Baduk TV English: Perception of Meijin – Episode 10 – The Beauty of a Drawn Game

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 10 is titled ‘The Beauty of a Drawn Game’ and looks at a game from the 2013 Korean Baduk League where an eternal life position (chosei) occured. The game was between Ahn Seongjun and Choi Cheolhan.

This episode also looks at the famous quadruple ko game, between Gu Li and Lee Sedol, from the 17th Samsung Cup in 2012.

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.

Ahn Seongjun vs Choi Cheolhan and Gu Li vs Lee Sedol

Video: Ahn Seongjun vs Choi Cheolhan and Gu Li vs Lee Sedol

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Game records

Eternal Life: Ahn Seongjun vs Choi Cheolhan

(background reading)


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Quadruple Ko: Gu Li vs Lee Sedol

(background reading)

(commentary by An Younggil 8p)


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Transcript of the video

Translated by Oh Chimin 7d by

Edited by David Ormerod 5d

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

We've been looking at games from the unique perspective of Meijin Seo Bongsu.

Episode 10 - The Beauty of a Drawn Game

Today we're going to look at two games which ended up as a draw, because of a quadruple ko and eternal life.

Eternal life had never happened in an official match in Korea before, so this game was sensational in the Korean Go community.

Hello Master Seo!


Eternal life [chosei] is today's topic.

Had you ever witnessed this before?

No, I'd never seen eternal life occur in Korea before.

Had you seen it happen in games from other countries?

Yes, I saw it once before in a kifu.

This example of eternal life appeared in the Korean Baduk League.

Choi Cheolhan 9p of team SK Energy and Ahn Seongjun 4p of Jeongganjang played one another.

Did you watch the game?

Yes, I did.

Was it possible for one of the players to avoid eternal life at some point?


Do you think the eternal life in this game was straightforward?

Well, I'd need to see the game and think about that again.

I haven't looked through the game thoroughly.

Up until now, eternal life has occurred in pro games three times.

There are two games from Japan, one from Korea. There hasn't been a report about this in China yet.

Eternal life is regarded as a good omen in Go.

So I'm looking forward to something very good for the Go community sooner or later!

Let's have a look at the game.

The two teams, SK Energy and Jeongganjang met in the Korean Baduk League.

Ahn Seongjun of Jeongganjang played black, the anchorman of SK Energy, Choi Cheolhan, played white.

This game reminds me of the constantly evolving nature of fuseki.

If I played a diagonal attachment like this, this move would be severely criticized.

However, this kind of move has been played a lot recently.

What do you think of this attachment?

Everyone said it was a bad move, but many players play here now.

Yes, it was considered to be a bad move before.

What's changed?

I have no idea.

I don't think Go theory can change without a reason...

From this point forward, we need to focus carefully on the move order.

There's a saying that eternal life only occurs in one in a million games.

Can black hane like this?

It's impossible now. The ladder favors white.

White can capture this black stones in a ladder.

Black can't crawl like this, because he has many more stones in this area than white.

So, as we'd expect, black played a strong move.

I've seen white block here many times. But this attachment looks unfamiliar to me.

I think Choi disliked black's cut here.

Then isn't the block and attachment the right combination? That's what we normally see.

Isn't it the same? What's the difference?

White doesn't usually block there.

Is that so?

It seems to me that white left the exchange for later.

Choi wanted to manage the area lightly.

However, Ahn resisted by separating white like this.

After that, Choi haned here.

If we listen to your explanation, everything's quite clear.

How about connecting here to remove the cutting point?

Then black can connect under with this hane.

White can't separate black.

No, and the territory will be huge.

So Choi descended and Ahn cut immediately.

After white's atari, black came out.

It was hard for black to choose his next move. Ahn pushed here calmly.

It was a vital point.

Was this a ladder?

Instead, this extension is a strong move.

It looks like the strongest move.


Despite the aji of the cutting stone, that move is better for attacking.


It's harder for white to invade here now.

Therefore, this move applies more pressure to the white group.

Perhaps this was a bit loose.

Because of that, white played a severe move here.

What if white connects like this?

Then black will cut immediately.

