Baduk TV English: Perception of Meijin – Episode 4 – The Meijin’s Fight for the Wangwi

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 4 is titled ‘The Meijin’s Fight for the Wangwi’ and looks at game 4 from the 10th Wangwi Final, played on February 18, 1976. Seo Bongsu plays black and Kim In 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.

Seo Bongsu vs Kim In

Video: Seo Bongsu vs Kim In

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Game record


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Transcript of the video

Translated by Oh Chimin 7d for

Edited by David Ormerod 5d

The first thing that comes to mind when we think about Seo is his natural instinct for Go.

And his long lasting vitality shouldn't be forgotten either.

In this program, we review exquisite games based Seo Bongsu's perception of Go.

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

Episode 4: The Meijin's Fight for the Wangwi

Kim In 9p is your senior. However, you and he played during the same era.

How would you assess Kim's Go?

In my opinion, his style of play is similar to Lee Changho 9p's.

He loves thickness.

Could we say that Kim and Lee are both exponents of the thickness oriented style?

Yes, I think it's reasonable to say so.

Whereas Cho Namcheol 9p, Cho Hunhyun 9p, and Lee Sedol 9p's styles of play are sharp?

I think for Cho Hunhyun and Lee Sedol, that's definitely the case.

They're two pairs that represent two different styles of play.

Kim was the strongest player in Korea for a time.

He's respected by many players, and he's also called the 'Eternal Kuksu'.

You defeated Kim in your first encounter in the Wangwi tournament.

How did you feel about him at the time of the match?

I can't remember because I played with him a long time ago.

He focused on thickness. In other words, his moves were a bit slow.

Lee Changho's moves were the same when he was young.

People often pointed out Lee's slow moves.

Because of that, Lee often fell behind in the opening.

In real life, Kim often tells us to walk slowly.

His moves are the same.

Today we're going to look at game 4 from the 10th Wangwi title match.

It was played in 1976. Let's begin.

Seo Bongsu 4p (at the time) plays black. Kim In 7p (at the time) plays white.

At that time, this joseki was very popular.

It's called the 'Avalanche Joseki'.

If black pushes, it becomes the 'Large Avalanche Joseki'.

It takes up a quarter of board!

But it disappeared at some point. It hasn't been played very often recently.

I was surprised by the next move.

You played here.

Did the Chinese Opening exist in 1976?

I don't know. Was there a Chinese Go community at the time?

Well, Nie Weiping 9p hadn't emerged yet when this game was played.

I need to look up some game records.

You may be the first person who played the Chinese Opening!

Well, I don't think so.

But it was played in 1976, 37 years ago.

I didn't know much at the time.

I might've seen it somewhere and copied it.

You're humble.

By the way, it was interesting to see you spread out with this formation in 1976.

I think this pincer is far from the conventional intention of the Chinese Opening.

Yes, that's true.

However, I'm amazed by the fact that you played the opening,

Before it was thoroughly investigated by other players.

Was this before the start of the Cho-Seo era?

At this time, Cho Hunhyun had already emerged and swept up many titles.

He began with the Chaegowi Cup, as did Lee Changho 9p.

They both started in Busan before breaking through in Seoul.

[Tr: The Chaegowi Cup was based in Busan.]

Their paths were similar.

Let's have a look at Seo's performance at the time.

The dignity of the homegrown player, Seo Bongsu.

Seo: "I don't think studying in Japan is a prerequisite for becoming successful in Go."

"But, for my Go career, I'd like to go and experience Japanese Go one day."

(Seo Bongsu, in an interview after the victory of the 1976 Wangwi title.)

Below are Seo's head to head records against those who studied in Japan.

All of them were Kuksu.

[Tr: The Kuksu is the oldest and most revered title in Korea. Becoming Kuksu is every Korean pro's goal.]

You played very well against them.

Seo vs Cho Namcheol 9p: 16-

Seo vs Kim In 9p: 40-

Seo vs Yoon Gihyun 9p: 41-

Seo vs Ha Chanseok 9p: 49-

They were all top players, and many people still miss them.

I imagine they evoke a reminiscence in you too?

