Go Commentary: Gu Li vs Park Junghwan – 2013 Samsung Cup

This is game 2 from the 2013 Samsung Cup group stage.

The game was played between Gu Li 9p and Park Junghwan 9p on September 4, 2013, in Shanghai, China.

Park Junghwan 9 dan (left) and Gu Li 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup

Park Junghwan 9 dan (left) and Gu Li 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup

Group stage

Gu Li and Park Junghwan were both in group H, along with Yuki Satoshi 9p and Liao Xingwen 5p.

Both Gu and Park defeated Yuki and Liao respectively in game 1 of the group stage and the winner of this game would proceed to the round of 16. Meanwhile, the loser of this game had to win one more game to go on to the next round.

Gu Li

Gu Li was ranked #5 in China, and he was in good form at the time. He became a father just before this game and I have no doubt that he was very happy to meet his daughter.

Gu Li 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup

Gu Li 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup

He married Lu Wenyang on January 1, 2013. Lu is a renowned gymnast, who won a silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Lu gave birth to a daughter on August 29, and that was just a week before this game. This was Gu’s first official game after the birth of his daughter.

2012 Samsung Cup final

Gu was in the final of the 2012 Samsung Cup, but he certainly wouldn’t have good memories of that match. He faced Lee Sedol 9p in the final, and was defeated 2-1.

The two games which Gu lost were decided by only half a point, and he missed so many chances to win in those games.

The 2012 Samsung Cup final was the starting point for the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango. Ni Zhanggen, the president of the MLily, is a big fan of Gu, and he couldn’t believe that Gu lost against Lee Sedol.

Ni regarded Gu to be stronger than Lee, but Gu lost because of bad luck. A year after the 2012 Samsung Cup final, both Gu and Lee agreed with the Jubango and it began in January 2014.

Park Junghwan

On the other hand, Park Junghwan was ranked #1 in Korea at the time. He won the 31st KBS Cup, 14th Maxim Cup and 9th Price Information Cup in 2013.

Park Junghwan 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup

Park Junghwan 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup

However, he wasn’t satisfied with that because he’d lost in the finals of a couple of international tournaments.

In the 7th Ing Cup final, Park played against Fan Tingyu 3p in early 2013. Many Go fans expected Park to win easily because Fan Tingyu wasn’t yet well known.

However, Park was defeated 3-1 and the Korean media and his fans were shocked. In addition, he was defeated by Iyama Yuta 9p in the 25th Asian TV Cup final too.

It was very sensational at the time, because it had been a long time since Japanese players won an international tournament.

All the major international tournaments were won by Chinese players in 2013, and it was already apparent that this Samsung Cup was the last chance for a Korean player to win an international tournament in 2013 when this game was played.

Let’s have a look at the game 2 from the 2013 Samsung Cup group stage.

Commented game record

Gu Li vs Park Junghwan


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. Thank you very much, again, for all those wonderful commentaries.

    I found many moves that surprised me in this game and your analysis helped me a lot to get a hint (or better :)) about what was going on !

    Some remarks i want to share here :
    From an amateur point of view, Black 41, after White R12, is curious. In this position, i would surely extend my lower right enclosure to K3 instead of Black 41 P12 stone.
    I suppose not to play P12 gives too much aji to the 2 white stones deep inside (O17, P18) and simultaneously offers a nice and easy way for White to settle along the right side (as the continuation shows).

    Second, pros are simply above the “rules” 🙂
    Isn’t the black keima (C3, D5)absolutly awful after W12 ? This is a kind of double-digit kyu lesson about shape i read a long time ago : ending with this shape will crush my morale (and obviously Black considers that the top left corner sequence compensates this awful result…).

    Third, and i shall stop here, trying to find “what went wrong” during the opening, i read your Black 27 comment about this attack to be questionnable.
    Could one say that this move was the turning point of this opening ?

    The game is so subtle and the lightest advantage changes everything in the way they play. I feel Black is trying to catch up one move, one single move, all the game. And because of that, he finally chooses not to lose one more move to settle his J4 group…

    • Simply said the opening in the lower left corner was a HUGE mistake by Black which is a reason you no longer see this response in pro-level games anymore. Black lost both points and thickness and left two useless stones in this area. There is no way Black could compensate from the top left corner since the 4-4 stone is light.

