Baduk TV English: Lee Sedol vs Gu Li – Searching for Exquisite Games: Episode 12

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 12 looks at game 5 from the final of the 3rd BC Card Cup, played on April 28, 2011. 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 Oh Chimin 7d for

Edited by David Ormerod 5d

Searching for Exquisite Games: Episode 12.

Hello! This is the last episode on 'Miraculous Tesujis'!

I'm so excited to review this game.

In this series, we've seen many excellent tesujis.

And we also introduced various types of tesujis to you.

We'll introduce a new theme in the next episode.

Let's meet today's guest.

Hello! My name is An Hyeongjun, I'm a 2 dan professional Go player.

This game is from the final of the 3rd BC Card Cup.

Lee Sedol 9p and Gu Li 9p played against one other.

Q. How would you define an excellent tesuji?

Amateurs tend to consider notable or flamboyant moves.

But pros tend to think more of simple, yet sophisticated moves.

Sometimes these moves make us think, because of their obscurity.

This kind of move is preferred amongst pros.

The tesuji in this game was quite visible to us.

It felt especially simple and good to me.

I'd define such moves as excellent tesuji.

Q. Why did you choose this game?

This game decided the winner, so it was closely watched by Go fans.

Neither player was nervous, and they both tried their best.

That's why I chose this game.

The critical move looked rather simple, but it changed the tide.

I wanted to prove that such a move can also change a game.

That's the main reason for my recommendation.

Amateurs are fascinated by uncanny tesujis.

But the professional concept of an excellent tesuji seems to differ.

He says excellent tesujis should be simple, but well timed.

Before his one year leave of absence, Lee lost to Gu.

After he returned, his results were incredible.

Lee said his win against Gu Li would complete his return.

They ran into one another at a crucial stage.

Let's have a look at the game.

Lee Sedol plays black, Gu Li plays white.

I think this game is the newest one on this program.

That's right, and many people talked about this game.

Lee often says he wants to leave good games behind.

But he desired a win, in this game.

Gu spread out with a two star formation.

In response, Lee formed the Chinese Opening.

Gu chose this simple extension.

Instead of approaching, leaving the corner unsettled is the trend recently.

Both sides protected their corners.

White can play here, but it's not Gu's style.

Lee approached the corner.

From here on, the first contest began.

Gu took a big point.

In the past, black often answered like this.

The problem is that he can't punish this invasion effectively.

You'd figure this out in your own games.

If black shuts white in, white can peep and live easily.

Even pros don't have brilliant moves here.

So this knight's move is better when white already has a position at the bottom.

It applies some pressure to white and looks powerful.

White has to push, then black extends here.

If white tenukis, this turn looks strong.

In response to the invasion, black can attach.

After that, black can attack this stone.

This area isn't secure anyway.

Because of that, the knight's move is played often.

If there's no stone here, black can even hane.

If this area is occupied, black should extend.

Instead of this, Lee blocked here.

It looks sensitive to territory.

This extension will allow black to complete the corner.

After this hane, Lee started a fight by cutting.

The first battle was complicated.

Top players normally study new variations together.

But Lee Changho and Lee Sedol study by themselves.

There might be some advantages to that approach.

In contrast though, they have to reach decisions on their own.

Occasionally, there can be inaccuracies in individual study.

I think that's what happened in this case.

Does it mean this variation has been concluded?

Yes, after white's extension, it's hard to respond.

However, Lee didn't know that.

He'd have to rely on his instinct then.

His opponent fully understood this variation, though.

This extension is no good. There isn't a good followup.

Because of this attachment, black can't attack.

Lee extended here, but it was a misjudgment.

If white attaches, black will hane here.

With the tiger's mouth, this group becomes flexible.

Since white has a cutting point, black's fine.

But Gu didn't follow this variation.

Instead, he descended here.

It's hard to come up with this, it looks very calm.

He made miai of these two points.

The corner became urgent, so Lee played here.

This bamboo joint looks more solid. How about this?

How does it differ from Lee's kosumi?

If white jumps out, this knight's move is good later.

But this kosumi has a weakness when white attaches here.

Both moves are possible.

Anyway, Lee chose the kosumi.

Gu played a shoulder hit. It was lighter than the jump.

