Baduk TV English: Perception of Meijin – Episode 3 – Overcoming an Admirable Junior Player

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 3 is titled ‘Overcoming an Admirable Junior Player’ and looks at game 4 from the 2nd Tongyang Securities Cup Final, played on October 31, 1990. Lee Changho 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.

Lee Changho vs Seo Bongsu

Video: Lee Changho vs Seo Bongsu

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Transcript of the video

Translated by Oh Chimin 7d for

Edited by David Ormerod 5d

Hello everyone, welcome back to 'Perception of Meijin'.

Despite learning Go in ordinary Go clubs, Seo Bongsu 9p became a world class player.

He's by far the most special character in the Go world.

Every game in this series will be reviewed based on the perception of Meijin Seo.

Episode 3 - Overcoming an Admirable Junior Player

2nd Tongyang Securities Cup Final - Game

Today's game was played between Seo and a young Lee Changho.

[Ed: Lee Changho was a rising star at the time.]

Hello, master Seo!


Lee started to emerge as a talented player around this time.

He was 15. How did you feel about encountering such a young player?

I've never thought about the age of my opponents at all.

I always feel anxious before a game.

It wasn't long before Lee became a pro.

But his simple existence was enough to make me feel anxious.

Even though he was still a boy, many people predicted that he'd surpass his teacher, Cho Hunhyun 9p, one day.

Let's have a look at a summary about the three major Go countries at the time.

Q. (To Seo Bongsu) What do you think about the relative strength of the three countries at the time?

"Korea was becoming the strongest nation among the three."

"China pulled ahead of Japan, but it still had a long way to go."

"Japan had many strong players, but Korea seized more chances to win matches between the top five players."

Q. Who was your opponent? How would you assess Lee Changho?

"Despite his young age, he's an extraordinary figure."

"To reach the top, one needs strength, stamina, and a good attitude with respect to Go. Lee had it all."

"At this rate, he can become the Emperor of Go, or perhaps even the God."

Your compliment sounds intense.

The beginning of the 'Big Four' era.

In 1988, Yu Changhyeok emerged on the Go scene.

A year later, Lee appeared.

This was the end of the 'Cho-Seo' era, and the beginning of the 'Big Four' era.

This table shows the head to head record between the big four players, before the 2nd Tongyang Securities Cup Final.

In a way, Yu's story is similar to yours.

He became a pro late.

But Lee and Cho were formally educated from an early age.

In contrast, we thought of your background as being that of a 'commoner'.

For some reason, your remarks about Lee have always been generous.

You questioned whether an opponent worthy of Lee would appear if his strength didn't decline by itself.

It was such an extreme rave! Do you remember?

Well, I can't fully remember.

However, I felt that Lee resided in a different dimension to me.

Your talent is also extraordinary.

But Lee started playing Go very early.

He had a good teacher, talent, and time.

This is how he was able to maintain the top position in the Go world for more than ten years.

Do you think anyone else will appear and control the Go world, like Lee did, in the future?

No, it'll be very hard for that to happen again.

This series was your first final match against Lee.

The reminiscence must be special for you.

Lee Changho is black, Seo Bongsu is white.

White's attachment and block formed Lee's favorite combination at the time.

It was even nicknamed the 'Lee Changho Joseki'.

Japanese players didn't like it, because this atari led to bad shape.

They said this joseki was favorable for black.

White's forced to make an empty triangle.

Locally, white's position is a bit over-concentrated.

And the atari is painful.

But since Lee started playing like this, the perception has changed.

Players realized that white's territory here is quite big too.

That combination is practical, indeed.

Lee often played this joseki, then it became very popular for a while.

If you had another chance to play now, wouldn't you play a small knight's move?

Yes, I would.

The sense of play changes over time.

This moyo looked big, so I approached as closely as I could, to reduce it.

But it left more of a weakness at the 3-3 point.

The knight's move seems normal.

This shoulder hit was a well timed reduction.

This atari exemplifies Lee's original style of play.

Other players wouldn't think about this.

Lee's existence is so significant to the entire Go community.

Even though there were many big points on the board, he played so slowly.

Nevertheless, he conquered the world.

We often talk about the beauty of slowness.

Lee's games are an example of the best practice of this concept.

Was that a tesuji?

Yes. I blocked here, but this empty triangle is slightly better.

Black has to push through.

Black still can't rescue this stone.

There are some weaknesses here.

But white blocked instead.

After that, black played two forcing moves.

Lee's position became much more solid.

Black had no weaknesses here, so I think it was successful for black.

