Go Commentary: Gu Li vs Zhou Ruiyang – 10th Chunlan Cup

This is game 2 from the 10th Chunlan Cup final.

The game was played between Gu Li 9p and Zhou Ruiyang 9p on June 3, 2015, in Zhangjiajie, China.

Gu won game 1 of the final by resignation on June 1, 2015, and this was game 2 from the best three match.

Zhou Ruiyang 9 dan (left) and Gu Li 9 dan at the 10th Chunlan Cup final.

Zhou Ruiyang 9 dan (left) and Gu Li 9 dan at the 10th Chunlan Cup final.

Gu Li

Gu Li is currently ranked #8 in China, but he used to be #1 for a long time in his prime.

Gu Li 9 dan at the 10th Chunlan Cup final.

Gu Li 9 dan at the 10th Chunlan Cup final.

He won the 10th LG Cup defeating Chen Yaoye 9p in 2006, and it was his first international title in his career.

In 2007, he won the 6th Chunlan Cup, and he won the 21st Fujitsu Cup in 2008.

In 2009, Gu became invincible. He won the 4th Toyota-Denso Cup, the 13th LG Cup and the 1st BC Card Cup respectively, and he became unarguably the best in the world. Especially, he defeated Lee Sedol 9p by 2-0 in LG Cup, and he was in his peak.

In 2010, he won the 15th Samsung Cup, but surprisingly Gu didn’t add any international title since then.

Gu lost to Lee Sedol in the final of the 3rd BC Card Cup, and he was also defeated by Won Seongjin 9p at the 16th Samsung Cup in 2011.

Gu was in the final of the 1st MLily Cup in 2013, but he lost to Mi Yuting 9p, who was unknown by that time, and it was shocking news for his fans.

There was a historical match between Gu Li and Lee Sedol in 2014 called MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango, and Gu lost to Lee badly by 6-2 score. Most of Go fans might have thought it’ll take a while for Gu to overcome from the defeat, but Gu won against Kim Jiseok 9p in the semifinals at the end of 2014, and he proceeded to the final.

In this Chunlan Cup, Gu defeated Lee Sedol, Cho U 9p, and Kim Jiseok 9p respectively to proceeded to the final.

Zhou Ruiyang

Zhou Ruiyang 9 dan at the 10th Chunlan Cup final.

Zhou Ruiyang 9 dan at the 10th Chunlan Cup final.

Zhou Ruiyang was born in 1991, and became a pro in 2002.

He’s currently ranked #5 in China, but he also used to be #1 in China for a year between 2010 and 2011.

His results in the international matches weren’t outstanding when he was ranked #1, but he was getting better since 2012, and he eventually won the 1st Bailing Cup by defeating Chen Yaoye in early 2013.

At the time, Chen was ranked #1, but Zhou shutout Chen by 3-0. Zhou’s style of play is practical and lively, and somehow that’s working very well against Chen’s thick and solid style of play.

He won two domestic titles (13th Liguang Cup and 1st Luoyang Longmen Qisheng) after winning the Bailing Cup in the same year.

In 2014, he proceeded to the final of the 18th LG Cup to challenge for another title, but he lost to Tuo Jiaxi 9p.

This final is his 2nd challenge to win his 2nd international title.

Zhou defeated Iyama Yuta 9p, Shi Yue 9p and Chen Yaoye 9p to the final in this Chunlan Cup.

Let’s have look at the final of the 10th Chunlan Cup.

Gu Li 9 dan (left) and Zhou Ruiyang 9 dan after the game.

Gu Li 9 dan (left) and Zhou Ruiyang 9 dan after the game.

Commented game record

Gu Li vs Zhou Ruiyang


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. Warren Dew says:

    Could 8 have been positioned more strategically, perhaps at E5 or E6, or would that be a mistake?

  2. Nadav Schweiger says:

    Hi An. First of all I’d like to thank you for this commentary and all other, I read most of them and I enjoy them very much!

    What do you think about playing b157 at c8? I couldn’t find a good response for w , because if w cuts at d8, then: b c6, w b7, b b8, w b6 and then b connects to his c12 group. Afterwards w, according to my reading, ends up dying or living in gote.
    Am I missing something?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Nadav for your question.

      That’s quite similar to the variation which I showed at the move 159. White can live in sente, and will come back to the right side. 🙂

  3. At W 218 if white exchanged A and B with black shouldn’t white actually get a legitimate chance to win? Considering White had to fill another point in the corner later to avoid seki, this move is supposed to worth 2 points which should be enough to revert the result. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question Tony.

      Yes, White could earn a point, but still Black would win by half a point at least.

      That’s two points different as you mentioned, but Black plays next move, so it’d only differ 1 point or less depends on the rest of the endgame and half point kos etc.

      By the way, White should have exchanged that.

  4. “in his prime” 6 years ago. That is scary to contemplate.
    In the good old days, “in his prime” would be looking back several decades.

    • Younggil An says:

      I see. I didn’t know that. Thanks Stefan for your advice. 🙂

      • Stefan is not correcting you An. He’s alluding to the fact that nowadays careers don’t span a lifetime and do not peak for a decade. We speak in terms of a few years now. This is what scares him.

  5. Thank you An for another crystal clear pro commentary. As always, you make those hermetic pro games intelligible for us.

    A few editorial remarks:

    Variation @ 37: “the scale of Black’s territory isn’t relatively small”
    Must be “is relatively small”

    Variation @ 71: “Black must worry about A and White will invade at A next” Must be “will invade at B next”

    Conclusive remarks: “from the very” Must be “from the very start?”

  6. Thanks again for another wonderful review.
    When white in the variation starting from move 25 jumps into black’s corner: W R17, B Q17, W Q18, B P18, W R18, etc. Why does white not play W S18 instead of W R18? So that he can jump further and take away more points. Is it because white is still eyeing the aji at Q15?
    Also I read somewhere this move has almost disappeared from recent pro games, is this true?

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good idea. In that situation, the hanging connection at S18 is possible.

      However, in the diagram I showed, Black can’t easily attach at S14 later, because of the weakness at Q15, so I chose the solid connection.

      Yes, that connection at S18 has disappeared in pro games, because White’s blocking at O18 isn’t sente since Black’s atari at Q19 is sente for Black.

  7. thanks for your fine comments. I would be very pleased if you would comment the game between Gu Li and Lee Sedol in the same tournament. Lee invaded the corner immediately and you thought that this is a trap by Gu. I replayed already this game and it is very interesting. Gu won by half a point…
    I highly appreciate your comments and videos.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for your suggestion to review that game.

      Yes, that’s quite an interesting game, and I’ll think about that…