      Mr. An was pointing to B27 as a mistake since we all saw how White gave pressure to the Black group in the left side and thus built the thickness to kill the Black dragon in the end. Not to mention it was a lot of points in the corner that Black could have gotten for free.

    • Songe, I don’t think pros are above the rules and it turned out Gu was punished very badly by going above simple rules. It was not only about losing the corner – White’s shape in the corner was so clean that black could do nothing about it for the entire game. Taking advantage of this Park could afford to play a little loose in the rest of this one-sided game to secure his lead all the way.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Songe for the questions, and thanks Tony for your nice answers.

      Tony is right that Black doesn’t play 9 and 11 anymore, because White’s bottom left with 12 was very thick and strong. And Black 27 was a mistake as Tony explained.

      Black 41 and 43 were normal to give White’s right side pressure. However, White’s next moves were excellent, and those moves look slack, but there wasn’t any problem with 41 and 43.

      As Songe mentioned, this game was very subtle, and that makes the game harder to understand.

  2. Thank you very much for the commentary. It is always very entertaining and thought-provoking.

    I have a couple questions and comments 🙂 Regarding the sequence in the top left, you write that had White played the atari from above, the result would have been the same as with the attachment. What is the difference then ? Can Black consider consider extending up at F16 after the atari, connect, kick ?

    Your explanations on White 22 were great !

    I don’t understand the timing of w36:J17. Was the idea that Black couldn’t really attack R10 at that moment so it was less urgent ?

    w46/M3 was quite subtle and puzzling. It’s incredible how the whole game was shaped by White’s willingness to create a second weak group as long as Black would have one more too — which eventually died.

    Do you think that b87:N12 was still an efficient move given the sequence after w90:O3 ? Or did Black have to accept a big loss there ?

    Did the peep at b99:K12 backfire or had Black already decided that this move, in combination with b103:M14, was the best way to deal with the right-side group’s connection to the center ?

    I’ve found this game really intersting. Thank you !


    @Tony When you say “you no longer see this response anymore” you mean Black 9 at C11 ?

    • Tim: Yes I have not seen [email protected] played in pro games anymore. Basically I feel B9 has to respond in the corner area since the black stone at D5 is not as light as it looks.

      Timing of W36 was perfect since as Mr. An said white could jump out on the right side. The exchange of W34-B35 already made white gain a little bit and W34 became a light stone. And W36 was almost senti on the top side.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Tim for your couple of questions.

      The result would be the same if White atari first for 16. Black wouldn’t extend at F16 in sente, because that exchange doesn’t help.

      You’re right that White’s right side was less urgent after the exchange of White 34 for Black 35, so White took a big place at White 36.

      White also thought the right side wasn’t too weak, and that’d be hard for Black to attack, so White took a big place with 46 again.

      For 87, Black couldn’t help it, because the connection at 87 can’t be omitted.

      I’m not sure for Black 99, but I assume that Gu already expected White 100, and he couldn’t find any better options.

      Yes, I think Tony meant Black 9 and 11. 🙂

  3. Gil Dogon says:

    I am not sure though why B 146 at E7 was not playable, but I am not very good at counting endgame. After W B9 and B B16 , if W B12, B C12 and
    I think E11 and B13 are miai for B to either escape or live in the side.
    Then to my untrained eye the game still seems pretty close.

    • Gil: White B9 itself took a lot of points. If they played like that, White would have around 50 points VS Black’s ~55 points, while White was much thicker. Black’s left group was not alive locally and it would be hard to escape without hurting the other group nearby. The way Gu played in the game was to gamble and see if Park could kill his dragon.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Gil and Tony for your question and answer.

      Yes, B9 itself is very big, and yes, the game would still be very close with E7 for Black 145. However, 2~3 points behind in this sort of territorial game is very hard to reverse for those top players. That’s why Gu chose the other way to gamble, though it didn’t succeed.