yes, both players were in different situations. White was behind and Black was ahead.

If Black had made the exchange before White attached, he wouldn't have had to worry about all this.

That was the easiest way for Black, right?

Yes, it would have been very hard for White to continue in that case.

Shouldn't White connect here?

Hmm, if White has to reinforce there the game is practically over.

You didn't exchange that move, because you thought it was always sente. However, White's attachment was good, and the game became longer.

If Black had made the exchange, White's jump would have been the losing move.

The game became longer after Black missed that exchange.

Black didn't extend, but ataried in the game.

Since the game was good for me, I wanted to avoid complicated fighting.

White couldn't respond in the corner, because the center group was too weak. In general, this is very good result for Black.

When I was watching the game live, I thought the game was practically over at this stage.

Hmm, but this is what White was aiming for.

I see, in this area.

That's White's only hope. If it doesn't work, nothing else can work for him.

White's stones had reached the lower side, but if Black had played correctly that wouldn't have been possible.

It happened because Black didn't fight well enough.

White couldn't fight like this before, but he could now that these stones were stronger.

So, in this variation, can White fight properly?

This tiger's mouth was the vital point of Black's shape.

That was the only move for Black to save the group.

Yes, right, because the atari in the center is sente.

The game was practically over when Gu attached here (on the 4th line).

After Black ataried here, White couldn't win the game.

That attachment didn't work, right?

Yes, it wasn't the right tesuji.

White should have connected here.

Where would you play if White just connected?

Black should play somewhere around here, maybe at 3-3, or the extension.

Hmm, this isn't an ideal shape though.

Isn't there something on the left side?

Yes, there's some bad aji.

There's no serious aji after 3-3, but the problem is Black's bottom group. What if White attacks now?

In addition, White can still do something on the left side.

This is quite a difficult moment in the game, so would you explain in more detail please?

If Black doesn't play around 3-3, White will connect here. Black can't capture White's stones, so he'll be in trouble.

I see. White has to connect to attack Black's center group, right?

However, if there's a stone at 3-3, it would be hard for White to live inside like that.

Isn't the extension different? Yes, there would be some bad aji then.

So White should have connected there. Then the game would become complex.

However, since White attached here, there weren't any chances afterwards.

White attached there in the game.

That was White's losing move and he played like that because of time. We were both in byo-yomi.

You had four hours each, but suddenly it was 60 seconds byo-yomi. You must felt rushed, right?

Yes, it felt so quick.

If the game was 60 seconds from the beginning, there would be no problem, because you'd be in that rhythm.

But, after a long time limit, 60 seconds byo-yomi can feel too harsh.

Yes, you wouldn't comfortable with that time pressure.

We were very relaxed earlier on...

So, that attachment was the losing move, right?

Yes, even if White connected here, Black is still ahead, but the game's not yet over.

Both players were in byo-yomi, so a small mistake could reverse the game.

Yes, right.

I was already in byo-yomi, and Gu also entered byo-yomi around this stage, I'm not quite sure when though.

You were in byo-yomi earlier.

Yes, I was in byo-yomi before Gu.

As we're talking about byo-yomi, let's talk about this. You played eight games in total in this jubango.

And in how many games were you in byo-yomi before Gu?

Hmm, let me think. In games 1 to 4, I was in byo-yomi before Gu was. Game 5 too.

But, not games 6 and 7.

I see. Gu was in byo-yomi first in games 6 and 7.

We started byo-yomi around the same time in game 8, but Gu was a bit earlier.

So, you were in byo-yomi earlier in games 1 to 5, but not for games 6 to 8.

Yes, right.

Gu Li takes his time when he's forced into a corner.

In the end, he's just a man. [Ed: Meaning it can't be helped.]

Let's look at this a bit more. Let me explain why this doesn't work for White.

White has to atari here and that's bad for him.

What if White doesn't atari there?

White played a two space extension in the game, but if White plays a one space jump, Black will cut here, and White's in trouble.

Cutting should be sente for White, but Black doesn't need to answer now.

So when White ataris here, Black should just capture, and it's miai for Black next, right?

And Black won't capture this stone now?

Right, Black will cut instead, and White will be captured.

If White connects, Black will connect the cutting stone, and White will lose the capturing race.

I see, there's nothing for White to do here.

That's why White played two space extension - to avoid this variation.

If Black still cuts now, White will connect and cut to capture Black's two stones at the bottom.

I see. If Black cuts, White will connect here.

That was Gu's plan. Even though White's center group is captured, White can make big territory at the bottom, and then try to save the stone in the bottom right, etc.

But, I don't have to follow his plan, so I peeped here instead.

Actually, the game was practically over here. The rest of moves were meaningless.

You mean, Black can always cut here, so there's nothing White can do, right?

If White wanted to attack properly, White should jump here instead.

In the actual game, Black peeped and played the knight's move, and it was easy for Black to manage the game afterwards.

It didn't matter whether there was a cutting point in the center or not. The actual game wasn't good for White.

So, in conclusion, White had to connect here, so that he could fight on the left side or at the bottom, right?

Yes, right. White would play the jump or knight's move, not the two space extension from the game.

However, because White's pincer didn't protect the cutting point, White couldn't play there.

At first the two space extension looks like the vital point, but you said that it's not. The one space jump or knight's move is better.

I see, that's because Black could cut White's extension, as in the game.

Yes, that's right.

Actually, Black's shape is more like this. Because the hane and connection are sente. And Black can even play the tiger's mouth if that's better.

Don't you think so? Now, as we can easily see, White doesn't need to extend that far.

Let's exchange that peep as well. Now, that long extension looks thin.

I agree, White would never play there now.

That's why I said the attachment was the last losing move.

As we review the game with Lee Sedol, I feel the difference between this and the live commentary at the time.

Yes, me too.

By listening to Lee, I can feel what the players felt during the game.

In the center area, I felt the game went according to Lee's plan, but it didn't. However, he reversed the game after White made a big mistake.

Yes, right. And if I'd exchanged one move in the center, the game would have become much easier...

The other mistakes were acceptable, but I regretted missing that exchange.

You mean because Black didn't make the exchange, White had a chance on the left side?


The game continued for some time, but there weren't any other chances for White after this, right?

Yes, because the margin was quite wide.

As we've just seen, Lee won game 1. Let's have a look at an interview from after the game.

Q: How do you feel about the Jubango?

Lee: There was talk of a jubango for more than a year. This morning I thought, "wow, it's actually happening!"

Q: What's your goal in this match?

Lee: Winning is my goal, but a 5-5 draw will be best for everyone.

Lee: I expect to play until the final game, and I hope we can play the last game with a 5-4 score.

As you said in that interview, as well as earlier today, your goal was to play all 10 games. However, the match finished earlier.

Even now, after the Jubango, I'd still choose 5-5 if I could go back.

Before the match you said that loser would suffer great damage to their reputation. How's your relationship with Gu Li now? Are there any problems?

Actually, I haven't seen him since the Jubango. But I'll meet him somewhere soon, and there won't be any big problems.

The damage from the Jubango will fade away as time goes by, and our friendship will remain, hopefully.

Thank you!

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