Baduk TV English: Xie He vs Mok Jinseok – Searching for Exquisite Games: Episode 45

Searching for Exquisite Games is a Baduk TV series that reviews some of the best games of Go from the last few decades. The commentators are Yoon Seonghyun 9p and Shim Wooseop 7d.

Episode 45 looks at a game from the 12th Nongshim Cup, played on December 1, 2010. Xie He plays black and Mok Jinseok plays white.

Xie He vs Mok Jinseok

Video: Xie He vs Mok Jinseok

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Transcript of the video

Translated by Oh Chimin 7d

Edited by David Ormerod 5d

Searching for Exquisite Games: Episode 45.

Hello! Today's theme is exquisite games from team tournaments!

This game is from the 12th Nongshim Cup, played between Mok Jinseok 9p and Xie He 7p (at the time).

So we can see another one of Mok's game's today.

Before this game, Xie had recorded four consecutive wins.

Among those four wins, was a win against Lee Sedol 9p.

So Xie was in good form, and Mok stepped up to break Xie's winning streak.

In general, Xie is strong against Korean players.

So I asked Mok about Xie's weaknesses.

But he mumbled for a while saying "well, the weakness..."

I suggested Xie's lack of experience in big matches.

But Mok responded that Xie had played many important games in international tournaments.

He said it's extremely difficult to find weaknesses in Xie's style.

Xie's style of play is stable and flawless.

Would Mok be able to end Xie's winning streak? Let's have a look.

Xie He plays black, Mok Jinseok plays white.

No one can easily defeat Xie.

It's very clear that Xie never collapses suddenly.

Even though Lee Sedol played first, he didn't perform well.

Because of that, the Korean team was worried about the consequences.

Considering Lee's strength, his performance was disappointing.

He'd won twice, but he lost to Xie.

Xie's victory increased his confidence.

If Mok failed to stop Xie at this stage, the Korean team would be in trouble.

In response to this approach, Mok attached underneath, to take some territory.

As Mok's nickname "Kid Not Normal" implies, his style of play is powerful and varied.

He's a talented player, and he's good at fighting.

In the actual game, Xie connected here. But I've seen this tiger's mouth fairly often recently.

What's the difference?

Instead of this normal variation, this peep has been played quite a bit.

If black pushes, white hanes.

If there was no exchange here, black would rather approach from this direction.

This approach looks a bit strange, and this is white's intention.

If black blocks, white can cut here in sente.

But it's hard to judge which move is better.

After this exchange, Xie built his moyo.

Mok approached again.

This kosumi was a very solid response.

White can split the right side, but Mok chose to approach here.

Mok's moves look more aggressive than Xie's.

Instead of this pincer, this move used to be more common.

But recently this pincer is very popular.

This double approach looks special.

If black plays a kosumi, white can invade at 3-3 immediately.

If black blocks here, this tiger's mouth is a good move.

White can connect like this.

This looks very good.

In contrast, this black stone seems a bit awakard.

So, to secure the corner, this attachment was played.

To begin with, white usually extended, then black separated white.

This fight is slightly better for black.

Many moves have been investigated, but this attachment is a simple and good response.

Xie answered here, but what about this hane?

Then white will extend into the corner.

If black descends, white can cut.

Black's too weak to fight now.

So, after this exchange, black captures white's stone.

Up to here, it's a joseki.

It's become very popular, since it's simple.

If white moves his group out instead, it may lead to failure.

However, Xie played a new move here.

Instead of capturing white's stone, he haned here first.

If black extends, white will move his stone out, which is annoying for black.

If white blocks, black captures this stone now.

After white cuts, black can atari here.

Then he can tenuki and take a big point.

At the beginning, we thought this move was plausible.

After the game, the players and observers evaluated this move.

It turned out to be a bad move.

How come? I think it's a quick and nice move.

In terms of territory, Xie's choice left this cutting point, which was unprofitable.

And if black plays here, he can approach here, which can be very severe.

Depending on the situation, black can attack white like this.

But, with Xie's new move, this followup isn't powerful at all.

Here's one more thing.

