Go Commentary: Ke Jie vs Lee Sedol – 2nd MLily Cup Final, Game 5

This game is from the 2nd MLily Cup final, the title deciding match.
It was played between Ke Jie 9p and Lee Sedol 9p on January 5, 2016, in Jiangsu, China.

Lee Sedol 9 dan (left) and Ke Jie 9 dan at the final of the 2nd MLily Cup.

Lee Sedol 9 dan (left) and Ke Jie 9 dan at the final of the 2nd MLily Cup.

Ke Jie and Lee Sedol


Ke Jie 9 dan, new superstar of Go world.

Ke Jie 9 dan, new superstar of Go world.

Ke Jie won the 2nd Bailing Cup by defeating Qiu Jun 9p in early 2015, and he won the 2015 Samsung Cup by overwhelming Shi Yue 9p at the end of 2015.

Ke continued his sweeping upturn, and was aiming for his 3rd international title in this MLily Cup.

In the mean time, Lee won the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango in 2015, but he eagerly wished to come back to the world champion again in this MLily Cup.

In the main tournament, Ke Jie defeated Wang Zejin 3p, Rong Yi 4p and Park Younghun 9p respectively from the round of 16 to proceed to the final.

Meanwhile, Lee Sedol defeated Ding Hao 2p, Tang Weixing 9p and Ahn Seongjun 6p to continue his run.

Final of the 2nd MLily Cup

Lee Sedol won the first game of the final, and Lee was also winning in game 2. However, he made an unbelievable mistake in the middle game, and Ke made a tie with a 1-1 score.

Lee Sedol 9 dan, the best player of current decade in the world.

Lee Sedol 9 dan, the best Go player of current decade in the world.

Ke won game 3 relatively easily with his special skill of balance, but Lee showed his power in game 4, and the score was drawn at 2-2.

Both players were already burned out before this game due to their intensive and complicated games and the tight schedule of the final (from December 30 to January 5).

However, they put every ounce of their energy in this final game, and a masterpiece was made by these two great players.

Let’s have a look at the wonderful game of Lee Sedol and Ke Jie.

Commented game record

Ke Jie (black) vs Lee Sedol


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. Thanks for the commentary. I appreciated the way you pointed out the unusual moves of Ke Jie which demonstrate his special strength.

  2. Given that black’s sacrifice of the 2 stones with 55 seemed to work well, should white have extended at f14 before playing c18 on move 48? In the game c18 became a wasted move, but like this black would save them now. Or is it aji keshi because black could then play differently on the outside and white would then prefer to have used e13 instead of f14?

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question Uberdude.

      You’re right that the exchange of White F14 for G15 is aji keshi, so White didn’t do that.

      Actually, the result up to White 58 was satisfactory for White, even though Black’s shape with 57 looks nice.

  3. Thank you so much for this analysis that helped me a lot to look through this complicated endgame (it is still my weakest skill despite my efforts to improve it).

    A question : W66 L3 is an overplay. Ok. But was any White move necessary in this area ?
    Replaying the game, i was feeling more interested in the upper side (G17? H18? J16?) mainly because i feel L5 or any added white stone in the area would be considered as slow…
    If i had to absolutly consider a move, would W66 L4 be better ? (i cannot read all the variations, but it seems more likely to get out this area sente)
    Finally, as any slip from F17 (or invasion) would be gote, does this mean Black would react by invading the left side ?
    Because of this, White should finally consider W66 P14 instead of the upper side and that would mean G17 and P14 are somewhat miai in this position, wouldnt they ?

    • Sry i cant edit, please consider this instead of the original mistaken text :
      Finally, as any slip from F17 would be gote, does this mean Black would react by invading the right side (W67 R12) ?

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Songe for your questions.

      White 66 doesn’t seem to be necessary. white would jump at P14 instead of White 66.

      If White attaches at L4 for White 66, Black will hane at L5, and it will be difficult for White to take sente.

      For the last question, Black 67 and 69 were necessary and big. Even if Black invades on the right side, White can still fight without any trouble, so responding at the bottom was right for Black.

  4. Excellent comment, with many interesting variations. that’s crazy to see how the game has been reversed various times. Thanks also for the explanation of the endgame “mistake” of Lee (in byoyomi) due to the difference between corean and chinese counting. Does it mean that in corean counting, Lee would have lost the game by 0.5 even if he would have played the move 250 in T6 ?

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question Pierre.

      I forgot to mention that White would have still won by half a point even at the end of the game (by move 279) as Japanese (Korean) counting with 7.5 points.

      If the komi was 6.5, White would have lost already though.

      Due to the 50/50 chance of playing the last dame, the komi in Chinese counting is actually about 7.0 points.

      In this game, the value of the komi was 6.5 points as a result.

  5. Thanks Younggil for the great analysis! I did not think B91 was a big mistake until seeing your comments. BTW would you like comment on B169 which looked natural but essentially nearly lost the game for Ke Jie? Responding at T16 would make white’s moves gote.

    • Younggil An says:

      Wow, that’s a great idea Tony.

      I missed out at T16 for B169, and that’s working perfectly.

      Thanks for pointing out a brilliant move! 🙂

  6. Super commentary ^^ Hope to see more games between them . Thank you for work . Will you commente the rest of the 5 games match ?

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’m afraid I don’t consider of commenting any other games from this final, but hopefully they will play more of wonderful games later this year, and I’ll have a chance to show them.

  7. Ain’t no freakin’ way in God’s blue hell is Iyama stronger than Lee Sedol. SO why does Goratings.org have Iyama Yuta ranked higher than Lee Sedol?

  8. Hello Ann. Thanks for this great commentary, endgame was indeed amazing, with lots of subtle reversals, and without commentary would not be comprehensible for us mortals.

    I have a question regarding your variation of B 128 at L6. Your variation there seemed to nice to be true for B and seems like Ke Jie missed an easy victory there. Maybe he realized this afterwards, and it caused him to make further mistakes to allow Lee Sedol to catch up and reverse.

    However, I have a question about a possible white counter to L6 by eating the F8 stone as follows:

    B L6, W F7, B G7, W F6, B F5, W K7, B L7 , W J7, B H8, W K5, B J4 ,W L4

    and after this it seems W group in bottom is alive.
    Is it not better for W than blocking at L7 as your variation, or most likely do I have a mistake in my line ….

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s an excellent sequence Gil Dogon!

      White can live in your sequence, and that’s much better than the variation I showed which was bad for White.

      However, After W K5 in your sequence, Black will connect at L8 instead of J4, and he can break through White’s center territory with M8, so that might still be good enough for Black.

      Ke might have found a nice move for White, so he chose easier and safer way in the game, and he must have been sure that he would win.

  9. You can use japonese counting with chinese rules. You only have to give one stone (so -1 point) each time you pass ; the game is over when black pass and after white pass.

  10. Why doesn´t white play the move 100 to O13?

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Minitaxi for your question.

      O13 looks nicer, but then Black will cut at 100 as a probe.

      If White responds with O12, Black 101 will be sente, because of K9 next. If White responds with L10 instead, Black will push at O14 in sente, so White 100 was the correct move.

      The hane at O14 will be quite a big endgame move for White after W 100.

  11. Thanks An!

  12. Hello,
    You said at move 37 for black invasion of the corner, that if he didn’t play the E16-E17 exchange, white would have go down at B15.
    What happens if black plays E16 after that ?

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question Florian.

      Black can consider of that move order, but White will respond with D17 after Black E16, and the 3-3 stones will be captured. That’s why Black 35 to 37 was the correct move order.