It seems like white's in trouble.

We amateurs think white can survive with this knight's move anytime.

White's position is too weak to play like that.

So white had to connect here.

As planned, black separated white.

How about cutting here?

I think Ahn didn't like white's push here.

So he clamped here instead.

Black should cut here now, right?


Did white cut before playing the hane?

No, black extended here now.

After that exchange, white connected.

Why didn't white atari here?

No, it's impossible, because black will separate white now.

If white ataris first, he can't connect under anymore.

I think you got confused.

Yes, sorry about that.

So this was inevitable.

I think white's group was nearly dead.

White could have exchanged this push at this point.

Black has to block here then.

After that, white can start a ko like this.

Is it better? In the game, there was another ko.

I think this variation is also possible for white.

The result will be a ko, as in the actual game.

What's the difference?

Now white can hane here later.

There are several ko threats here as well.

After this atari, white can hane here.

It's powerful aji.

If black cuts, white can continue the ko fight.

It's hard to compare this variation to the actual game.

This was a lightning game.

So I don't think either player had time to read everything in such a complicated battle.

Anyway, Choi just blocked here.

Both players are good at reading quickly.

They played based on their intuition, and the result was fascinating.

At this point, black had two options.

If black answers here, it's better for white.

Because white didn't make a bad exchange here.

Before that, white pushed here.

Then Choi began the ko.

This was the beginning of the ko fight.

Everyone thought white was in trouble.

Do you agree? Yes, I do.

Since Choi is very good at fighting, some observers assumed he'd manage the situation somehow.

But from an amateur's perspective, it's a very painful situation for white.

Don't you agree?

This atari was a ko threat.

Black didn't have many threats. Ahn haned here.

Choi ataried here. If white had connected, he'd have easily won the ko fight.

What if black just recaptures like this?

I guess Ahn didn't like white pushing here.

Black must answer here in that case.

The ko threat looks unpleasant for black.

In addition, white has more threats here, so it's hard for black to win the ko.

Yes, I think so.

I think that this is a pivot point for power in the center.

So instead of recapturing, black ataried here.

Ahn didn't want white to push here.

In this situation, capturing these two stones is normal.

Did Choi answer here?

No, he pushed here.

Capturing here is the first option white can think about.

Do you think Choi was going to capture them after this exchange?

No, he intended to finish the ko and save his group.

Let's look at the expected variation.

Is this the actual progression?

No, white pushed here in the game.

But after that, black captured this white stone.

Instead of pushing, white should capture these two stones.

I wonder why Choi pushed here at this point?

Was it hard for him to decide where to play?

Anyway, pushing here was his choice.

After that, Ahn captured in sente.

The road to eternal life was like fate in this game.

Do you think the eternal life would occur if white had captured these two black stones?

No, it would be impossible then.

There had to be a white stone here.

After this atari, black blocked here.

Before living, Choi clamped here to take profit.

This tiger's mouth was a strong resistance.

After that, Choi rescued his group.

And Ahn ataried here.

Black had captured two white stones, and flattened another two stones.

How would you assess the result?

Overall, black was leading.

The focus was on the top left corner.

That's the place where eternal life occurred.

This attachment looks interesting. Isn't the placement normal?

Then black will answer here.

There's no followup. Black's alive.

If white hanes, black blocks here.

White should hane here. If he throws in, black will connect.

This is a double ko, so black's alive.

Even if white hanes here, the result will be the same.

Black will atari here. If white throws in, the result will still be a double ko.

So white should extend here instead.

However, black can simply connect here.

White has to atari here, but if black throws in, white can't avoid the double ko.

Therefore, the placement isn't a good idea.

The attachment was Choi's alternative.

In the game, Ahn played here.

No, he played at 1-2.

What if black answers like this?

This is a bad response.

The result will be a ko.

It's a hanami ko for white (a ko in which one has nothing to lose).

So Ahn played here. Was it the best response?

No, black should have responded here.

When white ataris, black has to exchange this move before connecting here.

After that, the placement is the only possible move for white.

Then black connects.

If white kosumis, black plays here and it's a seki.