Imagine that this approach wasn't played. In that case, this enclosure would be a very big move.

So the territorial loss in the top right can be compensated for.

But this jump was black's next move.

Compared to the enclosure, this wasn't so big.

This hane can be played when there's an urgent move on the board.

But, in general, it's not as good as the normal joseki.

This was our conclusion.

Regardless of the outcome, Xie showed us another possible choice.

And, in some cases, it can be played to take sente.

But in the actual game, Xie just jumped here.

After this exchange, Mok enlarged his moyo.

Since white's position was solid now, there was no need to play too tightly at the top.

Later, white could finish the moyo on a grander scale, like this.

Mok's valiant moves were intended to disrupt Xie's calmness.

In response, Xie pressed white's stone.

However, a moyo oriented game isn't in keeping with Xie's style.

Black pressed white again. In my experience, it's hard to respond to this move.

This move used to be played in the past, but white can tenuki, so it's loose.

Because of that, it hasn't been played anymore recently.

White shouldn't crawl like this, of course. Instead, pushing here is proper.

After that, this cut is obvious.

How about pushing here now?

Well, it's conceivable.

If white answers like this, the exchange is profitable for black.

It's not easy for white to answer.

Instead, this atari is possible.

If black moves it out, white also comes out.

If black keeps saving his stones, white can cut here now.

Then these two black stones will die.

So black has to give up his stone and it's a trade.

Black gained a large corner, while white got thickness.

But look at black's moyo here. Black's spent many moves constructing it.

But the influence is limited because of this ponnuki.

I don't think this is good for black.

This hane is possible in special circumstances.

And this variation is possible when this area isn't important for black.

But I think the overall placement of the stones is unfavorable for black.

This influence will be erased.

Instead, Xie chose this move, which is normal.

Cutting here is tempting. How about this?

Than black will atari here.

This atari is also sente.

So white's forced to answer several times.

But there's no need to capture this stone.

Therefore, Mok chose to simply connect instead.

After that, white slid into the corner to secure a life.

Xie attached right away, and the feedback on this move was interesting.

The players investigated this position deeply, after the game.

According to Mok, this move was problematic.

I thought this move seemed to pressure white effectively. What was the problem?

At the time, we never thought this would be bad.

Let me explain as we show the actual progression.

Instead of looking after white's group, Mok extended here.

After this jump, white haned here.

Normally, black should block here, but Xie fell back.

Yes, then white lived easily.

After this exchange, Mok extended here.

If black plays here, white won't just answer passively.

Before that, white can play here to pressure black severely.

Black has to cut here.

Then white will extend like this.

What if black captures them?

White will squeeze like this.

Black's shape collapses.

If white cuts, it's a capturing race.

But black has very few liberties. It's a disaster.

If black can't cut, he has to connect like this.

But after white plays this tiger's mouth, black's shape has become even worse.

Because this group will be bullied, so white will be able to take control of the center.

Since black couldn't block here, Mok said this attachment was problematic.

So black should've jumped here first.

If white plays a kosumi, black can keep expanding his moyo.

So black can maximize the potential of his other stones.

If white moves his stone out, black can still attach here later.

But Xie didn't anticipate Mok's strong moves.

Yes, this move became very powerful in this case.

Instead of the hane, how about this attachment? Isn't it the same?

Previously, white destroyed black's shape by sacrificing his stones.

But if black descends here, white can't do so.

Then black has many more liberties than before.

It's a big difference.

So this hane was a good followup.

Black couldn't block here.

Mok struck at black's weak points very skillfully.

So, in this contest, Mok was successful.

Xie attempted to expand his moyo anyway.

These two white stones were isolated.

If white runs away like this, black will jump and chase them.

Then black will be able to build his territory along the sixth line.

Well, it's far too big. I think white should find another way.

Mok focused on reducing the moyo. He was ready to sacrifice the two stones if necessary.

So he played a shoulder hit.

After the push, Xie played a knight's move.

These exchanges were profitable for white.

This move looks very light.

I agree, but on the other hand, it seems a bit ambiguous.

To focus on this group, white should jump here.

