Go Commentary: Gu Li vs Lee Sedol – Jubango – Game 2

The second game of the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango took place in Pinghu (on outskirts of Shanghai), on February 23, 2014.

This time Gu Li held black and Lee Sedol played white.

Lee won the first game, so it became more important for Gu to even the series by winning this game.

No home turf advantage?

Many people expected that Gu Li would have something of an advantage in this match, because most of the games will be played in China. However, it doesn’t seem like Lee Sedol is affected by that so far, since the different food and environment don’t seem to bother him.

Gu Li under pressure

Actually, it looks like Gu Li is under quite a bit of pressure from his fans and the Chinese media. They’re very enthusiastic about this match, and I suspect that this could be creating more psychological pressure and may be distracting Gu.


Gu Li 9 dan played black in the second game of his jubango with Lee Sedol 9 dan.

We’re writing a book about this match

This commentary, and others, will form the basis for our Go book about Lee Sedol and Gu Li’s jubango.

The actual book will contain a more extensive commentary of this game, but you can regard what you see below as a draft (learn more).

Please help us to make our first Go book as good as possible. There are several ways you can help us to improve the commentary below:

  1. Ask questions about the game – if anything is unclear, please let us know so we can explain it better!
  2. Point out any mistakes, even minor typos – our first draft is below, because this is going to be a book, even small mistakes need to be fixed.
  3. Tell your friends and ask them to help too.

The rules of the game

The time limit for these games is 3 hours and 55 minutes, with 1 minute x 5 times byo-yomi. It’s traditional to subtract 5 minutes from the 4 hour total, because of the 5 x 1 minute periods.

There’s no lunch break scheduled for these games, but food is provided and the players are free to get up and eat whenever they want, throughout the game.

Anyway, let’s have a look at the second game of the jubango.

Commented game record

Gu Li vs Lee Sedol – Game 2


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. Josh Hoak says:

    The result I see in the SGF is +0.5, but I seem to recall that the announcers saying score was +1.5. Is the official result +0.5?

    • Josh Hoak says:

      Ah, I see you speak to this on the final move.

    • Younggil An says:

      It seems so in Chinese rule. In Korea, the media said White won by 1.5 points, and they haven’t changed it, but since the game was played under Chinese rule, official result should be +0.5.

  2. Great commentary! Wondering about J5 for Black 51. Also I think there are a few typos where you write ‘Black’ instead of ‘White’ or vice-versa.

    Really looking forward to the rest of the games and the book!

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Will. Black could also play at J5 instead of 51, and then White will push up at H5, B J7, and W K3 to settle inside. That would be another game.

  3. In the bottom right corner around moves 20-25 you make comments about Lee wanting to lead things towards a more peaceful game, however around move 8 you made the comment that Lee was behind in the opening. If Lee was behind, wouldn’t he want to complicate things? So why was he playing for a simple and peaceful game?

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question. When Lee played at 24 and 26, he might have thought the opening was not bad. However, B27 was a good move, and the game became better for Black.
      After B27 was played, I could realize that W8 was questionable, because I couldn’t find any other questionable moves by Lee.

  4. Thanks for the game and the commentary

  5. Move 78 a typo. But great commentary!

  6. Great comments, thank you very much! So, it is not a perfect game, it is like real life. If as white you choose to play 4, how is it possible to play 8, which seems to be questionable? You would expect white to have looked at the positions arising from 4, and 8, before the game. Does Lee think 8 is questionable too? Did Lee and Gu analyse the game together?

    Kind regards,

    • Younggil An says:

      Maybe that’s Lee’s style of play. He doesn’t seem to like a big framework game, so he chose 8 I guess. I don’t know if Lee thinks 8 is questionable or not. They analysed the game together just after the game, but I have no idea what they talked. Thanks.

      • The post mortem analysis of Lee and Gu, was it recorded? By looking at the variations on the board one could infer the interesting issues by their standards and points of view. I wonder if these analyses are available to you, for the book, whether the opinions of the players are taken into account.

        Kind regards,

        • Younggil An says:

          Unfortunately, the analysis of Lee and Gu isn’t available for us. Baduk TV was given the game file and videos from China, and the analysis wasn’t included. So it’s hard for us to know what they were talking about just after the game.

  7. I really feel sad for Gu who always shows superb intuition in the opening and amazing fighting skills, but eventually loses against Lee due to his inferior endogame. On the other, congratulation to Lee !