This move is the easiest answer.

In the actual game, I pincered here.

I think this iron pillar would be better.

Because black's moyo was very thick here.

Therefore, white needed to look after the corner.

I jumped here.

I think this move is more realistic.

But what about the weak point here?

White can fly out lightly.

It's possible to manage white's groups on both sides.

After white's jump, Lee moved his stone out immediately.

This move was very powerful, indeed.

I had no proper response.

This peep looks like an improvised move.

Even though white tried to change the flow, Lee turned here.

This move was very thick.

Before playing the tiger's mouth, I cut here.

After that, black capped here.

I played here, but this extension looks better.

In fact, this was huge in terms of territory.

However, white needed to deal with the top side first.

There was an exchange here before that.

Lee turned again. Wasn't this move too slow?

Well, this knight's move looks lighter and better.

This sort of slow move was typical of Lee's style.

It makes me think of Lee.

I couldn't agree more. This kind of move always reminds me of him.

His moves were very thick.

We talk about Lee very often. I've written so many articles about him.

In my memory, when Lee first emerged, you praised him more than Cho Hunhyun did.

What made you regard him so highly?

Before Lee appeared on the scene, I didn't know anything about thickness.

Though his moves were often slow, they were also solid.

I couldn't play like that, because it was unfamiliar to me.

His ability to calculate, especially with respect to thickness, was outstanding.

It was so accurate.

I was tremendously impressed by his calculations.

Since Go is similar to war, speed is very important.

His teacher Cho Hunhyun became the strongest player in Korea with his speed.

However, it's a mystery that his student then conquered the world with slow moves.

When you see this turn, think of Lee.

But this move was wrong at the time.

People said his moves were very slow, so many times.

Because of that, he often struggled in the fuseki.

White took this huge point.

I think where you played was like taking cash, while Lee's move was like writing a check.

Although it wasn't very big in terms of territory, it concealed great intent.

If I'd played there, I'd have been able to attack this black group.

You said you didn't know the value of thickness.

But you have a very good sense of territory.

Before that, Lee exchanged this move.

What happens if white tenukis here?

Then this atari works.

White's separated.

After that exchange, black pincered.

I chose this move was because it meant I could play in the lower left in sente afterwards.

That move was incredibly big! What if black tenukis?

Then this placement is sente.

Isn't this attachment possible?


White can kosumi, hane or simply bump here.

In addition, this move is sente as well.

Black must answer to live in the corner.

So this tiger's mouth is the best answer for black.

But descending here is a great tesuji.

Inevitably, black has to separate like this, but white can still connect with this jump.

This move is also possible.

After white connects, black's whole group is dead.

Since this move was sente, bumping here was very attractive.

The move itself wasn't very big, but it had a good followup.

Undoubtedly, this point was urgent, but your move was very big.

I wished that I'd played here in sente.

Wouldn't black answer?

Then neither of black's groups are alive yet.

If white jumps out like this, they might suffer.

If white plays a knight's move, the bottom group will get weaker.

After black escapes, white can start attacking the bottom group.

It's a complicated battle though.

White's thin too. And this group isn't alive yet either.

Instead of responding, black can tenuki and play there first.

You could've carried out an aggressive strategy, but you chose this move.

You preferred cash, and it was huge indeed.

After white blocks, black has to answer here.

In response to the tiger's mouth, black defended the corner.

If Lee had played the knight's move here, this group wouldn't have been attacked.

White can't do anything to this group. It's a big difference.

However, this turn became Lee's trademark.

And he became the strongest player in the world a few years later.

I had seen such moves twice so far.

I felt that such moves had been genetically encoded, since he was born.

He may have played these moves unconsciously.

In Go, thickness is very good, and pros love it most of all.

If we can win a game, of course thickness is wonderful.

In contrast, thinness makes us suffer.

Being light is good, and being heavy is bad in Go.

But the difference between lightness and thinness can be hard to determine at times.

Likewise, we sometimes struggle to recognize the difference between heavy and thick positions.

It requires keen observation.

It's an extremely difficult aspect of the game.

Even though he was just a 15 year old boy, there must have been something in his DNA.

However, the knight's move is the best answer in this case.

If he had a chance to play again now, he'd play the knight's move, of course.

Since the time of this game, he's mastered light play.

This move looks unusual to me, although it may be common sense to pros.

Amateurs like me can think about this move at best, but not that one.

This side is open.

Because of the wall, black can't get out.

This move looks fascinating.

After this, Lee tried to escape with a knight's move.

