Go Commentary: Lee Sedol vs Gu Li – Jubango – Game 7

This is game 7 of the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango. It was played in Lhasa, Tibet, on August 31, 2014.

Lee Sedol was leading 4-2 going into this game, so it was very important for Gu to win. If he lost, Lee would extend his lead to 5-2, meaning that Gu could only hope for a 5-5 draw in this 10 game match.

In game 6, Gu had a good chance near the very end, after Lee allowed him to complicate the game. However, he failed to grasp it and his prospects declined from a possible three all score, to being two games behind.

Like game 5, which was played in Shangri-La, this game in Lhasa was played at high altitude. Some journalists and Go fans were concerned that the players would suffer from altitude sickness again, but both players learned from game 5 and traveled to the venue several days earlier to acclimatize.


Lee Sedol 9 dan is leading his 10 game match with Gu Li.

We’re writing a book about this match

This commentary, and others, will form the basis for our Go book about Lee Sedol and Gu Li’s jubango. The actual book will contain a more extensive commentary of this game, but you can regard what you see below as a draft (learn more).

Please help us to make our first Go book as good as possible. There are several ways you can help us to improve the commentary below:

  1. Ask questions about the game – if anything is unclear, please let us know so we can explain it better!
  2. Point out any mistakes, even minor typos – our first draft is below. Because this is going to be a book, even small mistakes need to be fixed.
  3. Tell your friends and ask them to help too.

The rules of the game

The time limit for these games is 3 hours and 55 minutes, with 1 minute x 5 times byo-yomi. It’s traditional to subtract 5 minutes from the 4 hour total, because of the 5 x 1 minute periods.

There’s no lunch break scheduled for these games, but food is provided and the players are free to get up and eat whenever they want, throughout the game.

Let’s have a look at the game 7 of the 10 game match between Lee Sedol 9p and Gu Li 9p.

Commented game record

Lee Sedol vs Gu Li – Game 7


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Related Articles

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. There just has to be something wrong with blacks opening, logically speaking.
    But what could it be? I realize any suggestion I could make is 99% sure to make it worse.
    But I can’t restrain myself. 😉
    For one thing, how about playing 19 at J16 right away, omitting D2 for N3?
    The direct attack on F3 doesn’t look so terrible to me. And if w increases the scale of the battle with N3, at the very least b can play D2 again, but also has options at D3 and R8.
    The other thing is that, global balance be damned, I would like to play Q10/O17/R14, instead of taking O17 myself. It’s not easy for w to decide how to finish the top after that, imo. And if things go well, I might get M3 as black. But I guess I’m just behind the times with my thinking here. :-/

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Stefan for your opinion.

      Your idea to play at J16 instead of B19 is also possible. It would be another game. 🙂

      Playing at Q10 first is normal, but Lee probably didn’t want to play, because most of Black stones would be played on the right hand side. I can’t say it’s bad, but Lee doesn’t prefer that sort of over concentrated position.

  2. Flagellator1974 says:

    Komi? 7.5 or 6.5?

  3. Why didn’t black tenuki on 35 and play on left side on 3-3 maybe to settle his group?

    O2 seems slow and while if black tenukis white can seal the bottom right in sente but I think black settling his left group is more important.

  4. enjoyed reading this, thank you!

  5. A much easier game to digest than 6, which was perhaps the most difficult of all. I keep wondering though how cumulative good moves by white could be so easily blown away by a single careless move. Must be that the differences in move quality at top level are commas of points.

    • Younggil An says:

      I agree that this game would be easier to understand than the game 6. 🙂

      White was leading the game through the whole game until he made a big mistake. However, Lee wasn’t falling behind, and he strengthened his stones little by little before the attack.

      That’s Lee’s typical style of play, and probably he didn’t really worry about being behind. That’s because he can catch up in the second half of the game as he usually does. 🙂

      • Do you think someone like Lee could still play his style while playing a better opening like Gu Lu, or does Lee’s style rely on him taking inferior openings? It’s often been remarked that Gu Li has a better opening or early middle game intuition than Lee Sedol.

        “That’s because he can catch up in the second half of the game as he usually does.”
        It’s why he usually has difficulty against the very solid style of Chen Yaoye and the like.

