Lee Sedol gets off to a flying start: Gu Li vs Lee Sedol jubango

Go fans around the world watched as the first game of the long awaited jubango between Lee Sedol 9p and Gu Li 9p was played in Beijing, on Janurary 26, 2014.

Lee and Gu bring their supporters

Lee Sedol’s wife and daughter returned from Canada (where his daugter is studying) to support Lee for the first game of the match.


Lee Sedol 9 dan and his daughter.

In Gu Li’s corner, the legendary Nie Weiping 9p was present to support his former student.


Nie Weiping 9 dan drops in for the show.

The opening


Lee Sedol and Gu Li start the first game of their 10 game match.

Lee Sedol, playing black, started with the micro Chinese formation (3, 5 and 7), and white 6, 8 and 10 were typical of Gu Li’s powerful style.

After white’s jump at 22, the flow of the stones seemed good for white.

However, when white tried to consolidate the corner with 28, jumping at black 29 was a good response and white 30 was questionable.

Black 37 and 39 was a good combination, and the game became even again.

Black takes the initiative

White 60 was a probe, but the timing was questionable. When Lee counter-attacked with 61, he took the initiative.

After the moves up to 71, the game became good for black.

Black 95 and 99 were a sharp combination which created trouble for white’s center dragon.

A made-to-order leaning attack

When white tried to break out up to 116, black 117 was a textbook example of a leaning attack. White had to give up his corner, but he successfully complicated the game up to 130.


Black 117 is a perfect example of a leaning attack. White’s large group in the center is threatened indirectly.

However, black didn’t experience any serious trouble managing his groups, and white 140 was questionable.

Black 149 to 153 was a nice combination, which simplified the game.

Black shows how to win a won game

White lived with 174, but it wasn’t enough to catch up and black took sente to begin the endgame.

Black 183 was an excellent endgame tesuji, which relied on black’s earlier tesuji at 39 to make miai of connecting.

Black 191 was the finishing blow.

With 250, Gu Li was looking for an appropriate place to resign. After black 251, which made miai of ko or seki in the corner and destroyed white’s only big territory, Gu resigned.

An interesting start to the series

The first game of the jubango was exciting to watch, with both players coming up with many unexpected moves.

However, Gu Li may have been dissatisfied with his play in the middle game.


Gu Li and Lee Sedol give a post-game commentary.

Game 2 of the series will be played in Pinghu, on the outskirts of Shanghai, on February 23.

Younggil will be back with a game commentary soon! You can keep an eye on this page for updates.

What did you think of the game?

What did you think of the first game of the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango?

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

The MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango

Two of the world’s top Go players, Lee Sedol and Gu Li, will play a jubango throughout 2014, to decide which of them is the stronger player.

A jubango is a 10 game match between two players. The term originates from the Japanese language and has been imported into English language Go parlance. The first player to win six games wins the match.

The official name for this event is the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango. MLily is a mattress and bedding company that also sponsors the MLily Cup.

Go Game Guru is writing a bookΒ about this match and posting news and commentary about each game as it happens.

David Ormerod, with An Younggil 8p.

Gu Li vs Lee Sedol photos

Game record

Lee Sedol vs Gu Li – Game 1


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Related Articles

About David Ormerod

David is a Go enthusiast who’s played the game for more than a decade. He likes learning, teaching, playing and writing about the game Go. He's taught thousands of people to play Go, both online and in person at schools, public Go demonstrations and Go clubs. David is a 5 dan amateur Go player who competed in the World Amateur Go Championships prior to starting Go Game Guru. He's also the editor of Go Game Guru.

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


  1. my opinion is that when Lee Sedol is in good shape, he is the best of all.

  2. Quite an interesting game. My first impression is that Gu never had a chance, yet no glaring errors were made. I am looking forward to the comments on this game to enlighten us in the secrets of these great, great minds.

    Kind regards,

  3. What do people mean when they talk about “looking for a place to resign”? Why is one place to resign better than another? If you want to resign, just resign, right?

    • Here, I guess Go becomes emotional. It is not like in chess, where your position has become hopeless,: you will be mated no doubt without any real chance to escape it, so you resign. In Go, you may be 3 points behind and you cannot see how to turn the tables. The game may take another 100 boring moves, you are not looking forward to this. Often there is an unreasonable swindle, but you don’t expect your high class opponent to fall for it. Most of the time he doesn’t, after which you are 30 points behind and you can resign confidently as you have been put out of your misery.

      Kind regards,

      • Sorry, I still don’t understand. Are you just saying that “looking for a place to resign” is the same situation as “looking for a last-ditch miracle”, and which of those it is depends only on whether the miracle actually comes or not?

        • You don’t just look for a miracle, you try to create one by creating a complicated situation which, if your opponents deals with correctly will likely lose you points compared to optimal play, but as optimal play lead to a loss anyway it’s better to have a small chance of a win (but probably a big loss) than a certain small defeat.

        • Younggil An says:

          “Looking for a place to resign” means that pros don’t normally resign just because they’re losing. They try to make the game itself certain that they’re losing to resign. Sometimes they play an overplay and when their opponents answers accurately, then resign. In this game, Gu didn’t answer the lower left corner where he had to reinforce, and when Lee made it happen in the territory, Gu resigned. It may sound weird, but you can consider it’s as a cultural aspects of Go.

        • “Looking for a place to resign” is really a grabbag. Some actions are so brutal and complex that they would turn it around against any amateur(and have a 1% chance against pros). Others are a kind of self-sabotage, asking to be put out of misery.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a feeling that in older times, players resigned earlier when they deemed themselves behind, as a kind of old-fashioned sportsmanship.