  8. John Green says:

    Many thanks for the commentary.

    Here are corrections to three minor typos.

    In a variation at move 40, it is not clear what is meant by “for the eyespace of point weak groups”. Maybe the word “point” should be left out.

    In a variation at move 46, “the situation might change is Black” should be “the situation might change if Black”.

    In a variation at move 52, “would have been better White than” should be “would have been better for White than”.

    I hope you do manage to produce the book of the jubango. I will buy a copy.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks John for you Correction.
      We’ll try to correct all wrong typos soon. Thanks.

  9. The “these moves are intended to show what would be possible if (…)” explanations are fantastic ! Thank you !

  10. At move 65, “white’s marked stones” should say “black’s marked stones”.

  11. A big thank you for the review!
    I took from it, that for amateur standards it was a very close (+/- 5 pts) game most of the time and that Gu Li never had a huge lead. So it was less Gu Li throwing away a sure win but more Lee Sedol winning a close game catching up little by little. Is that impression correct? Thanks!

  12. Such good commentary and variations. Thanks! So much to learn!

    I feel sad for Gu, felt like he deserved to win after such hard work through the game. But props to Lee for precision in the endgame…wow.

  13. Why did B choose the one space low pincer at move 13, rather than a high pincer of some sort? Is it because he is low on the right and W has a stone on P4 so the right isn’t as developable for him? Or is there another reason that I’m missing?

    • Younggil An says:

      Black could also think about Q12. In that case, other loose pincers are not appropriate, because White will do double approach, and it’s not sure if Black can take sente or not. The main purpose in this game was to take sente, so Gu just chose the one space pincer. The higher one at Q12 was also conceivable though.

  14. Oh, sorry and a follow-on. If B had chosen the two space high pincer for example instead, what response would W have? I’m wondering if he might double approach instead of jumping into the 3-3 if B plays that pincer instead.

  15. Very exciting game, well played by Lee – he kept cool and managed to turn it around!

  16. David Beard says:

    Please excuse me if my comment is incorrect. I was wondering about the comment at move 65, “However, because of the cutting stone at B, White’s marked stones were a little thin now and attacking on a large scale wasn’t as easy as it would have been if Black had played more decisively at the bottom.” The Black stones are the ones marked in the diagram so I wonder if ”…Black’s marked…” was meant instead of ”…White’s marked…”?

  17. David Beard says:

    Sorry, a minor grammatical error at move 155? “…Gu wanted make White’s ko threat at 150 bad,…”. I believe the preposition “to” is missing and should read, “…Gu wanted to make White’s ko threat at 150 bad,…”.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks David for your correction and the nice word about the commentary. πŸ™‚

  18. David Beard says:

    Over all, this commentary greatly enhanced my understanding of this game.

  19. RainierBob says:

    Typo: For some reason, at move 78, moves 74 to 78 are numbered but not move 77.

  20. Shinken says:

    At the comment with the double ko (move 236) i think Black and white are mixed up at the end.
    I also stumbled on something around 50 to 80 (i remembered 63 but that i mixed up with 236), but couldnt find it anymore. I think it wasnt a white black mix up.

    Thx for the review

    • Younggil An says:

      I see. I didn’t know that it was mixed up. Thanks for your correction Shinken.

  21. Hello,
    3 years ago I wrote HTM5 canvas/javascript based Go game software. It is worth exploring such a route for game displays. Here is an example from my site :


    Note how variations have titles.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Neil for your suggestion. However, actually, we’re planning to update the software soon, and we’re already have a new one to do that. So it’s hard for us to use yours.
      Anyway, thank you for your kindness and I can see it’s a nice program.

  22. Jolyon Kay says:

    Thank you for the commentary, that even a relative beginner can benefit from.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Jolyon for your comment. I tried to explain as much as possible, but since there’s many things to explain, some easy variations were omitted. Anyway, I’m happy to hear that it’s still beneficial for you. πŸ™‚

  23. Xavier Combelle says:

    I enjoyed the commentary

  24. Even as a regular visitor of this site, I’m awestruck by the quality of the comments. It’s as if the thrill of these two great players meeting in the showdown of the past couple of decades has inspired An Younggil to get the best out of himself too in the commentary.

    There are two stages where you deliberately forego deeper analysis but you still explain why and this explanation made good sense. Where you do provide more detail, it is indeed intelligible up until the beginner level. This is pure craftsmanship. The book – if ever you guys will make it – will be amazing. I’m prepared to be part of the crowd funding it.

