Go Commentary: Gu Li vs Lee Sedol – Jubango – Game 4

This is game 4 of the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango, between Lee Sedol 9p and Gu Li 9p.

A turning point in the match

The mood of the series changed when Gu Li defeated Lee Sedol in three consecutive games, including in game 3 of this match, but the overall score for the Jubango was still 2-1 in Lee’s favor.

However, since Gu was in an upswing, it was important for Lee to win this game and put an early stop to Gu’s run.

This game was held on Jeung Island, in Shinan County – near Lee Sedol’s hometown – and it was the first and only game scheduled in Korea.


Gu Li 9 dan (pictured) is on a roll against Lee Sedol 9 dan in the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango.

Reviewing the game with other pros

At the time when this game was played, I was in Korea for my sister’s wedding. I really wanted to go to the venue, to watch and review the game live with other pros.

However, it was quite far away from Seoul (which was unexpected) and I didn’t have enough time to go there. That was unfortunate, but I was still able to review the game on the day, with other pros in a dojo in Seoul.

It was nice to be able to discuss this game, and the Jubango, with other pros. I rarely have such opportunities since leaving Korea. The commentary which follows is a combination of my own and that of other pros who reviewed the game with me.

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.

Commented game record

Gu Li vs Lee Sedol – Game 4


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Related Articles

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. I can’t see the right part of the goban on my mobile. No unzoom seems possible.

  2. Wonderful, just wonderful. We’ve been eagerly waiting for this and it exceeds all expectations. The thorough disclosure of professional positional judgment at 27 is marvelous. Also the myriads of variations under the surface of 113 are breath taking.

    Some possible corrections:

    @27 I think you mean “the result does not look good for White at first glance”

    @50 It is strange to switch to A,B,C if you don’t use the letters in the text.

    @51 Here the commentary of the last moves is condensed, while it seems perfectly natural to spread the comments to their relevant move nodes.

    @156, var 2: @170 A and B are missing in the diagram

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks a lot Dieter for your kind comment about the review with your correction. 🙂

  3. Thank you so much!

  4. Wonderful! thank you! Gu Li is in better shape recently, let’s see if Lee can recover and fight back.

  5. Bawannoboy says:

    Thanks for this review. It’s a nice insight on the game and really helpful as always.

    Great work here !

  6. Congrats. Making this highly complex game semi-digestible for us amateurs is a great achievement. Very thorough at just the right places. With some very instructive sequences, like the counter to b extending at O7 with move 25. Gu Lis’ endgame acrobatics are also very well explained. I have one very minor quibble, even though I know it’s really too much to ask: If w leads after 68, where did b go wrong before? Theoretically speaking, there must be at least one inferior b move somewhere. 😉

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question. It’s hard to find Black’s mistake though. Black 43 was a bit questionable. White was able to built his left side up through W54, because Black chose that way in the game.

      • At move 64 you say: “The result up to White 62 was playable for both players, and the game was still well balanced. Right after the game, Lee said he regretted his move at White 64, but it doesn’t seem to be bad.”

        A few moves later you say: “Black 67 was the right move and Black was probably content with saving the the corner territory. However White was able to connect at A next and the game became slightly better for White after White 68 (A).”

        This led me to conclude that B63 was the mistake, trying to pressure White’s thick group while building a moyo. White ignored the pressure and broke through the moyo borders and neutralized the centre.

        It’s not that I can judge but this would logically follow from your remarks.

        • David Britt says:

          This discussion made me curious about move 29 as well. Is that the clear choice over K17 or K16? Those points would create a symmetry with the stone on the right side in terms of how much space is left for a White invasion. Does this make H17 too good for White?

        • Younggil An says:

          That’s a good point Dieter. Maybe Black 63 was questionable. When I look at the game again, the trade from Black 57 to White 62 was favorable for White, because the game became easy and simple for White afterwards. It wasn’t clear though.
          For David’s comment, I agree that Gu didn’t play at K16 or K17 because H17 would be too good for White.

          • I’ve commented on 63 before, suggesting R16 instead. Your answer was that R16 would be to slow, and I have to admit, it’s the kind of move an accountant might play ;-). Would you be willing to venture a better alternative?

  7. Younggil

    One thing that I haven’t noticed before in your reviews, that I really liked this time, was the explanation of why one player was ahead or even with another. Your list at move 27, helped me see the various advantages a whole lot clearer. Perhaps this is obvious for other more advanced players, but I really appreciated the break down. Thanks for another wonderful review! I am excited for the next game.