        • Younggil An says:

          Thanks for your question logan.

          Once Lee Sedol told that he doesn’t care if the opening is good or bad. However, he concerns more about if the opening is what he prefers or not.

          Maybe even if the opening seems to be bad for him from a spectators’ point of view, Lee probably wouldn’t think like that. Probably his ways of thinking about the opening is somewhat different from others.

          I’m nos sure why Lee has difficulty against Chen Yaoye, but maybe you’re right that Chen’s style of play is very solid and it’s hard to find weaknesses in his game. 🙂

  6. I wonder what difference it would make had white played the firmer net at p10. Gu Li’s knight’s move net seems more efficient but the aji it left was the source of the death on the right.

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question Uberdude.

      That was very unfortunate for Gu that this move became troublesome in the game. However, this move was more efficient especially in the center. If White played a net at P10, Black can easily peep at O11, and it can be helpful as a ladder breaker or to develop the top.

      I understand that White’s knight’s net at 64 had some bad aji, but it was still alright. The problem was that Gu made a big mistake later and it made White 64 look bad, but I still don’t think the knight’s net was wrong.

  7. Wow! After understanding more how brilliant Gu Li’s play is really throughout the game i feel terrible for him! Lee surely has iron grip.

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, but actually, Lee also played very well, and the game wasn’t that bad for Lee before Gu made a big mistake. 🙂

  8. i ommitedthe word “[email protected] referring to Gu Li’s play.^^

  9. Why was Black 125 @ G9 necessary?

    • Younggil An says:

      Good question.

      If Black tenukis, White will attach at F10, and B F9, W H10, and Black will be in trouble. There’ll be a ko fight if Black tries to save his three stones, but Black doesn’t have any big enough ko threats. That’s why Black answered at 125.

  10. Will Lockhart says:

    Why was Black 125 @ G9 necessary?

    • Younggil An says:

      Good question.

      If Black tenukis, White will attach at F10, and B F9, W H10, and Black will be in trouble. There’ll be a ko fight if Black tries to save his three stones, but Black doesn’t have any big enough ko threats. That’s why Black answered at 125.

  11. Hi.
    Thanks for your analysis and great site ! I wanted to ask about white mistake and Lees great attack at B131.
    Did you see that coming in real time during the game spectating ? From your comments it seems that you thought also Gu did not realize the gravity of the situation, until much later.

    Another question. What about playing W 126 around R7 ? My idea is gving up the three white stones
    around P12 (if black plays 127 at P11) and instead catching the two M6 center black stones.

    I guess W would not like this because that trade is favorable for Black and the two blacks still have
    aji left in them ….

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question Gil.

      I thought about Black’s attacking after White 130, but I didn’t expect that the Black 131 was so powerful to finish the game. It was beyond my reading.

      If White plays at around R7, Black will attack White’s group at the top. Black will cut at J13, W J14, B K14 and it’s a picnic ko for Black. That’s why White reinforced his weak group with White 128, but White 130 was too much.

  12. The game editor has improved a lot since the last time I visited the site. It’s very easy to move around now. Great job!

  13. Xavier Combelle says:

    So only one mistake lost the game! Wonderful comments!

    Thanks a lot Younggil An.

  14. Thank you very much for the enlightening comments!

    I still don’t get what happened at the top left corner: it was not deciding for the outcome of the game, Lee read out that he would win anyway, but I cannot see why it is better to sacrifice the black group there, where it could have been easily saved by 177 at F18. And by the way, why not 176 at F18? What would have happened had Lee played 177 at F18? Should the actual 177 be called a mistake? Thank you if you could explain this phase of the game a bit more.

    One last question: when I counted the final position, I thought black is ahead by only a few points, is that correct? Would Lee have won by about 2 points?

    Kind regards,

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for your questions Paul.

      Lee might have thought sacrificing was clearer than saving his stones with Black 177. In the game, he took sente, and he came back to the right side first. Maybe he worried that Gu had a special move on the right side. Anyway, I can’t say Black 177 was a mistake, because there were no chances for White afterwards, and Lee was planing to do that. I don’t think he misread something.

