Baduk TV English: Perception of Meijin – Episode 5 – Seo Bongsu vs Yu Changhyeok

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 5 looks at game 5 from the final of the 4th LG Caltex Cup, played on November 5, 1999. Seo Bongsu plays black and Yu Changhyeok 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 Yu Changhyeok

Video: Seo Bongsu vs Yu Changhyeok

Watch Seo Bongsu play Yu Changhyeok on Baduk TV

You need a subscription to Baduk TV to watch this video.

Login now, or click here to learn more.

Game record


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Transcript of the video

Translated by Oh Chimin 7d

Edited by David Ormerod 5d

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

Hello, Meijin Seo.


I suppose you've played a lot of games against Yu Changhyeok 9p.

No, I don't think we've played that many times.

Yu won his first title at the Taewang Cup.

At that time, he captured Cho Hunhyun 9p's dragon.

That was how he emerged as a rising star.

However, this game was played in 1999,

So it'd already been many years since Yu's breakthrough.

At the time, you were in your late forties.

Is it hard for a player in his forties to compete for a title recently?

Yes, it is.

I think the period at the top has now shortened.

It's impressive that you took a title at such an age.

What do you think?

I'll let you boast a little.

Today, there are so many young and talented players.

It's very hard for players to win a game.

Previously, there weren't as many strong players as now.

Even in the late 90s that was the case.

That's because you were a top player, so you couldn't see many stronger players.

In contrast, now you need to try hard for a win.

Let's have a look at Seo's record.

Seo's last title was the LG Caltex Cup (he was 47 at the time).

From 1970 to 1992, Seo's record was excellent.

There were fewer strong players then, compared to now.

Including his five consecutive victories in the Myeongin (Korean Meijin), Seo had won 22 titles.

However, Seo achieved an impressive feat between 1993 and 1999.

He was already in his forties at the time.

During that period, he won the Ing Cup in 1993,

and set a great record with nine consecutive wins at the 1997 Jinro Cup.

His win rate was 58.5%.

Seo stepped into his fifties in the 2000. He's still won more than 300 games.

His win rate was 57.3%.

He was sometimes shaky, but never fell behind.

As a result, he achieved 1,500 career wins in 2012.

Let me give you a round of applause.

Do you still study recently?

Go is becoming more interesting.

That's because modern players are very strong.

I'm excited to be able to review games with them.

Is it fun to review with teenaged players? I've often seen you do that.

I learn various new moves from them.

Do you also teach your moves to them?

I think so, they'd learn a little, at least.

You ran into Yu at the LG Caltex Cup.

Recently, this tournament became the GS Caltex Cup.

Games in that tournament used to be slower than they are now.

But it became a lightning tournament last year. Let's get started.

Seo Bongsu was black, Yu Changhyeok was white.

This approach, without taking a corner, was popular at the time.

The fuseki was very peaceful.

After this knight's move, there are many possible variations.

In the past, this move wasn't played very often.

But I saw this move many times in Sunjang Baduk [another type of Go previously played in Korea].

Actually, Japanese players didn't like this move.

But, at some point, players started playing here more often, and it became very popular.

Even though it's old, we shouldn't underestimate Sunjang Baduk.

Playing on the second line in the fuseki, without a reason, was taboo.

Therefore, this kind of move wasn't played in Japan.

Because their players relied very heavily on Go theory.

In my opinion, they'd prefer these sorts of moves.

We call this the 'loose knight's move'.

Nevertheless, it's very tricky and aggressive.

After this move, white caps instead of jumping.

White intends to attack black first, then develop the right side.

Pushing here is tempting.

Then black will block.

If white extends, black plays here and settles easily.

I think Yu didn't like it.

Moreover, there's aji here later.

Black can make miai of connecting.

Then white's group could be attacked.

Therefore, Yu played a practical move here.

He slid here, which was reasonable.

Yu's a thickness and attacking oriented player.