I pushed in the actual game, but this knight's move looks better.

This move looks very solid. What do you think?

This jump is better, because black can aim at this tiger's mouth later.

This was exchanged with this knight's move, which was good for white.

Maybe Lee thought it was ok for black.

To be honest, it was fine.

White had half an eye here, and there were some more places to make eyes if necessary.

Nevertheless, white wasn't completely alive.

Black had to manage his group first.

Lee kosumied here, removing his own weakness first.

Black was aiming at both groups.

Lee's response was very aggressive here.

It was a crucial battle.

If white connected his groups, black would be far behind on territory.

So Lee had to attack white's two groups.

The focus was on the extent to which black could utilize his thickness.

Lee played an ugly looking move here.

Well, I think this was the losing move.

Where should black have played then?

If Lee had chosen this move, white would have been in trouble.

White has no choice but to cut immediately.

Black has to defend his weakness with an empty triangle.

Should black push here?

No, this move is better.

After that, black needs to remove white's eye shape, like this.

This attachment is the trickiest continuation for black to deal with.

How about this move? Is black's center group safe?

If black plays a kosumi here, this group is alive.

Or he can push here first.

Even if white plays here, black can survive in the center.

This placement looks more severe.

However, white has a weakness here.

After pushing, black can atari white's two stones and live.

Because of that, white needs to connect, to threaten the center group.

But it creates many weak points on the outside.

Black can attach and cut white like this.

Even if white resists, black can split white.

In addition, this move is sente.

In other words, black's center group is safe.

Even if white threatens the group, black can tenuki.

Even though black's center group could be a target, Lee didn't need to worry about it.

Therefore, to save this black group, black can attack white's top group.

Aren't black's groups separated?

Yes, they are.

This attachment is the strongest response.

Black will answer here. If white plays like this, he can rescue his group.

After capturing this stone, white's alive.

However, this push is very painful for white.

After that, black will attack this group.

There's no escape.

What if white gives up his two stones? Who's ahead then?

Overall, white has already lost many points.

More importantly, this white group isn't alive yet.

The life and death of the group is unclear.

White lacks territory. Connecting here is sente.

Since black takes control of the right hand side, he can make many more points there.

It was a subtle situation.

The focus was on how black should cut white's groups.

At that time, Lee preferred peaceful variations to complicated fights.

I think his sense of extreme fighting was still a bit too vague.

Shall we look at the actual progression, from the game?

Lee intended to take care of the center group by cutting here.

White's hane was a nice move.

After this exchange, white connected.

Black captured this stone in sente.

After white bumped, black couldn't cut here.

So, in order to rescue this group, black's only choice was this hane.

Then a ko began. Did black have any ko threats now?

Black cut here. It was the only area where black could make ko threats.

However, white didn't answer, and captured these four stones.

White's capture was only worth ten points. But wasn't it very thick?

Yes, it was.

It'd be ok if black could capture both of white's groups now. What do you think?

You're right. In that case, black could've continued to play.

However, white was able to rescue this group by attaching here.

We've seen young Lee Changho's moves during the battle at the top and the bottom.

However, his mistake at a crucial moment was huge.

Seo detected the mistake and punished it very well.

With his canny sense of play, Seo took control of the game.

As a result, Seo won by resignation.

You became the Tongyang Securities Cup champion, with a 3-1 score.

After this, you met Lee in finals another seven or eight times.

However, this was your first and last finals victory against Lee.

Stay tuned, because we'll review another game after the break.

A recent game between Kim Jiseok 9p and Park Junghwan 9p is coming up.

Today's game is from the semifinal of the 8th Price Information Cup. Kim Jiseok plays Park Junghwan.

At the time when this game was played, Kim was still 8p.

Both players carry the future hope for Korean Baduk.

Kim's style of play is quite famous.

His games are very complex.

Sometimes, his moves are incomprehensible.

Is it hard for you to comprehensively assess Kim's play?


However, Kim and Park are natural enemies. And it seems that Kim can't seem to perform well against Park.

What do you think of this?

We need to view their relationship differently.

Kim's strength has increased recently.

Because of that, we need to continue to watch and wait.

Kim took a title from Lee Sedol 9p recently.

It will be very interesting to see what happens when they meet again.

Let's look at a summary about both players.

Kim Jiseok vs Park Junghwan results:

The 2007 Masters Cup final 1-

The 2009 Chunwon (Korean Tengen) final 0-

Kim's head to head record against Park was 2-9 before the game - including 7 consecutive losses.

