Lee Sedol wins historic jubango against Gu Li!


Lee Sedol won his historic match with Gu Li, six games to two.

The most anticipated Go event for decades concluded on September 28, 2014, when Lee Sedol 9p defeated Gu Li 9p in their historic 10 game match.

Game 8 of the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango took place in Gu Li’s hometown – Chongqing, China – and finished after 350 thrilling moves, with Lee Sedol winning by 2.5 points.

This was the longest game of the series.

To the victor go the spoils

With this victory, Lee Sedol takes the lion’s share of the 5,000,000 RMB prize money (more than $800,000 USD).

Lee has also cemented his place in Go history, inevitably at the expense of his friend and rival, Gu Li.


Lee Sedol 9 dan (left) and Gu Li 9 dan play the deciding game of their jubango.

The final score for the series was 6-2 in Lee’s favor, although this statistic belies how tightly fought several of the games were.

And, unfortunately for Go fans around the world, we’ll now have to find something else to do on the last weekend of every month!

Congratulations Lee Sedol!

And thanks to both the players and the sponsor. It was a fantastic series of games to watch.


Gu Li to Lee Sedol, “let’s never start a dojo Lee.” 🙂

Commentary (and book) coming soon!

As with the previous seven games, a detailed commentary is coming soon.

In the meantime, you can find all the commentaries and videos from the match on our jubango page and see An Younggil 8p’s preliminary comments on game 8 below.

Once completed, all eight commentaries will form the basis of a book about this match.


Friends and rivals: Lee Sedol and Gu Li before game 8.

An Younggil’s preliminary comments

(Note: you can download the game record here or view it below)

Gu Li started the game with the high Chinese opening.

Black 29 was unusual, and the opening up to Black 35 was even.

Invading at 3-3 with White 36 was a nice probe, and the corner was half alive up to Black 45.

Black 53 and 55 looked like a nice combination, but the result up to White 66 was slightly better for White, because White’s right side stones weren’t captured yet.

Black 67 was very nice, and Black 69 and 71 were unusual moves to take sente.

Black 87 and White 88 were motivated by fighting spirit, and the result was still better for White up to White 90.

White 92 and 94 were interesting moves, and the result up to White 106 seemed to be successful for White.

Black 107 was an incredible move, but White 116-120 comprised a good sequence for managing White’s weak group in the corner. And the result up to White 126 was still good for White.

Black 149 and 151 were strong attacking moves, but Lee’s responses up to White 166 were perfect, and White maintained his lead.

White 174 was a nice tesuji, but White 188 was too much and represented an unnecessary risk for White.

Black 189 was a well timed probe, but White 198 was an unexpected good move, and Black couldn’t make two eyes for his group.

The trade up to Black 211 was very good for White, and the game was practically over.

However, White 214 was a mistake and the game became complicated again after Black 215.

Black gained around 10 points by taking White’s stones with Black 249 and 253, but it wasn’t enough to catch up.

Finally, White won by 2.5 points after 350 moves.

The MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango

Two of the world’s top Go players, Lee Sedol and Gu Li, played a jubango throughout 2014, to decide which of them was 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 was the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango. MLily is a mattress and bedding company which also sponsors the MLily Cup.

More photos

Game record

Gu Li vs Lee Sedol


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)



David Ormerod, with Younggil An and Jingning Xue

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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.

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  1. Lee Sedol crushes Gu Li, as expected. :-/

    I also thought W214 was a mistake.

    B251 ko threat seemed small. Why not M7 instead?…

    Was B255 necessary?

    Anyway, thanks GGG for reporting and for the comments. Great service to the go community worldwide.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks for the question.

      Black 251 was quite big, but there could be other ko threats. I’ll research for that.

      Black 255 wasn’t necessary, but White soon played at 264. So that B 255 wasn’t wrong.

  2. What a fitting end to this match! Congratulations to Lee, and commiserations to Gu: it needs two great players to get a great match! Thank you for the quick preliminary comments, to at least get a feeling for this great fighting game. Alas, it seems all over right now…

    Kind regards,

  3. Uh, board was upside down. I mean, instead of B251, why not *H13*? Ko threat in the game seemed small.

    • Younggil An says:

      I see. In that case, White will cut at M9, and it will become a kind of double ko with the ko in the center.

  4. Hometown loss. Tsk, tsk.

  5. All the kids were ignoring Gu 🙁

  6. To be honest, I wished for 1 more game for Gu to win,
    but really, I would love to see jubango Yuuta-Sedol

  7. Marek Jasovsky says:

    Hi David, the link to download the SGF file somehow does not seem to work.. thx, Marek

  8. LSD and GL were only suiting pair for Jubango. Players like PJH and SY may be ranked #1 in their country but they only won one international title. For Iyama, regardless of how he’d fair up against LSD or GL, he doesn’t qualify for Jubango with only one minor international title under his name.

  9. With this victory, LSD cements his name as the king of his era. LSD and GL are called rivals but with LSD winning over twice as much international title, it is clear who the more accomplished player is. This maybe is his last moment as the top player though. And with no Korean successor to his throne, this is likely to be one of the last glorious moments for Korean baduk.

  10. I agree with Alan. Iyama has done well in Japan but he has a very limited success internationally. The only well reputed and quite active GO player to challenge Lee would be Kong Jie. Still, may be his prime has already been passed.

  11. Thx so much for the comments and I look forward to when the book for the matches is out!

  12. Lawrence Gunnell says:

    That’s why I’d like to see Iyama win all 7 titles. Maybe then he could start focusing on international competition and study abroad.