If black tries to cut, white can sacrifice his group.

With this push, black's initial formation is spoilt.

So this push was an obvious move.

At this stage, connecting here is enough.

Because white came out, isolating black's two stones.

But Gu came up with a different move here.

He attached here, and it was sensible.

Eventually, he captured these two stones.

When Gu wedged here, many weak points were exposed.

Lee had to abandon his stones.

Gu succeeded in the first contest.

Black couldn't rescue those stones.

This atari would be too bad.

White's atari here is very painful.

Black can prevent that result by wedging here.

But with this move, white will become flexible.

He can extend and stabilize easily.

White is successful in this case too.

However, some pros questioned Gu's shoulder hit.

They suggested attaching here, before making the other exchanges.

White can still capture the two stones.

White doesn't need to help black to make a wall.

There's no point exchanging those moves.

If black wedges, white can easily make shape.

Those exchanges are unnecessary.

This attachment looks better.

Black has to hane here anyway.

Aren't these stones pivotal?

In exchange, black can enclose this area.

After that, white can erase black's moyo.

In conclusion, Gu was fine.

But it would've been better if he attached here first.

It turned out that this move wasn't good.

Gu's exchanges alleviated the damage.

It's a one way street.

Many people in the observers' room were worried.

In the final round, Lee got chased by Gu.

And they worried about the changing tide.

Since this game would decide the winner,

It was invaluable to both players.

Lee tenukied and fortified the corner.

Gu played at the pivotal point.

You can easily see how good this move was.

It's a pivot point for influence across the whole board.

But eventually, Lee turned it into a bad move.

That's today's move!

Lee's brilliance changed the value of this great move.

I don't see any brilliant moves here.

Gu played there based on his first instinct.

He should have maintained his composure.

He was too satisfied with the capture in the lower right.

Gu hardly spent any time on this move

But Lee aimed for this when defending the corner.

With this move, he changed the entire flow of the game.

Nobody was thinking about this move.

These extensions are predictable.

But Lee's move was extraordinary.

It looks rather provocative.

This move created a dilemma for Gu.

He had to choose whether to back off or not.

This first line move was inconceivable.

Gu blocked, but this kosumi created a great combination!

The merits of the hane becomes clear after white's move.

Without this exchange, black can't connect.

White has no problem cutting black.

But this exchange enabled black to connect.

White can't save the six stones because of shortage of liberties.

That's a huge difference.

Thanks to that exchange, Lee was able to manage his center group easily.

If white persists in capturing the group, he can do so.

But, since this move is a tesuji, it won't be profitable.

Black's moyo is a lot better than white's now.

Gu's pivotal stone became useless.

The result couldn't be worse.

To prevent this, white has to fall back like this.

Then black will secure his moyo.

In general, this hane is white's privilege.

It's a four point difference in sente.

Pros often fight for half a point.

So four points sounds like way too much.

As a result, Gu didn't compromise.

But then he couldn't connect, because of this move.

After this move, he ataried.

Even though Gu cut black, his group was separated too.

Capturing the three stones is small.

Up to here, the first contest was over.

With the moves up to the hane, Lee suppressed this stone.

In comparison, white's profit may look insignificant.

This cut aimed at the 2-2 point.

This is the only answer that isolates white's stone.

After this exchange, this hane is good.

And then white can make a ko.

However, it's a one step ko.

If white loses the ko, he'll lose a few points.

But if white has many ko threats later, white can play like this.

Instead of the hane, this move is also possible.

If black blocks, this hane is sente.

After playing this in sente, white can jump.

Ah, it'll reduce black's territory a lot.

This ko is possible only if white has many threats.

So this variation is more likely.

Black's moyo isn't as solid as it looks.

That aim was what Gu got from the battle.

But Lee suppressed Gu's center stone. This looks better.

In this battle, black was successful.

At the very beginning, Gu captured these stones.

Lee made up for his loss up there, so it was even.

Gu restrained the expansion of black's moyo.

He approached quite closely.

Our guest said there would be another big change.

With the hane, Lee took control of the center,

As well as the board.

Now Lee developed the left side.

And Gu played in this area again.

Thanks to the aji in the lower right, Gu had time to block here.

In contrast, it's pointless for black to expand his moyo.

