Go Commentary: Lee Sedol vs Chen Yaoye – 2013 Samsung Cup

This game is from the 2013 Samsung Cup, round of 16.

The game was played between Lee Sedol 9p and Chen Yaoye 9p on October 8, 2013, in Daejeon, Korea.

Chen Yaoye 9 dan (left) and Lee Sedol 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup, round of 16.

Chen Yaoye 9 dan (left) and Lee Sedol 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup, round of 16.

Chen Yaoye

Lee Sedol and Chen Yaoye already played each other in the group stage of this Samsung Cup, and Chen won the game.

Chen Yaoye 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup, round of 16.

Chen Yaoye 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup, round of 16.

However, Lee defeated Komatsu Hideki 9p to pass through the group stage, and they faced in the round of 16 again.

They also played at the 9th Chunlan Cup final in June 2013, and Chen defeated Lee and winning the title with a 2-1 score.

That was Chen Yaoye’s first career international title, and it seemed as if Chen’s period had begun.

After Chen won the 9th Chunlan Cup, many Go fans regarded him as the strongest player in the world.

That’s because both Chen and Lee were ranked #1 in China and Korea, so their final was regarded as a grand final.

The title deciding game of the Chunlan Cup was a masterpiece of these two players.

Lee Sedol

Lee Sedol was in deep slump in the 1st half of 2013. He lost to Park Junghwan 9p in the 14th Maxim Cup final, and he was also defeated by Kim Jiseok 9p in the 18th GS Caltex Cup final.

Lee Sedol 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup, round of 16.

Lee Sedol 9 dan at the 2013 Samsung Cup, round of 16.

However, he was getting better from the slump in the 2nd half of 2013, and he was in good form again when he was playing this game.

Many of his fans still considered him as the best player, and he needed to show his power and strength in the international matches like this Samsung Cup.

Their head to head records before this game was tie with 5-5. However, Chen was winning their last three games in a row, and I assume that this would have been a tough game for Lee.

Chen was very strong against top Korean players by that time, with his solid and defensive style of play. He hardly made mistakes when he was in good shape, and he was getting stronger against Lee as well.

Anyway, let’s have a look at their dynamic game.

Commented game record

Lee Sedol vs Chen Yaoye


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. Hi Younggil

    Thanks for another great commentary.
    The comment at 119 is hard to understand. It looks as if two versions of the comment are combined here, as if you wanted to replace one with the other but simply concatenated them.
    The variation at 24 was very insightful. I’d love to turn it into an exercise at Sensei’s Libary.


    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Dieter for your feedback. Yes, I didn’t remove the comment properly by a mistake.

      I fixed now, and hopefully the comments make more sense at the move of 119. 🙂

  2. Thank you Younggil !

  3. Move 30 what if black plays 2 and follows with an honest connection instead of a tigers mouth?

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question.

      If Black plays 2 and solid connection at J13 next, White will take a ko at H15, and it’ll be still hard for Black to manage the situation.

  4. What a game! Thanks for the great commentary 🙂

  5. Thank you for the wonderful game and comments.

  6. The timing of the fight in the top right was amazing. I wonder at which point Chen saw 134.
    A while back I read a comment from Lee Changho in which he claimed he routinely looked 100 move ahead (in his prime, anyway). If Chen did half of that, he would have seen 134 when he made the “wrong side” hane which started the sequence.

    • Younggil An says:

      I’m not sure when Chen found that 134. I think he must have found that when White played at 132, but probably consider of it at 126.

      I don’t think 100 move ahead is realistic, unless it’s a kind of driving ladder. 🙂

  7. Hi. Thanks for the really good commentary. Your suggestion at 55 seemed spot on. I tried hard to find alternatives in the fighting after that but nothing seemed to work well, nice spot! 🙂

    I am interested in the probe at 96. In fact, the whole idea of probing is one of the facets of go that sets it apart from games like chess (you can probably manufacture a chess position with a probe, but it is not a routine tactic as it is in go). So anyone around dan level amateur wants to play these moves and understand them. The difficulty is in the timing and the surrounding position.

    Here, without the stone at P9, I feel S4 is a classic probe.

    Two questions:-
    1) is it still a natural probe with P9 given a stone around L3? Or is P5 a reasonable alternative (say if white is interested in the bottom?)
    2) You say R5 is slack as white can easily live in the corner. But of course after R3 black can aggressively attack at R2. I am guessing that it is not good – at the moment at least – as white’s other positions are strong (and F3 is still weak), and there is enough room to escape. But Q4 is also a very nice point for white. Is it really so clear?

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Hippo for your questions.

      1) Capping at P5 can be a good alternative, and that’s still possible in the game for White 96.

      2) If Black plays aggressively with R5, W R3, B R2 for Black 97, White will play Q3, B Q2, W Q4, and that’s hard for Black to capture. Black can try to play like this when the outside is stronger and more solid.