Lee Sedol, Iyama Yuta and Gu Li go head to head

This year’s Chongqing International Golden Buddha Mountain Tourism and Cultural Festival (in China) has certainly served up a treat for Go fans around the world.

The headline event is a head-to-head mini-tournament between three of the world’s top professional Go players – Korea’s Lee Sedol 9p, China’s Gu Li 9p and Japan’s Iyama Yuta 9p.

The tournament is unlikely to be repeated, but is sponsored by Bosai Minerals Group and is being called the Bosai Cup.

Three top Go players in top form

Lee recently won the 3rd BC Card Cup, playing none other than Gu in the final. Iyama, in equally good form, claimed the Judan title earlier this month (May 2011).

From left: Lee Sedol, Gu Li, Iyama Yuta (all 9 dan)

Imitating the Meijin

The Bosai Cup is being played in a similar format to the China Japan Korea World Meijin, where the Meijins from the three countries face one another. Lee, Gu and Iyama will play three games to determine a winner.

The draw was decided at a lavish opening reception held in honour of the players. Gu drew a bye in the first round, so Lee and Iyama played today.

Gu Li enjoys the banquet after drawing a bye in the first game

Iyama Yuta defeats Lee Sedol in game one!

In the first game, Iyama Yuta (taking black) defeated Lee Sedol by resignation.

Iyama Yuta in good form, defeats Lee Sedol

As the winner, Iyama will play in the final on May 18 2011. Tomorrow, in a rematch of last month’s 3rd BC Card final, Gu will play Lee for the second spot in the final.

The match will start at 1:00pm on May 17 (China Standard Time – UTC+8).

Perhaps Gu’s recent prowess on the soccer field will give him an edge? Or will Lee have a psychological advantage over Gu, due to his recent win? (Lee Sedol and Gu Li’s game was commented by Younggil here)

Next up, Lee Sedol (left) takes on Gu Li, to challenge Iyama Yuta in the final

Update: Gu Li defeats Lee Sedol in game two of the Bosai Cup – May 17

In an exciting large scale game, Gu (black) won by resignation after hard fighting. Iyama and Gu are both top players, but Lee’s game also feels a little bit strange in both these matches.

I wonder whether his recent injury has anything to do with this, or if he’s just in a post tournament slump after the winning the 3rd BC Card Cup? I’ll let you know if we find out more about this. I hope he gets back into top form soon.

Gu Li (left) and Lee Sedol play in Chongqing

More photos

(Last week) Lee Sedol’s injured right hand. Is this affecting his game?

Lee and Gu enjoy Chongqing together

Lee gets a crash course in Chinese Chess (xiangqi)

Who do you think will win?

With Iyama’s win, the exhibition match has become very interesting for Go fans. Cast your vote now to pick the winner.

Final results:

  • Iyama Yuta (Japan) (54%, 41 Votes)
  • Gu Li (China) (25%, 19 Votes)
  • Lee Sedol (Korea) (21%, 17 Votes)

[Update: Iyama Yuta defeated Gu Li to win the Bosai Cup]

Game one: Iyama Yuta vs Lee Sedol


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Game two: Gu Li vs Lee Sedol


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. Awesome series – looking forward to see how it turns out 🙂

  2. scwizard says:

    Woa, Iyama Yuta won!

    I’d heard about his fantastic performance domestically, but I still didn’t expect this result.

    Still I’m disapointed in two ways. First is that unusually there was no komi, which takes away some of the legitimacy of black’s win. Second Lee Sedol played Q2 instead of the large avalanche, now the varation that was played is a common way of playing this opening, but I personally don’t like it for white.

    • The komi was our error. We’ve updated the file now, thanks for letting us know. 🙂

      I saw some photos recently of Lee sporting some nasty looking injuries shortly after the BC Card Cup. There were some of him playing with his right hand in bandages and he was using his left hand to place the stones. I’ve been wondering if this is affecting his play. I don’t think he’s left handed.

      I’ve updated the post and added a photo above.

    • David Ormerod says:

      SC, I’m not really a fan of that variation either. It always feels a bit slow to me.

      The intention of it is to avoid starting a large scale joseki, because that settles the shape of the game too quickly (at least that’s probably what Lee thought). Pros will have studied the large avalanche endlessly, so Lee would have wanted to keep things simple in the lower right and draw Iyama into a more unfamiliar fight later in the game.