Gu pressured black's group, reinforcing his.

Then he separated black. It looks powerful.

This move was criticized by many pros.

Undoubtedly, it's a good move locally.

But they suggested this move instead.

With this, white can stabilize his group.

Despite the aji, it'd be worth playing.

This move changed the flow again.

Lee didn't miss the slight flaw in Gu's position.

From my point of view, the hane made this game even.

And this knight's move changed the flow to favor Lee.

When white bumped here, Lee played a strong move.

This moyo looks too big to give up.

But remember that the lower left side was open.

If black becomes solid, it will become inefficient after white reduces it.

Yes, it intended to attack the right group.

Now it looks slack.

Connecting here is gote and slow.

And it makes black thicker.

So Gu started a ko - which was, in fact, problematic.

The outcome was no good for white.

He should have ataried and played a tiger's mouth.

Now this group looks flexible.

It'll never suffer from black's attack.

But his previous failure made him unstable.

So he resisted as forcefully as possible.

But there weren't any proper ko threats.

So Lee ignored this threat.

How about the exchange?

If black cut, white has nowhere to escape to.

If the group dies, the game will be irrecoverable.

The moyo's too big, and there's one more thing.

Previously, white could jump into black's area here.

But now this move is black's privilege.

Capturing this group is worth 28 points.

That calculation excludes this aji, which is also quite big.

This result is out of question for white.

Because of that, Gu had to fall back.

It was humiliating.

He'd have felt great pain.

Gu should have just connected without the ko.

Even though the loss didn't affect the whole board,

He lost some points there.

Creating a ko was a mistake.

After this success, Lee looked after his group.

Gu's attempt at ko was a failure.

Yes, he overplayed.

From here on, Lee took control of the game.

Other players would have been confused by such a failure.

However, Gu regained his composure.

White had plenty of points on the board.

But black's center was considerable.

Gu played an asking move here.

He had a lot of potential to make use of his dead stones.

If black captures like this, white can atari later.

Lee extended, then Gu turned here.

Black connected, aiming at this cutting point.

When Lee haned, this counter hane was nice.

Black was becoming solid. How about cutting now?

Of course, Lee cut here.

Gu intended to expose black's weaknesses with this.

Next he jumped here, because it was sente.

When Lee blocked, Gu asked black how he'd answer first.

This move looks strange. Why didn't Lee connect?

Even if white cuts here, black can live in the corner.

White will make some profit. But this move won't be sente anymore.

So this white stone would be isolated.

Thanks to the 1-2 move, this extension is still sente.

Even though black separates white, this is the vital point.

If black connects, white can capture the whole group.

So black must answer here.

It's no seki. Black's completely alive.

So, in the end, this move was still sente.

After Gu's kosumi, Lee pressured white here.

Can black sacrifice the corner and capture these stones?

In the previous variation, black captured this white group.

Since the group's been connected now, it's far different.

Separating white is conceivable, but there's still some aji.

White can extend here in sente.

And this is also sente. This group is quite flexible.

It will be a waste of a move if black can't capture white.

This move intended make white white connect in gote.

While white does so, black can save his corner group.

I'm wondering how white will answer here.

Gu wouldn't play so simply.

Let's keep going after the break.

This is the last episode in the series on 'Miraculous Tesujis'.

The game was getting more complicated.

In the opening, Lee's excellent tesuji turned the tables.

Since Gu's mistake, Lee had played very fiercely.

Gu is no ordinary player though. He tried his best to destroy black's area.

Lee forced white to connect so he could save his corner stones.

If white was ahead, he would've simply connected.

But Gu was behind, so he needed a special plan.

At this point, he played a brilliant move.

Playing around here looks normal.

But, surprisingly, Gu attached here.

It's hard to understand white's intention.

In my opinion, he didn't want to exchange this move and make black's corner alive.

In the game, Lee simply managed this area.

This move surprised many observers.

Through the investigation, it received good feedback.

If black plays here, white will cut.

After that, white can atari, fixing his shape.

Now white can exchange this move.

And this group has miai to live

By sacrificing this stone, white settled in black's area.

It's much better than just connecting.

This atari is another option.

There's no weakness on the right, but on the left...

This squeeze is unpleasant for black.