I think he was aiming at the black group.

You're right.

He ataried on the second line. If white cuts instead, black can play a forcing move.

It isn't good for white.

That move focuses too much on territory.

You thought your group was safe, so you invaded here.

I felt that this invasion was timely.

White tried to attack black, but he lost sente.

After exchanging the hane, you jumped here.

I should've slid here lightly.

Is that because you were playing inside white's area?


We always need to play lightly within our opponent's sphere of influence.

I've often heard you say "as light as a feather," right?

Yes, that's right.

If a player plays like that, their opponent can never attack them properly.

It's simply not possible.

After white made an iron pillar, black jumped out.

Now it's hard to judge which group is weaker.

In the game, you looked after the bottom group first.

I think this move is nice.

In that case, before attacking, white can attach here.

Resisting like this is a bit risky.

These exchanges are all sente.

If white encloses here, black would feel uncomfortable.

Because of that, black needs to be prepared for white's attack.

So black may have to fall back like this.

It looks submissive. White will block here immediately.

Of course, that exchange is very profitable for white.

That's why you took care of this group first.

After this, Yu moved out too.

Did he think it was too difficult to attack black's right side group?

Black can escape by pushing, or simply live with this tiger's mouth.

There are some forcing moves here as well.

Therefore, it's impossible for white to attack this black group.

Locally speaking, this knight's move was good.

I exchanged this move at this point.

But it was a bad exchange. I shouldn't have done that.

You wouldn't play there now?

No, never.

Instead, I'd push here now.

After this exchange, black can jump out naturally, like this.

Sometimes common moves are good.

But sometimes fierce moves are better.

In the actual game, you tried to settle your group quickly.

But none of these moves were good.

You wedged here.

Even though these moves were sente, they were very bad exchanges.

Later on, white can capture this black stone with good shape.

However, I had to continue what I started.

Finally you lived on the right side. Can I say it was practical?

Or was it too much? Were you satisfied with the result?

Of course not.

How about this move? Isn't it very big?

It isn't urgent now, but white could play there later.

Because it's quite big locally.

I think I messed up a bit here.

As a result, your other group came under attack.

This capping play was unpleasant for black.

I was happy to be able to push here though.

It looks miserable, but you had to make this exchange.

It corresponds with the proverb "make a fist before striking."

In fact, Yu's quite fond of that proverb.

Do you think this group became safe after that move?


What if white attacks here?

Then black simply answers here, and this group won't die.

In order to capture black, white has to peep and bump here.

If white plays here instead, black can live with this move.

That's awesome. I never imagined it.

I creates a miai between these two points.

That's why white has to bump here.

Then black will turn.

There's a lot of aji, so white can't attack black properly.

Black can even counter by attaching here.

In the game, white played here.

But you tenukied and played elsewhere.

White should've exchanged this move first.

It's profitable. In fact, there was no need to play here.

At this point, sliding here was big.

After this move, you tenukied and played here.

It seems that you were confident about managing your group.

Actually, it was to provide indirect support for my weak group.

As we saw earlier, white has to play like this to attack.

If white wants to capture the group, he has to play somewhere around here.

Yes, if white hanes, black will attach and escape.

This cutting point is a critical weakness in white's shape. He needs to answer.

After that, black can easily manage his group by attaching here.

White has to play around here instead.

But, in this case, connecting here is a nice move!

White has to rescue his two stones, but this hane works now.

So white has to defend here.

After that, black attaches and cuts.

This counter-attack will destroy white.

Because of that, black's group was safe.

White invested many moves in this area, but they became slow in the end.

And white needed to slide into the corner.

Yu started a ko.

However, he should've counter-haned instead now.

After connecting, black will push, then tenuki.

Do think it's better than the actual game for white?


In the game, Yu played a tiger's mouth here.

But the ko was meaningless.

Well, isn't it very powerful in some cases?

Yes, for example, if this group were weak.