The Korean Rankings in May 2013:

#1 Lee Sedol 9p

#2 Kim Jiseok 9p

#3 Park Junghwan 9p

Despite their head to head record, Kim's ranking was higher than Park's.

This was because Kim defeated Lee Sedol 9p 3-0 in the final of the GS Caltex Cup.

Kim Yeongsam 9p, a commentator for the Price Information Cup, commented on this game too.

He said that if Park had looked after his center group, he'd have won the game.

Even though the shape would have been awkward, it didn't matter because Park was far ahead.

Kim gently criticized Park's reluctance to live with practical moves.

I think pros tend not to want to live awkwardly.

You're right. It's a matter of self respect.

Many pros play a high value on pride and fighting spirit.

In contrast, Lee Changho 9p doesn't care much about that.

Modern pros aren't patient. If they are, they can't play well when fighting spirit is required.

So, many players play firmly, even when they're ahead.

Most pros prefer to fight, rather than to be patient.

In this game, Park lost because of this sort of psychological factor.

And it became a turning point in Kim's Go career.

Park Junghwan was black, Kim Jiseok was white.

Recently, we often see this formation by black.

Yes, it's becoming more popular.

When black approaches here, some players form the low enclosure, while others choose the high one.

It doesn't seem to be a big deal. What's the difference?

I recommend this one space jump if you're an attacking oriented player.

If black tenukis, white attaches, then pincers like this.

In this case, the jump is better placed than the knight's move.

However, it has a weakness on the left side.

It's harder to secure territory compared to when you play the knight's move.

If you want to focus on attacking or the center, this jump is better.

This attachment is often said to be Korean style.

It's been very popular for quite some time now.

These two moves have been played very frequently.

The attachment was played most often, but this pincer has been chosen by players as well.

Is this variation a new evolution of the joseki?

In a way. A conclusion about this variation hasn't been reached yet.

It's very complicated.

In the actual game, Park jumped here. But what about this push?

White will hane and cut.

Let me show you one possible variation.

Before this atari, white needs to make this exchange.

Then white ataris, and black cuts here.

If black captures white's stones, isn't it better for black?

The territory is quite big, but white's thickness is also nice.

In addition, any move around here is sente.

And this tiger's mouth is also a forcing move.

With this variation, black can get territory, while white gains influence.

Black doesn't normally play like this.

Instead, this jump is often played.

And players never crawl like this, but push and cut.

If black crawls, to connect, white will develop good influence on the outside.

After this, the game became complicated.

I think that's a characteristic of modern Go.

Black had to beg white for two eyes.

But Park had no choice.

It'd be nice if black could enclose and capture white, but it looks like an overplay.

If white plays here, black doesn't have enough liberties.

This move was a tesuji, so black was alive.

Park struck at the vital point, but it was too early.

I think black should've asked white for a response over here first.

This would be easier for black.

It was a difficult moment, I think.

But If I were black, I'd attach there.

To prepare for the battle at the top, black needed to probe in the center first.

If black can strengthen his position a little, the subsequent battle in the top right will be a lot easier.

At this point, a complicated fight started.

It looks like a one way street.

This peep is a very important move.

If black answers here, the exchange is profitable for white.

If white pushes later, he can get more points.

If white peeps here now, black will just connect.

This exchange had a positive effect on the group's life and death situation.

In terms of territory, this exchange was good.

As a bonus, white can now make an eye in the corner later [Ed: after losing a small capturing race].

What if black resists like this?

Then white ataris here.

After cutting here, white blocks. It creates miai.

So this peep move was well timed.

It reminds me of the difficulty of Go.

However, Kim connected here, without making the exchange.

At this point, black had to defend his cutting point.

And then it was time for white to move out.

Pushing here was necessary.

It looks like line Go.

[Ed: Line Go refers to a beginner's tendency to play all their stones in a straight line.]

Both players' moves were powerful. It was like a seesaw game.

Black's push was sente.

Kim was trying to leave weaknesses in black's position, while strengthening his own.

In this situation, Park played here.

And Kim peeped here.

However, I'd prefer to hane instead.

This push is pleasurable. Black's forced to extend.

Then white keeps pushing.

In the game, white struggled a lot. What do you think of this progression?

For white, this variation is better than the actual game.

Before peeping, Kim haned first.

Kim thought this move was sente. I guess he was in byo-yomi.

In response, Park pushed and cut.

I think Kim missed this cut.

Instead of capturing black's stone, Kim played here.

Despite his previous mistake, Kim was able to erase black's territory at the top.