What if white plays here?

Then black captures these two stones.

After white cuts, black takes these stones.

If white throws in, black also sacrifices his stones.

Now black's alive.

After the placement, white should play here.

It's a seki.

What if black doesn't exchange this cut?

Then the black group will lose a capturing race.

Without that exchange, white can atari here.

With the exchange, white can't play there.

Because of that, the result is a seki.

After this move, white needs to tenuki.

With this progression, black would've taken the initiative.

Let's look at the actual game.

Why didn't black play here?

I think Ahn missed it.

It was a fast game.

Anyway, black pushed here.

After that, it was a one way street.

This is how the eternal life arose.

The Korean word 'jang' literally means 'long', and 'saeng' means 'life'.

And it's eternal life, since the same shape is repeated eternally.

People regard eternal life as a good omen, but not the triple ko.

How would you interpret eternal life?

I first saw the term 'eternal life' in the classical book, the Xuanxuan Qijing.

It's a collection of Go problems.

This book included eternal life.

The book was published by the edict of a Chinese emperor during the Yuan Dynasty.

All the good moves and problems were collected in one book.

Surprisingly, the concept of eternal life already existed centuries ago.

So, it makes me think that ancient Go masters were stronger than we presume.

So do you mean that eternal life already existed at that time?


As we saw before, 'jin-sin-doo' is in that book too.

[Ed: 'Jin-sin-doo' refers to an excellent tesuji; 'double ladder breaker'.]

Everything's in the Xuanxuan Qijing!

Considering this, we shouldn't underestimate classical Go.

Let's have a look at the eternal life.

After white pushed, black connected here.

This hane was inevitable.

White threw in to capture the corner.

If black tenukis, white will kill the corner with a 'bulky five' shape.

This is the highlight of the game. There was only one move which could rescue black.

Ahn's misread had led him to a crisis.

This suicidal move was the only way for Ahn to continue.

If white played there, black's entire group would die.

Choi captured black's two stones.

Black recaptured.

White threw in to capture the black group once again.

However, it was a repetition of the previous shape.

Black couldn't let white play here, and there was only one way to prevent it.

So black had to sacrifice his stones again.

It looks like this atari might save black.

However, black doesn't have enough liberties. It's self-atari.

If there was an outside liberty, eternal life wouldn't have occurred.

What a perfect situation!

So black had to sacrifice his stones, then recapture.

White threw in, coming back around to the same shape again.

Even though it wasn't a ko, the same shape repeated over and over.

Since the players couldn't repeat this forever, it was a draw.

If white was far ahead, he could have let black's group live, and played elsewhere.

By capturing this black stone, white can end the repetition.

If he's far ahead, this is another option.

So white could play elsewhere, and potentially restart the repetition later, if the game isn't going well for him.

However, black was leading at this point.

The game was ruled a draw through eternal life.

The referee was was Kang Hun 9p.

He's the person standing behind Choi in the photo.

Kang declared the game a draw, and eternal life occurred for the first time in Korean Go.

Let's continue after the break.

We just saw the first recorded occurrence of eternal life in Korean Go.

There are also other possible infinite loops in Go, such as triple or quadruple kos.

In a moment, we're going to look at a game where a quadruple ko appeared.

It was played between Lee Sedol 9p and Gu Li 9p in the round of 32 of the 17th Samsung Cup (2012).

To me, eternal life sounds peaceful and auspicious.

Go Seigen once said, "when eternal life occurs, you should celebrate by cooking red bean rice."

Cho Hunhyun 9p was the commentator for the eternal life game.

He said it was the first time he's witnessed eternal life in a real game.

It would also have been your first time.


But haven't you seen triple or quadruple kos before?

Yes, several times.

Have you experienced a triple or quadruple ko in your own games?

No, never.

Multiple kos result in a draw.

It's the same kind of repetition. Do you know why people say multiple kos are ominous?

I have no idea.

There was a story during The Era of Warring States in Japan.

A general called Oda Nobunaga was taking a rest in a temple located in Kyoto.

As he was a Go lover, he invited two strong Go players.

One of them was Sansa, the founder of the Honinbo house.

