Go Commentary: Gu Li vs Lee Sedol – 17th Samsung Cup Final – Game 1

This is the first match of three in the final of the 17th Samsung Cup, played by Lee Sedol 9p and Gu Li 9p.

Gu Li (9 dan, left) and Lee Sedol (9 dan) review the first game of the 17th Samsung Cup final.

Both Lee Sedol and Gu Li are among the most popular and well known players in the world today.

A much anticipated game

Lee Sedol is ranked #1 in Korea, and even though Gu Li is ranked #10 in China at the moment, most people still regard him as the best, along with Lee Sedol.

Many Go fans were waiting in anticipation for these exciting matches, and I was also one of them. πŸ™‚

Let’s have a look at the game.

Commented game record

Gu Li vs Lee Sedol – Game 1


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. What can I say: only after the commentary I got some idea what this game was about. Mere mortals look in awe, at least I do. Thank you so much. Both players are modern time heroes, what they can see, reading ahead, is unbelievable. You can sense the emotions, they really must like a big fight, they don’t keep it just in reserve for when it is necessary. Wonderful!

    Kind regards,

  2. A great commentary. I think I learned something from your comments at 33 and 88.

  3. Valparaiso says:

    Another great lesson for us, amateurs! I like your approach to reviewing games – focusing not on a long, complicated game trees (which amateurs are not able to read anyway) but things such as direction of play, strong and weak groups, wasted stones etc.

  4. amazing games with great commentary….thanks a lot!!! =)

  5. Thanks Mr Younggil for the comments…. Without them it would to most of us almost imposible to apreciate this kind of game. Like often, thanks to you Baduk is more and more wonderful to me.

  6. Charleschapple says:

    Thanks, that really nice and in depth! I have a question about the end game. Gu Li seems to spend several gote moves on capturing the group at a12, even though it seems he has plenty of liberties. Would it not make more sense for him to either play a move in sente or block off more territory for himself? (Perhaps at O9 or S19 or something like that?)

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      Good question!
      If black doesn’t play at A12, white can have three ko threats from cut at B7. So, black couldn’t win the half a point ko at the end, so it’s completely the same as in the actual game.

      • Charleschapple says:

        Thanks! I’ve never thought of eliminating Ko threats quite like that. There is just a wealth of stuff to learn from this game.

  7. frΓ©dΓ©ric says:

    This an incredible game and an incredible commentary, thank you Mr Younggil.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful commentary!

  9. Dear An Younggil,

    You are too fast! I was busy doing a review in preparation of yours at http://senseis.xmp.net/?Samsung2012Game1. I am quite proud though to have identified the two moves that changed the flow of the game: 52 and 157.

    Thanks a lot for the review

  10. Great Commentary, thanks πŸ™‚

  11. Hi,

    Thanks for great comments again! I would like to ask the meaning of move W 264. Why W did not play O6 for example? There don’t seem to be anything urgent in lower left corner and O6 would be worth several points.
    I have a little suggestion for comments also. When you mention that another player or leading the game a bit or when another player resings could you mention how much is another player losing/winning? It would be useful for estimating the situation by myself to see if I’m right or wrong πŸ™‚

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      Thanks for your suggestion. That’s a good idea and I’ll try to do that. πŸ™‚
      For the question about the W264, this move was necessary since black played at M1. If white played elsewhere, B E2, W D1, B K1, and white would lose many points.

  12. Antoine Fenech says:

    Amazing game, thank you for your commentary !

  13. Awesome game, awesome commentary!

  14. Great game, great commentary.

  15. Thank you for the wonderful commentary! I always feel like I improve after reviewing these games.

    I am still confused about the joseki at move 28, though. You say E7 is crying at the end of the regular joseki, but I would love white’s position there! guaranteed points and E7 helps cancel out black’s influence in the middle! If it were my game, I would play toward this. Could you tell me why this is wrong?

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      That’s a good question.
      You may think white is not bad, but if you look at the whole board, you can feel that white’s left side territory is small, and white doesn’t have any potential in the future. It was white’s area, so white should fight and try to gain some more points.

  16. Hello, I was review this game after my friend showed me some commented games and was wondering at move 59 for black, why does Gu Li not play j12? is the KO too risky? Or is there a way for white to give up those 3 stones for a wall or cut to gain influence to invade somewhere?

