Chen Yaoye to challenge Lee Sedol for his first international title – 9th Chunlan Cup

The quarter finals and semifinals of the 9th Chunlan Cup were played on December 4 and 6, 2012, in Hangzhou, China.

Monks playing Go

A Buddhist monk plays Go with Wang Runan 8 dan, President of the Chinese Weiqi Association.

Interestingly, despite the fact that it’s the middle of winter in China, the matches were played in what appears to be an unheated Buddhist temple.

Each time we’ve traveled to China, David has joked about wanting to find monks that play Go and I’ve always told him that, that was ridiculous.

While it wasn’t as exciting as doing it in person, he was still triumphant to prove me wrong!

Quarter finals

Of the final eight players, the only Korean to win his quarter final match was the defending champion, Lee Sedol 9p, who defeated Piao Wenyao 9p.

9th Chunlan Cup semifinalists (from left): Jiang Weijie, Piao Wenyao, Chen Yaoye, Kong Jie, Lee Sedol, Won Seongjin, Kim Jiseok and Park Junghwan.

Won Seongjin 9p fell to Jiang Weijie 9p, Kim Jiseok 8p was knocked out by Kong Jie 9p and Park Junghwan 9p was unable to overcome Chen Yaoye 9p.

Chen Yaoye (9 dan, left) plays Park Junghwan (9 dan) in the quarter finals of the 9th Chunlan Cup.

The Semifinals

Chinese fans had their fingers crossed for an all China final but Lee, with his “if I’m coming to play, I’m coming to win,” mentality, was too strong for Kong.

Kong Jie (9 dan, left) and Lee Sedol (9 dan) review their game at the 9th Chunlan Cup semifinals.

Chen won the all China semifinal, defeating Jiang.

This sets up a final between Lee Sedol and Chen Yaoye. Both players are currently ranked #1 (based on domestic performance) in their respective countries.

Chen Yaoye – The uncrowned king

Chen Yaoye 9 dan.

Chen Yaoye is probably the strongest Chinese 9p who has yet to win an international tournament, other than some special international matches, such as the China Korea Tengen.

(Xie He 9p does give Chen a run for his money in terms of this dubious honor, though.)

Chen’s record in the Chinese domestic scene is impeccable – he’s held the Tianyuan (Tengen) since 2009 and he’s also won the China Korea Tengen in three out of the four years where he’s contested it.

A child prodigy, Chen became a pro at the age of 10, was runner up in the 10th LG Cup final at the age of 16 (losing to Gu Li) and broke a world record by becoming the youngest professional 9 dan (at the time) at the age of 17.

Had he defeated Gu in the 10th LG Cup final, he would’ve also become the youngest ever international champion, but international success has eluded him so far. Chen turns 23 on December 16, 2012. You can read more about Chen Yaoye here.

Lee Sedol – Defending champion

Lee Sedol 9 dan.

In contrast, Lee Sedol is just one international tournament win shy of a grand slam, having won all the major international tournaments other than the Ing Cup at least once.

The last time Lee and Chen faced each other in an international final was more than 5 years ago in the 2007 Asian TV Cup.

At that time, Lee took home the title and Chen took home a promotion to 9 dan for his efforts.

You may already be familiar with Lee’s stellar career, but you can read more about Lee Sedol here if you like.

The 9th Chunlan Cup finals

The finals will be played as a best of 3 match in early 2013.

The exact date for the finals hasn’t been confirmed at the time of writing, but details will be added to the Pro Go Calendar as soon as they’re available.

Stayed tuned to see if Chen can finally win his breakthrough international title.

The Chunlan Cup

The Chunlan Cup is sponsored by Chunlan Group, a Chinese conglomerate with interests in the air conditioning, domestic appliance, automotive, finance and alternative energy industries.

The tournament uses Chinese rules, with a komi of 7.5 points, and offers a prize of $150,000 USD to the winner.

9th Chunlan Cup photos

Game records

Download all 9th Chunlan Cup quarter final and semifinal games here.

Lee Sedol vs Kong Jie


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Chen Yaoye vs Jiang Weijie


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


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About Jing

Jing likes writing, and can occasionally be convinced to play a game of Go. Even though she doesn't play Go as often as she once did, she still enjoys following the professional Go scene and writing about it on Go Game Guru.

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  1. Interesting games, quite remarkable playing conditions. In our town we once organised a weekend tournament in a school, in November. The school had turned the heating off, so we had to play with our coats on too.

    Lee’s 39 at Q8, that used to be my kind of move, trying to defend the territory. It was sometimes critisised as being too defensive, but I never liked the alternative at P10, as it would be too open. But this P10 would be better positioned to counter white’s prospective territory at the top. Any comments on this?

    Kind regards,

    • The same comment on Chen’s 47 at H16, I would expect something like F15. Or is the latter inducing white to defend around C14, therefore killing aji? Even rather simple situations seem complicated to me.

      Kind regards,

      • I’m not sure, I probably would have played your suggested moves myself. I believe your explanations are correct.

        In case 2 I would add that after F15 – D14, white has the option to peep at G16, then possibly jump to G16 and black is under attack. (So black has to defend again after D14)

        • An Younggil 8p says:

          Thanks mafutrct for the good answer!
          As he explained, white can still invade and attack black’s stone after jump, so B47 is right in this case.

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      Yes, right. Both B39 and P10 are possible.
      Lee might have thought that B39 is more solid and it’s better against Kong’s solid style of play.

  2. What an exciting match-up! I’m rooting for Chen!!!

  3. I just noticed that the game record for Lee Sedol vs Kong Jie differs after move 61 from the photo above, which I assume would be the real moves?

    If you play it out, up to move 60, it is the same.

    • You have sharp eyes Rolf 🙂

      After looking at it again, it seems like that’s a photo of the game review. You can tell because there’s a big pile of stones that they’ve pushed to one side, off the edge of the board.