Then white could attack it effectively, but it was completely alive.

Therefore, the ko wasn't that powerful.

This kind of ko makes more sense if white's top right group isn't alive yet.

And there should be a weak group nearby to attack.

Then making a ko is a good idea.

That's right.

But at this point, both groups were safe.

So the ko was unnecessary for white.

Since white played a tiger's mouth earlier, he had to follow through with the ko.

It seems like Yu believed there were many ko threats at the bottom.

Maybe he settled on the idea of ko too quickly.

In response to this peep, black attached here.

White should've answered this at least. It was sente.

Does black need to answer somehow?

Yes, I think black should attach here.

That would be better for white.

But Yu just recaptured the ko.

And then you haned here.

Ultimately, this move became almost useless.

On the other hand, these two stones were placed at key points.

Even though white captured black's two stones in the corner, it wasn't profitable at all.

Compared to sliding, white spent one more move in the top right.

It wasn't good for white. In addition, black enclosed this area.

This move was a bad ko threat.

After black enclosed the top left corner, Yu played here.

It seems like white was aiming at something.

Yes, maybe, but it was too small.

Instead, white should erase black's moyo with this move.

If black attaches, white extends here.

After that, white can split black's moyo by extending here.

This is would be a normal progression.

What was Yu's aim?

After this exchange, peeping here will be severe.

If black tries to connect, white answers here.

Black has to connect again, but white can cut black like this.

Black can't capture these four stones.

That was what Yu was aiming at.

But I think it was a bit early.

He intended to enlarge the bottom side by capturing these four stones.

Yu was a member of 'Big Four'.

You and Cho Hunhyun 9p were born in 1952, weren't you?

Yes, but according to the formal record, Cho was born in 1953.

I was born a month earlier than him.

[Ed: Seo was born in December, and Cho in January.]

I was born in the year of the dragon, and Cho was born in the year of the snake.

Many people think I was born in 1953.

I think you and Cho both had your birth registered a bit late.

By the Gregorian calendar, I was born on February 1, 1953.

But by the lunar calendar, my birthday is in the 12th month.

[Ed: The lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar shift with respect to one another each year.]

Yu was born in 1966, so he's much younger than you two.

Lee Changho was born in 1975. He's nine years younger than Yu.

Despite the difference in age, the four of you played at the top.

It isn't strange for young players to perform well.

As a result of the long success of two veterans, the 'Big Four' era began.

You were much older than Lee, by more than 20 years.

The age difference between you and Yu is big enough, I think.

I don't think we'll see this happen again.

I couldn't agree more.

Getting back to the game, black's position was very good up to here.

After taking a big point, it's clear that black was leading.

Yu captured this stone to attack black.

Normally, white needs to extend here.

However, he didn't have time to do so, because this stone was too weak.

Because of that, Yu kosumied here.

This atari was painful for white.

After that, White invaded deeply.

Yu must have thought he was behind at this point.

It was a deep invasion.

However, this group wasn't alive.

It was a do or die move.

Apparently, Yu was pessimistic about his position.

But this capping play was so painful for white.

After that, Yu looked after his group with a knight's move.

And I captured white's single stone.

You didn't attack in this situation! You're sometimes very careful.

I was optimistic about the game.

Defending didn't just capture white's stone, but also erased the bad aji we saw earlier.

Attacking white is risky, so you chose a safer move.

Yu made this forcing exchange, then moved his top group out.

I think jumping here would be more natural.

I'm not sure which haengma is best, but this is the right direction of play.

Maybe this knight's move is better. I'm not certain.

But I'd rather look after this group.

Anyway, Yu played here.

After that, black played this capping move.

White couldn't afford to lose this stone.

But it wasn't easy. So Yu was in trouble.

White had to tenuki.

This jump was a very thick move.

When I look at this formation, the influence seems to be excellent.

But you have to use it effectively.

In doing so, we usually face many challenges.

