Ke Jie wins his first world title at the 2nd Bailing Cup

Ke Jie 4p defeated Qiu Jun 9p to win the 2nd Bailing Cup final, and become a new world champion, on January 14, 2015.

No early lead in November

The first two games of the final were held on November 27 and 29 in Hefei, Anhui, China. Ke Jie won game 1, but Qiu won game 2 by half a point to tie the score at 1-1.

Ke Jie 4 dan (left) and Qiu Jun 9 dan at the final of the 2nd Bailing Cup.

Ke Jie 4 dan (left) and Qiu Jun 9 dan at the final of the 2nd Bailing Cup.

The match resumed in January

After a long break, games 3 to 5 of the final were played on January 11, 13 and 14, in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China.

Qiu Jun won game 3, taking the lead in the series. In the opening of game 3, Ke made a crucial mistake in the bottom left and Qiu didn’t give Ke any chances afterwards.

However, Ke Jie won games 4 and 5 to win his first career title and promotion to 9p. In doing so, Ke Jie also became the youngest current world champion (though he didn’t break any records – Lee Changho 9p’s record still stands).

Ke Jie receives prize money from Wang Runan (President of the Chinese Go Association).

Ke Jie receives prize money from Wang Runan (President of the Chinese Go Association).

Ke Jie

Ke Jie was born in 1997 and became a pro in 2008. His performance wasn’t especially notable until 2013, but somehow he became very strong and powerful in 2014.

He defeated Choi Cheolhan 9p and Park Junghwan 9p in the quarter finals and semifinals of this tournament respectively. Many Korean Go fans were shocked when Park Junghwan was defeated 2-0 by Ke Jie.

Ke and Park were team mates (with Team Dalian) in the Chinese A League. Team Dalian won the 2014 A League with the help of these two powerful players.

Ke Jie reviews game 3 of the match with Hua Xueming.

Ke Jie reviews game 3 of the match with Hua Xueming.

Ke is four years younger than Park and wasn’t yet well known when he reached the semifinals last year.

He was ranked #8 in China at the time, while Park was #1 in Korea. However, Ke became stronger and more competitive throughout 2014.

Ke won 12 consecutive games in the 2014 Chinese A League, and was finally recognized as one of the rising stars in China.

After this final, Ke Jie was promoted directly from 4p to 9p, because he won an international title.

Ke is 17 years and 4 months old, making him the 3rd youngest world champion ever, after Lee Changho 9p (16 years and 6 months) and Fan Tingyu 9p (16 years and 7 months).

Qiu Jun

On the other hand, Qiu Jun missed another good opportunity to win an international title.

Qiu Jun's patented look of concentration.

Qiu Jun’s patented look of concentration.

He reached the final of the 14th Samsung Cup in 2009, but he was defeated by Kong Jie 9p.

Qiu also proceeded to the final of the 24th Fujitsu Cup, in 2011, but Park Junghwan won.

This Bailing Cup final was Qiu’s third loss in an international final. Qiu defeated Kim Jiseok 9p and Ahn Kukhyun 5p en route to the final, but he couldn’t make it all the way.

The Bailing Cup

The Bailing Cup is a biennial international Go tournament (not to be confused with a now defunct Chinese women’s tournament of the same name), which started in 2012.

It’s sponsored by the Guizhou Bailing Pharmaceutical Group.

The winner receives 1.8 million RMB (about $290,000 USD at the time of writing) and the runner up receives 600,000 RMB. This puts the tournament in the same league as the Samsung Cup in terms of prize money.

The format is a straight knockout of 64 players, with the final played as a best of five match.

Brief commentary of game 5

(Comments are below)

Qiu Jun (black) vs Ke Jie


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


There was an interesting new pattern in the bottom right, and the result up to White 60 was slightly better for Black.

Black 89 was a mistake, and the result up to White 114 was successful for White. White 120 was a strong move, and White 134 and 142 were nice, strong moves too.

Black 161 was a mistake, and White 162 and 164 were very sharp. White took a clear lead at this point.

There was a big ko fight starting with Black 181. It was Black’s only hope, but Black didn’t have enough ko threats to win.

When White eliminated the ko with White 258, the game was practically over.

This was a very nice game and congratulations Ke Jie!

Download all five game records

If you’d like to review all five games from the 2nd Bailing Cup final, you can click here to download them.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about the games, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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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. Congratulations to Ke Jie! His performance is 2014 was remarkable, his games spectacular: I replayed most of them via go4go. Let’s hope he can maintain this power, and grow even more: this should be possible at such a young age.

    Kind regards,

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, I agree with you that he was doing great in 2014, and he can even become stronger as he’s still quite young.
      Let’s see what will happen in 2015, and I hope other young players from Japan and Korea to play very well to compete with Ke Jie too.

  2. Qiu Jun must have been very unhappy with D19 at 89.
    Because of it, b cant answer a15 at a17, because the w placement at B19 would become much stronger – it would become a direct ko, in which w could usefully directly take b stones off the board in case of success.
    I needed your tip to find a flaw with it, but for a top pro it would surely be a vexing mistake to make.

    • But many pros have played d19, including Ke Jie himself:

      So is this move always a mistake, has pro opinion shifted in the last two years (this corner invasion is very popular joseki recently), was there something different about this position that made it a mistake?

      • Younggil An says:

        Oh, I’m sorry that I miss out your comment Uberdude.

        That’s still playable in normal situation, but it wasn’t good enough in this game I thought. That’s because I couldn’t find any questionable moves from Black in that area. However, maybe the game was already playable for White, and there was no problem for both sides in the top left.

        I’m sorry that my answer isn’t clear enough.

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, I agree with you Stefan.

      You’re right that Black couldn’t answer at A17 for Black 97 because of the reason you showed us. Qiu probably wanted to fill White’s liberties before playing in the center, but it didn’t succeed as he wished. That’s partly because Qiu might have misread something at the top after Black 99, and I guess he missed White 100 out. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have exchanged Black 89 in that early stage.

      Maybe I was wrong, but I thought there would be a mistake from Black, because the result wasn’t satisfactory for Black up to White 114.

      Probably, the result of the lower right corner up to White 60 wasn’t good for Black.

  3. Interesting game.

    49-51 at R9 Q10 R11 seems a bit feeble, but makes O2 sente. Is that about even? I thought up to 60 looks a bit easier to play for white, but assessing the value of the right and bottom areas is beyond me…

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, that would be possible and it’d be about even. However, Qiu didn’t seem to like to play like that, because the right side would become low and flat.

      I also feel that when I looked at the game again, the result up to White 60 seemed to be playable for White.

  4. I really hope to see more commentaries of Ke Jie games. Something really seems special to me about his style, his use of aji stones seems more natural than players like Lee Sedol or Shi Yue, his reading is sharper than even “mr. tesuji book” Park Junghwan =P , and his judgement is only lacking in experience (like his failure with a large avalanche variation). Now, I may only be a weak 5k player, but the time I played a few games with 1 month+ time limits and used apps on my phone to read deep into every variation I could think of, feel more like Ke Jie games than any other pro. Except he’s doing it in blitz games and against the worlds best players. If he keeps improving he could be the first real dominate pro since Lee Changho. Although Shin Jinseo’s 0.5 point win felt like a masterpiece in countering Ke Jie’s territorial style. More than anyone I’d love to see what Ke Jie could do in japanese style 2 day games, his upcoming games with Iyama should be epic

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, Ke Jie, who is currently #2 in China, is already one of the best players in the world, but he’s still quite young (18 years old).

      I’ll try to show one of his nice games since he’s one of the most promising players along with other top young players.