The other was Rigenbo, another strong player.

During the game, a triple ko occurred.

After the game, both players left the temple.

Soon after, there was an explosion at the temple.

Oda's subordinate officer revolted against him.

That night, Oda was killed.

After that, the triple ko became an ominous sign.

That superstition was started by the Japanese.

Let's have a look at the quadruple ko which occurred at the 17th Samsung Cup.

Gu Li 9p played black, Lee Sedol 9p played white.

Gu loves Chinese style openings.

He regularly plays them.

Previously, people played here. However, the Micro Chinese Opening is becoming more popular lately.

Gu likes to push here too.

Black has two options, he can play here or here.

Which one do you prefer?

I don't know. It's a difficult question.

Would you choose between these moves based on your feelings at the time?

Yes, I would.

I think Korean players prefer this move.

Yes, that's right.

I think the majority of players choose that move.

White doesn't need to exchange this move.

It's unnecessary. White shouldn't exchange it.

People often play like this recently.

However, Gu haned here, giving up his corner.

To be honest, that move is tempting.

Nevertheless, this atari is so pleasant!

Lee cut here. What's the difference between the two moves?

This atari is better.

Then black normally plays here.

If white captures this stone, isn't it the same?

White shouldn't capture, it's a bad exchange.

But in the game, Lee cut and capture this black stone.

If black descends, it's the same.

However, Gu stretched all the way to here.

The result was even better for black.

Lee often says his opening is relatively weak. Do you think that's the case?

Gu's talent for the fuseki is well known.

After that, Lee extended here.

I asked Park Younghun 9p about the result.

I wanted to know how many points white had lost here.

He said it was invisibly small.

The loss in the opening is perhaps trivial.

A few points at most.

What's the intention of this move?

Gu wanted to develop the center.

Black needed to enlarge his moyo.

What if white answers like this? Is it bad?

Well, then the game will continue.

Should black invade at 3-3?

To enlarge the center, black should play like this.

If I were black, I'd develop this area.

Black's position is well-balanced. White has to invade somewhere.

Lee played a low extension, so it would be better for black to enlarge the center.

Lee probably didn't want black to keep pushing like this.

Because then the center would become thicker.

I think white was mindful of the situation.

It looks relatively normal, but this sequence was the seed of the special result.

Black attached. Several moves around here led to the quadruple ko.

Isn't atari the normal answer after white's wedge?

In terms of fighting spirit, this atari isn't very good.

Isn't this sequence normal for black?

Should white push here, or play a knight's move?

If white plays there, it leaves behind a weak point.

Maybe both moves are possible.

How about capturing a black stone at the top?

That's too small.

Now white should erase the center.

But if black hanes here, isn't the center getting bigger?

However, when these two play together, the variations are never simple.

Gu cut here.

In fact, it was a big adventure for black.

Cutting here was white's strongest move.

It exemplifies Lee's style.

The ladder was favorable for white.

That's why Lee persevered fiercely in black's area.

After this atari, black connected here.

These three stones were getting weaker, so Gu pushed here.

He pushed again, then jumped out.

I think securing the corner would also be possible.

This knight's move looks good, but it has a weakness here.


Yes, white's in trouble.

What if white blocks?

Then black will cut.

White has to atari and connect.

After that, black jumps out. White's separated.

Blocking here looks very powerful.

Since white couldn't attack black effectively, black could have defended the corner.

In doing so, black can erase the aji in the corner.

He must have thought that white didn't have time to look after his single corner stone.

That's possible, because white's three stones were very weak.

Lee's moves here were amazing.

This knight's move was painful for black.

Since black was thin, he had to fall back.

Black extended here, aiming to connect underneath.

I never imagined that Lee would block again.

I expected him to jump into the center.

It's Lee's style. In response, Gu jumped here.

It looked like white's group was in danger.

When white played here, the conlusion was that black should connect with an empty triangle like this.

Isn't this attachment common sense to everyone?

Both players agreed after the game that black should have connected here.

No one imagined that this move could possibly be bad when Gu first played here.

Let's see the progression from the game.

