Go Commentary: Shi Yue vs Lee Sedol – 17th LG Cup

This game is the from the second round of the 17th LG Cup main tournament, played by Lee Sedol 9p and Shi Yue 5p.

Lee Sedol (9 dan, left) plays Shi Yue (5 dan) in the 17th LG Cup.

Lee Sedol

Lee Sedol is currently rated number 2 in Korea (behind Park Junghwan 9p), but when this game was played, he was number 1.

He’s been regarded as the top player in the world for a few years now, but he seems to be in slump recently.

Shi Yue

Shi Yue’s name is not yet very familiar, but he’s rated number 5 in China.

He won the 16th Xinren Wang (Rookie Cup) in 2009, and recently came second in the 1st Dachongjiu Cup (a tournament between the top 16 in China).

This is their third game together and Lee Sedol won their first two games in 2008 and 2012.

Their second game together was in the main tournament of the Samsung Cup. Shi was dominating for the whole game, but Lee staged an upset at the end of the game and won.

Let’s have a look at game 3…

Commented game record

Shi Yue 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. Interesting game. Is it common to see this sort of prepared opening, where one player has clearly researched up until a given point?

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      I don’t think so, it’s very rare. But I can say Shi Yue researched the variations further and more deeply.

  2. Black 109 is the story of what happens to me every time I try to develop the center. Also, I remember being surprised at move 33, but I remember a similar move from the 3-4 joseki when white approaches with a big knight move. I guess it’s a move to take care of both sides.

    Not just Lee Sedol, but Gu Li and Kong Jie and those age group pros are already not showing the fantastic results they were before. I think they’re too young to get pushed away by the new generation but it already seems to be happening little by little. What a scary world haha.

    • I think that our perspective tends to over-emphasize the strength of contemporary pros because we see them winning tournaments in our era; it’s useful to remember that there have been relatively few pros who dominated an entire era… in the 20th Century, it was pretty much Go Seigen, Sakata, Cho Chikun, Kobayashi, and Lee Changho. Other pros may peak at a very high level, but their dominance lasts a shorter time time, or can’t be properly judged because of the weakness of the landscape around them (sorry, Cho Hunhyun).

      In the case of Korea and China at this time, I think that we’re seeing a blossoming of great vigor resulting from the relative youth of the pro systems; but that doesn’t mean that they have necessarily produced a transcendent genius like Go Seigen yet.

      • There are enough games between Cho Chikun and Cho Hunhyeon, as well as between Cho Hunhyeon and Lee Changho as the later was rising to dominate the world go scene that I think we can be confident about Cho’s ability.

        Of course, if your standard is “approaches Go Seigen”, then things might be different, but by that standard, you wouldn’t include Kobayashi or Cho Chikun either.

        • Cho Hunhyun was a great player in his prime, but Korea was much weaker then than it is now; so I’m not sure how his dominance compares to Cho and Kobayashi in the late 70s, 80s, and 90s. Lee Changho was a great player also in three decades, the late 80s, the 90s, and the ’00s, and continues in the top thirty players today. Basically, I just think that it’s easy to see flash-in-the-pan strength as “meaning” more than it should; so perhaps a player is today’s greatest, but they will fade in a year to be replaced by someone new. No disrespect intended for anyone… I was just looking for examples of people who transcend that pattern. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the comments Mr Younggil. I have a little question here… Is it posible to play a pincer around C12 at White 14? Or white could fear to stay behind in territory balance?

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      Yes, it’s possible to pincer at C12, then black would come into the corner. And yes, as you said, white would be behind in territory. That’s why white doesn’t normally pincer in that position.

  4. Great game and explanation, thank you! A zero mistake game by black, maybe only one mistake by white, and a few brilliant moves, like B33: as both players are stars, I guess this game qualifies as a masterpiece.

    Kind regards,

  5. frédéric says:

    thank you Mr. Younggil for this commentary , grat game by black. I have a question, in the first variation is it possible to play an another move for white ( the last move D7) ?

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      White can also play at H7, then black’d play at D7 and it’d be another game. D7 is the most common move for white, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only move. 🙂

  6. I too greatly enjoyed this commentary. It’s impressive how simple you have made this particular game seem.

  7. Hi Younggil,

    It surprised me to see how much of the top centre play was considered as kikashi/aji in return for the profit in the upper left. Considering the poor end result of White in that corner, shouldn’t he have sacrificed it and spend more moves on capturing the top on a grand scale?

    But really I mostly remain surprised to see so many stones being disposable. How does one estimate their aji value to be higher than their face value, so that one doesn’t spend any moves to save them?

    The question zooms in on move 61.

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      Hi Dieter,
      It’s hard to answer to your questions. For the first question, it’s possible to sacrifice the corner, but it’s worth about 25 points, so it’s still pretty big to sacrifice.
      The second one, it’s more complicated. It’s actually quite hard to estimate. If you can’t see the aji, you can’t calculate how big is that. So it depends on your strength I think.

  8. Thanks for sharing, as always! 🙂
    I’ve got a question about move 124. In this situation I would consider not answering the threat and trying to kill black whole: L16 M7 K15 L14
    Is that conceivable?

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      That’s a creative idea!
      However, it’s not easy for white to capture the whole black group. As you can see, black already had an eye on the top, and it’s not that hard for black to make another eye in the center, because white’s outside isn’t strong enough.