      • Jonathan says:

        I don’t disagree with you, but I think Lee played it for another reason. First of all, it is the most common move in this position now. However, I think the move is well suited to Lee’s style. It is good shape after O4, but just weak enough that an attack is tempting if it is not defended soon. White is not at all bad in the fighting, but does have the potential to make the game complicated, which is what Lee wants.

        • scwizard says:

          >it is the most common move in this position now
          I wanted to verify that independently, but my DB didn’t have very many games with this position after Q2.

          However had three of them, and they were all from 2009 and 2010 and white won all of them.

          In fact one of the wins for white was against Iyama Yuta…
          >Hikosaka Naoto, 9p – Iyama Yuuta, 8p, W+R (Komi 6.5)
          48th Japanese Judan, loser section round 1, 2009-07-16

          However in that game black jumped into the corner after white’s pincer. The result was that white had two walls far apart and facing each other, and black was forced to jump into the middle of those walls to stop white from efficiently territorializing that area. This of course creates a somewhat weak group and black can get a headache.

          The double approach which Yuuta played against Lee seems much more sensible.

          • scwizard says:

            Oh also Lee played a more distant pincer than Hikosaka Naoto, I was hallucinating and thought they were the same pincer. Why did Lee do that?

          • David Ormerod says:

            SC, the two space pincer instead of the one space pincer is a matter of feeling to a large extent. Remember that it’s not just a pincer, but also an extension. Lee clearly felt that it had a better relationship with white’s lower right corner stones. If white extends further it will be easier for black to invade (and attack) later.

            Somewhat amusingly, that two space pincer with the star point was rarely played (by professionals) until fairly recently. It was thought that it didn’t create an efficient shape after black traded and took the corner (with 3-3). This was part of the dogma of Go and, amusingly in my opinion, if you look at many joseki books the two space low pincer is completely omitted for the star point…

        • David Ormerod says:

          Jonathan, good points. I think we both agree here that Lee wanted to create a complicated fighting game.

          I spent more time explaining why he may have avoided the large avalanche joseki because that’s something that took me a long time to understand. I used to think, ‘if he wants complicated fighting, why not play the complicated joseki?’

  3. Hi, I want to know if this games are being released online like in IGS or Tygem to see thm when they are being played?.
    I really want to know how i can know when they are going to be viewable online.

    Thanks for all.

    • ZhanZongru says:

      As I have known, this game would be live available on this site:

      But that site is only in Chinese….

    • Jonathan says:

      Just check Tygem and WBaduk on a regular basis. They generally keep top games up for at least 24 hours. If you want to see them live, then just login to the servers around 10 A.M. Korea time.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Thanks for your answers guys. Jing says today’s game starts at 1pm Beijing time (2pm Korean time).

      Ignacio, if you don’t already know WBaduk, here’s the link:

      Tom and Tygem should show the game too.

  4. The q2 variation is a very flexible move. I cannot do it justice in such a comment-space. Nevertheless, I will try to provide a few conceptual insights into the move.

    When no other non-symmetrical corners can be approached, then completing the shape with o4 is expected and not slow.

    As Black, the q2 variation was very common in 2007-08. It was used to set-up a Mini-Chinese variation when White tried to avoid it with a 3-4 stone. Black would have c4, White q3; then the q2 joseki would occur with Bo4 being at j3. Much research was done in this position.

    Last, o4 can be omitted to handle another non-symmetrical corner. Should White tenuki with a move on the top & Black attacks this incomplete White shape, then White sacrifices for influence in sente. Should White tenuki with an additional move on the bottom (e.g. k3) or bottom-left corner (e.g. c6) & Black attacks this incomplete White shape, then White can begin a fight that leads Black into these bottom/corner stones.

    • David Ormerod says:

      Logan, thanks for your detailed analysis. You’re right that it’s hard to explain things fully using just these comments. If you’d like to write an article about this (or anything else Go related) for Go Game Guru, you’re most welcome to. Please feel free let me know any time.

      O4 is certainly the shape move, and the proper move locally. What you’ve said makes perfect sense and is in line with traditional Go theory. I’m a big believer that there are nearly always other ways to play in Go, so I tend to avoid making statements to the effect that ‘so and so is the only move’ unless it really is.

      I agree with you that O4 is a good move. I just feel that I wouldn’t play that way myself. You’ll find that pros often don’t follow these principles either.