Top 20 Go Players: Kim Jiseok and Wang Xi

Kim Jiseok (7 dan) - A rising star in Korean Baduk

This article is part of the series: Top 20 Go Players of 2010. Today I’d like to introduce number 15 on the list, Kim Jiseok 7p and Wang Xi 9p, who is number 16.

Kim Jiseok

Kim Jiseok was born in 1989, and is considered one of rising stars in Korea. He has been known as a Baduk genius since he was very young and he became a pro at the age of fourteen.

Today, he is one of the best players in Korea. He is attracting more and more Go fans with his ‘prince-like’ face, and because his style of playing is totally different.

He loves fighting and he doesn’t miss cutting points. He plays aggressively and roughly as he is a genuine infighter and especially good at local battles. It is hard to find his weakness, but it looks as if Gu Li and Park Junghwan have found it out.

I once played him officially in 2007. I was planning to go abroad to spread Go, and I thought it could be my last game on main tournament before leaving. I tried to play my best because of that reason, and the opening was alright up to the middle game. When I felt I was reading the game, I made a simple mistake in the center, and I lost badly without any chance afterwards. I felt his powerful reading through the whole game, and I felt he was already far stronger than me.

Friendly and easy-going, Kim Jiseok


Kim Jiseok wins Most Valuable Player in the Korean Baduk League

Although he is far younger than me, I talked to him a lot because he is friendly and easy going. His behavior and way of speaking is gentle and likable. Many female pros like him because of his friendly personality and good looks.

He is really good at lightning games and he won the Korean Baduk League MVP (Most Valuable Player) in 2007 and 2009 with leading his team to win the league.

He also won the Price Information Cup in 2009, beating Lee Changho at the final and it was his first title. Afterwards, many people expected him to become post Lee Sedol soon, but it has been delayed.

Recently, he lost Park Junghwan 9p quite often at important matches, and he has to overcome Park to step forward. Kim is still on the way to improve as he is still young, and I’m sure he could go further. I hope to see him knocking on the top of the world’s door one day.

Lee Changho (9 dan - left) vs Kim Jiseok in the 2009 Price Information Cup final

Sadly, he lost to Gu Li at the quarter final of the BC Card Cup last weekend. However, I could feel his spirit of fighting and deep reading while I was watching the game, and I still believe he could be a great player in the future. I commented Kim Jiseok’s game with Gu Li earlier this week.

Wang Xi

In recent years, Wang Xi doesn’t seem to play very well on the international tournaments. From my point of view, his heyday has already gone about a few years ago, and it is not easy to come back to the top against the flow of time.

Wang Xi (9 dan) - A top Chinese professional Weiqi player

Between 2004-2007, he had beat strong players pretty smoothly and gently. It seemed he was stronger than anybody else and it looked as if he didn’t even need to fight to win. His style of playing is similar to Cho Hanseung’s, but more creative and livelier. So, if you play his games, you’d feel his vivid imagination.

Wang Xi (left) vs Lee Changho at the 2006 Asian TV Cup

He was up to the final at the Samsung Cup in 2004, and faced to Lee Sedol. He played very well to the semi final with his own style, but somehow he couldn’t play his best at the final, and was defeated. At the interview, he coolly said, “Lee Sedol is stronger than me, but I feel Lee Changho is even stronger. That’s all I can say”

Wang is especially good at lighting games, and he won the Asian TV Cup in 2006, beating Lee Changho. The following year, he was on the final again, but lost to Lee Sedol this time.

In 1999 and 2000, I played him twice at the Rookies’ Competition between China, Japan, and Korea. Fortunately I won both, and just after finishing the second game, he asked me to play ‘Star Craft’. I liked to play that game, so why not?

We went to an internet café together toplay the game. He was better than me and beat me badly, but it was still fun and exciting, and we played several games more.

Since then, we became friends. Even though we couldn’t communicate very well because of the language barrier, we could feel each other’s heart.

Later, I’ve learnt Chinese a little, and tried to talk to him in Chinese, but it didn’t succeed because my Chinese wasn’t still good enough to talk to. When I think of him, I still remember the time I played games both on the board and computer with him. Although it’s not easy to find his name in world championship matches today, I still cheer him up from my heart.

Yamada Kimio (9 dan, left) plays Wang Xi at the 2007 Nongshim Cup

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About Younggil An

Younggil is an 8 dan professional Go player with the Korean Baduk Association. He qualified as a professional in 1997 and won an award for winning 18 consecutive professional matches the following year. After completing compulsory military service, Younggil left Korea in 2008, to teach and promote the game Go overseas. Younggil now lives in Sydney, Australia, and is one of the founders of Go Game Guru. On Friday evenings, Younggil is usually at the Sydney Go Club, where he gives weekly lessons and plays simultaneous games.

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


  1. My favorite articles!

  2. keep up the posts. I love this article 🙂

  3. Oh!!! It’s Soooooo interesting!!! keep posting!!!!

  4. I LOVE to read your article.
    Thanks bro