To look after the bottom group, this jump is better.

In the actual game, Mok tenukied after Xie separated white's two stones.

There was a problem though.

After this knight's move, this group looks weak somehow.

It's not easy to answer.

Mok intended to tenuki, so his strategy was clear.

I asked Mok about this. He thought he was going to sacrifice these stones.

But he said that black's attack put white under pressure.

So, according to him, this jump would have been better.

Did he need to focus on one group?

Yes, if black tries to attack, white can jump here.

These two stones are light too, so white can sacrifice them at any time.

And if white saves this group, he can aim at this move later.

Black isn't completely connected.

Therefore, saving this group is better.

However, Mok was tempted to jump here.

It made sense to some degree.

But a strategy is evaluated on the basis of the result.

After this move, it wasn't easy for white to answer.

This move doesn't look that nice.

If black plays a kosumi, white will block here.

Capturing the two stones looks very big.

But white can complete his moyo without playing here now.

This territory is also large.

White's intention was apparent, so black didn't accept the offer.

Instead, Xie expanded this area.

Could black afford to play like this? White's moyo was getting bigger.

I don't think so. Let me show you the actual game first.

Before pushing here, white exchanged several moves in the center.

After that, Mok turned here.

Now black completely captured white's two stones.

But, as you can see, black's territory isn't that big compared white's.

As I exphasized earlier, white created his moyo without playing here.

And the moyo was extremely big.

So we thought that perhaps Xie has a weakness in moyo oriented games.

Since white was thin, black needed a more aggressive move, like this.

It aims to cut white with an attachment.

Black should've reduced this moyo somehow.

It seems like white's position has a flaw. And that black move is a bit annoying.

There was a problem with Mok's moves around here.

So Xie should've taken advantage of white's weaknesses.

When Mok played here, he didn't intend to rescue his cutting stones.

So black didn't need to spend another move capturing stones which were already sacrificed.

Therefore, this reduction would have been better.

If black had played here, the game would have become complicated.

It's very hard for white to respond.

Thanks to this move, white was able to answer easily.

Mok would have been grateful for black's simple response.

Since Xie likes to secure his own moyo first, maybe it's more in keeping with his style.

But once Mok played here, white's moyo was nearly completed.

After this exchange, it was a crucial turning point.

If Xie thought he was ahead, he'd start endgame plays.

In that case, he'd hane and finish the border line.

However, he didn't choose this sort of peaceful move.

Instead, a do or die move appeared.

I'm not sure whether he was confident in his next move or not.

Well, I think it was too brave to think of in that way.

He drew the line and carried out his positional judgment, but he wasn't confident in that variation.

Xie rarely plays do or die moves at such an early stage in the game.

He made a deep invasion here.

This area looks a bit wide. But it's hard to invade white's moyo.

This attachment looks peculiar.

In response to this hane, Xie counter-haned.

It was a strong move. Xie intended for white to cut here.

After the counter-atari, black can destroy white's moyo naturally.

This ponnuki is meaningless, because white has already spent so many moves in the center.

Was this why Xie didn't reduce white's moyo earlier?

Well, maybe so. But Mok didn't answer as Xie wished, of course.

Mok's fighting skills are outstanding. He wouldn't play like that.

White played a great move here.

This double hane was very good.

If black cuts and captures this stone, white will double atari.

Even though white gave up his stone, he also captured black's.

Xie's attempt was good, but Mok's response was wonderful.

Black had to change his strategy.

Since white's position was incomplete, playing here looks fine.

But Mok played another severe move. What do you think?

He played there because of this aji.

This move intended to prevent it.

And if white plays here, he can aim at this cutting point later.

Because of that, this move was meaningful.

After that, Xie connected here.

Black couldn't just follow white's plans.

Xie aimed to hane and push here at the same time.

White's shape is too bad to block like this.

If black cuts here, there will be a problem.

Yes, this was the power of black's solid connection.

So Xie was aiming in both directions.

Wasn't that bad for white then?

Xie's style of play is very calm, but sometimes fierce, when necessary.

The counter-hane and this connection demonstrate his strength well.