Among this old guard, you took your first title from Cho Namcheol 9p.

And then the Wangwi from Kim In 9p.

Did you play against Yoon and Ha 9p very often?

Yes I did.

The number of games is greater than I thought.

Since we were regular players in the main rounds, we often met one another.

And the system in the main rounds was usually a full league.

[Ed: Meaning everyone played everyone in the league.]

Let's get back to the game.

At this point, I ataried here.

This tiger's mouth looks common.

Modern players think black's position is ideal.

What do you think of this push?

It looks like Lee Changho played this move.

Kim played for thickness, isn't that good?

Yes it is.

If white doesn't play there, this knight's move is very good.

Isn't this approach nice too? It's hard to decide which move is better.

Do you think this move is better?

Recently, players tend to focus more on territory than thickness.

I guess many players would choose the enclosure these days.

There was still aji here.

Black extended here.

But this approach would be normal.

If white answers like this, black extends along the left side.

Then black can erase white's influence.

However, you played here.

Normally, this point is taken within five or six moves. But neither player played there.

If black encloses the corner, he'll get a double wing formation.

So preventing it was also good.

This kosumi looks modern.

This joseki has been played very often.

Well, recently I've rarely seen this.

However, it was very popular for a time.

Up to here, it's joseki.

This enclosure looks normal now.

Modern players would play like this.

But Kim tenukied, and played an interesting move.

I often saw it in Japanese games.

That's true. But I think white should continue to play in the bottom right corner.

Did this move intend to prevent black from exploiting the aji here?

Yes, and it aimed at moving white's stone out at the same time.

But that move isn't essential. You can still play here without it.

However, this move was thick.

Yes, but on the other hand it's slow. It exemplifies Kim's style.

You answered here right away. Where would you play if you had another chance?

I'd like to play here.

Then this exchange doesn't look nice for white.

There's quite a big difference between older games and recent games.

After that, white blocked here.

Before that, Kim enclosed this corner and black jumped here.

Was it good?

The knight's move is still tempting.

Locally speaking, this is a nice move.

However, the bottom right corner was urgent, while this area was just big.

That's why you prefer this move.

Instead of this, isn't the kosumi better?

Well, that's also possible.

But white wanted to isolate and attack black's right side stone.

I think it was playable for white too.

I was surprised here. Shouldn't black hane in response to this attachment?

Yes, you're right.

But you played here!

I thought this move was pragmatic at the time.

If black hanes, white will play a tiger's mouth.

This is a common sequence.

If black defends at the bottom, white will attack black's right side stone like this.

It looks better for white. Black seems a bit uncomfortable.

Then why is that hane better?

I think black can tenuki here and jump out instead.

The ladder favors black.

Indeed, white can't capture black's stone!

I think this would be better for black.

But you didn't want white to attack your stone.

What do you think of this move?

It's pragmatic.

But you shouldn't play like this in normal situations.

It looks very practical though. I was greatly surprised by this move.

This kind of move is never shown in Go books!

Japanese players would never play like this.

I see, I'm so ignorant.

I think this kind of thing is only for purely homegrown players!

That's how I could play there.

You didn't have much formal knowledge about Go.


As a result, you played many creative moves!

I didn't read joseki books. I didn't know josekis or fusekis.

Then why didn't you read them?

It wasn't easy to get those kinds of books at the time.

There were no Go schools and teachers.

When young people learned Go, they got scolded.

Elementary school students rarely played Go.

There were many Go players at the time.

But there were almost no elementary students who played.

By the way, there were Go books back then too.

I think you didn't know how to get them.

The books I read were Sakata Eio 9p's book and another one called "The Exquisite Game Almanac".

But classical books like the Xuanxuan Qijing, Igo Hatsuyoron and the Gokyo Shumyo existed.

Well, I didn't read them.

Did you know of the existence of such books?

No, not at the time.

You had no teacher.

I didn't study a lot.

Black's combination looks plausible.

This attachment was a strong move.

I was surprised once again when white played here.

If black plays here, white will cut.

I didn't like it.

If black plays a tiger's mouth, white will separate black.