      Today it seems go is more severe, and players will seek some way to win until there is no doubt left. In this context, as others have pointed out, they appear to be looking for a tidy, clear-cut position in which they can resign.

  4. I too thought the probe was perhaps untimely, and that letting black get that nice corner move in the lower right after 28 was harsh.
    I originally thought 30 was good shape, but I wonder if there was better moves for white to play there since it was considered questionable?
    Also, where could w have gone maybe instead of playing the probe?

  5. Black ignoring white 52 seemed to me the tide changer to me, but with white 126 and white 140 I thought Gu Li had a lot of fight still in him. I was nervous for Lee Sedol’s top group and both of Gu Li’s. I wasn’t confident that Lee Sedol was going to win until I saw m2 @184, a really cool move. The fact that the whole bottom white group would have died if 204 was omitted is pretty amazing too.


    • Younggil An says:

      I agree. When white played at 126 and 140, I thought the game became complicated, but it looks as if Lee already found a way to win in that position, and didn’t give white any chance afterwards.

  6. By the way, how was time management? Did any player have to play in byo- yomi? At which move did this start? Any errors due to lack of time?

    Kind regards,

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question, and I also want to know about that, but I couldn’t find information about the byo-yomi in any articles.
      The byo-yomi must have started at around move 150, but I don’t know who were in byo-yomi earlier than the other. I saw Gu thought a lot in the middle game, but I’m not sure if Gu was in byo-yomi at that stage.
      The game was already decided at around 150, so even if there were some errors, it’d be a minor errors.

  7. The first exiting moment of the game was black 19. I was wondering how to use the two stones at the botton left, and I didnΒ΄t find an answer. So, for me, the first tesuji of the game was 19. Really amazing!!!

  8. David Kerschner says:

    Is the Baduk TV commentary going to be subbed?

    • Younggil An says:

      The Baduk TV commentary is not going to be subbed on GGG, but I’m going to comment the game, so you can have a look when it’s published if you’re still happy for that. πŸ™‚

    • David Ormerod says:

      To clarify, we’re going to translate Baduk TV’s condensed commentary into English, once it’s been broadcast and we can get the footage.

      However, the live footage from the day is something like 8 hours long and a lot of what they’re talking about isn’t related to the game – they just have to fill in time. It would take us the best part of a week to translate that footage and I doubt most subscribers would have time to watch all of it anyway.

      So a translated commentary is coming (as long as Baduk TV make a shorter one), but the live footage is too long to be a good video for Baduk TV English.

  9. It seems from the pictures that it was a post-game analysis for the press afterwards? I am very curios what Lee Sedol and Gu Li commented upon the game.

    I am looking forward to a great review from Mr. An Younggil πŸ™‚

  10. This is fantastic! please comment on it, mr. younggil! and I am waiting with bated breath for the next!

  11. I wish they were playing with longer time limits. I’d like to see these guys playing games that last days!

  12. Finally it had begun :D… Can’t wait for the next games

  13. I wonder how they reviewed games of one another, did they used “MANDARIN/CANTONESE” or “HANGUL”?

  14. I think White 28, 52, 60 is mistakes and no use. Lee did not respond, and he take sente to attack, and White only defend.

  15. Watching this game live I was completely confused for a long time. Your excellent guide to white’s questionable moves now make it clear. Once white was cut at the bottom black’s overall attack was devastating. Thank you for what you do!

  16. In response to Black 37, why can’t W answer G2?

    Similarly, in response to Black 39, why can’t W answer G2?

    • After 37 it is playable, as the Korean pros confirm, but after 39 I think Black can atari first e4-d3, then create shortage of liberties with d1-c1 and then block at h2. This way White hurts himself.

    • Younggil An says:

      That’s a good question. I was also wondering about that when I was watching the game. I’ll explain about the G2 in the commentary, so please wait a bit to be published. Thanks.

  17. The American Go E-Journal’s report of this game at http://www.usgo.org/news/2014/01/report-from-korea-jo-hanseung-9p-kuksu-games-available/ has a game transcription which includes variations and comments by commentators Jo Hanseung 9P and Park Jeongsang 9P.Β 

  18. memoryman says:

    How do professional players make a living in playing Go? Do they have contract and get paid just like professional players in basketball and football? Or they just earn money by winning such events? Sorry about my question but I was just curious…


    • Anonymous says:

      The big money definitely comes from winning tournaments.

      But pros also make money from teaching and commenting. And historically some of the national organizations gave modest stipends to professional to allow them to study and improve their craft.

      If you’re looking for a western model, I think the economics for a pro-go player is probably more akin to that of western musicians than western athletes.

      Or, if you do focus on athletics, more like tennis and golf than team sports.

    • Younggil An says:

      It’s different from other pro team sports, but if one is in Chinese Weiqi league or Korean Baduk league, they get paid. Top pros make a living in Playing Go, but others do other works related in Go.

  19. Thnx for the commentary, looking foorward to the book, title maybe something like:
    1. modern times: the lee sedol vs. Gu li jubango
    2. the art of fighting: the lee sedol vs. Gu li jubango
    3. ~ The first “modern” Jubango (?!)
    4. Rivalry till the end: the lee sedol vs. Gu li jubango
    5. The fight of the century: the lee sedol vs. Gu li jubango
    Good luck πŸ™‚

  20. Eyecatcher says:

    Uups, wrong page, will repost on the correct page πŸ˜€