Baduk TV English: Perception of Meijin – Episode 2 – The Start of Cho-Seo Era

Perception of Meijin is a Baduk TV series where Seo Bongsu 9p analyzes the games of past and present masters, offering insights based on his unique perspective of Go.

Episode 2 is titled ‘The Start of Cho-Seo Era’ and looks at game 1 from the 6th Myeongin title match, played on May 7, 1974. Cho Hunhyun plays black and Seo Bongsu plays white.

Seo Bongsu isn’t as well known (outside Korea) as some of his contemporaries are, but he’s an honorary Myeongin (Korean Meijin) because of his past dominance of that title and many players are fans of his practical and creative fighting style.

Seo is joined by veteran Go journalist Park Chimoon 7d throughout the series.

Cho Hunhyun vs Seo Bongsu

Video: Cho Hunhyun vs Seo Bongsu

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Transcript of the video

Episode 2: The Start of Cho-Seo Era

Just after Seo Bongsu surprised the Go community by taking the Myeongin title, another crucial event occurred in 1973.

Cho Hunhyun, who became a pro at the age of 9, came back to Korea from Japan.

Cho learned Go systemically in Japan while Seo had to study on his own in Korea.

It was natural that these two youngsters would lock horns with one another.

They played in the Baeknam Cup and the Kuksu. Then they met again in the final of the Myeongin (Korean Meijin), in 1974.

Everyone predicted that Cho would take the throne by winning the match.

However, Seo successfully defended his Myeongin title.

Cho suffered a blow and had to wait for another chance.

This series was the beginning of the historical 366 games between the two rivals.

Translated by Oh Chimin 7d for

Edited by David Ormerod 5d

Hello everyone, welcome to the second episode of 'Perception of Meijin'.

Left: Seo Bongsu 9p

Right: Park Chimoon 7d

How did you feel looking at that panorama?

Was it really 40 years ago?

Yes, it was.

I couldn't fully remember what happened to me.

Cho was a well known genius.

In contrast, you improved your strength in normal Go clubs.

In terms of the army system, it's like Cho studied in a military school,

Whereas you started your career as a private.

But you two ran into one another, and a long rivalry began.

I suppose the audience will be impressed to learn about this period.

We prepared some information about the Cho-Seo rivalry for you. Let's have a look.

These two have played 366 games together!

In my opinion, this record will never be broken.

Seo was always a step behind Cho. He beat Cho in approximately one out of three games.

In terms of finals, Seo won 14 times out of 71.

I depicted the record like this; Seo was driven away to Siberia.

But he then invaded the central territory, like a nomadic group.

So Seo was described as the nomad, and Cho as the strongman at the center.

Since the turn of the millennium, their head to head record is 7-9 for Seo, which is better than before.

If you compare Seo's record to that of five other challengers from that time, you'll realize how well Seo fought against Cho.

Jang Sooyoung 9p has won 5 games out of 55 against Cho. Baek Seongho 9p has never beaten Cho.

Seo Neungwook 9p's record is 12-57. Kim Soojang 9p beat Cho in 1 out of 11 games.

Kang Hoon 9p's record is similar to Kim's.

These five challengers have never taken a title from Cho.

How would Cho have performed if it hadn't been for Seo?

Cho achieved the Grand Slam in 1980, 82, and 86.

But, if not for the existence of Seo, Cho would've done so many more times.

In 1988, Yu Changhyeok took the Daewang Cup from Cho by capturing a big dragon.

This was how Yu emerged on the scene.

A year later, Lee Changho won the KBS Cup.

After that, the 'Big Four' era began.

A few years later, Lee ascended to the throne.

The Cho-Seo rivalry was the origin of Lee's ascendancy, and this game was the start of everything.

Let's have a look at the game.

May 7, 1974: The first game of the 6th Myeongin title match

Cho Hunhyun 6p (at the time) plays black, Seo Bongsu 4p (at the time) plays white.

I think the 4-4 point was an unusual choice at the time.

You played the low approach first, and the high one later on.

Did you have a specific reason for that?

Do you mean I approached here?

No, in the bottom left corner.

What do you think about the two different approaches?

You mean this approach?