Black's split into two groups.

This point was urgent for both sides.

If white plays here first, black will be in trouble.

This variation is unfavorable for black.

Since this is sente, the hane is like striking at the head of two stones.

This move looks very interesting.

Though strange, I believe it's plausible.

It defended both weak points indirectly.

This move isn't good in normal situations.

However, it was practical in this case.

Because you didn't read many Go books, you played many good, pragmatic moves around here.

How was this move?

I think white should've blocked here.

Then black hanes.

After this double hane, white extends.

Because of the weakness here, black needs to defend this area.

Now it will be a long game.

Wasn't that the vital point of the shape? It looks like the Japanese style.

Yes, I agree with you.

Those who were educated in Japan would see this move at first glance.

If there was a stone here, this would've been perfect.

But there was no stone there.

If white jumps here now, black hanes and it isn't good for white.

Then white's previous move loses its original meaning.

And there's a vital point here too. White couldn't let black push there.

So playing here was urgent.

Kim played strongly here. This kind of move is called "snake's head".

It's considered to be a proper move in the general sense of play.

But, in this case, this area was very solid.

So I think it was an overplay.

In contrast to white's original plan, this group became a target for black.

It wasn't good for Kim.

Black had to cut here.

This attachment seems to aim at the bottom.

What if black hanes here?

Then this counter-hane is nice.

This move is sente, and white can atari here later.

Black can't atari like this.

This extension isn't good either. White can capture this stone in a ladder.

Therefore, black had to play differently.

In response to white's attachment, you extended here.

Then white enclosed this area.

After that, white connected here.

Then black cut.

This shape is called a dango - the worst shape in Go.

But the situation wasn't favorable for white.

After this exchange, Kim attached here.

In the game, you fell back.

Yes, but I should've answered here instead. Now white's in trouble.

What if white pushes here?

If black extends, white has to cut. But black can still atari and get out.

White has no choice but to push to escape.

If white plays here, to rescue his three stones, black can block here.

Black can still jump or hane here to capture white's three stones.

And he can capture white's group by pushing here. So it's miai.

In addition, these pivotal stones are in danger.

White has to block here.

To make things worse, white's four stones here are in grave danger too.

If white pushes through, black captures these three stones in a ladder.

White would've been in huge trouble.

Instead, you played here.

You were weak at reading.

Yes, I was.

Well, I'm not in a position to say that, haha!

I'm still weak, but I was weaker at the time.

This game is very interesting though.

You blocked here. But the difference was significant.

These three stones were important. Black couldn't give them up.

Black pushed through.

This hane worked well.

This jump is the strongest response. I think I should've played like this.

How about cutting here first?

I played there in the actual game.

White has to connect, then black can come out here.

Then white would be in trouble.

Even if white cuts, black can move out.

Capturing three stones is good enough.

Now these four stones are nearly dead.

And this area is huge.

But you cut here. I believe it was a safe choice.

Well, as far as I remember, I played what I thought was the most severe move.

But I didn't read enough here.

What if black jumps here now?

It's impossible. White will extend here.

There's a ladder here. So you ataried first.

We reached a compromise.

But capturing white's four stones looks very nice.

Yes, it was still good.

I think the game was even again now.

White got out of danger.

And white had territory in three places, plus the center.

After that, white attached here.

But this point was big.

This push was very painful for white!

White had better block here instead.

Moreover, it was sente.

If white tenukis, black ataris three times.

Then white dies.

It's a catastrophe for white. So Kim had to descend here.

Black gained several points on the right side.

White should've tenukied and played elsewhere.

But he haned here.

At this point, white had to atari like this. This move was another mistake by Kim.

I think Kim misread the life and death situation here.

Finally, black approached here.

If white couldn't attack black's group, he'd lose more than one move.

Black was ok because he'd pushed here earlier.

Kim left the right side, and dealt with this area first.

Black's finesse here was beautiful.

It was a sacrifice strategy.

White ataried here first.

After that, I peeped and blocked.

White had to atari here to capture black completely.

Cutting here was sente, then you haned.

Black completed his territory, while capturing this stone.