In general, attacking is more pleasant than running away.

Some people believe that attacking is harder.

Yes, actually, that's what most people say.

Managing a group is rather easy.

People think Cho Hunhyun 9p and Lee Sedol 9p's styles are aggressive.

But actually, they're excellent at sabaki (managing stones lightly).

In general, people think your style of play is territory oriented. Do you agree?

Yes, that's right.

I think you're also good at cosmic Go.

No, I'm bad at it.

Then what do you think of cosmic style?

To be frank, everyone wants to build good influence.

Who'd want to take pennies instead?

Everyone dreams about cosmic style.

But, unfortunately, we can't pull that style off.

In reality, we have to make a living by collecting pennies.

Do think the theory behind cosmic style is solid?

Yes, I think so.

Building a beautiful moyo is good, but it's hard work against strong players.

Turning influence into territory is such a painstaking process.

Most players can't survive with such a style.

What a pity!

You took control of the game in style.

At this point, this hane was a strong move, and it worked.

What if white blocks?

It doesn't work. White can't withstand black's cut.

White's short of liberties.

Black has five liberties, and white has four at best.

White could increase his liberties by one with this atari.

It was painful, but Yu had to fall back.

The next move was really cool.

Was there still aji around here?

Yes, this attachment can be annoying.

This move was like a declaration of a victory.

In a normal situation, black needs to connect here.

It's huge actually.

It's not just big in terms of territory. White isn't alive yet at the top.

If black were behind, he'd have to connect here of course.

Since I was far ahead, I chose a safer move.

These three moves look so beautiful!

With them, you control the game.

After that, you gave up the two stones.

Were you ahead at this point?

Yes, I was.

Yu exchanged this move.

After white captured black's two stones, black played here. Was it big?

Yes, this move was huge.

Compared to this, you can easily see the difference.

Attacking this group was the last resort for white.

Playing here was the easiest way to manage this group.

It looks miserable, but black could survive.

Life wasn't certain, but it was hard to attack black too.

When playing to live, you have to settle quickly no matter how pitiful it is.

Yu ataried here, aiming at this black group.

Instead of responding, black separated white.

White pushed through too.

Previously, you played carefully on the left.

But here you were aggressive.

You must've seen some potential moves. Did you?

Yes, it was clear that white overplayed here.

I suppose you could easily punish it.

White exchanged this atari.

All white had to do was to attack and make trouble for these two groups.

After white's hane, black blocked here.

White couldn't do anything. He had to wait until black made a mistake.

This empty triangle was nice.

Then black connected here.

So the bottom group lived.

Yu continued to attack the top group again.

Instead of answering, you captured white's stones.

The focus was on the life and death of this black group.

White had to kosumi here to attack black.

He couldn't play around here.

Black can easily live on the inside in that case.

There was another eye here.

Because of that, white had to play here.

After this move, Yu resigned.

What happens if white blocks here?

Then black cuts immediately.

Later on, black can separate white or atari here. It's miai.

Even though white can atari in sente, he has to come back here.

Black make this exchange in sente too.

And this is sente too.

After that, this atari works.

Black (Seo Bongsu 9p) wins by resignation.

You took another title at the age of 47.

And this was the last title you won.

It was in 1999, the year before the new millennium.

It's been 14 years since that victory.

Do you think it's hard to win a tournament these days?

Well, I think I'm too old now.

We'll be back to review another game after the break.

We're going to look at a game between Lee Sedol 9p and Park Younghun 9p.

It's from the third round of the 17th GS Caltex Cup.

Lee's a brilliant player whose name will be inscribed in the history of Go.

How many games have you played against him?

Not many, because I've been eliminated in the preliminary rounds recently.

In contrast, Lee always plays at the top.

In the past, the situation was the opposite.

We played one or two games in the Wangwi league in the past.

We've hardly played since then.

How would you define Lee's style of play, based on your perception?

