Lee Sedol - Gu Li, first encounter

  Difficulty: Intermediate   Keywords: Game commentary
Moves 1 to 10  

This is the first game ever in the fierce rivalry between Lee Sedol and Gu Li. It was played in the 6th Chinese City League, in 2004, when Gu was 22 and Lee 21.

The source for this game has been go4go. If they object, I'll try to get it from elsewhere.

Moves 11 to 20  

The lower right joseki exchanges territory for influence. B9 is a second line turn? which is a thick move that amateurs often underestimate.

Moves 21 to 30  

B5 looks thin but I (Dieter) think Gu Li prefers a fight here over merely pushing to obtain influence, because white+circle sticks its nose into that influence. Still it looks like Black's fighting in White's sphere of influence.

Moves 31 to 40  

B1 here may be surprising but ...

Position at move 30  

... I suspect this diagram is better for White. Incidentally, If B3 captures the ladder, White can give atari at B3 after W4 and Black will be forced to connect into a dango because the ko would be too big. Comments welcome.

Moves 41 to 50  

Black presses against White's right side to obtain great central influence. Looking at the result of the seemingly overstretched black+circle and the seemingly slow black+square, one can only suspect Gu Li had this all planned from the start.

Moves 51 to 60  

B3 gives Black even the potential to reduce the already forced territory later, with a ko at a. If B4 answers at a instead, then Black will link up all his stones, which is too big a price to pay. Still, B5 cuts White on a large scale.

Moves 61 to 70  

I'm not sure but W6 looks like a mistake to me, born out of fighting spirit. I think (with a little hindsight) that the skirmishes in the corner gave too much leverage for Black. But I can understand Lee Sedol got tired of being pushed around.

Moves 71 to 80  

The capturing race favours White, but there is some ko potential here.

Moves 81 to 90  

B3-B5 makes perfect shape for the Black group. I assume Gu Li played B9 because he read out that the ko exchange would be favourable. The safe move at W10 indeed would feel submissive (but I would play it).

Moves 91 to 100 (10 at 3)  

B3 is quite a move. I'm having difficulty to fully understand its effect.

Moves 101 to 110 (8 at 2)  

B1 sets up a ko for Black which may look like an (approach ko] but is actually a direct ko for both. The ko is obviously much heavier for White. B3, W6 and B9 are local ko threats.

Moves 111 to 120  

W2 is a non-local ko threat. Black knows however this is the only major threat on the board, so B3 responds and next B5 is another local threat. W6 ends the ko but B7 creates enormous thickness. According to me the game is already over.

Let's just have a look at what would happen if Black decides to resolve the ko.

Position at move 112  

Perhaps W4 would be too active, despite the loss in the top left, assuming that the top right is dead already too.

Moves 121 to 130  

From here onward we will see how Lee Sedol tries to get back into the game but Gu Li easily maintains the advantage.

Moves 131 to 140  

B7 here looks lie a declaration of victory to me. So does B9, actually, although it really weakens the white group.

Moves 141 to 150  

B1 sets up the above mentioned ko. I really think Gu Li is teasing his opponent now. White has very little territory and is excruciatingly thin all around. A ko feels like a nasty sting in these circumstances.

Moves 151 to 160  

B3 wins the ko without compensation. White needs even W4 to stay out of trouble with what used to be his major territory. B5 is reverse sente, played in the middle game, so it looks like another declaration of victory.

Moves 161 to 170  

Gu Li adds another few slow moves, until he finally decides to give Lee what he wants: a showdown at the bottom, after which Lee can gracefully resign.

Moves 171 to 180  
Moves 181 to 190  
Moves 191 to 200  
Moves 201 to 210  
Moves 211 to 220  
Moves 221 to 223  

White resigns here.

Lee Sedol - Gu Li, first encounter last edited by Dieter on February 22, 2013 - 14:29
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