White's last resort was to attack this black group. How about the life and death?

In normal situations, white could capture this sort of shape with this hane.

If black kosumis, white pushes here.

Because of this placement, black can't survive on the inside.

In response to this attachment, white cuts.

After this move, white attaches.

Black's dead.

In this position, the hane is vital.

That's good to know.

Let me show you why this move doesn't work in this case.

If white pushes, black blocks here.

Capturing white's two stones is sente.

After that, black cuts here.

It's a bit complicated. Let's do it slowly.

This atari is also sente.

Then black bumps here.

Let's try this hane first.

It's impossible because of this blocking move.

In order to kill black's group, white has to play here.

But if black blocks, white can't connect.

If white plays here, his entire group will die.

In conclusion, white couldn't capture black because of his own shortage of liberties.

Let's try another move.

White could also kosumi like this.

Doesn't black need to connect here?

No. If white cuts, black wedges here.

Then black can capture white.

In this case, black simply plays here.

White can't atari.

Why not? Let's try.

If black connects here, white's whole group is dead.

Haha! White has only two liberties.

Because of those weaknesses, black was alive.

It was a bit hard to read, but you'd read the situation accurately.

And you tenukied and erased white's territory.

As a result, you took control of the game.

The classical book 'Gokyo Shumyo' is very easy for pros.

Yes, it is.

You didn't read that book. So how could you read out all the variations on the right side?

Not only this, your reading is very deep in actual games.

Well, I sometimes read well and sometimes don't.

By the way, Kim was adept at life and death.

But he misread here. I guess he was in bad form on that day.

He loves drinking. It might've affected his performance.

Professional players and drinking were inextricably linked at the time.

I drank with Kim many times. He really loves to drink.

Anyway, you defeated Kim 4-1.

I thought you'd won the Wangwi before this.

You didn't encounter Kim very often in finals, did you?

No, I don't think we played very often.

But you played so many games against Cho Hunhyun.


You met Cho Namcheol 9p in the final once.

And you encountered Kim several times.

After that, the Cho-Seo era began.

Kim had stayed at the top for about ten years.

But he stepped down from the throne after the emergence of Cho and Seo.

This game was interesting and impressive.

We'll continue with a game played by Choi Cheolhan 9p and Kim Seungjae 5p.

This game is from the quarter final of the 14th Chunwon (Korean Tengen).

I suppose you've played with Choi many times, haven't you?

Not many times.

What do you think of Choi's style of play?

His nickname is 'The Viper'.

In contrast to that, he's rather naive in real life.

However, his style of play is furious.

He's very strong at fighting.

How about Kim Seungjae 5p?

His play is very powerful too.

I'd categorize him as a thickness oriented player.

That's how I feel.

His power is based on thickness.

Which player is more scary to you? Can you answer this question?

Since I'm weak, both players are scary.

The Chunwon has created many strong champions.

Despite its small scale, many new faces have emerged through this tournament.

Let's see which players became well known through the Chunwon.

The place for rising stars, the Chunwon (aka Bacchus Cup).

Lee Sedol 9p won this tournament in 2000.

Park Younghun 9p won it in 2001, Song Taegon 9p in 2002, and Choi Cheolhan 9p in 2003.

In 2005, Ko Geuntae 8p became the champion.

After that, Cho Hanseung 9p and Won Seongjin 9p won the Chunwon.

Through this tournament, they all became title holders.

Here's the irony about the Bacchus Cup.

[Ed: The sponsor is Bacchus, a Korean beverage company.]

Some pros claim that non-drinkers should be banned from the championship as a joke.

[Ed: Bacchus is the Roman god of wine making (aka Dionysus).]

Even though Cho Hunhyun 9p doesn't drink at all, he's won the tournament many times.

But I heard he never declines when a lady offers him a drink.

He doesn't even drink to that these days.

This game is from the quarter final of the Chunwon.

Let's have a look at Choi Cheolhan's game.

Choi is black, Kim Seungjae 3p (at the time) is white.

White played a one space pincer, which was popular for a time.

It's still been played quite often recently.

But it was more popular before.

Locally, black usually double approaches or invades at 3-3.