You played this high approach quite often.

Was that because you were afraid of Cho, who is a very talented player?

Well... I admit that the high approach is safer and simpler than the low one.

This two space high pincer was very popular at the time.

You approached again, and black tenukied and attached here.

Looking at the following sequence,

I seems both similar and different to modern games.

In response to white's extension, black would usually capture white's stone these days.

I think this attachment would be normal now.

Then black will extend here.

After that, white hanes. I think it's playable for both sides.

In the game, you played here.

How about this move? It looks quite solid.

This move aimed to invade next, but smothering this stone would also be very good.

From the modern perspective, we'd expect black to take control of the corner, like this.

But this move was also good.

This kosumi looks special too.

Recently, players normally jump here.

After that, white will manage the right side.

Because of black's kosumi, white had to move his group out immediately.

Cho reinforced his group. But what if he'd invaded here instead?

This is the vital point. It's painful for black.

Is there any possibility that Cho would play here if he had another chance?

Well, since this move hits the vital point, it's still playable for white.

So Cho defended his group.

After white's pincer, Cho pushed here.

This area was still vulnerable. Will the result be satisfactory if white gets to defend there?

Yes, I think so.

When both players play without making a mistake, the black player starts to worry about the komi.

At that time, komi was 4.5 points.

Now black pays two more points for the privilege of playing first.

Up to here, white strengthened the right side naturally.

I think Cho's moves had been quite simple so far.

As far as I know, you and Cho played friendly games for a small wager.

I heard the amount was 500 won for each game.

I don't remember how many games we played like that.

I guess we played between ten and twenty games.

However, I didn't win a single game against him.

Were the games even, or was there a handicap?

Well, wouldn't it be even games?

Did you want to take one stone or so after losing several games?

We started with even games. However, I can't remember precisely.

But since you never won one of those games, I guess you'd feel a kind of difference in strength?

Yes, I felt he was stronger than me.

Well, because of that, were you afraid of him before the final?

Yes, I thought I'd lose against him.

But could you manage to play a game with such a mindset?

If you think your opponent is stronger, how can you beat him?

Realistically, it's very hard to beat a stronger player.

However, you can manage to defeat such a player occasionally.

This is one of the good points of your personality. Even if you know your opponents are stronger,

You're never afraid to face them.

Up to here, I think white was doing well. This area looks quite big.

As I moved my weak group out, my weakness on the right side was resolved naturally.

After that, Cho exchanged these moves.

Since Cho had beaten you in many informal games, he may have underestimated you.

This pincer looks great by the way.

Let's have a look at the outcome first.

White cut here, and captured the corner.

I don't think modern players would play like this.

You're right. Black usually extends here instead these days.

When white attaches, isn't this tiger's mouth common now?

Yes, but this move used to be common, before that.

This move hasn't been played for a long time.

If black connects solidly, white will play an iron pillar.

Black has to look after his group, and then white slides here.

This slide looks nice for white.

Because of that, black usually plays the tiger's mouth instead these days.

After this atari, white jumps here.

Depending on the situation, this extension is also possible.

In this case, white can settle down easily.

This is an up to date version of the joseki.

It's playable for white. He managed his group quite well.

In addition, he can clamp on the 2nd line later.

However, this kind of move hadn't been conceived of at the time.

Instead, this hane was regarded as a move that showed fighting spirit.

It was the 'only move' in this situation at the time.

Black has to capture a stone on whichever side white cuts on.

What do you think of this push?

Black could tenuki and approach here instead.

After an exchange in the top left, this push will become a very good move.

Or, since the approach isn't necessarily sente, invading at 3-3 is another option.

In response, you enclosed the corner, reducing black's potential.

This knight's move enclosure is similar to the modern sense of play.

It can be helpful to feel the difference between the current and earlier sense of play.

After a large knight's move enclosure, the 3-3 invasion always works.

Black could've lived easily by connecting like this.

This would be normal, but Cho played a tiger's mouth here.

If white answers here, black can tenuki and take sente.

So he'll save a move.

If white ataris here later, this move will be wasted.

Whereas, if white wins the ko without defending first, he can capture the corner with one move.

