Go Commentary: Tang Weixing vs Lee Sedol – 2nd MLily Cup

This game is from the quarter finals of the 2nd MLily Cup.

It was played by Tang Weixing 9p and Lee Sedol 9p on September 1, 2015, in Guangzhou, China.

Lee Sedol 9 dan (left) and Tang Weixing 9 dan at the 2nd MLily Cup, quarter finals.

Lee Sedol 9 dan (left) and Tang Weixing 9 dan at the 2nd MLily Cup quarter finals.

Tang Weixing

Tang Weixing is ranked #10 in China, and he was the winner of the 2013 Samsung Cup.

Tang Weixing 9 dan at the 2nd MLily Cup, quarter finals.

Tang Weixing 9 dan at the 2nd MLily Cup, quarter finals.

He defeated Shi Yue 9p in the 2013 Samsung Cup semifinals, and faced Lee Sedol in the final.

Many Go fans expected Lee Sedol to take home another international title, because Tang was still relatively unknown back then.

However, Tang showed his strength and power, and defeated Lee 2-0 to win his first career title.

He hadn’t even won any domestic titles in China at the time, so he made a rapid transition from dark horse to world champion.

With his victory and others, Chinese players swept all the international individual titles for the first time in 2013.

In 2014, Tang won the 13th Xinan Wang, defeating Chang Hao 9p in the final, and he defended the title against Shi Yue 9p, who is ranked #1 in China, this year.

He also proceeded to the final of the 2014 Samsung Cupdefeating Park Junghwan 9p in the semifinals as defending champion.

However, he couldn’t maintain his grip on the Samsung Cup and he lost the final to Kim Jiseok 9p 2-0.

Tang’s style of play is territorial and persistent. He’s very good at sabaki, so he doesn’t mind complicated battles in his opponent’s sphere of influence.

In this MLily Cup, Tang defeated Yuki Satoshi 9p, Kong Jie 9p and Li Qincheng 1p respectively en route to the quarter finals.

Lee Sedol

Lee Sedol 9 dan at the 2nd MLily Cup, quarter finals.

Lee Sedol 9 dan at the 2nd MLily Cup, quarter finals.

Lee Sedol is currently ranked #2 in Korea, just behind the younger Park Junghwan 9p.

Kim Jiseok 9p held the #2 position for more than a year, but Lee has made a comeback to #2 with a higher winning percentage lately.

Just four days before this game, he won the 27th Asian TV Cup.

He played wonderfully against Park Junghwan 9p in the final, adding a 4th Asian TV Cup to his international record.

He hasn’t won any domestic Korean titles in 2015 so far, but he’s still very powerful when he’s in good form.

As we discussed above, Lee lost the 2013 Samsung Cup to Tang Weixing, so this was his opportunity for reprisal.

These two haven’t met in any other tournaments. This was only their 3rd game together.

In this MLily Cup, Lee defeated Xie Erhao 2p, Byun Sangil 4p and Ding Hao 2p respectively, starting in from the round of 64.

Anyway, let’s have a look at Lee and Tang’s interesting game.

Tang Weixing 9 dan (left) and Lee Sedol 9 dan  at the night before the quarter finals.

Tang Weixing 9 dan (left) and Lee Sedol 9 dan on the night before the quarter finals.

Commented game record

Tang Weixing 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. Hi Mr An ,
    Super commentary ^^ (specially about my favorite player ) . I hope to see a final against Ke jie. I dont know well his style but it will be a great final ( if both win)
    Thank you , your commentaries help to improve ^^ .

    • Oh i just saw they will play the semi final together ^^

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for your kind comment lichigo.

      Lee Sedol is going to play against Ahn Seongjun, and Ke Jie is going to play against Park Younghun in the semifinals. 🙂

      • thank you mr. An .
        Can you describe the style of ke jie ? i feel his style is solide .

        • Younggil An says:

          Ke Jie’s style of play is hard to describe, because he seems to be good at nearly everything.

          He’s good at fighting because his reading is quick and accurate. His games are well balanced, and it looks like he wins games pretty easily, and that’s because he’s already very strong.

          Ke Jie is already regarded as #1 in China, and many people expect him to be a great player such as Gu Li.

          He’s still quite young (18 years old) and it’ll be interesting to see how he’ll manage himself to become stronger.

          • Fantastic, what an achievement. A variation on a saying here: becoming nr. 1 is one thing, staying nr. 1 is another thing. I hope Ke Jie keeps himself together well, and will see ways to improve still more.

            Kind regards,

  2. What a great game! So Lee didn’t make any mistakes in such a complicated fight, and made some brillant moves: this game must be a masterpiece for him. I guess after W150 white wins the semeai in the centre by one move. Thank you very much for the explanation!

    Kind regards,

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes you’re right. I couldn’t find any serious mistakes from Lee in this game which’s amazing!

  3. Thanks for the commentary it helped me a lot!

  4. I guess black didn’t see white 62 coming.

    For 61 I was wondering if black could probe at P2 as that seems to help in the fighting at the bottom, then switch to 61 as appropriate. Or would white choose some other way to fight?

