Favorites fall left, right and center at the 17th LG Cup

In a surprising turn of events at the 17th LG Cup , several favorites, including Lee Changho 9p, Lee Sedol 9p, Gu Li 9p, Park Junghwan 9p and the defending champion, Jiang Weijie 9p, fell in the round of 16.

Gu Li (9 dan, left) and Choi Cheolhan (9 dan) play at the 17th LG Cup.

June 20, 2012 saw both Jiang Weijie and Lee Changho lose their matches, to Na Hyun 2p and Li Kang 6p respectively.

In the only match of the round between 9 dans, Korea’s Choi Cheolhan defeated China’s Gu Li.

Going into the quarter finals

The remaining Korean players are no strangers to international competition. Even the youngster, Na Hyun, has already made quite a splash on the international stage.

Na Hyun 2 dan. Looking to improve on his semifinal finish at the 16th Samsung Cup.

In contrast, the three surviving Chinese players, while all moderately successful domestically, have yet to make their mark on the international scene.

Lee Sedol (9 dan, left) was defeated by Shi Yue (5 dan).

LG Cup resumes in November

The 17th LG Cup will now pause, and games will resume later this year in mid-November. Go Game Guru will let you know when it restarts, posting game results and photos as usual.

LG Cup round of 16 results

About the LG Cup

The LG Cup is a major international Go tournament. It started in 1996 and the prize money is currently 250 million Won.

The main draw of 32 players is part invitational, comprising of 5 Korean players, 5 Chinese players, 4 Japanese players, 1 Taiwanese player and including the previous year’s winner and runner up.

The rest of the main draw is determined through a preliminary tournament. The format is single knockout, with the final played as a best of 3 games.

The tournament is sponsored by LG Electronics, a multinational consumer electronics company whose headquarters are in South Korea.

17th LG Cup photos

Game records

Gu Li vs Choi Cheolhan


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Shi Yue vs Lee Sedol


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Li Kang vs Lee Changho


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Jiang Weijie vs Na Hyun


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.

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


  1. balakirev says:

    Only 3 Chinese players left, and none of them are really strong… I am worried =/

    • balakirev says:

      Just to add, Li Kang and Jiang Wiejie’s beginning fuseki have a lot in common…. is that becoming popular in china recently?

    • Byung Soo Lee says:

      They are very strong. Look at who they beat! Shi Yue is ranked 5th in China. Li Kang and Lian Xiao were ranked before Dang Yifei was.

  2. Augustus says:

    lol someone said the chinese left are not really strong. it’s just that they are very young and not as known as the other pros.
    i’ll keep an eye on Shi Yue, he’s been invincible lately, he might win the whole thing, he left #1 player of the world out of the competition.

    • I agree with everyone who has said that the remaining Chinese players are all very strong. Their ranks do not fully reflect their strength as the Chinese promotion system is very strict. Players often win a break through tournament prior to reaching the rank of 9p.
      Remember, Jiang Weijie won the 16th LG Cup as a 5p and as a result, was directly promoted to 9p. Similarly Xie He was promoted from 7p to 9p as a result of the pivotal role he played in leading Team China to victory at the 13th Nongshim Cup.

  3. I agree with others, Shi Yue is very strong player. Besides Lee Sedol, he did beat Park Junghwan, Park Younghoon, Choi Cheolhan, Qiu Jun, Kong Jie, Gu Li – all of them in last 3 months. It’s not just lucky win or two.

  4. What we currently see in the Go world can be compared to what happens in female tennis (and the opposite can be seen in male tennis): everybody can win against everybody. There is a flattened top without recurring favorites. This results in fans around the world not knowing anymore whom to cheer, which leads to a decline of interest. Complete predictability is boring. Complete unpredictability is equally boring.

    The world of Go needs a clearer hierarchy of stars, a few of which dispute the big titles, then a number of declining stars and a larger number of rising stars, some of which will become the new emperors. This can be seen in male tennis, where Federer is still clinging to his old fame reaching the semis but Nadal and Djokovic are battling out the major finals today, and Murray, Tsonga and Del Potro stage the occasional upset. We surely are living the best of times, with three styles of play, exemplified by the fact that everybody wants Federer’s serve, Nadal’s forehand and Djoko’s backhand.

    In Go, one would need something like the tactical genius Lee Sedol, the master of flexibility Gu Li and the tenacious Xie He, and preferably a Japanese presence in such a top three, who reach the majority of the finals, while Park Junghan, Na Hyun and Dang Yifei are crawling to the top. Instead, we see favorites fall so often that we cannot really call them favorites anymore. Every new tournament carries a new winner.

    Perhaps the go world should think of restoring longer games so that carefully designed strategies prevail over the probability of risk taking under time pressures. In male tennis, 5 set matches often give the edge to the fitter player or the player with the greater mental stamina. The shorter matches are perhaps easier to organize or less costly, but it cannot be denied there is a cost associated to a seemingly random distribution of victories.

    • I completely agree with this assessment. It’s hard to even know who to root for if the winner is unpredictable. I wonder what percentage of viewers watch live games, as opposed to those who follow the game records. If it heavily favors the latter, then the length of the game itself shouldn’t matter as much for the fans.