After the attachment, Lee wedged here.

Why didn't black atari like this?

Because white will counter-atari here.

If black extends here, it'll be a ko.

That's no good.

It's a disaster for black.

Therefore, black had better capture this white stone instead.

After white ataris, black has to connect.

Then white descends.

Because of the cutting point, black needs to defend here.

However, black also has a critical weakness in the corner. Therefore, black's in trouble now.

White can atari and push through now.

Yes, black's trapped.

So after this wedge, Gu had to connect here with an empty triangle.

After that, Lee connected.

Then black tried to separate white.

The game was becoming more complicated.

Black had no choice but to cut here. After that, white pushed and cut.

Up to here, it's a one way street.

In this situation, it seems like white could make an eye here.

He can make an eye in sente.

Black has to play here, but connecting here is sente.

Then if white descends here, he can survive on the inside.

White can make two eyes like this!

What do you think of the outcome?

I don't think black will capture these two stones.

Black will tenuki instead.

Black can release the white group and continue to play in the center.

Isn't this influence nice?


It's not certain, but it looks quite big.

There were many possible variations in this situation.

The focus was on how white survived in this area.

Lee wedged here.

Normally, white ataris like this.

If black connects, white throws in here.

What if black captures this stone?

That's impossible.

Black's short of liberties.

This is a disaster, an annihilation!

So that was the situation.

After this atari, black has to connect here.

And when white throws in, black has to connect here.

Then white connects here. Well, can he capture this black stone instead?

The result will be a ko. Let's see this first.

Next black will jump here. The result is even.

The center is becoming very black.

Lee's move didn't give Gu any choice.

He threw in here first.

Locally speaking, it was a very bad move!

However, he really wanted to rescue his four stones.

Black couldn't rescue his stone, so Gu connected here.

After that, by descending here, Gu started attacking white.

If I were white, I'd fly out around here immediately.

But black will chase the white group until the end.

Perhaps it's a bad idea.

Before moving out, pros often like to do something on the inside.

As a result, a ko began.

If white wins the ko, he'll survive on the inside.

Black started making ko threats.

Their moves are very complicated!

For many Go fans, this would be one of the most complicated games they've seen!

Lee responded to all of black's threats.

It's impossible to understand this game entirely.

But you can observe the sequences and enjoy the game nonetheless.

Black kept using his ko threats in the top left.

This tiger's mouth was another good ko threat.

Meanwhile, this was white's last ko threat.

After that, white's ko threats were exhausted.

At this point, Gu tried to make another ko like this.

Capturing this stone was inevitable, wasn't it?

Lee had planned to respond to all of black's threats much earlier on.

However, black recaptured, and there were two kos on the board,

So Lee had to finish the ko in the top left.

The life and death of the white group was the focus of the game now.

Since black had lost so many points in the top left, he had to capture white.

Let's see how they played.

After these exchanges, Lee captured here.

Then he made one eye. Gu removed white's eye shape here.

White came out, and black blocked.

Instead of that kosumi, I think this move is better.

If Gu had played here, Lee might not have saved his dragon.

Lee exchanged this move in sente.

It's so complicated.

Gu wedged here.

After that, Lee extended.

Before that, he ataried here.

I think extending here looks very nice.

Or how about this move? If it's possible, it'd be best.

But black had weaknesses here, so it not possible.

Black has to play here, but this extension is sente.

After this atari, white extends. Black doesn't have many liberties.

Because of these weakness, black couldn't play like this.

Therefore, Gu had to fall back.

He ataried here.

After white connected, how about this move?

It's a bad idea. White will connect here.

Right. If black connects, white can cut here.

Inevitably, Gu had to cut here.

After this move, a peculiar shape had formed.

Then white descended here.

Black ataried and white came out.

The shape is so peculiar.

It was a very complicated battle.

It'd take forever to explain all the variations around here.

Because of the weak points in the center, black couldn't cut white.

Maybe Gu thought his group on the right side was also in danger.

So he connected here.

Lee ataried and Gu choked white's group.

Let's see the result first.

There are four ko shapes here.

How about playing elsewhere, and regarding this as a seki?