You ataried immediately, and Cho started the ko.

He still could've lived by connecting, but he persevered.

Where would black make his ko threat? This was the first crucial moment of the game.

This attachment was Cho's choice. If you were black, where would you play?

I would atari here. White can't afford to respond to any of black's threats.

The ko was too big to lose.

It's a trade. The bottom left corner is seriously damaged.

And white loses many points at the same time.

Since this group isn't alive, white will suffer greatly from black's attack.

Black could've harassed white more severely with this variation.

But this was Cho's ko threat, and you didn't answer.

So the focus was on how severely black could attack white.

How about this extension? Can white move his group out immediately?

Yes, if white resists like this, black can't attack effectively.

Even if black managed to destroy this area, the territorial damage wouldn't be huge.

I think it's worth a bit more than ten points.

And black lost so many points in the top left corner.

So Cho needed to get a lot of profit there.

In response to black's hane, this cut was a nice tesuji.

If white simply extends, black will play here.

The territory is very big, whereas white's group isn't alive yet.

It isn't good for white.

However, this cut was a good move.

Even though black captured this stone, white can still play the monkey jump here later.

In addition, white preserved his original moyo fairly well.

It was worth about ten points, so I was satisfied with the outcome here.

Therefore, black had to gain more profit elsewhere.

At this point, this attachment was severe.

White couldn't resist. Is this move bad?

Yes, the empty triangle was inevitable.

This area got bigger.

If the area is completed, isn't the game favorable for black?

Yes, it is.

White captured a stone, then tried to create a flaw in black's position.

The depth of white's invasion became the focus of the game.

This kind of decision is always difficult. Don't you think this invasion was too deep?

I think this invasion was just right.

If this stone dies, then the invasion is just greedy.

But if you lose a game because of an excessively shallow invasion, it's even stupider.

It's such a tough decision.

Cho played a problematic move here.

He lost four points because of this.

By playing this atari first, he could've gained four more points.

Nevertheless, he ataried. I think he was determined to capture this stone.

Yes, he wanted to decide the game here.

Then he capped, and white cut here.

Connecting here is better in terms of territory, but Cho wanted to focus more on the center.

However, this move is clearly better.

Considering the endgame, it's a lot more profitable.

All of black's moves here were focused on capturing white.

In response to this knight's move, Cho didn't separate white.

He jumped here instead. It was so mysterious.

Did Cho change his mind? Why did he play here?

I have no idea. How can I read my opponent's mind?

In order to capture white's group, shouldn't black have played like this?

Then white has to run away.

To decide the game here, black needs to cut off white's escape route.

However, this jump makes it look like Cho succumbed to white's desperate spirit.

If white simply comes out like this, black can separate white and continue to attack.

With this variation, black can still aim at white's group.

I guess he overlooked something here.

In my opinion, he was expecting only this move.

This move didn't even help black to make territory on the outside.

Therefore, I think Cho was a bit overwhelmed by white's deep invasion.

And white's moves caused Cho to lose focus.

This atari shows his will to capture white's group firmly.

But suddenly Cho released white with this jump.

I don't know whether Cho miscalculated or just gave up on the attack here.

If black goes all out to capture white, I think the group's still likely to survive.

The life of white's group would mean the end of the game in that case.

So that option would be scary for Cho.

In that sense, Cho's choice here was reasonable.

This hane was a wonderful move.

If black cuts, this push and the peep are sente.

White has plenty of eye shape.

These exchanges are all forcing moves.

And white can make one eye easily like this.

With this push, white can manage to survive.

This atari is sente too. The group can't be captured.

White could even tenuki once.

This group is flexible enough to live on the inside.

I don't think Cho missed such a simple move.

However, he released white's group so easily.

He played a kosumi. Wouldn't this push be better?

Yes, it would.

This group connected in sente.

Even if black cuts here, white can easily live.

This move is sente.

White's alive. Playing here is the strongest move for black.

But this wedge is tesuji.

Because of his weaknesses, black can't manage his position.

Cho's style of play is well known to us these days.

However, when he first came back to Korea, most players weren't familiar with his style.

Fortunately, you learned about his style through the betting games.