      For White 176, if White plays at F18 first, it would be different. W F18, B F17, W E19, B C17, W C18, B D19, W C19 and Black is alive in sente. Therefore, White 176 was the right move.

      For the second question, when White resigned Black was winning more than 15 points on the board. You might have missed some captives? Black took some more.

  15. I’m very excited for this! This has been one of the most engaging pro series’ that I’ve ever studied! Sign me up, I’d like to preorder a copy! 🙂

  16. Flagellator1974 says:

    B183: there must be a comment?

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, you’re right. I wanted to explain that Black cut at 183 because atari at G18 instead is gote.

  17. Hello, have a question about move 31 and 34.

    In variation at 31, the comment says “Blocking first at White 1 is wrong, because Black can take sente to play at Black 4.”

    Why can’t Black take sente after White 34? Blocking at O2 is then big sente for white, sure, but is that really a difference compared to variation at 31? (I’m 1 dan and have no idea..)

    Anyway, thanks for great comments!

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question Simon.

      Yes, it’s quite different. If White blocks at P2 first for W32, Black can exploit later with attachment or peep. However, if Black doesn’t play at 35, White will block there, and the shape is perfect and powerful.

      Black 35 wasn’t just a big move, but it can limit and weaken White’s influence at the bottom. As you saw later in the game, Black captured White’s right side group due to that move (B35) on the 2nd line. 🙂

  18. Hi,
    I only want to compliment the high quality of this commentary.

  19. Pekka Heininen says:


    Thank you for this very detailed commentary! I’ve been silently enjoying these games and reviews. Great pieces of material for my studies.

    One thing just makes me wonder. I always hear that Lee Sedol isn’t at his best in the openings yet he has pretty good records. I’ve been following his games for couple of years now and (i might be wrong and/or developed my understunding of go) his games seem much more understandable nowadays. He seemed to play very chaotic games earlier on. As i’ve also studied Hane Naoki’s book of ‘how to play thick and strong game’ it seems to me as if Lee Sedols game has develobed in that same sence. This game gave me the feeling on backing up strenght. And as Lee enjoys fighting it seems as his “dogfights” have matured to a level of elegance. That what i think and would like to hear your opinnion. 🙂

    Thank you once more!


    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for your opinion Pekka.

      That might be true that Lee’s games these days are more understandable. Lee used to play thin and speedy games when he was youngger, and he won many of those games with nice sabaki. However, it seems like he prefers thick and strong games these days. I don’t know what made him to change his style of play, but it’d be interesting to talk about. 🙂

  20. Hi,

    I just want to say thank you for the extraordinary commentary of this and other games and also about the improved functionality of the sgf reader, going back to the main tree works great.

  21. Pekka Heininen says:

    There was rumours of him being unaware of his future plans about playing Go. Also younger talented players started to dominate and Lee Sedols rank got affected abit. It might just be my exaggeration but as I’ve understood of him being very motional player and person in overall it seems to me that the quite common opinnion of not being sure if he overplays or not with the decreased rank may have put him through a hars study over stronger game.


    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for your opinion.
      What you’re saying can be affected and Lee probably has changed his style of play. There could be many reasons, and it’s not really easy to keep only one typical style, because top other players would research and learn the strong points and weaknesses of the particular style.

  22. David Beard says:

    Though unusual did not B25 followed by B129 turn out to be key moves (vital points) that resulted in the large capture later on?

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, it’s very unusual, but Black was considering of attack White’s stones outside since Lee played at B 35. Eventually, Lee’s got a great chance, and he didn’t miss out.

  23. Who is this Lee Donghoon 3p who just beat Lee Sedol 2-o in the semifinal of the Myeongin? 16 years old no?

    • Younggil An says:

      Here’s Lee Donghoon 3p’s profile.

      He was born in 1998 in Korea, and became a pro in 2011. He played at the 14th Nongshim Cup in 2012. He was runner up of the 2013 Rookie’s Cup in Korea.

      Lee Donghoon is one of the top prospect in Korea, but it was still sensational to defeat Lee Sedol at the semifinal of the Myeongin (Korean Meijin).

  24. A commentary on one of his games would be interesting.