Go Commentary: Lee Sedol vs Qiu Jun – 9th Chunlan Cup

This game is from the second round of the 9th Chunlan Cup. It’s between Lee Sedol 9p and Qiu Jun 9p.

Qiu Jun (9 dan, left) plays Lee Sedol (9 dan) in the 9th Chunlan Cup.

Lee Sedol is ranked number 1 in Korea and Qiu Jun is number 13 in China.

This is their second game together. In 2011, Qiu defeated Lee in the quarter finals of the 24th Fujitsu Cup. Qiu took the second place in that tournament.

In this game there was a huge life and death battle and an enormous group was killed.

It’s really rare to see such a huge group get chased and captured in top pros’ games, so I hope you enjoy watching it.

You can also feel both players’ unique styles of play and concepts of the game.

Let’s have a look at the game…

Commented game record

Lee Sedol vs Qiu Jun


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. Just a question. Was it really necessary for Qiu Jun to go right into the top black territory by attaching to the stone in the centre? How would the game be if white chose to just reduce from outside instead?

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      Good question!
      Reducing from the outside should also be possible. Then the game should be still playable for both. Other top players might choose reducing moves instead.

  2. In comment to move 4 you said it’s good way to avoid Mini-Chinese, but I thought B can still get something very similar after d5 c5 d4 c4 e3 c6 d2 c3 l3, that opening was quite common a while ago, as far as I remember. Is it considered bad for Black now? Or just went out of fashion?

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      That’s possible. I think pros think that variation you mentioned is not as good as the original mini Chinese from 4.4 because W’s corner’s more solid. It’s still alright though.

  3. “You can also feel both players’ unique styles of play and concepts of the game.”

    Yes, I could. Thank-you for the insightful review Mr. Younggil.

  4. This is one of my favourite games of the last few years, because of its unique character. I replayed it several times the last few weeks, wondering what was going on, who was the desperate one: I guess Lee, after losing so much territory at the start. It having hardly any mistakes makes it a classic game I guess, one of Lee’s top-10 games: agreed? Thank you for your insightful comment, taking away my fear of this game having glaring errors.

    Kind regards,

  5. Thanks Mr younggil for the comments for this great game. Could it posible that Lee Sedol is the best player in the world or only in Korea??

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      In Korea, he’s surely the best. In the world, he’s ranked number one according to the Dr. Bae Taeil’s ranking system, but lots of young talented Chinese players are following him.

  6. This is definitely one of the Lee’s masterpieces. Thank’s for the rewiew.

  7. I feel like Qui Jun was having a very ‘light’ feeling when he probed black at first, expecting some sort of compromise to develop. It’s the kind of attitude a very territory rich player feels when he starts to attack a moyo. What do you think? I could be totally wrong about this. I think Qui Jun became more confident when his plans worked out in the lower left area and black had to submit to the ko fight without particular gains. At the same time, it pushes black into a corner because he has no choice but to severely harass the white stones.

    I think because the space is so wide and black’s shape is not perfect, it was reasonable to think that white can live if black goes all out. I think for this specific case, Qui Jun feels more regret than Lee Sedol feels happiness.

    I’m rooting for Lee Sedol to win the whole thing, but your earlier article about Qui Jun’s admirable professional attitude as a go player along with the content of this game made me feel sad for him. Especially because he has never won a major international title and has been runner up 2 times.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I was very surprised of move 106.
    I would have played P4.
    Is it too small?

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      That’s a good idea. The approach at P4 should be rather common. However, as I already mentioned, that attachment in the center was Qiu’s own style of play. There should be other options as well.

  9. c8 is an old move. I saw it from games 30 years ago sometimes.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Which game? I did a database search of over 70,000 pro games and couldn’t find any other games with the same opening. I found just three games from the early 80s where the position on the left half of the board (only) appeared with a different opening, but I don’t think that’s what Younggil meant.

      Anyway, Younggil isn’t a database and three games out of tens of thousands is minuscule :).

  10. Uberdude says:

    Something I found interesting in this game is how black managed to kill by chasing white into the lower right quadrant where he only had 2 stones: for killing I’d usually expect to need more support. Yet in the upper middle area where black had lots more stones (but also white had some aji) white made 1 eye.

    • But white also had stones in the upper right, but none in the lower right quadrant and later P9 group came in a little bit of danger because of the chasing, all those possibilities white could use to make one eye.