Nie Weiping and Lee Changho play at 2012 World Expo

On May 29, 2012, two Go superstars played an exhibition match at the 2012 World Expo.

China’s ‘Steel Goalkeeper’, Nie Weiping 9p, faced Korea’s ‘Stone Buddha’, Lee Changho 9p.

China's Nie Weiping (9 dan, left) and Korea's Lee Changho (9 dan) - two Go superstars.

Lee Changho – Stone Buddha Statue

Lee’s nickname, of course, comes from his patented poker face when sitting at the Go board.

Lee Changho 9 dan - Stone Buddha in action.

Nie Weiping – The Steel Goalkeeper

Nie earned his nickname through leading China to victory in the China-Japan Super Go matches of the 80s and 90s, by beating consecutive Japanese players as the only remaining Chinese player.

Steel Goalkeeper, Nie Weiping 9 dan.

Two masters from different times

While the two players’ careers did overlap in the 90s, they never faced each other in an international final.

At the time, Lee was at the start of what would become stratospheric rise and Nie was nearing the end of his competitive professional playing career.

Nie did meet Lee’s teacher, Cho Hunhyun 9p, in the final of the 1st Ing Cup though.

Still a smoker, Nie Weiping (left).

The two have played on five previous occasions, with Nie winning the first two games and Lee winning the last three. Lee and Nie’s last game was nearly 16 years ago. On May 29, Lee added another win to his record to make it 4-2 over Nie.

A creative and lively game of Go. Nie Weiping and Lee Changho.

Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea

TheΒ 2012 World Expo is being held in Yeosu, Korea. The event opened in May 2012 and will run to August 2012. This year’s overarching theme is ‘The Living Ocean and Coast’.

A Go cake at the 2012 World Expo.

Nie Weiping vs Lee Changho


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.

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  1. jangalf says:

    Very intresting…. One always thinks about players form differents times … Are present top pro too much stronger than older pro? Or it’s just a matter of styles?

    • Top pros now are definitely stronger than older pros πŸ™‚

    • That’s always going to be a matter of debate πŸ™‚ Of course, you will never be able to the two against each other at the height of their careers but it’s always interesting to think about hypothetical matches.

  2. One of the more bizarre fusekis I’ve ever seen

  3. I didn’t know Nie was also called the steel goalkeeper. I know Lee was called as such because he was always the last guy in Nong Shim cup and he always manage to defend the title for Korea (last time). So technically it’s a battle between two steel goalkeepers πŸ™‚

    This game was interesting because Lee was the one playing all the interesting moves in the fuseki, and he still managed to win in the end. I thought Nie would be the one doing it since it’s hard to win Lee by playing normally. But well, I guess they both wanted to make it interesting since it’s an exhibition match.

    Btw, Nie looks so old in the 3rd photo! Oh my god…

    • Yes, Lee has a most impressive record in Nongshim Cup so it was the two goalkeepers.

      I guess smoking will do that to you? πŸ˜›

  4. Without komi it is jigo, that’s nice

  5. Uberdude says:

    h15 tenuki looks weird, but my understanding is he is trying to break the white ladder in the variation q2 o2 o3 n3 o4 m2 o1 n2 r4 r3 s3 (not more normal q3) s4 etc.

  6. Byung Soo Lee says:

    I usually hate smokers, but seeing Nie Weiping smoking a cig was quite nostalgic. Perhaps I am romanticizing the past, but it reminds me of an era when go players truly felt like lone gunmen dueling it out at high noon. The players today are so polished that sometimes they lack the color that made the players of the past so captivating to amateurs.

    By the way, the slightly chubby man with glasses next to Lee Changho in the fifth photo is his younger brother Youngho. Apparently, he is a corporate executive for Tygem in China and speaks Chinese (He is married to a Chinese lady). He must be translating for Nie and Lee. Do you see the resemblance between the two brothers? Changho has lost a lot of weight.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. I didn’t know that’s Lee’s brother – now that you mention it, I can see some resemblance.

      Nie was notorious for smoking and towards the end of his competitive career, there would be games where he needed an oxygen tank on standby. I wonder if that’s an unfair advantage?!

  7. This is definitely one of the weirdest fuseki i have ever seen, and my little brother comes up with some really interesting stuff. A fun game to look through.

    • It was quite strange but I suppose that’s the upside of playing an exhibition match – you can try something unusual without putting any prize money on the line πŸ™‚