Kim Jiseok wins 18th GS Caltex Cup

On April 22, 2013, Kim Jiseok 8p took the 18th GS Caltex Cup from the defending champion, Lee Sedol 9p.


A triumphant Kim Jiseok gives a post game interview.

In doing so, Kim also earned himself a promotion to 9 dan!

3 straight wins

After winning the first two games of the best of five final on April 16 and 17, it seemed likely that Kim would win the title.

However, few would have predicted such a decisive 3-0 victory, especially against Lee Sedol.

En route to the final

Lee’s semifinal match against Park Younghun 9p was a reprise of last year’s GS Caltex Cup final.


Lee Sedol (9 dan, left) plays Park Younghun (9 dan) in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Kim defeated Cho Hanseung to earn his spot in the final.


Kim Jiseok’s semifinal opponent was Cho Hanseung (9 dan).

Living up to expectations


Kim Jiseok (center) reviews a game with Lee Sedol (left) and Park Junghwan.

Kim has long been considered one of the strongest players in Korea.

He’s particularly strong at fighting, especially in fast games. His only other win as an individual was in another rapid tourament, the Price Information Cup, in 2009.

So far, international success has eluded him, but his results have been getting better and better lately.

Kim also excels in team events. He’s received the Korean Baduk League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award three times.

He’s also been selected three times for the Korean Nongshim Cup team.

Is Lee Sedol in a slump?

Lee Sedol also lost the Maxim Cup final to Park Junghwan 9p last week, leading some to question his form.

Hopefully Lee can get back in shape in preparation for his jubango with Gu Li later this year.


Is Lee Sedol in a slump?

GS Caltex Cup

The GS Caltex Cup is one of the most generously sponsored Korean domestic Go tournaments, with the winner taking away 70 million Won (approximately $60,000 USD).

It’s also one of the fastest tournaments with only 10 minutes main time and 3 x 40 seconds byo-yomi.

Until 2004, when LG restructured into LG (which sponsors the international LG Cup) and GS, the tournament was known as the Korean LG Cup.

In this tournament, professionals play in a knockout format with the final decided by a five game match. The tournament structure has changed several times over the years.

Up until the 15th year, the tournament was played with a challenger facing the defending title holder. The challenger has been decided by both round robin and single knockout formats.

GS Caltex is a South Korean oil and energy company.

18th GS Caltex Cup photos

Game records

Kim Jiseok vs Lee Sedol – Game 1


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Lee Sedol vs Kim Jiseok – Game 2


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Kim Jiseok vs Lee Sedol – Game 3


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


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About Jing

Jing likes writing, and can occasionally be convinced to play a game of Go. Even though she doesn't play Go as often as she once did, she still enjoys following the professional Go scene and writing about it on Go Game Guru.

You can follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.


  1. Yess!!! i predicted 3-0 !!

  2. That third game was just crazy, all-out messy fighting right from the start!

    • David Ormerod says:

      White let black’s moyo get so big! Then he had to go all out invading.

      Personally, I prefer the approach Baek Hongseok took in game 2 of the 4th BC Card Cup last year (the opening was almost the same). It nips the moyo in the bud better.

      Lee Sedol used to always play two star points as white. Lately it seems like he’s trying to mix it up a bit.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s a really good point. In comparison to game 3, Baek Hongseok’s approach seems much nicer.

    • helloqtion says:

      That game was just so amazing !

  3. I don’t think lee Sedol is in slump… these two guys (kim and Park) are playing better and better year after year. Well for them!

    • David Ormerod says:

      You could be right jangalf.

      It’s nice to see Kim Jiseok finally getting to the highest levels with his own game. I really enjoy his unique fighting style.

  4. Uberdude says:

    In game 3 t7 does seem rather a hopeful ko threat as the trade it leads to seems much better for black. If black just lived small on the left and white didn’t die there I thought white would have a good game (e.g. c11 at d7)

    • David Ormerod says:

      I only just looked at game 3 now and it would be really hard to make those sorts of judgments in byo-yomi. It took me much longer than 40 seconds to count that the right side trade was worth almost 80 point (in other words – huge), but the left side was even bigger.

      I think Lee was worried that if he played C11 at D7, white might throw-in at E11 and squeeze at F12. So I think maybe white should have compromised a bit earlier on. Maybe 204 at C12, for example. What do you think?

      It seems to me that, if white plays C11 at D7 and then connects when squeezed (at E11/F12), black C12 wins the capturing race, because black has four liberties in the center.

      After C12, if white ataris and connects at D14, B14 seems to be tesuji. And if white ataris the other way and plays B10 (atari), black can still win with the two stone edge squeeze.

      So I think white wouldn’t be able to answer the squeeze. Am I missing something? Do you think white has a better move?