Choi tenukied and enclosed the bottom right corner. That's the modern sense of play, right?

Can black leave this corner like that?

No matter where white cuts, black has to capture the stone.

If white plays here, black captures it.

What if white cuts on the other side?

Then black ataris here, giving up the corner.

Because of that, black can play flexibly in the bottom left corner.

So white doesn't need to spend another move there yet.

This diagonal attachment was popular at one stage as well.

Long ago, it was regarded as a very bad move.

I think people placed a greater emphasis on thickness in the past.

If black plays a knight's move, white can usually only play a two space extension.

But if black exchanges the kick, white can extend one point further.

In addition, that move makes white thicker.

Previously, people focused on the center more.

This diagonal attachment was a typical example of beginner's mistake.

But, surprisingly, 9 dan pros started playing like this!

I feel like many Go theories are being dismantled in recent times.

That's true. There seems to be no theory recently.

Many of the theories were created by Japanese players.

However, things have changed with modern players.

That attachment helped white to extend and create a better position.

But it's better for black in terms of territory.

Territory has become more important again in recent times.

After Choi probed here, he could play some forcing moves here later.

Considering the long history of Go, it's a big change in perception.

Choi descended here to defend his corner.

Depending on the situation, white can tenuki.

Pushing here is quite big though.

If white has an urgent place to play, he can tenuki.

But there was no such a point, so Kim answered immediately.

In general, thickness oriented players respond here.

You said Kim loves thickness.

I can see his style of play through this move.

At this point, Choi haned and connected.

He'd already taken three corners.

He'd focused almost exclusively on territory so far.

In contrast, this move looks very thick and solid.

Sometimes it's hard to play such a move. What do you think of it?

Why did Choi play here even though there were many other big points?

Is it easy to play here?

No, it isn't.

How do you assess this move?

I wouldn't play there.

Then what made Choi play here?

Was he afraid of white playing here instead?

I suppose so. Choi wouldn't want white to play here.

After that, white's moyo here will get larger. Choi didn't like that prospect.

And black still needs to answer here.

But, in my opinion, expanding this moyo is very difficult for white.

For example, black can hane here later.

If white cuts, black can connect immediately, or atari.

Saving this stone is powerful if the ladder favors black.

Otherwise, this atari is also fine.

I don't think this area will be that big.

Therefore, black could play elsewhere.

That's why Go is so hard.

Undoubtedly, this point is vital.

But the problem is that we never know about the priority of this sort of move.

It's a matter of judgment.

Anyway, Choi chose this move, then Kim extended here.

In the end, Kim was able to play on both sides.

Wasn't it successful for white?

For black, it's a bit unpleasant.

But Choi loves thickness too. It's his style of play.

Aggressive players tend to seek thickness.

Because that's the best way to prepare for future battles.

Kim attached here too.

This game was played in 2009.

I seems like this diagonal attachment was played a lot at the time.

However, that move isn't very popular these days.

In Go, trends change all the time.

Above all, players need to play appropriately, depending on the circumstances.

Recently, it's very important to read out situations accurately.

Kim completed the right side by playing here.

From this, we can see the subtlety of recent games.

Could white answer differently in the top left?


White can't fall back like this.

Is it that bad? This is what professional players teach us.

This sequence is for handicap games. In general, white loses many points.

So if possible, white has to avoid this.

This doesn't work in even games.

Therefore, this extension was inevitable.

After this knight's move, playing here is normal.

Black settles down in the corner, and white extends at the top.

It looks simple, but we need to know the basic variation before we try something different.

In the game, white blocked here, then black pushed and cut.

I think black can't rescue the corner.

Indeed. White can capture the corner.

However, black got a lot of profit here.

Blocking here was brilliant.

This was a vital point.

Black reduced white's liberties.

Because of that, Kim had to hane here.

Black extended, then pushed.

Choi's group had only three liberties.

This atari looks peculiar.

It's typical of Choi's style. It was so severe.

What if white connects?

Then black pushes through here.

Even though white can capture the corner, the two stones will be isolated. It's bad for white.

So white couldn't connect there.