That's impossible for black. The moyo here was destroyed.

Black had already played two dame-like moves here.

Previously, the right side was black's territory.

It was too late for black to continue the game elsewhere.

Then what about the capturing race?

Did Lee play here at this point?

Yes, he did.

Now black had to fill white's liberty here.

White needs to capture this black stone.

And Black has to capture either of white's stones.

What if white connects and finishes this ko?

I think it's the same.

But white had an eye, while black didn't.

I think it's still a draw.

Let's capture this white stone.

Then white captures black's stone here.

Even if white can play once more here, it's still a draw.

Because white's stones are in atari, he needs to capture this black stone now.

After that, black recaptures and it's the same.

There's a double ko here, and there's another ko over there.

Ok, let's see the quadruple ko.

It's more complicated.

Here's the double ko, so if one player captures, the other captures the other stone.

As long as white has enough liberties, he can capture any of black's stones.

It's an endless repetition.

That's how the quadruple ko happened. Let's back up a little.

This was the path to the quadruple ko.

Some stones are missing around here.

That's it.

Let's look at this situation again.

There was a black stone here.

When white haned, wouldn't cutting here be normal?

Is it too complicated?

Was this stone here? No.

Then white can extend here.

Black has to answer, then white can cut.

This is the same as the variation we saw earlier.

There was a white stone here.

That's why I thought black should have played here instead of the kosumi.

Is it different then?

If white extends, black plays a bamboo joint.

How about this capturing race?

Does this attachment work?

If black comes out, this attachment forms a good combination!

If black is separated, his group will die.

It's no good.

That attachment is so nice!

Does black need to hane here instead?

That move is better than the empty triangle.

After that, white will block here.

Black needs to exchange this atari now.

White will cut here right away.

I think the capturing race is unfavorable for black.

This knight's move doesn't work either.

So, even if black had extended, the battle wouldn't have been good for black.

Anyway, Gu chose this kosumi earlier.

When white haned, black couldn't cut, so Gu had to connect under.

Let's review the sequence again.

After that, Lee bumped here. The sequence here was exquisite.

After black wedged, Lee cut here.

Black came out and white pushed through.

Black couldn't cut here anyway, so Gu had to atari.

Gu couldn't let white survive, so he cut here.

When black played here, do you think Gu already knew that a quadruple ko would occur?

I'm not sure.

After that, Lee descended here.

If Gu had enough time, he'd have been able to see the result.

But I can't read their minds.

Black ataried, then white came out here.

Gu tried as hard as he could to hold white's group in, but it didn't go well.

Black couldn't shut this group in properly.

After white haned, black couldn't cut here.

As we saw earlier, black had a weakness here.

So black connected here.

Lee ataried and Gu choked white's group.

White ataried, and the quadruple ko began.

They captured each other's stones several times.

After that, they looked at each other. What did it mean?

Was it a sign of consent for a draw?

The referee appeared and declared a draw.

Draw by quadruple ko.

It was the first quadruple ko in the main round of an international championship.

Shortly afterwards a rematch began.

Since the KB League (the Korean Baduk League) is a team tournament, there was no rematch.

However, the Samsung Cup is an individual competition.

So the winner and loser have to be decided in a timely fashion.

The round of 16 was scheduled on the following day.

Because of that, the rematch began soon after this game.

The thinking time in the Samsung Cup is two hours for each player.

In the rematch, the thinking time was reduced to one hour.

Maybe Lee's stamina isn't as good as Gu's. He lost easily in the next game.

However, thanks to double elimination system in the Samsung Cup group stage, Lee defeated other players and still advanced to the round of 16.

These two met again in the final.

Lee won the final 2-1.

In the two games he won, the margin was only half a point.

These two played together five times in the 17th Samsung Cup.

And their head to head record for the tournament was two wins, two losses, and one draw.

The sum of Lee's victories was only one point, but he was crushed in both the other games.

Nevertheless, Lee won the Samsung Cup.

I think this is another aspect of the beauty of Go.

Today we've seen two games which ended in an infinite loop. They featured eternal life and a quadruple ko.

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

Thank you!

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