  5. There’s a natural tendency to interpret a 3-0 scoreline as decisive. If the odds of victory are 50/50 then we would expect a 3-0 scoreline in 1 title out of 8 which seems about right. If you toss a coin ten times there is a good chance of getting three or more consecutive heads or tails. Humans tend to interpret these results as meaningful when they’re nothing more than happenstance.

    • Actually if it’s 50/50 (and independent) then 1 title in 4 would be a 3-0 as either player could win all 3.

    • David Ormerod says:

      I can’t remember the last time (if ever) someone beat Lee Sedol 3-0 though.

      Possibly this could be random chance, but winning a single game against Lee Sedol must be incredibly hard (he certainly makes it look like it). There are also the psychological factors of being 2-0 up or down. So this has to factor in the probabilities too (somehow). I don’t think the situation is (mathematically) as ideal as it sounds, because humans are involved and they’re less dependably consistent than coins 😉

      That being said, I do understand the general point you’re making Tony and I’m sure Jing will too 🙂

  6. Speed randomizes too. In games with old fashioned time conditions, a 3-0 would be more meaningful.

    • That’s a good point, Dieter. Maybe that’s partly what Tony was trying to imply. I’d love to see these two in a best of five under longer time settings.

  7. Michael Brown says:

    ehh….could we have a commentary on game 3? Crazy wild fighting going on in that one.

  8. In game 1, after b H4 (move 19), Lee Sedol’s whole response bewilders me. F4, F5, and C4 all seem flat out bad to me. What am I missing? Especially C4, which, after b’s response, seems like a wasted stone.

    I’m tempted to say they ARE bad, but I figure a 9dan had a reason for it!

    • Hi Ethan. I’ll ask David or Younggil to have a closer look at it for you. But remember, pros are still human and they were playing under pretty fast time settings.

    • An Younggil 8p says:

      That’s a good point.
      W20 was heavy, and white was in trouble in early stage when B21 was played. Lee Sedol tried to fight to go out, but it wasn’t that successful. Opening is the weakest part of Lee Sedol, but he normally catches up in the middle game. In that game, Kim Jiseok played very well and didn’t allow Lee to do that.

  9. is Lee Sedol the Go player who was going to retire? I remember a few weeks back a big name player said he was going to retire. Is that Lee Sedol?

    • Yes, Henry, that was Lee Sedol. Although it’s not happening right away. Younggil wrote about it here

      • Thanks, I was just wondering. Do you think this could be the reason for his decline? I don’t know that much about the Go world but it just seems like that could weight on someones mind a lot and in a Go game (especially) at that level you need to be mentally and even physically healthy.

        • David Ormerod says:

          It could be a factor, probably as part of the bigger picture.

          Most top pros have ups and downs because their schedule is very busy and stressful. Someone like Lee Sedol has to fly around and stay in hotels for tournaments a lot, and would get worn out physically.

          At the moment (in addition to the retirement that you mentioned) his wife and daughter may still be in Canada (so he misses them), he’s been playing in many important matches, they’re trying to plan a ten game match with Gu Li and he’s trying to start his own Go server/business (which is no doubt very stressful too).

          I don’t know about other people, but I find that I play better when things are going well and that, if work is very emotionally stressful for example, sometimes external concerns can permeate into my game. Lee Sedol is a pro, and he’s likely much better at blocking external things out and focusing on the game, but he’s still human too.

          • Its amazing when you look at something that you liked doing as a kid, or just a hobby and then you look at what the pros have to do. Its so much more then just playing go or playing basketball. Like you said they have to travel a lot. (sigh) Things were so much easier as a kid (not that I’m an adult yet but you know what I mean 🙂

  10. Speedy games versus normal games, I guess some players are better in the former, some in the latter. The older you grow, the more difficult to excel in speedy games. I always was hopeless in speedy games, and a bit less hopeless when actually being able to at least try to think about something. I wonder if the speedy games are really very good, without glaring errors. Exciting they are, though. But when trying to decide whether a player is in a slump, or is the best player in the world, should these speedy games be taken into account? Knowing Go Seigen had quite some time to think about his marvelous moves, and his opponents too, makes it to me so much easier to acknowledge that, yes, he was the best player ever. I really would like to say that too about Lee Sedol, but only by judging him on his games where he could think at least some minutes about certain moves.

    Kind regards,

    • David Ormerod says:

      Yes, which is why we’re hoping that the jubango with Gu Li will give both players plenty of time.

      Today’s fast games are exciting, and may be good for TV ratings, but it’s not hard to find mistakes in them. For example, as Uberdude pointed out above, white was winning before the left side ko in game 3. If he’d found a way to compromise and settle the position at the right time, the result might’ve been different.