China wins 16th Nongshim Cup

Lian Xiao 7p defeated Kim Jiseok 9p in the final round of the 16th Nongshim Cup on March 5, 2015.

With this victory, Team China takes the Cup back home for another year.

Lian Xiao 9 dan (left) and Kim Jiseok 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

Lian Xiao 9 dan (left) and Kim Jiseok 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

The final round

The final round of 16th Nongshim was played from March 3 to 5 in Shanghai, China.

Captain Iyama Yuta 9p, who was the last man standing for Team Japan, played against Mi Yuting 9p in the first game of the final round.

Mi Yuting 9 dan (left) and Iyama Yuta 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

Mi Yuting 9 dan (left) and Iyama Yuta 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

Mi Yuting made an early mistake, and the game was soon decided.

Iyama’s play in this game was excellent, and there weren’t any chances for Mi to show his strength in that game.

This was Iyama’s 2nd win in this Nongshim Cup, after defeating Park Junghwan 9p at the end of round 2.

Iyama’s next opponent was Kim Jiseok 9p, who was also the captain and anchorman for Team Korea.

Iyama Yuta 9 dan (left) and Kim Jiseok 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

Iyama Yuta 9 dan (left) and Kim Jiseok 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup

Iyama took the lead in the fighting at the bottom, and he maintained his lead up to the endgame stage.

However, Kim caught up little by little in the endgame, and when Iyama made a crucial mistake the game was suddenly over.

Kim Jiseok needed to win two more games to bring the Nongshim Cup home to Korea.

His next opponent was Lian Xiao 7p. The game was interesting, with severe fighting in the top left, and Kim took the lead with a fantastic sacrifice strategy on the right side.

However, Kim played too cautiously once he was ahead and made a couple of slack moves later on. Meanwhile, Lian played very well and managed to catch up again.

In the end, Kim went all out, but Lian’s responses were calm and accurate and Kim resigned.

Team China

Mi Yuting 9 dan, Lian Xiao 7 dan and Shi Yue 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup presentation

Mi Yuting 9 dan, Lian Xiao 7 dan and Shi Yue 9 dan at the 16th Nongshim Cup presentation

Team China’s captain was Shi Yue 9p, but he didn’t have to play after Lian Xiao defeated Team Korea’s last player.

In this Nongshim Cup, Wang Xi 9p won four games in the 2nd round, and he was China’s most valuable player in this tournament.

This was Team China’s fourth win.

The Nongshim Cup

The Nongshim Cup is a team event between China, Japan and Korea.

The sponsor, Nongshim, is a Korean instant noodles company.

The tournament uses a win and continue format, which is common in these team events.

Korea has dominated this event, winning it 11 times. In contrast, Japan has won it only once, while China is slowly catching up with four wins.

The prize money for the Nongshim Cup will be greatly increased in 2016. The current winner’s purse is 200 million Korean Won (about $180,000 USD at the time of writing), but starting with the 17th edition of the tournament, the prize for the winning team will be 500 million Korean Won (approximately $450,000 USD).

Brief game commentary

Iyama Yuta vs Mi Yuting – Game 11


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


There was an early fight in the top right corner.

White 26 was questionable, and Black 31 was a strong attack.

White 38 was a big mistake, and it became the losing move. White should have attached at 44 instead.

Black 39 and 41 were strong strong responses, and Black 47 was a sharp tesuji which paralyzed White.

White countered with 54, but Black’s responses were perfect up to 81, and the game was practically over at this point.

Iyama’s play afterwards was excellent, and Mi didn’t have any chances to catch up.

Kim Jiseok vs Iyama Yuta – Game 12


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The opening up to White 28 was well balanced between influence and territory.

Whtie 48 to 50 formed a nice combination, and White 58 and 60 were strong counters.

White 82 was a nice tesuji to take sente, and White took the lead with 86.

Black 113 was a sharp invasion, but Black 123 was weak, and White maintained his lead up to White 128.

White 130 was premature, and Black caught up with 149.

White 154 and 170 were small and the game was reversed by a small margin with Black 159 and 171.

White 180 was a misread and it became the final losing move.

Iyama was leading for almost the whole game, but Kim reversed in the endgame.

Kim Jiseok vs Lian Xiao – Game 13


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


The opening up to White 28 was even.

Both White 42 and Black 43 were strong, and the fighting became very complex.

White 56 was severe, but Black fought back with 57 and 59, which were nice responses. Up to Black 79, the game was still even.

Black’s sacrifice strategy, starting with Black 95, was successful. However, Black 111 was slack.

White 120 and 122 were sharp, and Black 125 was another slack move.

White 126 was a big endgame move, and the game became slightly better for White.

White 174 and 180 were a nice combination and Black was in trouble.

Black chose to fight a big ko in the center, but it was too big, and the game was over when White eliminated the ko with 218.

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About Younggil An

Younggil is an 8 dan professional Go player with the Korean Baduk Association. He qualified as a professional in 1997 and won an award for winning 18 consecutive professional matches the following year. After completing compulsory military service, Younggil left Korea in 2008, to teach and promote the game Go overseas. Younggil now lives in Sydney, Australia, and is one of the founders of Go Game Guru. On Friday evenings, Younggil is usually at the Sydney Go Club, where he gives weekly lessons and plays simultaneous games.

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  1. Hi,

    In the final game you say 125 was slack. But white has a large continuation at Q2 taking points in the corner (B cannot clamp at the 2-2 point because of T3). Trying to work out your reasoning, I am guessing black should play B7, then after taking sente in the lower right, plunge in at C3 (as B5 is not enough to make up for the lower right). Bbut the continuations and the counting from there is a bit beyond me. Is that right?

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, you’re right.

      Black could invade at 3-3 for Black 125, or just B7 would still be better.

      White Q2 doesn’t work well, because Black can attach at S2, W R2, B T3, and White can’t live inside. White can hane at T4 to connect under instead, but playing on the left side was still more valuable.

      I’ll explain more in details at the commentary.

  2. Yes, Q2 S2 I somehow hallucinated white had a sequence, but it doesn’t exist. Q4 also stopped by S2. T4 all that’s left and therefore clearly too small. Thanks.