He's like an acrobat dancing on the edge of a sword!

What an expression! You sound like a poet.

You talked about playing on "the edge". Does that notion also reflect your style of play?

Yes it does.

What do you think of Park?

He's even younger than Lee.

Well, Park's style is different to Lee's.

His moves are softer and more gentle.

His weakness has been that his game isn't as intense as Lee's.

But I think he's largely dealt with that recently.

Nevertheless, his play isn't as fierce as Lee Sedol 9p, Kim Jiseok 9p, or Choi Cheolhan 9p's.

That's his main weakness.

If he develops his skills in that aspect of Go, he'll improve his overall performance.

Lee has rarely lost a final after winning the first one or two games.

In particular, he's almost never lost after winning two games.

However, this match was an exceptional case. Let's have a look at some records.

Lee has only allowed a reverse sweep twice in his career.

'Reverse sweep' is a term that comes from baseball.

In Go, it means that a player, or team, wins (for example) three consecutive games after losing twice.

The first one occurred in the final of the 5th LG Cup, against Lee Changho 9p in 2001.

The next one happened in the final of the 12th GS Caltex Cup, against Park Younghun.

He won the first two games, but lost the remaining games.

This game is from the third round of the best of five match.

It was the start of Lee's defeat.

Let's have a look.

Lee Sedol was black, Park Younghun was white.

Normally, black plays on the third line like this.

Recently, the Micro-Chinese fuseki is becoming popular.

What do you think of this move?

It reflects Lee's flexible style.

As we'll see later, this formation has some weaknesses.

Since the stone is placed on the fourth line, there should be something.

Because of that move, Lee struggled in the opening.

Currently, players tend to enclose here. I think it's practical.

I saw someone play like this recently.

I prefer this enclosure.

Does the low enclosure make it harder for white to invade here?

Exactly, black can deal with an invasion more easily.

In the past, people said this kind of move was too timid.

They said it looked inactive, and excessively territorial.

But you like it.

This formation was perceived negatively in the past.

Everyone used to play this high enclosure.

Park invaded here right away.

That's the weakness.

In this position, would white play here?

Probably not.

Even though the left side was wider, Park chose to invade here.

Is that because black has more potential in the lower right?

Yes, that's right.

In the actual game, Lee attached here.

Before that, this asking move would be interesting.

If white answers here, black attaches again.

Let me show you the difference.

If white extends this way, black blocks here with a tiger's mouth.

After black connects here, white has no proper response.

I think white needs to cut here.

If white ataris, this counter-atari is a nice move.

After that, descending here is a strong move.

Now white's dead!

It's a disaster for white.

Can white push here now?

Then a capturing race will begin. Well, it's still a bit complicated.

Black can also come out here instead. It's still very good for black.

Pushing here is sente.

If there's no exchange here, it's different.

In this case, white can block immediately.

Then white can even tenuki. It's a big difference.

White got more territory and took sente.

So exchanging the asking move before playing like this is necessary.

Lee's usually very good at playing these sorts of asking moves.

But when he's in bad form, it's different.

Anyway, Park invaded here.

This is the key point for invading. I hope you'll remember it.

Lee couldn't block here.

As we saw, black won't get a good result.

Black blocked on this side instead.

If black extends here, this push is annoying.

White can easily erase black's moyo, and white already has a solid position here.

So Lee played here, to attack white.

After white pushed, black slid into the corner.

But this cut was powerful.

I think this battle is better for white.

After this, black couldn't tenuki.

If he does so, this attachment is a good tesuji. Black's in huge trouble.

So Lee had to respond here.

Park attached and wedged like this.

After these exchanges, white attached again here.

White haned, and black extended.

This move was painful for black.

Before connecting here, Park exchanged this atari.

And Lee connected.

After cutting, Park defended his cutting point.

This atari is the normal move.

But, in this case, white can tenuki.

This was a special circumstance. Black needed sente.