It looks like Kim liked the idea of this invasion.

Before this extension, Kim exchanged this move first.

I don't understand why Park answered.

This atari is so huge.

This group was alive. But for some reason, Park played here.

As you can feel through this game, Go is very difficult.

It isn't that complicated so far.

I don't know whether this white group can survive or not.

And what about this group? Was it dead?

What was the fate of this white group?

This battle was so complex.

Park kosumied here.

Kim pushed and cut.

Black attached and extended.

How about this extension?

Then this attachment is a good tesuji.

This hane would be ok for white, but the clamp works.

If white descends like this, black can wedge here immediately.

After black connects here, white can't capture this stone.

Because of his weak point, white needs to extend. Then black captures white's stones.

To prevent the attachment, Kim haned.

Descending here would be normal, but Kim chose the most severe move.

After white's atari, Park cut here and then started a ko.

Park cut first to create more ko threats.

Since it's a big loss in terms of territory, black shouldn't play like this in normal situations.

But, to win the ko, these exchanges were inevitable.

This move was a threat.

Now white had no ko threats.

Kim ataried here, to rescue the center group, and Park finished the ko fight.

Kim exchanged this, before rescuing his big group.

Then he captured this stone.

This move was sente. If white tenukis, black can wedge and separate white.

Black ataried here. Was it a big move?

Yes it was. It threatened the life of this white group.

Park thought it was a forcing move.

But Kim isn't the kind of person who answers.

In addition, he was behind.

Kim's games are always complicated. In this game, his two groups were being chased.

It's interesting that Lee Sedol 9p nominated Kim as his potential successor recently.

In previous interviews, Lee had chosen Park instead.

Do you know why?

I don't know exactly.

I watched the final of the GS Caltex Cup, between Kim and Lee.

It was clear that Kim's strength had increased.

Maybe that's why Lee changed his mind.

In a recent interview, Kim said that his view in Go has become wider.

Anyway, Kim had to save both his groups.

In response, Park started attacking the dragon.

After exchanging the attachment, Kim connected.

Then Kim pushed here.

Both players had started byo-yomi long before now.

White's previous exchange was timesuji (a move played to get more thinking time).

The entire group wasn't alive yet.

After that, Park played here.

Wasn't this group dead?

Yes it was.

Although white tried to manage his groups, it was fruitless.

Yes, now black was ahead.

In addition, white still had to spend one more move to live.

It was white's burden.

At this point, Kim played a do or die move.

He decided to attack black's center group first.

This sequence looks good.

And then Park attached here.

Park could've rescued his group easily, with this kosumi.

If white wants to continue attacking, this is the only option.

Then black plays a tiger's mouth.

Then, to keep attacking, white has to play here.

But capturing these three stones is sente.

After white's placement, black ataris.

Black lives easily.

However, Park didn't want to kosumi.

If black plays like this, white will hane and capture this stone.

I think Park didn't like it.

Black lives with only two eyes.

However, once black lives in the center, white must come back here.

Then, if black invades at 3-3, he can't lose the game.

Thanks to the ko, living in the center means taking sente.

In addition, black can get more points by cutting here.

The only problem is that it's a bit humiliating.

Because of that, Park haned here, without exchanging the kosumi first.

Park never imagined that this group would die.

But after that, we saw Kim's strong point. He attempted to capture the entire group.

It had been about 99 percent sure that Kim would lose. But he seized a 1 percent chance of winning.

Park ataried here, and this group looks safe.

But this move hit the vital point.

Black had no choice but to connect here.

This move was inevitable too.

Couldn't black sacrifice and try to rescue the body of his group?

Black couldn't sacrifice these cutting stones. They were too big.

And I'm not sure that black can live on the inside anyway.

If white captures black's five stones, he doesn't have to connect here.

So, if white captures the cutting stones, he's likely to get sente to defend the top left corner.

I think white will win in that case.

It was too late for black to fall back.

Park had to capture white's two stones.

Kim's slide here was deep, but powerful.

He struck at black's vital points relentlessly.

At this point, black couldn't save his group.

Since white's group wasn't completely alive either, black resisted by starting the ko here.

But white had many local ko threats.

And, in the end, it was a capturing race and black lost by one liberty.

This game meant a lot to Kim.

By winning this game, he was able to recover from the the mental trauma of his previous losses to Park.

And this victory became a driving force, after which he defeated Lee 3-0 in the GS Caltex Cup.

Today we've seen two young players fight valiantly.

Kim broke his losing streak against Park by winning this game.

Thank you!

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