So you got to know its characteristics.

But, at the time, most Korean players knew very little about Cho.

That's true, but everyone knew that Cho was a talented player.

Previously, he'd performed well in Japan. He was a promising player.

In fact, his return meant a lot to the Korean Go community.

Because of it, Korean Go reached a higher level of play.

As a tenacious opponent, you played an important role in that development.

Your existence made Cho concentrate on improving.

Well, I don't know about that...

How much did you learn from playing Cho?

I think I was just a training parter, haha!

Although you lost many games against him, you'd have learned a lot at the same time.

So your role wasn't that bad!

Anyway, it seems like Cho taught you a lot. What do you think?

I completely agree.

Cho is a great player, and he contributed a lot to bringing Korean Go to the top level.

And you also joined in and achieved a lot.

By the way, Cho was overwhelmed by your fighting spirit around here.

How would you assess the game after your group lived in the center?

I thought I was clearly ahead.

In the actual game, Cho didn't cut here.

This move looks like the coup de grace.

White's hane and connection worked very well.

White could connect by capturing this stone, but you came out here.

It was too late for black to fall back.

If white plays here, black will lose too many points.

Cutting here will be sente.

That wasn't acceptable for Cho, so he connected here immediately.

Here's a good life and death problem. Where should white play now?

This move is the answer.

After this jump, white's group is completely alive.

But you jumped here in the game.

I didn't see that move.

It turned out that you didn't read Go books, nor study Go in a formal way.

All formally trained Go players would find this move.

It's a very basic move.

If white connects here, black will kosumi, then block.

It's a ko.

A child would be scolded by their teacher for such a move.

As we see here, your weakness was in fundamental skills.

I think you're right.

Your strength was mostly based on just playing games.

Besides me, those who didn't study in Japan had the same problem.

In spite of that fact, you defeated many players who learned Go in Japan.

I think it shows talent.

In my opinion, you're talented at Go. Do you agree?

Well, I think I had a little something like that.

However, my talent isn't that extraordinary.

Later on, you came back here.

I think you won this game smoothly.

It was a nice game for you.

Although you lost many friendly games against Cho, you managed to beat him in a title match.

White (Seo Bongsu 4p) wins by resignation

Today we've looked at the first encounter between two rivals.

Seo defeated Cho in the final of the Myeongin.

Even though Cho was stronger, Seo defended his title. So this game was meaningful in some ways.

We'll continue with a game played between Park Junghwan 9p and Kang Hun 2p.

This game is from the qualifying round of the 14th Nongshim Cup (2012).

There are two players called Kang Hun. The player in this game is the younger one.

Park 9p is ranked #2 in Korea now. He was #1 for a while.

But, oddly enough, he'd never been a Korean representative in the Nongshim Cup.

Let's see what happened to him earlier on.

From 2007 to 2012, Park had been eliminated in the preliminary rounds of the Nongshim Cup.

His opponents were varied.

In addition, the wildcard was usually given to Lee Changho 9p.

That's why we didn't see Park in the Nongshim Cup.

But, last year, Lee kindly declined his wildcard, and so did Lee Sedol 9p.

Thanks to this, Park received the wildcard.

As the anchorman, he beat several Chinese players, and brought the trophy home for his country.

Not only Park, but also Lee Sedol didn't perform well in the Nongshim Cup.

Even two of the strongest players didn't participate in this tournament,

The Korean team still won many times.

Considering this, Korean players are very good at team tournaments.

Yes, they can compete with international players, of course.

And Korea has had two great players, Lee Changho and Lee Sedol.

Let's have a look at the game.

Park Junghwan is black, Kang Hun is white.

Black could continue with the Chinese Opening.

But young players seems to love this kind of direct approach.

Yes, it has been played very often recently.

After this formation, white sometimes encloses his corner.

This wasn't common before.

Previously, this approach, or this extension were normal.

White can make the Chinese Opening too. It's simple.

It reminds me of your mirror Go, which you tried several times.

The 4-4 point was often left alone in the past, because it's impossible to secure a 4-4 corner with two moves.

So players usually approached the 3-4 point first.

Recently though, many players approach the 4-4 point first.

