Choi Cheolhan wins 16th Maxim Cup

Choi Cheolhan 9p won the 16th Maxim Cup on May 5, 2015, defeating Hong Seongji 9p with a 2-1 score.

Hong Seongji won game 1, but Choi Cheolhan won the next two games to take the best of three match.

Hong Seongji 9 dan (left) and Choi Cheolhan 9 dan at the 16th Maxim Cup final.

Hong Seongji 9 dan (left) and Choi Cheolhan 9 dan at the 16th Maxim Cup final.

Choi Cheolhan’s 3rd Maxim Cup title

This was Choi Cheolhan’s 3rd Maxim Cup title. He won the 10th Maxim Cup, defeating Park Younghun 9p, in 2009 and he defeated Kong Dongyun 9p in the following year.

Hong Seongji 9 dan (left) and Choi Cheolhan 9 dan, when the final game was finished.

Hong Seongji 9 dan (left) and Choi Cheolhan 9 dan, when the final game was finished.

Choi defeated Choi Gyubyeong 9p, Lee Sedol 9p and Kim Jiseok 9p en route to the final, and he defeated Hong Seongji in the final.

His last title was the 41st Myeongin (Korean Meijin), which he won against Lee Sedol in 2013. He didn’t win any titles in 2014.

In 2014, Choi proceeded to the final of 18th Chunwon (Korean Tengen), but lost to Park Junghwan 9p. He was also in the final of the 19th GS Caltex Cup, but was defeated by Kim Jiseok.

About a month ago, he reached the final of the 20th GS Caltex Cup, but he lost to Mok Jinseok 9p.

However, eventually he made his comeback as a title holder, a year and a half after winning the 41st Myeongin.

Choi is currently ranked #5 in Korea, and many of his fans still want to see him play competitively against top Chinese players and lead the young talented players to become stronger.

Hong Seongji

Hong Seongji was born in 1987, and he became a pro in 2001.

Hong Seongji 9 dan with his Navy uniform at the 16th Maxim Cup final.

Hong Seongji 9 dan with his Navy uniform at the 16th Maxim Cup final.

He was a solid player, but his results weren’t as outstanding as other prospective players in his age group – such as Song Taegon 9p and Yun Junsang 9p – in the first couple of years after he became a pro.

However, he showed his potential in 2008, when he defeated Lee Changho 9p in the semifinals of the 4th Price Information Cup and continued to the final.

That was the first major title match of his career, and he played against Lee Sedol in the final.

Most Go players expected Lee to win easily, but Hong defeated Lee and that was his 1st title. After that, he became stronger than before, but he hasn’t won any other titles since.

In January 2014, he joined the Navy to complete his compulsory military service. He almost certainly couldn’t study or play games properly in the Navy, but he defeated Mok Jinseok, Park Younghun, Won Seongjin 9p, and Park Jungsang 9p on his way to the final of this tournament.

He can only participate in a limited number of tournaments while in the Navy and whenever he plays in official matches he has to make a five hour train trip to Seoul.

Even though he didn’t win the title, his performance in this years Maxim Cup has been very impressive and sensational. Hong showed the Navy’s fighting spirit in this tournament and many Go fans rooted for him.

He had to return to the Navy after the final game, and he’ll finish his military service in January 2016.

Hong’s still ranked #17 in Korea, and I hope to see him return to his normal life soon, and enjoy playing games again in the free world.

An interview with Choi Cheolhan

Q: Congratulations, how do you feel about winning this Maxim Cup?

Choi Cheolhan 9 dan at the post game interview.

Choi Cheolhan 9 dan at the post game interview.

Choi: I’m so happy, but I should go home right away to play with my daughter, because it’s Children’s Day today!

Q: What did you think about the final game?

Choi: I had a nice opening because White played too aggressively on the right side.

However, I messed up in the middle game, and I became nervous at some point. Fortunately, I still won the game, and I’m happy with that.

Q: You started the ko fight in the bottom right quite late, when did you see that move?

Choi: I didn’t see that possibility for a while after the big trade. I discovered the bad aji around there in the endgame, and that was very lucky.

The move itself, to create the ko, wasn’t hard to find, but I didn’t have time to give it serious thought during byo-yomi. Anyway, I’m so happy to win the Maxim Cup, and I want to see my family who are waiting for me at home.

Maxim Cup

The Maxim Cup is a 9 dan only invitational tournament in Korea, which was established in the year 2000.

This lightning tournament uses a straight knockout format, with a best of three final. Players have 10 minutes main time and 40 second over time periods (byo-yomi) for a game. The tournament uses Japanese rules with a komi of 6.5 points

The winner’s prize is 50 million Korean Won (about $46,000 USD at the time of writing) and the runner up receives 15 million Korean Won.

The sponsor is Dong Suh Foods Corporation, a South Korean company that deals mainly in coffee and tea related products.


Game records

Choi Cheolhan vs Hong Seongji – Game 1


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Hong Seongji vs Choi Cheolhan – Game 2


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Choi Cheolhan vs Hong Seongji – Game 3


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


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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.

You can follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.


  1. lichigo says:

    Great article , choi is still very strong . I hope to see him won more. ( hong songji was born in 1987 maybe ^^ )

  2. Younggil An says:

    Thanks lichigo for pointing out the typo. I corrected it. 🙂