    I’d give a diagram but there are several variations so it’s a bit involved 🙂

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s an interesting idea.

      White might hane from the outside at O2 against Black P2, and that’s not easy for Black to find a good continuation.

      That’s why Tang didn’t attach there as a probe I guess.

  5. Hi,
    does the 2 hour limit count as a lightning game? And, do you think we’d see better, much more sophisticated games, if players had more time, for example 8 hours each, like more than 50 years ago?
    Furthermore, do players generally calm down as they grow older and they don’t fight as much? You said in this commentary that Lee still likes to fight, but rather plays more calmly nowadays. 🙂
    Looking forward to your asnwer! 🙂

    • To me, a lightning game is about 15 minutes per player, with sudden death (no byo yomi). When you consider go as a sport, and not as art, then reasonable time constraints are in order. In the old days the Japanese players could sit each other about to death, taking sometimes hours and hours per move, to drain the opponent. I would say, a game of go should be finished in one day. Then 2 or 3 hours and byo yomi should suffice for a decent game. Like in chess. The game shown here proves that a wonderful game is possible under these time constraints. Time management as part of the game: reading ability and strategic feeling can be shown more than enough. I wonder if more time for Tang would have led him to find out that B61 was slack towards the bottom area. Apparently this was his only real mistake.

      Kind regards,

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Michelxy and Paul for your good questions and opinions.

      I don’t think 2 hour game is lighting, but that’s quite reasonable today.

      I assume top pros would play better with 3 to 4 hour time limit. Lee Sedol wanted 4 hour for the MLily Jubango against Gu Li last year, and the reason was he thought that’s the best time limit for the best game.

      If the time limit is 8 hours such as the big three Japanese title matches, the game wouldn’t be as dynamic as 2 hour game, because both players can read more deeply and accurately, and they can easily choose alternative and safer way when one is in the lead.

      That’s why the two day games from the Japanese big three title matches are more relaxed and peaceful compared to the international matches partly because of that I guess.

  6. By the way: I appreciate you showing the pictures of the players before and during play. They give one a feeling for the conditions, to me it is important that go is a game that at the top level is played under quite appropriate circumstances. And I like seeing a face to a name.

    Kind regards,

  7. Paul,
    There is certainly a loss in quality with shorter time controls. There are many examples in famous games of Japanese players where 3 or more hours were spent on one move. Go is hard enough that players in a two hour game will make more mistakes. For myself, I don’t see what the rush is.
    In terms of time per move, the 2 hour time limit is comparable to the 30 min per game style of chess. The 30 minute games are really much lower in quality than longer games.

    • Sure, more mistakes may be made with less time. Still, a few observations.
      – With shorter time you have less possibilities to think about “other game” variations, you have to focus on the game at hand. The idea of less than 20 moves during the first day (something like this happened in the past) is ludicruous to me, and this has nothing to do with making less mistakes. Players tend to come into byo yomi about halfway the game anyway (if it is played out till the end), whether they have initially a long or a short period of time.
      – Unlike chess, go is much more a game where you can think in the time of your opponent, working out all kinds of sequences at different parts of the board, like for the endgame. Also counting can be done in the opponent’s time. So you have about twice the time to your disposal.
      – Byo yomi of one minute per move with several possibilities to extend this is is not that bad. Of course, getting into byo yomi right in the complicated middle game is no fun, but here time management comes into play, you do this to yourself. But to pro’s byo yomi in the endgame may not be impossibly difficult, as some of the sequences were worked out earlier. And you always can play a forcing move if you need a bit more time.

      In the end go is a game, a battle, the player making the least big mistakes and the most good moves wins most of the time. The issue is not trying to play the most perfect game. And when you look at the games played by the professional players, not many glaring errors occur due to time constraints alone, it is also the pressure, the fatigue, a misjudgement, and if they do occur, it is the player who makes them.

      Kind regards,

  8. Very fine game, and very fine commentary. In bookform this might get a little confusing. Navigating through a tree, like here, is superior.
    The tactical proficiency of these players is amazing. Or rather, their proficiency gets rubbed under our amateur noses, when the position is openly tactical as here. Once black falls behind, the game gets an ironic hide and seek quality. Tang can run with his scheming, but he can’t hide.

  9. Maybe a strange question, about White 2. Common sense would dictate to play this move at the star point at the top left, facing the weak side of Black 1. I know that stones being so distant of each other have little influence on each other, still: is there a special reason to play White 2 at the bottom right, other than that is different?

    Kind regards,

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a difficult question to answer.

      Even if White plays top left for 2, Black can still have the same opening. Since White chose two star formation in that game, playing in the top left or bottom right wouldn’t be that different.

      Playing in the bottom right is a bit more strategic, because if White chose to play top left first, Black has another option to approach there immediately, but in that game, White could choose to play 3-4 for White 4 instead.

  10. Question on:
    Commented game record
    Tang Weixing vs Lee Sedol

    At white 102, if White follows Option 2., then Black Option 3, then White Option 1,

    If now white bone joint…

    I can’t read out the capture.

    Great web site!
    Thanks from Arizona,