Go Commentary: Lee Sedol vs Gu Li – 17th Samsung Cup Final – Game 2

This is the second game of three in the final of the 2012 (17th) Samsung Cup, played by Lee Sedol 9p and Gu Li 9p.

Both Lee Sedol and Gu Li are among the most popular and well known Go players in the world today.

Lee Sedol (9 dan, left) and Gu Li (9 dan) review game 2 of the 17th Samsung Cup final.

Lee Sedol and Gu Li

Lee Sedol is ranked #1 in Korea.

And even though Gu Li is ranked #10 in China at the moment, most people still regard him as the best, along with Lee Sedol.

The first game

Lee Sedol won the first game by half a point.

Gu Li was leading for almost the whole game because of his great intuition in the opening and powerful middle game.

But he missed some good chances to finish the game, and made several small endgame mistakes which cost him the game.

Anticipating Lee Sedol’s victory

After the first game, many fans anticipated that Lee would win 2-0, because they expected that Gu Li would be distressed and this game was played on the following day (December 12, 2012).

Anyway, let’s have a look at the game.

Have a happy new year and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Commented game record

Lee Sedol vs Gu Li – Game 2


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,

    Thanks for great comments. This was quite strange game but now I understand it better. And thanks for the comments how much Gu Li was leading πŸ™‚
    A question: was there a better way for B to play upper left corner so that he could still capture that big W group and be still in the game?

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      Thanks for the comment.
      When white attached at 114, black should have played at 2. However, the game was already favorable for white (see the variation), though it would have been a long game.

  2. I love Lee Sedol vs. Gu Li games. And I love An Younggils commentary πŸ™‚

  3. Thank you very much for this commentary πŸ˜€ . always very good.
    Happy new year GGG .

  4. Dear Younggil,

    If Lee doesn’t answer 114 locally but kills White’s group at, for example, 127, is the compensation then still big enough for White?

    Thanks a lot!

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      Yes, it is. If black cuts at M3 for example, black could capture whole white group. But, white would hane at G17, and the game would be good enough for white. That’s why black answered in the game, though it didn’t work well.

  5. What a game! thanks to you, Dear mr Younggil, we can understand it. You and your commented games are going to be very popular in internet.

  6. Charleschapple says:

    Impressive game from Gu Li indeed. Thanks for reviewing another one of these Samsung Cup games! It was such a great series.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you again for your wonderful and clear insight. It’s hard to understand why the pros make their strategic decisions, so it’s good that you keep mentioning the count, and who is ahead and behind on the board. It makes it simple to understand why Lee Sedol would embark on such an all-or-nothing plan when you realize he was behind. It also illustrates a top pros sense of counting, how they use it in decision-making, and how they won’t lose peacefully, but will make the game into a single fight instead of losing by a single point. Thanks again!!!

  8. Fantastic commentary, thank you! So much to learn from these games.

  9. Lucian Corlan says:

    Thank you for the commentary, awesome!

  10. Thanks for a great commentary! There are some questions
    1) Capping Q8 at O8 in such a deep moyo is bad idea? (in case both extensions are not so good mb black should cap? =) Is the reason is w is high (4th line) and you never should try to cap 4th line stone? I think in this stage of game black don’t behind on territory and its even.
    2) May be F5 not so good move? Can b somehow attack white’s right group and enclose bottom territory at the same time? Or its overconcentration? Its after more or less sussessfull invading at bottom white manage both groups well and b far behind without compensation.
    3) After reading commentary at move 58 its not clear is it even or black behind in terms of territory ^^. So I count W have 5pts from bottom group 6,5 komi, 15 upper right, 47 at left total 73,5. Black 20 bottom right, 3 bottom, 10 right, 17 top total 50 so black indeed far behind on territory =)

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      Good questions,
      1) Then W Q11, B P13, W R6, and white would settle down on the right side easily.
      2) You’re right. However, I can’t see any good move here, so I can say the opening was already successful for white.
      3) You can say so. I meant the game’s even without territory. The left side is not yet white’s territory, so white has smaller territory than you estimated.

  11. It seems to me that ever since Go Seigen, top Chinese players seem better in the opening and on strategy such as connecting the top and the bottom here, while Korean and perhaps Japanese players have better tactics. So my questions:

    1. Is there a reason for this, or is it just my imagination?

    2. Does that mean that a team consisting of a top strategist and a top tactician would be significantly stronger than single players at the same level? If computer go overtakes humans in a few years, would this be a way for humans to keep the lead over computers for a few extra years?

  12. At move #140, you mention that W can make life if it moves at A… I am a beginner and would like to ask how this can happen – what sequence of moves would lead up to this?

    Thank you for help with my study πŸ™‚

    • David Ormerod says:

      Suppose, for example, that after 140 black ends the ko with G18.

      If white plays at H1 next, black can atari with K1, to take away an eye, and white has to connect at J2. While black’s removing the eye though, his group of stones on the inside of white’s group is also getting bigger. If it gets too big and it’s not the right shape, then white will live by capturing them.

      So, after G18, H1, K1, J2, if black O1 next, wN1, bP1, wN2 is good enough to live. If black M1 next, white captures with L2 and vice versa. M1 and L2 are miai, which means if black takes one point, white can take the other.

      Instead of O1 in the sequence above, if black N1, then white can play O1 and still live after capturing the black stones inside the group.

  13. Move 51 at J3 is bad, but if after J4 black plays L3, what is white’s correct response?

    I am thinking K2 L4; H3 J5; H4 and if H5, L2 or if L2, H5. Is this OK?

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, your sequence is perfect.

      L2 and H5 are miai for White after Black H4, and it’s still better for White. πŸ™‚