After that, white defended.

At this point, Lee played an interesting move.

This kind of move is annoying.

In the game, Park answered here.

However, he should've played like this instead.

How about this hane?

This is what Park disliked about playing this way.

White would lose a few points.

Later on, black can connect up like this.

To avoid this, Park responded here.

He wanted to be able to hane here in sente.

How many points would white get from this hane? Four?

In the previous variation, black could connect his stone, so it's more than four points.

However, that's not the point.

The problem arose after this hane.

Now white didn't have a proper response to these moves.

This hane is the normal sense of play.

But it doesn't work in this case.

Because of black's two stones, white can't play like this.

If black ataris and captures this stone, white will collapse.

It's no good.

If Park had answered here, the situation would be very different.

Now black has to hane, otherwise white will.

And black can't hane here anymore.

White can now hane and atari successfully.

Black has to atari here to survive.

Then he needs to play here.

But white can connect under.

Black's in trouble.

Connecting here focused too much on territory.

Because of that, Park couldn't hane after this move.

And that was a big disadvantage.

Black was able to settle his weak group.

So Lee freed himself from a burden.

I think black could have extended further.

I think Lee was satisfied with this result.

Park attached here, but I think this extension looks better.

In the game, Lee took this point instead.

It seems like Park was a bit shaky around here.

He was successful in the opening.

But the game became complicated at this point.

After kicking white's stone, black haned here.

This area was so black.

Lee pushed here instead of responding to white's attachment.

After exchanging this hane, Park extended.

White played a forcing move here, then played at 3-3.

Then Park attached here, which was very big.

Capturing white's stone was also huge.

This move was sente.

Normally, black would capture white's stone like this.

But, then black won't be able to aim at white's weakness.

White can connect here now.

Because of the potential snapback, black can't cut here.

But if black plays here, he can do so later.

In order to preserve the aji, this atari was the proper move in this case.

At this point, black had plenty of points on the board.

So Park played a severe move.

He exchanged this in sente.

This kind of attachment and crosscut is played quite often.

It was Park's do or die move.

In the game, Lee ataried here, but this move looks better.

If white ataris, black captures this stone.

Then exchanging this cut is good.

And then, I want to play like this.

It's complicated though.

Lee chose a different move.

This atari was the most aggressive response.

However, this bump was severe.

Before that, Lee exchanged this move, and he blocked here.

It was a one way street.

Black had no choice but to connect here.

What do you think of the outcome?

Black lost many points here.

After the double atari, Lee separated white.

This was a crucial moment. It seems like black had to come up with something.

How serious was the territorial loss on the left? Wasn't black behind?

First of all, white needed to look after the bottom group.

And this one was weak too.

Because of that, Park was pessimistic about the game.

Despite his success on the left side, he played fiercely.

This was another do or die move.

But, in fact, it was an overplay.

How can black punish white then?

It's simple. After this atari, black should push here.

Then he can save his cutting stone. And peeping here first is sente.

White's in big trouble now.

The game would've been over here.

However, every game is blitz in the GS Caltex Cup.

So players have to read quickly.

Lee's very good at it, and he played well up to here.

But he didn't follow this variation.

Instead, he tried to save his group.

It was his instinctive choice, because he was in byo-yomi.

Both sides connected their groups.

If black moves his stone out now, white will cut here.

So it was too late to play there.

White can separate black in sente, then the left side group will be in danger.

After Lee connected here, Park captured black's stone.

With this kosumi, the game was practically over.

How can you explain the situation?

It's mysterious that Lee didn't see such an easy move.

"Even Homer sometimes nods." I think that proverb captures this situation nicely.

No one can play perfectly.

As you said, his moves are sometimes like those of an acrobat.

This is the end of our second review for today.

After losing the remaining two games, Lee lost his title.

I hope you've enjoyed these games and learned from the perception of Meijin Seo.

Thank you!

Baduk TV English at