    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Charlie for your warm comment. It’s pretty hard for even advanced players to judge who’s better in that sort of new pattern, so don’t worry about that. 🙂

  8. Thank you. I have been eagerly awaiting this commentary, and look forward to future installments (including the forthcoming book).

  9. Thank you very much for this thorough explanation of the game.

    I feel like I didn’t really understand your explanations as to why the corner exchange that Black proposes with 37 is “twice as big as it seems” and favours him so much.

    • Younggil An says:

      I meant that not only Black got the corner territory, but also White lost the territory in the corner at the same time. So it’s like ‘twice as big as it looks’. 🙂

    • Yudong-nick says:

      In that explanation, ‘the corner’ is repeated twice.
      “If White resists with White 1, Black will happily trade Black A for the corner the corner, with the moves up to Black 6.”

  10. Philipp says:

    Thanks a lot for this great review!

    I have two questions about move 82: you say it is too cautious. What move would have been better? The move 83 is brilliant indeed. Shouldn’t have white played in a way with 82 that makes 83 impossible? To me, it feels like 82 was not cautious enough.

    • Younggil An says:

      White could play either at 2 or 4 instead of 82. That would have been better for White than the actual game. If White tried to be even more careful because of Black 83, that would be too passive. Black 83 was a nice move, but White could still have played more actively than in the game for White 82.

  11. David Britt says:

    Thanks again Younggil. I’ve been looking forward to reading this commentary since the game was played 🙂 I do think I understand the opening sequence better, though I would be reluctant to play it as W myself. I think it would be very easy to fritter away the potential in that thickness and wind up coming under attack. It seems even Lee lost some of the potential by playing 76 instead of the attachment you suggest! Without 76 the tesuji of 83 and 113 would not have been possible. The payoff of the big corner came with an unforeseen cost in the middle.

    I couldn’t find any linguistic corrections. Can’t wait for game 5!

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks David for your opinion. Actually, it’s harder for White to manage that sort of opening up to 27. It’s because higher technique and skill are required to utilize that sort of thickness in your game.

  12. Luis Sousa says:

    Hello, I have a suggestion for the jubango book. You could make it as a “problem” book aswell. Asking the readers where they would play next at certain stages of the game and then, on the next page ,the answer and maybe 1 or 2 typical(wrong) amateur choises. Say you did this 3 times at the opening, middle and endgame, that would be 90 wholeboard problems allong with pro comments on the games.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks a lot for sharing your nice idea Luis.
      I never thought about that, but it could be possible.
      I’ll consider of that. 🙂

      • Luis Sousa says:

        Thanks, I just thought that since you are obviously doing this book for amateurs, might aswell make them(us) think and squeese as much improvement as possible!

  13. Yudong-nick says:

    After move 156, branch B:
    “White 14 is a tesuji which makes miai of 8 and B.”
    I don’t see either White 14 or ‘B’.

    • Younggil An says:

      Sorry for this trouble. It was a technical error.
      White 14 is at T2 (10), and B is at T5. You can see that White can capture the Black group in the corner.

  14. If W12 is the strongest response but W16 is because there isn’t any effective variation, does this mean W12 is a mistake?

    • Younggil An says:

      Good question Wasuji. I don’t think W12 was a mistake. There’s no other effective variation doesn’t mean that it’s bad for White. The result up to Black 27 was well balanced.

  15. Why did White play W40 at C17 and not E17?

    Sorry if this is a simple question–I’m a beginner.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Hi LX,

      If White plays 40 at E17, I think Black will just defend at E18.

      E18 is a move that Black wouldn’t mind playing anyway (to defend), so exchanging wE17 for bE18 helps Black a bit.

      After wE17, bE18, White still has a weakness to defend at C17. Black can atari there, and then atari again at B18 to capture a stone and take the corner territory.

  16. norvegh says:

    Hi Younggil and David,

    Thanks for this wonderful site, the game commentaries are really amazing. I donwloaded all of them, and learnt a lot already.
    A question about the 3-3 invasion. When black double hanes at O18 wouldn’t white atari at O17 instead, leading to bP16, wN18, bQ18, wO19, bR18, then something like wK16. This would weaken J17, and also leave a sizeable gap in the right side black framework. Considering that white would have two quite strong groups on both side so a reduction would be possible.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for your question.
      That’s possible and it makes sense. However, in that case, the exchange of Black S17 for White S18 is beneficial for Black. That’s the reason why Black hanes at S17 first instead of double hane at O18. If Black doesn’t exchange of S17 for S18, White can surely play like that, and that would be the best choice as you mentioned. 🙂