  17. An Younggil 8p says:

    If black plays at J12 instead of 59, white will atari at L10 in sente, and then connect at J9. If black wedges at H11 to make it ko, white can answer at G10, and it’s not even a ko. That’s why black didn’t play at J12 for 59.

  18. Clydevil[1d] says:

    After the brilliant white 174 you show that if black answers locally the white nobi on the right side is a good way to attack the black center group. But it seems to me that this nobi is more than an attack it seems to be a killing move without any need of preparatory sequence in the top right corner. Could you show how black makes life after this nobi if white tries directly to kill it?

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      White can’t try to kill the center group directly. You can see the sequence how black makes two eyes in the center. Instead, white can get some benefits by threatening black’s center group.

      • Clydevil[1d] says:

        Thx for your answer but can you actually show how black makes two eyes after white nobi Q11?

        • An Younggil 8p says:

          You can follow the variation from W174, and after B L12(183 in the variation), W K14, B M11, W N9, B N13, W P14, and B N11, and makes two eyes. πŸ™‚

          • Clydevil[1d] says:

            Thx a lot for your answer! Just a precision if I may: in this variation white cannot play the bamboo joint at N9 instead of the hane at O9? (178 in the variation) to use a little more P6? (B O10 W N9 B 09 W 07), and then winning the missing tempo to kill?

            • An Younggil 8p says:

              After W 07, B N8, W O8. Then black follows the same sequence in the variation, and black can make two eyes because H9 is sente for black. Check it please.

              • Clydevil[1d] says:

                Ho yes, there is a problematic damezumari on the white center group!
                Thx for all your answers.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Gripping game. Gripping commentary.Thanks to all for asking exactly the same questions I had, and thanks for such precise answers!

    • After W142, each side has a large dead group. I do not understand why. Could they not have prevented this? I’m sure they could not anticipate this position when the fighting in the centre began. It seems that the timing of their priorities was poor, and careless. Yes, it is true that there is some balance in the exchange of these large groups, but was it necessary in the first place for each side to invest so many stones, just to have them captured-I don’t think that this was their aim. Is it possible that the fight in the centre was a distraction to both players, and that too much emphasis was placed on keeping sente? Or, was the shape of each group in question bad to begin with? Should they not have each taken gote in order to strengthen their groups?

      • Thomas Cabaret says:

        My point of view:
        Before the cut link around 106-108 white is in big trouble, either he can found a solution for his two weak groups or should resign.
        White engineer a complex leaning attack on the bottom right to find this solution (what happens before 106-108). Locally this leaning attack is not really good for him but it’s globally the only way to play.
        If black (which is more or less ahead before this 106-108) accept this link-cut 106-108 it’s only because at least him (but in fact probably both players) read the conclusion of w142 arround 106-108.
        Black is satisfied with the sente result and the big move at B143 and white is satisfied because he found a way not to resign.
        The positional/fight advantage black had before 106/108 materializes in the local white loss in the bottom right.

      • Younggil An says:

        It’s very hard to answer to your questions. They both were top two in the world when they played that game, and I don’t think their priorities were poor and careless. They’re not the level of too much emphasis to keep sente either. It was an extremely high level game, and no wonder that you couldn’t understand their moves. Even I couldn’t understand many of their moves because I’m not their level, and I can’t read what they’ve read in their minds. Anyway, I hope you can enjoy the masterpiece! πŸ™‚

  20. Oran Halevi says:

    wonderful game!! it was amazing to watch it.
    Anybody knows what’s the money price for this championship? if there’s any..

    • Younggil An says:

      Oh, I forgot to put this information.
      The prize money for winner is currently 300 million Won. (US$ 283,000)
      And the runner up receives 100 million Won. (US$ 94,000)

  21. Great Review Mr. An Younggil !!! I truly appreciate your efforts in promoting the game of go. I just have a question. Why does Gu Li always seem to lose in the end game? He always leads in the majority of the game but in the end he loses.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for your kind note and the question.
      Gu Li’s opening is outstanding, and his middle game is great too. However, Gu’s endgame seems to be the weakest part for him, and he
      loses many of winning games in the end.