Mok's double hane was excellent, but he missed a golden opportunity here.

Could he have finished the game?

To begin with, this exchange is necessary.

Since Xie didn't answer here, Mok connected, in fighting spirit.

Then Xie pushed through.

However, he should've turned here, to prevent the push.

Instead of a simple defense, this move is better.

Can white withstand this hane?

White can't cut here, but this hane is possible now.

Indeed, black can't resist anymore.

If black ataris, white can connect. Black's in atari now.

It wouldn't have been hard for Mok to find this move.

And it would have defended both sides simultaneously.

Like black's connection here, white's answer looks in both directions.

Cutting here is black's best move.

After white's atari, black can't even capture like this.

If black does, white can tenuki and push here.

And this is sente.

Even if black hanes, it's nothing.

To take sente, black has to connect here with an empty triangle.

Then black can complete his moyo.

But when white cuts here, there's a big difference.

Black's wasted three stones.

Moreover, white can get this huge point.

Even though black captured these stones, white's clearly ahead.

It may be hard to see, but this move would have defended both weak points simply.

Mok said he didn't see this counter hane.

Anyway, the Nongshim Cup doesn't allow players enough time to think.

This move would have solved the problem nicely.

Even though it's powerful, this move is quite ordinary.

And this tiger's mouth is better than connecting.

It would have applied more pressure to the corner.

Then Xie pushed through in the center.

White couldn't stop it now.

Let's compare the two variations.

If white had played here, black would have had to answer here.

In the actual game, Xie got more territory, even without playing there.

Wasn't it ok for white, since he could attack the corner?

First of all, Mok missed a golden opportunity with this move.

But if white plays here, the ownership of the corner will change.

And it seems like white gets many points by capturing the corner.

However, this tiger's mouth would be better.

This atari is meaningless because this placement works anyway.

But because of the bad aji, Mok had to block here.

In this case, this move is enough to capture black without leaving aji behind.

Even if black blocks here, he can't save the corner.

Let's have a look at what the problem was.

This hane was sente.

This move will be sente too.

If black plays here, white has to connect.

This hane won't trouble white, because this hane works.

It's similar to the variation I showed you before.

Black doesn't have many liberties in the corner.

But black can play here now.

I think white has to answer here.

Black's already got half an eye in the corner.

White can't respond here, since this move is sente.

If white removes the eye shape, black wedges here.

That's a problem for white.

If white connects, black will break through. That's no good either.

Let's try this move.

White has to connect here.

This jump is sente.

What about this white group? It looks weak.

That's right. And black can make a ko here.

White can't avoid the ko, and the aji here is very bad for white.

I don't think white can withstand it.

That's why white should've played a tiger's mouth instead.

In that case, this move is enough.

White even has time to defend the outside.

If black ataris, white plays at the vital point.

Black even doesn't get half an eye.

If black hanes, white can still counter-hane.

If Mok had played the tiger's mouth, there wouldn't have been any aji in the corner.

Then the moyo all becomes white's territory.

And the focus is on how much of his own moyo black can secure.

White clearly has more points than black.

First of all, Mok missed the safest way to win.

Then, saving this stone was fine, but there was a problem with the connection.

I think it's easy to overlook the aji.

If Xie had seen this, he'd have followed the variation we saw immediately.

However, he didn't notice it either.

Nevertheless, the corner was still white's burden.

Instead, Xie attached here.

I'm wondering whether or not he knew about the corner aji.

Was this move related to that aji?

There was a lot of aji inside white's area.

He wanted to create something at the top.

If Xie had read the other variation, he would've played there right away.

Even though black gained many points in the center, he invaded again.

I guess Xie saw something though. Otherwise, he wouldn't waste a stone like this.

Yes, because this could weaken the aji at 3-3. It was another do or die move.

Another crucial scene was about to unfold. Let's continue after the break.

We're reviewing a game between Mok Jinseok 9p and Xie He 7p, from the 12th Nongshim Cup.

There were complicated variations at the beginning.

After that, Xie played some do or die moves.

In the end, his first do or die move worked out well.