The 4-4 point has been played very frequently in recent times.

That makes me wonder why the inventors of Go put a dot on that point.

I think it's a pivotal point.

In my opinion, if knowledge of Go was more complete, all players might start with the four 4-4 points.

Then the komi would create a lot of pressure for black.

In the past, players would always take black if they had a choice of color.

But, recently, some players choose white instead.

They're attracted by the 6.5 point komi.

I saw Park select white before in a crucial game.

White tends to be preferred in the Ing Cup.

Yes, the komi is 8 points (effectively 7.5 points).

Of course, white is favorable under the Ing rules.

But I heard the record is still about 50-50.

In the top right, white slid into the corner, then extended along the right side.

But on the left, black extended like this.

This move isn't played often in general.

Sliding into the corner is most common.

In terms of territory, it's more profitable.

After this move, black's position looks good.

What do you think? Is this position ok?

Look at this position. It's popular recently.

Here's the difference.

Compared to this, black's position is better in terms of territory.

Now the corner is open.

That's why Park chose this progression.

Maybe he thought it was a bit more profitable.

Kang secured the corner.

Approaching in the top right also looks good.

In addition, this extension is big too.

The extension is the most solid move among the three.

Park approached here now. What do you think about this move?

There was a big point at the bottom.

I think it's more tempting. Park played here later though.

But I'd take that point immediately.

If black's going to play at the top, black can exchange these moves.

Before expanding a moyo, these exchanges are normally played.

There were many options at this point.

Park didn't want to solidify white's position.

But, after white's jump, Park answered here.

So, instead of this, I think black should've exchanged the forcing moves first.

If he'd intended to tenuki, then it's hard to judge, but he answered here.

White's next move was crucial.

I think this point is very big.

But Kang attached here, to enlarge his moyo on the right.

After playing the hane, Park didn't defend his cutting point.

This is probably what his opponent expected.

If black answers, the exchange would be profitable for white.

However, Park approached here.

This big point was taken by black at last.

In terms of fighting spirit, white needs to split black.

So a complicated battle can be expected.

But Kang simply jumped here.

Would you like to comment on this move?

It looks a bit loose.

White took gote here.

It seems that Kang expected this move, then he could've pincered black.

This peep was a bad exchange, but the bottom side was more urgent.

Locally it's a bad move, but it's practical in some cases.

It's not played in normal situations.

I think you're good at finding this kind of practical move.

This kind of move has been rare in Japan, right?


But, recently, Japanese players don't place as much value on shape as they did before.

They've adopted many moves from Korea.

Park defended his moyo at the bottom. It's a satisfactory result for black.

In contrast, white was unhappy, since he took gote.

Couldn't white punish black's tenuki like this?

No. Black can cut here immediately.

White can push like this at best, but black will block off white's path.

White's short of liberties. It's no good.

Kang had no choice but to secure the corner like this.

In the final analysis, these two stones were exchanged.

It's clearly profitable for black.

White played here. But, in my opinion, this move is better.

After this two space jump, black has to answer.

In response to your move, how should black defend his moyo?

If black has to respond like this, this jump is better.

What if black plays a kosumi here?

Then white answers here. Black's moyo is still weak.

There's aji within black's position.

To expand the right side area, this choice seems better.

The aji is so bad. I think black needs to defend somehow.

If white invades here, black will have to fall back like this.

Then white can gain many points.

This stone will die.

That's why white should've played there.

Park secured lots of territory, while Kang enlarged his moyo.

But it was still a difficult game for both sides.

This is the wonder of Go. Despite making a mistake in the opening, games are often well balanced.

How many points is a mistake worth? One point? What's your opinion?

I have no idea. White should be behind, but the game seemed even.

That's something about Go that I can't understand.

In contrast, a single mistake in the center can be critical.

Yes, such a mistake can ruin a game in an instant.

What's next? White could expand his moyo further, or invade the top side.

This move is bad.

Why is that?

Because then black will reduce white's territory in sente.

These moves will all be sente.

And just defending the top side is good enough.

White's moyo isn't big enough to win this game.

Instead, white needs to exploit the potential of his moyo to harass black.