After white connects, it's still miai.

And the center got hurt.

The attachment itself wasn't that good.

But the relationship with the other stones made it great.

It was possible because Gu avoided playing many ataris.

This attachment was a good tesuji, indeed.

In response, Lee ataried here.

Because of all the aji, he had to avoid a fight.

In this way, both sides compromised.

Gu captured this stone, leaving the aji in the corner.

With his excellent move order, white succeeded in this area.

Lee connected here, removing all the aji in the lower right.

Up to here, did white narrow the gap?

Many pros thought it became even.

But they soon figured out that black was still leading.

However, the gap had narrowed sharply.

Instead of defending the bottom, Lee resisted.

If white invades, black will fight using his influence on the right side.

Gu played a shoulder hit.

Considering his aim, it was reasonable.

Then he revealed his goal.

With this cut, Gu exploited the aji very efficiently.

It's amazing that he could still make profits here.

That's why Gu's moves in the center were highly acclaimed.

Lee had no choice but to sacrifice those stones.

These moves were all sente.

If there were no exchanges here, this jump would be nice now.

It's much harder for white to reduce black's moyo now.

Gu knew that, so he exchanged these moves first.

I thought he allowed black to get territory too easily.

In the actual game, Lee let white's group connect.

How about this move? Black had a solid wall nearby.

That's the first instinct, but this area is open.

Instead of saving his group, white will sacrifice it.

If white jumps out, the center will be erased.

Now white's bottom area is very secure.

So Lee played here, then Gu connected his group.

After this attachment, black jumped.

In conclusion, Lee couldn't capture white's group.

But he persevered in the center and played to destroy the bottom side instead.

It was simpler than capturing the group.

By the way, this was no ordinary sense of play.

As the proverb says, "the enemy's vital point is your own."

That's exactly the case here.

After black plays here, white's knight's move is so good.

As a result, Lee came up with this move.

Following proverbs will help you to improve your skills.

At this point, Gu played an asking move.

Since it wasn't easy to answer here, Lee tenukied.

This wedge was severe. Nevertheless, he couldn't respond.

White will wedge and strengthen himself in sente.

What's more is, there was a weakness here.

Can't black jump?

It seems possible, but then white can cut off this stone.

Black can't block here.

Because of that, Lee reinforced his moyo.

Gu's attachment was a good move.

Later, Lee said he should have played here instead.

He didn't predict the attachment.

This wedge looks powerful though.

By capturing the three stones, Gu gained many points.

Connecting along the edge is no good.

Inevitably, Lee abandoned his group.

This move was undoubtedly very big.

But, with the capture, Gu caught up a little bit here.

Was this hane necessary? This point also looks large.

What happens if black tenukis?

This kosumi leaves lots of aji.

White can also extend like this.

Lee considered these points to be miai.

He focused on thickness, thinking he was ahead.

I'm not sure that this was the biggest move.

But Lee believed this hane was a safe move.

With these exchanges, black removed all the aji.

Then Gu played a big move too.

White couldn't rescue this stone, so he jumped here.

In terms of points, this move was profitable.

But, after capturing, black can push and cut here later.

In addition, he might gain some more points in the center.

In conclusion, white's exchange wasn't that big.

Gu erased black's moyo, aiming at black's weak points.

Even though it looks common, this move was wonderful!

The aim was to cut off white's stone.

So white should defend somehow.

Then this sente exchange is guaranteed.

It makes a huge difference.

This thick capture created benefits for black.

Eventually, Gu would have to answer.

When Lee attached, coming out here would be no good.

That's what black wants.

Because of that, Gu just connected.

Up to here, Lee managed his group effectively.

This cutting point was a heavy burden for white.

The atmosphere in the observers' room was cheerful [Korean observers],

Because Lee had successfully managed his weak group.

Furthermore, there were no more complicated areas on the board.

Observers predicted that Lee would win by 2.5 or 3.5 points.

In this situation, Gu showed us his ability to persevere.

The game became more complicated as a result.

Lee wedged here first.

According to our reading, Gu couldn't block here.

Normally, white would just fall back like this.

With this progression, black would win by 2.5 or 3.5 points.

However, Gu blocked here anyway.

But how will he answer this move?

Isn't white in trouble?