There was aji for black to live in the corner, but neither player saw it.

Instead, Xie attached here, to create something on the top side.

Even though Xie overlooked an opportunity, the aji at the top was still troublesome.

Neither side could fall back here.

This exchange weakened black's aji in the top left corner.

Yes, Mok extended, to avoid giving black eye shape.

And now, this attachment proves that Xie didn't see the top right aji.

White's bad aji was erased now.

However, black could play many forcing moves around here.

Xie exchanged this hane.

After that, Mok had to defend his cutting point.

Yes, otherwise black would cut.

Xie played a tiger's mouth, which is good for sabaki (managing a group).

He thought a ko would be good enough.

There were many threats in the top right corner.

White had to capture black unconditionally. Mok slid into black's position as deeply as he could.

It was very hard for white to do so. It meant that black already had one eye here.

When black attached here, white couldn't atari, because the ko would be too heavy.

After that, Xie blocked here.

This attachment was a forcing move.

This move was also sente.

Up to here, black managed his group very easily.

Because of this exchange, white couldn't wedge here.

Even though Xie failed to find the aji in the corner, the outcome was practically as good.

And even though the aji in the top left was gone, it was no big deal.

Since the ko would have been favorable for black, Mok couldn't capture black.

If a ko had started, it would have been a hanami ko for black.

White couldn't resist black's forcing moves.

It was very unlucky for white.

We analyzed the position deeply, but we couldn't find a way to capture.

Mok failed to capture this corner without bad aji.

Before that, missing the simple turn lead to this result.

When black haned here, many of white's weaknesses were exposed.

That was the general opinion in the observers' room.

Nevertheless, I didn't imagine that black could live that easily.

Mok couldn't resign, because it was such a crucial game.

If black finishes his territory along this line, white would have no chance to win.

It was time to play do or die move in the center.

And it was white's last hope.

Mok started with this asking move.

He's very good at reversing games. His punch is famous.

After this exchange, white cut here.

White couldn't win the game with simple endgame plays.

Since black lived at top, white had to do something at the bottom.

Mok tried to reverse the game in the final center battle.

If black hanes here, white will double hane.

Falling back will lead to a more complicated situation.

After these exchanges, this push is a forcing move.

After that, white can move his group out.

Therefore, cutting here is better.

Mok ataried first, then peeped here.

He played to and fro. It'd be nice if he could make something here.

If white has a stone here, he can make some trouble with the atari and tiger's mouth.

Mok played here to force black to atari, so it was an interesting move.

Xie had no choice but to play here.

Pushing through is a common sense play, but this was what white wanted.

With this tiger's mouth, white can separate black.

How about this attachment?

Then white pushes here. Mok had already drawn this variation in his mind.

When black comes out, this atari is a wonderful move!

Black can't capture white's stone, so he has to come out again.

But then white can rescue the center group anyway.

Mok kept trying to turn the tables on black.

Of course Xie knew what white's plan was, so he played here.

Even though Mok blocked, Xie pushed and captured white's two stones.

Mok was playing tricky moves, but Xie dodged all of Mok's snares.

Black connected his group safely.

There were no escape routes, so Mok moved the center group out.

He was aiming at some aji at the bottom.

This move seems to work well now.

White was aiming at this attachment.

Then white can capture black's three stones.

And if you look closely at the bottom, this move is also sente.

Since this atari is sente, white can enclose black.

The aji was quite bad.

That's why Xie couldn't try to capture both groups.

When white played the tiger's mouth, black would normally push and cut.

But, because of the weakness here, white can counter-attack.

Then the situation will become more serious.

This wedge was calm and good.

Even though black had to release the center group, white's exchanges were unprofitable.

Yes, he could've played endgame moves at the bottom instead.

So Xie could tolerate the loss.

After this exchange, Mok ataried.

Then he exchanged this too.

Because of white's previous losses, connecting here wasn't enough to win.

So Mok moved these two stones out.

Black had to connect.

Can't these stones be captured in a net?

There's no way out.

Mok wedged, and aiming to push here.

After that, Mok connected.

This atari had been exchanged earlier.