    • Iyama would never want to focus on international titles though. From a number standpoint, he stands to make much more money in the Japanese tournament scene than he does by playing in international matches. Iyama has shown that he can trounce all of his domestic rivals, but his international record isn’t good enough for him to abandon his very steady and sizeable income

  13. Alan is right, this could be the last international huzzah for Korean Go.

    If Japan/Korea can’t keep up with China, then I wonder what will happen to International tournaments? It just doesn’t seem like Korea and Japan have the population base to compete long term with China in terms of having a large stable of super strong players.

    But Japan and Korea can still probably field a Iyama/Sedol every generation.

    I almost wonder if in the 2020s and beyond we might enter a new era of International Jubangos?

    Anyway, once China holds 90% of international titles for a decade or so, Korean and Japanese audiences will probably lose interest in them . . .

    • The focus shouldn’t be on national prestige, anyway. It should totally depend on the development of international excellence.

  14. Plenty of up and coming Korean players. Remember this story?

    Also, even current players, such as Park Junghwan, show that Korea isn’t really falling behind. The landscape of Go is always changing, no reason to panic.

  15. A bi-annual jubango – one year a tournament to decide the challenger, and one year for the jubango with the sitting champion – would be great.
    All it takes is a sponsor that’s willing to caugh up a million dollars every 2 years. 🙂

  16. Brandon Freels says:

    Forgive me if this has been mentioned before. I have been watching a few of Lee Sedol’s games (and the last few Jubango games) and I notice that he has a quirk when he plays. After he places a stone, Lee likes to “straighten” a couple of stones close to the one he placed. The deal is that those stones don’t need to be straightened, he just touches them out of habit.

    So my question is: Do you think this is a headgame action or just one of Lee’s habits? Coming from other boardgame tournaments, I can see where a player touching the pieces on the board might cause anxiety to some players. I understand that there is a different etiquette in baduk, but this seemed odd to me.

    • Flagellator1974 says:

      I do the same, when playing (but i’m not Lee Sedol).

    • Younggil An says:

      Yes, that’s quite common, and many pros do the same. I don’t know about other board games’ etiquette, but it’s acceptable in Go. 🙂

  17. have any of you guys seen the way this Ke Jie kid has been playing lately?

    • Yes, I noticed quite some interesting games lately, and a high percentage of winning them. Let’s see what happens the next two years. It seems that getting strong is difficult, but staying strong is even more difficult: there is a mental side to it.

      Kind regards,

      • Ke Jie has been doing extremely well lately. Quite the rising star – he even made it to the finals of ones of the international tournaments (Can’t remember which one…). He beat Park Jung-Hwan 2-0 in the semi-finals and will have a best-of-5 with Qiu Jun (Who beat An Kuk-Hyun, a star young Korean player 2-1 in the semi-finals). His games are always really exciting. I really liked his game with Ida Atsushi in the young-pro international tournament that was played recently.

        About Japanese pros and international titles – I think there are several reasons Japanese pros aren’t doing as well as they could. One is simply that the time limits in most major Japanese tournaments are longer, so the players may have some trouble with the short times in international titles.
        Also, if you just look at the number of players from Japan participating in these tournaments, my feeling is you’ll find it’s much lower than Korea and China – especially top pros (if somebody took the trouble to look this up – please let me know if this is actually correct). This should partly be because of the travel, and maybe also because the Japanese Go Association isn’t as lenient with scheduling main tournaments around the international ones (I’m not really sure about that, either, but it makes a lot of sense to me…) This doesn’t rule out Japanese pros being generally weaker, but I find it difficult to believe that’s true as a rule, despite their weak performance in international tournaments.

        One last comment about number of international titles: it seems to me there are only a handful of players who ever won 3 or more international titles, and they are mostly past their peak (Lee and Gu are probably the youngest of those). It’s very rare for someone to dominate the international go scene like Lee Chang-Ho used to, and I think anyone who wins a single international title can be considered world-class; in a single game, I wouldn’t bet on them losing to anyone.

  18. Why won’t they finish the Jubango? It’s supposed to be a ten game match not an eight game match. Feeling so frustrated.

    • Younggil An says:

      Let me explain about that. Before starting this Jubango, both players agreed that if one wins six games, the Jubango will be finished and the rest of the games won’t be played.

      Since the winner’s decided, the rest games are kind of meaningless they thought.

  19. M. Younggil, first of all, thanks a lot for the time you spent on comments and answering our amateurs questions.
    I would have like your opinion about :
    _ the upcoming “Modern Masters Games 2” which is about the same subject as your forthcoming one. Are you part of it, or is it a concurrencial product ?
    _ about top pros level, if I remember one top pro once stated that he “needed at least 4 stones handi from god”, and some legendary go sage are told to be of 13p strength (Huang Longshi, Honinbo Dosaku, possibly Shuei too ?), would it be possible that someone of this level come out someday or go knowledge improved too much since those times ?
    Thanks a lot

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Vendredi for your questions.

      1) No, we’re not part of that book, but we’re working on for our own ones.

      2) I think that top pro, who mentioned 4 stones, was humble. However, the Go knowledge has improved too much since then, so there’s not much gap like that I thought.

  20. Thanks for the great commentaries throughout this series.

    I have a question regarding the B4 corner invasion (move 73). I see this invasion quite often, but I don’t understand when the right time is to follow up with the clamp at B2.

    I imagine it is a probe to see whether white plays A3 or C3, but what would black do differently if white responds with A3? And why didn’t black play B2 immediately after C2?