Well, after this move, black will atari.

It's a ko.

But before playing there, Gu plotted something.

Suddenly, he wedged here.

This move shows us how skilled Gu is.

A player like him wouldn't play there for nothing.

In the game, Lee cut the stone.

After the atari, something had changed.

This move wasn't sente anymore.

What if black pushes through?

Before that, white has to make this exchange, then he can tenuki.

If black plays here, white can pinch.

Ah, that exchange works excellently!

By sacrificing a stone, Gu prevented black's forcing move.

Since he could capture it later, the sacrifice was good.

However, it was subtly related to the top.

After these exchanges, black has to atari here.

Surprisingly, white can cut!

And if black loses the ko, he'll collapse.

The value of the ko rose significantly.

The observers were only thinking about this extension.

That ko is unacceptable for white. However, they soon found this cut.

In the beginning, they thought that black had many local threats.

However, white has a number of threats in the bottom left.

And, even though this group was alive,

There were many threats in the corner, as well as in the center.

If white wins, he can even cut and capture black.

So black has to be careful with his ko threats.

The ko was a lot larger than it looked.

This kind of resistance normally doesn't work.

It was only plausible because the situation was special.

It was unfortunate that Lee had wedged here.

If he'd haned first without making that exchange,

He could've play two ko threats there.

Those threats are too big to ignore.

In fact, Gu's resistance was unpredictable.

Because white required many more threats than black.

He needs four more threats to win this ko.

White has plenty of threats on the board,

And this threat, too. It'd be frightening for black.

Lee didn't need to take a risk, because he was already leading.

As a result, he fell back.

He did some positional judgment here.

Compared to the other variation, Lee lost two points.

Even though he was leading, this loss could've affected him a bit.

Gu proved his top class level by detecting a small flaw.

He deserves to be remembered as one of the strongest players of this era.

Gu was struggling very hard.

Fortunately, Lee got the big point here.

When Gu pushed, Lee's empty triangle was great.

If Lee just answered, Gu would've clamped here.

Not only does white connect, he also captures this stone.

If white cuts like this, black can also cut here.

White can't save his group.

With this clamp, black can capture white.

This empty triangle was an accurate response.

However, white tried to change the flow with this trade.

If black connects and white cuts black's stone, it'd be close.

Since the compromise on the left, the gap had narrowed.

Two points is huge in such a game.

Trading was a good decision.

The game was nearing its end.

Let's have a look at the endgame.

Gu didn't let Lee win easily.

He gained two points, then carried out a big trade.

Pros say Lee's endgame accuracy has improved recently,

As well as his positional judgment.

It makes him play more safely in crucial stages.

This game demonstrates both players' styles very well.

Lee showed brilliant moves in the opening.

Gu played several tesujis in Lee's area in the middle game.

In several adverse situations, he was very tenacious.

Where stones accumulate,

Both players tend to become stronger.

That's why many Go players like them.

Gu was trying to harass black in vain here.

There was no noticeable profit in the center.

Gu hadn't performed well recently, so I asked him why.

He said, Lee's long absence took his objective away.

Lee's played an important role in the Go community.

Moreover, he motivates Gu to become stronger.

They're good rivals.

This atari made miai of white's two weaknesses.

207 moves, black (Lee Sedol 9p) wins by resignation.

Q. How would you define an exquisite game?

First of all, both players should play without any mistakes.

However, that's unrealistic.

Alternatively, players should play to the limit of their abilities.

I think that will still suit the requirements.

Q. How do you feel about recommending this game?

I like both the players, and many people would have seen this game.

But, by re-watching it, I hope you can discover its depth.

Due to my ordinary results, not many people know who I am.

I'd like to perform better in the future so more people will come to know me.

Ultimately, I wish for one of my games to be introduced on this program.

It's the end of the theme 'Miraculous Tesujis'.

Our next theme will be 'Cosmic Style'.

When I was an insei, I admired Takemiya's style.

So I tried his style in my own games, but it didn't go well.

In fact, cosmic style is difficult and complicated.

However, it's really interesting for spectators.

We'll introduce many dynamic and exciting games!

Behind the flamboyance, there are many interesting variations.

We're looking forward to learning about more exquisite games with you!

Thank you!

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