    I’ll learn this second game by heart too and provide some more comments at sensei’s library, referring to yours wherever appropriate.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Dieter a lot for your nice words on the comment.
      I tried to do my best, and so did David. Actually, I also learned a lot from their games in the Jubango. Thanks for your support. πŸ™‚

  25. If white 28 was played at c7 and followed by the sequence o2 p7 q9 as shown in the variation, is the white group at the bottom right more or less settled at this point, or does black have an effective way to continue the attack? Thanks.

    • Younggil An says:

      Even though that White group is not in urgent danger, Black could still attack to get some benefits. For example, Black could cap at O8 to force White to live inside, and he’ll build nice wall on the outside. White 28 looks small, but it was necessary.

  26. Hey, i was wondering, white 34 : you said it was questionnable could you show a bit more after black invades somehow white top left area with white at d17 ? It seems hard to defend whole left area that’s why he would have played knight move instead. Because that makes the scale larger. i hope you can understand my poor english πŸ˜€

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question joffrey.
      There’s no problem to understand, since my English is poorer.
      You’re right that black can live without trouble on the left side. However, white will get a nice outside, and develop the top area. Also, white can easily invade black’s lower side. In the game, it was hard, because his left side group was weak. So overall, it’d be still better for white than in the actual game.

  27. David Ormerod says:

    Note for later: Variation for move 52; we’ve marked C and D on the board, but not mentioned them in the comment.

  28. Mr younggil, the explanation you put here are profoundly inspiring to me. I think your book will be one of the best baduk english book of all.

  29. Hi David

    from the Jubango “main” page http://gogameguru.com/tag/mlily-gu-vs-lee-jubango/ seems you forgot to link this commentary

    Game 1: January 26, in Beijing – Lee Sedol +R – Commentary
    Game 2: February 23, in Shanghai – Lee Sedol +1.5 << link to commentary missing here, compared to game 1
    Game 3: March 30, in Chengdu, Sichuan



  30. Yechan Han says:

    You keep saying a 1/3 point. What is that?

    • Younggil An says:

      It’s worth smaller than a half point. For example White 274 was a 2/3 point endgame move, but normally we call it ‘half a point ko endgame’.
      Even though there’s nothing like 1/3 on the board, but if you calculate the worth of a move, you’ll probably see a 1/3 or 2/3 point in theory.
      It’s hard to explain, sorry.

  31. Thanks! Some corrections to commentary–
    Move 78: The is >> This
    Move 105 in alternate path: lack’s center >> White’s center
    Move 155: wanted make >> wanted to make
    Move 189: with White 181 >> with White 188
    Move 287: different to >> different from
    expanded upon >> expanded

  32. In the alternative variation for w90, you said the game was slightly better for white, while in the actual game from w90 to b129 black reversed the game. Could you explain a bit more how you determined this? You gave good intuitive arguments such as black leaving a cutting point open or white’s moves being wasted, but I was wondering if it is possible to make a more precise analysis, or is this kind of judgement usually made by intuition?


    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for the question.
      When I see those moves in live, it’s very hard to judge if the move is good or bad. I can only determine about the moves after the game. After looking at the game very carefully, I can see what move was wrong and questionable, or why did they play like that etc.
      I think this kind of judgement usually depends on one’s strength. If one is a dan player, generally, he can judge better than the one who’s a double digit kyu player. It’s also related with intuition.

  33. Josh Hoak says:

    Interesting. I just learned from your article about the 2014 Jingdezhen exhibition match that from a link in the next article that Gu Li and Lee Sedol played a similar opening in their exhibition match in 2013. Might be worth mentioning in the commentary if it isn’t already.


  34. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your commentary. I have a question. Is B31 necessary at this stage of the game ? Personally I would like to approach D16.

    • Younggil An says:

      Black 31 wasn’t necessary, but it was a nice place. Approaching to D16 is also a good idea, but Gu Li may have thought the opening was favorable for him, so he didn’t rush.

  35. David Britt says:

    Move 23 also results in a variation on the micro Chinese opening, which perhaps Gu Li is more comfortable with?

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s good point. It’s slightly different though. Gu Li likes the micro Chinese opening, but Black already enclosed the corner in this game, so I’m not sure if Gu Li was comfortable with or not.