I think this shoulder hit was a bad move.

In this case, white had to cut here.

Really? What if black ataris like this?

Black can't push. If white ataris here, black has no proper answer.

And if black defends here, white pushes.

This battle is favorable for white.

Even though it's complicated, black can't withstand white's attack.

This cut is a nice move.

In response to white's jump, black needs to push and block.

Let's continue a bit further.

A ko can be expected.

White has a local threat here.

Since black has no threats, he needs to connect here.

It's certainly a big and complicated battle.

White can exchange this move in sente.

Then this extension is a forcing move.

If white connects here, he has one more liberty.

Black has four liberties, while white has five.

Even though it's a long sequence, young players should easily be able to read it.

They'd know what the result should be.

The thinking time was one hour, so it was a semi-blitz game.

Kang wanted a simpler variation, so he played a shoulder hit here.

After that, Park attached and pushed like this.

White cut now, but this exchange was unnecessary.

Park invaded here, wasn't it too deep?

He thought the game was very close.

How deeply should black invade? It's always hard to decide.

If black can win this game by doing so, he should play here.

Lee Changho would probably play here.

I don't know. It requires very accurate positional judgment.

Anyway, Park was sure this move would be safe. So he invaded deeply here.

Nevertheless, this move was risky. It was a crucial stage in the game.

Before playing here, Kang exchanged this move.

I don't know why Kang didn't cut here.

Black's stones can't be captured in a ladder or a net.

It seems like black's in trouble. It's hard to manage the isolated group.

But would it be easy to cut immediately after Park's hane?

I think the opponent's strength is a crucial factor during a game.

When a strong player hanes, his opponent can't easily cut.

Kang chose to double hane.

Lee Changho once said that one's spirit is important in every game.

On the day when this game was played, I think Kang's fighting spirit was somewhat lacking.

White could still push and apply pressure to black's group.

But he just connected here.

This push was sente.

After this exchange, Park tried to reduce white's territory.

Was the reduction necessary?

White needed to exchange this move now, but Kang didn't.

Because of that, he lost many points later.

Can white cut here?

If he does, then this wedge becomes a tesuji.

Black mustn't atari here immediately.

It's a very dangerous move.

If white connects like this, black's group will be in danger.

In order for white to cut (later on), he needs more stones on the top side.

Anyway, if white cuts now, black will wedge and manage his group easily.

This jump was Park's severe move.

If not for that move, his position would still be good.

Kang tried to fight again at the top.

In response to white's tiger's mouth, Park defended here.

After that, white separated black.

Black jumped and white blocked here.

By cutting here, black rescued his top left group.

And white ataried here. How would you assess the game now?

White was far behind. Black was very successful in the previous battle.

But the finishing blow didn't appear yet.

This was the highlight of the game.

After the push, Park cut here.

The timing of these moves was very important.

Park played a tiger's mouth here.

How should white answer at this point?

This move looks common.

But this attachment works now, and black will separate white.

After this atari, black can move this stone out.

White's in huge trouble.

That's why white should've pushed earlier.

Inevitably, white had to connect here with an empty triangle.

Since Kang omitted the exchange, he lost several points.

Park cut again here, aiming at something else.

After this atari, Kang connected this stone.

As a result, Park ensured the safety of his center group.

After that, Kang exchanged this move belatedly.

In response to white's jump, black tenukied and jumped here.

White kosumied and peeped here.

Park made his group completely alive, so he could reveal his aim later.

This extension was huge.

If black connects instead, white has no chance of winning.

At this point, Park delivered the coup de grace.

It was an interesting move.

Black couldn't cut here because the ladder was unfavorable.

And he couldn't rescue this stone for the same reason.

This move was so brilliant.

When black came out here, and the game was over.

What if white had captured this stone?

Then black will cut here, and white has no answer.

If black pushes and jumps here, white's trouble anyway.

If white attaches, black plays a tiger's mouth.

After this atari, white can't rescue his dragon in the lower right.

By winning this game, Park became a representative on the Korean Nongshim Cup team.

This attachment was so great.

It makes the whole game worth reviewing.

That brings us to the end of today's episode.

See you next time.

Thank you!

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