After that, Kim came out with an empty triangle.

White ataried, and black captured white's stone.

Didn't the black group die?

Yes. However, black created a very solid wall here in sente.

By capturing black's group, white gained about 20 points.

But look at this iron wall, and the corner was white's territory anyway.

Do you think black's sacrifice strategy was successful?

Yes, black began to take the lead here.

This push was a good move.

White defended his weakness on the right.

This was the actual progression from the game.

This black stone was placed at a pivotal point.

Before that, white played here first.

The move order we just showed you was wrong.

Kim tried to reduce black's moyo here.

In response, Choi jumped into the center.

Since white was behind, Kim needed to reduce the area more.

In Go, as in life, a one line difference can be huge.

It's quite different to the previous move.

In this case, black would attack white as hard as he could.

Or black may fall back anyway, because he was leading.

If black jumps here, as in the actual game, it's slightly better for white.

Such a slight difference sometimes determines the result of a game.

In the game, black completed the left side along the fourth line.

After that, Kim attached here.

This attachment was the highlight of the game.

Choi delivered the coup de grace with that move.

In the actual game, Kim extended here.

Let's look at the actual progression first.

In response to this hane, white blocked here.

Choi played a tiger's mouth, then cut here.

Kim ataried and attached.

But before that Kim exchanged this atari.

Here we can see why Choi's known as 'The Viper'.

This kind of counter-atari drives his opponents crazy!

If black rescued his stone, the whole group would die.

Can't white still capture the black group by taking this stone?

Then black can hane, and a ko can be expected.

Unfortunately for white, he had no ko threats.

This counter-atari was so brilliant.

Inevitably, Kim had to connect here. It was very painful for white.

After that, Choi cut and extended here.

After white's atari, black attached and captured white.

The game was practically over here.

Kim played a few more moves on the left, but it didn't last long.

It was a disaster for white.

This attachment was critical.

How should white answer now?

I think this hane is the proper move.

Then this crosscut is the strongest response.

If white ataris, black counter-ataris.

If black connects here, the result is successful for black.

This white stone is too big.

So white has to resist like this instead.

After that, black will atari and push.

White has to rescue his stone.

Now black plays a tiger's mouth.

It'd be very nice if black could attach here.

But it's impossible.

This placement hits the vital point.

Now black has to move this stone out.

After that, white has to atari from this side.

After this atari, black comes out again.

Pushing here is a forcing move.

It's a one way street.

It's a bit complicated though.

Black has to atari again.

It looks like white will die.

White has three liberties, while black has four.

Let's count them.

What's the best move for white here?

This attachment is a tesuji!

The number of variations in Go are infinite! If black blocks, white can capture black's five stones.

Inevitably, black has to atari.

Now black can't kill white's stones.

Go has so many variations and possibilities.

It looked obvious that white was dead at this point.

And both players saw the whole sequence!

Then why couldn't Kim hane like this?

That variation was a big success for white.

But there's another variation.

Let's have a look at this.

Instead of the attachment, black should play a tiger's mouth.

What if white kosumis here? Isn't the capturing race favorable for white?

Then black ataris here.

After that, black blocks.

This placement is the best response for white.

After this move, black plays here.

Because of white's shortage of liberties, he can't play here.

If white throws in like this, black can simply capture the two stones.

Then white's two liberties behind.

This atari is the proper move.

But black wins the capturing race by one liberty anyway.

Because of the tiger's mouth, Kim couldn't choose this variation.

With this atari, white can make a ko.

However, black has a ko threat here.

White has to connect, then black moves his stone out.

If white recaptures, black can break through white's shape.

Then white has to capture black's stones again.

Well, this move is better for black.

After white captures another stone, cutting here is a good move.

All of black's moves here are sente.

It's unbearable for white.

White couldn't withstand the ko either.

That's why Kim couldn't resist strongly.

He had to extend here instead.

In conclusion, this attachment was the finishing blow.

Choi demonstrated why we call him 'The Viper'.

During the game, he showed his character very well.

Did you enjoy today's games?

We review both old and new games, based on the perception of Seo Bongsu 9p.

Thank you!

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