This area was settled.

The lower right corner was Mok's last aim.

White couldn't do anything in the center.

Mok ataried twice, then connected.

Was it a capturing race then?

Yes, between black's four stones and white's three stones.

Both sides had a number of liberties.

After the push, Xie attached here.

If white hanes, black attaches again.

Black wins the capturing race by one liberty.

If Mok couldn't do anything here, he'd be hopeless.

The game was getting even more interesting.

Let's see how the final denouement unfolded.

This atari was a timesuji (a move played to get more time on the clock).

Both players were in byo-yomi now.

Mok complicated the game quite skillfully.

However, Xie's responses were calm and stable, just like his appearance.

He replied very well.

Xie defended perfectly in the center.

The final battlefield was the bottom right corner.

White had to increase his liberties to win the capturing race.

If black connects, he can't attach and capture white anymore.

So, if black answers, it's good for white.

Xie connected under because of that.

White needed to push first.

Mok squeezed black.

Black couldn't connect properly.

White can rescue the cutting stone above in sente.

Yes, it's atari.

Many of black's weaknesses were exposed.

Xie couldn't cut white. Black's groups were separated as a result.

It was an upset.

If white saves his cutting stone, black's three stones will die now.

Mok left the atari for later.

Xie succeeded in capturing white's group.

But, because Mok broke through on the right side, Xie was in trouble.

White needed to finish the right side.

Yes, this exchange was sente.

Connecting here was sente. Black was in atari.

Even though white had to sacrifice his stones, he managed to destroy black's territory.

After this move, black's three stones were automatically dead.

White didn't need to play another move there.

White's extension on the first line will be sente.

White gained profit in sente.

And this was the last big point left on the board!

It was the finishing blow.

Xie wouldn't have wanted to believe it.

How could the situation have changed so dramatically? We need to investigate that.

In addition to the big profit on the right, white took sente.

Black's five stones were also big.

198 moves, white (Mok Jinseok 9p) wins by resignation.

It was such a dramatic reversal.

Was it inevitable?

There was a review after the game.

According to the observers, Xie chose the only path in which he could lose the game.

White not only destroyed black's territory, he also took sente.

What was wrong with Xie's answers?

Let me summarize the conclusion.

At this point, Mok connected here.

When Mok came out, Xie enclosed here, and it created some aji.

Instead, he should've pushed like this.

White has no choice but to come out again.

If white extends, black connects. It's nothing.

If white ataris, black can cut.

These five stones are in atari.

Subsequently, black captures white's stones.

Even though white's connected, this group has too many liberties.

So white's dead anyway. This was the easiest way for black to win.

And there was another way.

In response this wedge, Xie connected here.

Later on, white's atari here played an important role in capturing black's stones.

Yes, it was sente.

If Xie had played here instead, this wouldn't be a forcing move anymore.

In the actual game, it was sente. So Mok captured black's stones.

This was the second way in which Xie could have won the game.

This was the last chance for black.

Here's one interesting thing.

Because of this atari, peeping here became a great tesuji.

Instead, Xie should've just jumped here.

After that, black abandons the corner.

Really? Isn't that big?

It's a disaster for black. But then he can rescue his five stones.

Surprisingly, black can still win by a small margin!

Yes, it's very big. In the actual game, white captured two of black's groups.

We can figure out how much Xie was leading by.

Mok lost too many points earlier on.

Admittedly, it's hard to come up with this sort of sacrifice strategy in an actual game.

Therefore, the other two variations were the easier way for black to win the game.

Above all, Mok's will for a win resulted in his success.

Xie was very careful not to give Mok any chances.

But, as we can see, he slipped at the final hurdle.

Pros are also human.

Anyway, Mok contributed to his team by stopping Xie's winning streak.

Xie was in high spirits after defeating Lee Sedol 9p, but Mok defeated him.

Mok's win was the turning point for the Korean team.

Later on, the remaining Korean players did very well.

It's clear that Mok's deeds were significant.

In the end, Choi Cheolhan 9p finished the competition.

This brings us to the end of Searching for Exquisite Games!

Thank you for watching!

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