      • Flandre says:

        Unfortunately, for sponsors live games watchers are more important, so games become faster and faster. This is quite old and known problem, Cho Hye-Yeon 9p wrote an article about it few years ago: http://loveku.livejournal.com/23053.html

        • Byung Soo Lee says:

          That article makes me sad. Consider physical live sports. When a basketball player makes an incredible move to make the winning basket, the people watching the game live can appreciate the beauty and skill involved immediately in addition to experiencing the thrill associated with the consequences it will have on the outcome. When Messi jumps over a would-be tackler and makes a reverse turn with the ball to elude a second defender and lofts a high arcing shot over the outstretched hands of the rushing goalie with his non-dominant foot, the millions who are watching can appreciate the skills involved immediately even if none of them could even come close to imitating those moves. Those watching the game may enjoy the fact that this goal made their favorite team win, but they also enjoy watching one of the beautiful possibilities of the game realized.

          Now contrast this to watching blitz go on live TV. How many of us could spot a brilliant/terrible move at the moment that it is made? Even if there is a commentator, the short time settings also constrain the commentator’s ability to say useful things about the game without falling behind the progress of the actual game.

          If we cannot appreciate the skill in the game, then we are appreciating only the thrill of winning and losing. To boil it down to its ugly essence, we are watching go for the same reasons that we pull the lever on a slot-machine: purely for the thrill that risk and uncertainty generate. It probably “primes” the minds of the viewers as well to more readily make impulsive purchases.

          I have to agree that short formats are probably more efficient in generating revenue for the sponsors. Lotteries are incredibly popular around the world after all…

      • Byung Soo Lee says:

        30-second go is not worthless. It is merely an entirely different game from 3-hour go. We treat the 100-meter dash and the marathon as two different types of sports in the broader category of track-and-field. We have somehow failed to make a similar distinction in go competitions.

        Standardized time-setting categories would help go fans and players make better sense of how players perform against each other in each category. For example, the governing go bodies of CJK could agree that all “standard” blitz games will be 5m+3x20s, “standard” normal games 3h+5x1m, and “standard” long games 8h+5x1m (or something like it…just standardized). Then we could get reliable international ELO ratings in each category. This would help seeding tournaments as well. There would be no top go player, but a top “standard blitz go” player, a top “standard normal go” player, and a top “standard long go” player, just as there is a top sprinter and a top long-distance runner.

        It will never happen (the go associations do not seem to be run by particularly smart people), but I can dream.

        • The japanese found the solution more than a century ago. They played the Castle games two weeks before the event and they replayed their game in front of the shogun or his representative at a faster rate, allowing him to watch the game and attend his other fonctions.

        • Very interesting assessment. Me being not strong at all, I could play my own game at a normal amateur time rate, trying to solve the problems that arose in a (not too) satisfactorily way. But I was worthless at speed games, and I hated them, the game playing me, and not me playing the game.

          However, how do the top pro’s, young and old, think about this matter? Do they really need such a long period of time to play their favourite type of game without glaring errors? Do they need much time to come up with the best move, both in a strategical and tactical way? There they may differ from us, me, very mediocre players. I remember a remark of a strong chess player quite some years ago, when asked what he was thinking about at a particular move that took him maybe an hour. He said that he was thinking about the game he lost the previous day.

          Kind regards,

    • Some very interesting points. I have often wondered what results would look like if there were international tournaments with similar time settings to Honinobo title matches. I suspect the finals, including quarter finals and semi finals, would look quite different to current results.
      The trend towards faster settings is probably due to a combination of sponsors’ desire for live televised games as well as the hectic schedules of most professional players. I think there is always a place for tournaments with faster time settings. However, as a point of differentiation, perhaps one of the current tournament sponsors might consider changing their time settings?

  5. I liked the Shi Yue – Lee Sedol game very much. How to come up with move 33 is beyond me, of course. I would like to think that this type of move would never be contemplated in the Shusaku-era.

    I also liked the way Na Hyun used his initial thickness to attack, in the end catching a group. And the nice thing about this game is that despite his thickness he never was much behind in territory anyway, so I guess this is a clever game, and I wonder what Jiang Weijie did really wrong.

    Kind regards,

    • I don’t know how familiar you are with the old games, but I am certain moves like this were contemplated. The move in question is a standard tesuji that occurs in a few joseki, too. But I certainly agree that it is rare in amateur games. And of course the sad thing about Go is that one can only see what is played, not what sequences the players imagined. Also, I enjoyed the game a lot, too, I’m time and time amazed by the ideas they come up with.

  6. Hi Jing, love your articles! I have an off-topic question: where can I find more information about women pro players? Is there a “women’s go” site like espn’s women’s basketball site? Are there lists of the top 50 women pros in the 3 main go countries? (Alas, I only know English and Japanese, tho pls mention other good sites — I can at least read Hangul a bit.)
    It seems that there are many strong young women players. Do you think that women’s go is flourishing now? I wish there were more international tournaments for women, tho Jeongganjang (now replaced by Huanglongshi) is so much fun!

    • Flandre says:

      Blog about professional go in general, but women go is covered too. It’s on hiatus at the moment though.

    • Thanks Dave 🙂
      We do try to report on women tournaments. Unfortunately there are not as many tournaments to cover. Personally, I suspect having women only tournaments is contributing to the differential between women and men’s strengths. It would be exciting if another female player were to win a tournament like Kuksu again like Rui Naiwei.

  7. The unlimitedgo.blogspot does look great, thx! I’ll catch up on the old articles while waiting for it to resume.