Quadruple ko in the group of death: 17th Samsung Cup

On September 4, 2012, the group stage of the 17th Samsung Cup kicked off with much excitement and fanfare.

Nie Weiping enters the group of death

Nie Weiping 9 dan draws F4 – the fourth place in the group of death at the 17th Samsung Cup.

As Nie Weiping 9p drew ‘F4’, you could almost hear ominous music begin to play, in the classic B-grade film style.

The look on Nie’s face says it all, as realization dawns that he’s just entered the ‘Group of Death’.

The other players in Group F were Gu Li 9p, Cho U 9p and Lee Sedol 9p.

Nie’s card, F4, signified the fourth position in an already crowded room.

Go fans all over the world were rubbing their hands with glee, knowing that they were surely in for a treat.

Rui Naiwei and Choi Jung still fighting

The games on September 4 were fairly straightforward.

Lee defeated Nie convincingly and Gu defeated Cho.

Rui Naiwei 9 dan, not to be underestimated.

Outside of Group F, the only two female players in the main draw, Choi Jung 2p and Rui Naiwei 9p celebrated their respective wins over Zhou Hexi 4p and Komatsu Hideki 9p.

A quadruple ko and a draw

On September 5, most of the attention was on Lee and Gu as they faced off in their 29th encounter. Lee and Gu’s games are always spectacular and this time was certainly no exception.

Lee Sedol (9 dan, left) and Gu Li (9 dan) in the 23rd game together.

Sparks flew as Lee and Gu’s iron wills clashed, a quadruple ko formed, and the game was declared a draw!

This is the first time in the history of international Go that a game has been declared a draw in the main stages of a major tournament. Gu and Lee will have to have a rematch before the results of Group F can be determined.

Update: Lee and Gu played a second game together later that day, and Gu proceeded to the next round after winning by five and a half points.

Lee also progressed to the round of 16, after defeating Cho U the following day (September 6). More news coming soon, once all the results from the group stage are in.

The game between Gu Li and Lee Sedol ended in a quadruple ko.

Sadly for Nie, he lost his second game to Cho, which means he won’t progress through to the knockout phase of the tournament.

More coverage to follow

The 17th Samsung Cup is just getting started and more excitement will follow.

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The Samsung Cup

The Samsung Cup first started in 1996 and uses a rather convoluted draw. Though, arguably, it is fairer than a straight knockout format.

The 32 players in the main draw are split into 8 groups of 4. Players must win two games in order to proceed from the first stage; two players from each group will advance to the knockout stage.

In some ways it’s similar to the group stage of the FIFA World Cup, except that only two wins are necessary to continue.

The round of 16 and the quarter finals are played as a straight knockout.

The semifinals and the final are played as a best of three matches.

Samsung is a well known Korean conglomerate.

17th Samsung Cup Photos

Here’s a collection of photos from the 17th Samsung Cup so far, as well a Lee Sedol and Gu Li through the ages series. Enjoy!

Game records: Group of death

Gu Li vs Lee Sedol (quadruple ko game)


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Update: Gu Li vs Lee Sedol (rematch)


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Cho U vs Gu Li


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Nie Weiping vs Lee Sedol


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Nie Weiping vs Cho U


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. there was another draw just a few days ago also in Samsung Cup between a 2p and a 7p, so the draw between Lee Sedol and Gu Li must be the second.

    • The Samsung Cup main tournament only started on the 4th and there haven’t been any games between a 7d and a 2d, so I guess you’re talking about a game from the preliminary rounds?

      Do you know who the players were, or do you have a link to a game record? Where did you get this information?

      The mainstream Chinese Go media is also saying that this is a first.

    • It’s a bit harsh to Jing to just leave a vague ‘you’re wrong’ comment without even taking the time to provide some evidence supporting your claims.

      This was a great article and we’re all lucky that someone takes the time to publish this kind of news in English. Thanks Jing.

  2. Unified ruleset! Draws for quadruple kos are silly.

  3. Nice writing, I like the drama of Nie in the group of death πŸ™‚ Love you Jing.

  4. This is Incredible, quadruple Ko it’s just amazing. Thank you Jing for share this information πŸ™‚

    • Such an amazing game – I don’t think we’ll see something like this again for a while. But the rematch was pretty exciting too!

  5. Today lee sedol play against cho u. If lee win after he can play one more time with gu li :D.
    But this year fan tingyu is my favorite ( because we share a teacher).

    • I guess this game is from Korean Baduk League, not an Internationl tournament

    • Thanks for finding the link sameasyou. Like Kemist said, that’s a domestic game from the Korean Baduk League (Rockstar League).

      It’s interesting though.

  6. Byung Soo Lee says:

    Great reporting! Thanks for the game records. Can we cancel two world championships and use the prize money to fund a 20-game series between Gu Li and Lee Sedol?

    FYI: Samsung is a conglomerate that has multiple subsidiaries, including Samsung Electronics. The Samsung Cup is sponsored by Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance, not Samsung Electronics. This is really nitpicking (since they are owned by the same person), so I would not mention it normally, but you guys seems to be the kind of people who like being 100% correct.

    • +1 for the 20 game series!

      Thanks for the tip about Samsung. I sometimes forget that these big companies have their fingers in all the pies πŸ™‚

  7. Many thanks for this report!
    Does anyone know why jiang weije lost against mi yuting (result is W+F) ?

    • Jiang accidentally took back a ko without playing a ko threat first. It could happen to anyone πŸ™

  8. In Korean rule, taking ko without playing a ko threat is forfeit. But in Chinese rule, opponent is allowed to play 2 moves. I wonder if this is correct…..

    • David Ormerod says:

      Yes, in the Chinese rules, if you take a ko without making a threat, the ko is taken back and you lose one turn.

      In a pro game, losing one move would usually be almost as bad as forfeit anyway, I think.

      I don’t see why the referee can’t just give a warning and return the position back to how it was before the ko was taken.

  9. In the rematch between Lee and Gu, isn’t Gu’s group near the bottom(going towards the middle) dead?

    • David Ormerod says:

      Black’s group doesn’t have two eyes, but black’s killed white’s group in the top right, so he can win a capturing race if he has to.