Park Junghwan wins 19th LG Cup – Breaking international title drought

Park Junghwan 9p defeated Kim Jiseok 9p to win the 19th LG Cup 2-1.

The final of the 19th LG Cup was held on February 9, 10 and 12, in Gangneung, Gangwon-do, Korea.

Kim Jiseok 9 dan (left) and Park Junghwan 9 dan at the 19th LG Cup Final

Kim Jiseok 9 dan (left) and Park Junghwan 9 dan at the 19th LG Cup Final

 

Park Junghwan’s 2nd international title

Park Junghwan 9 dan at the 19th LG Cup Final

Park Junghwan 9 dan at the 19th LG Cup Final

This was Park’s first LG Cup title, and only his second international title since he won the 24th Fujitsu Cup in 2011.

Park is currently ranked #1 in the world according to Dr Bae Taeil’s rating system, which is used by the Korean Baduk Association.

In recent years, many Go fans doubted Park’s #1 ranking, because Park hadn’t won any international titles since 2011.

However, during this LG Cup, he showed his power and strength. Now that he has another title, I hope he can play even better without too pressure much from Korean Baduk fans.

 

Summary of the final

Park got off to a good start in game 1. He took the lead after a big fight at the top, and he won the game without any significant trouble. Kim couldn’t find any opportunities to fight back.

Kim won game 2 with his excellent sabaki skills inside of Park’s big moyo, and the score was tied at 1-1.

In game 3, Kim took an early lead after the first battle in the top left corner. He maintained his lead very well against Park’s tough and aggressive moves in the middle game.

However, Kim played safely and softly in the endgame, and the game become closer. It was reversed in the end.

Once Park reversed the game, there was nowhere left for Kim to catch up again.

 

Kim Jiseok’s natural enemy

Kim Jiseok 9 dan at the 19th LG Cup Final

Kim Jiseok 9 dan at the 19th LG Cup Final

Park Junghwan is #1 in Korea, and Kim Jiseok is #2. However, their games together haven’t been well balanced so far.

The head to head record between these two, before this final, was 16-5 for Park’s favor. And it’s now at 18-6.

Because of that, people in Korea say that Park is Kim’s natural enemy.

If Kim wants to become #1, he has to surpass Park one day, and this final was a very good chance for Kim to do so.

However, Kim missed the perfect chance to defeat his natural enemy in this LG Cup. He failed to extend his good mood from the 2014 Samsung Cup final, and might suffer a psychological setback because of this defeat.

I hope he can become even stronger from this painful experience.

 

Brief Game Commentary

Game 1

Kim Jiseok vs Park Junghwan

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The opening up to White 28 was Kim Jiseok’s favorite, but Park Junghwan didn’t mind.

White 42 and 44 were a nice combination, and the result up to Black 47 was even.

Black 59 was questionable, and White 60 and 62 were nice moves to extend the ko.

The result of the big trade up to White 74 was better for White, and White took the lead of the game at the same time.

Black 79 to 89 were nice sequence for Black, but White’s responses were accurate.

Black 99 was questionable again, and Black’s center group was isolated after White 110.

White was in a winning position at 138, and the game was decided by 156.

This was a wonderful game for Park Junghwan.

 

Game 2

Park Junghwan vs Kim Jiseok

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The opening up to Black 21 was normal, but Black 23 and 25 were recently researched moves.

Black 33 was very nice and thick, but White was also fine after settling down up to 42.

Black started to attack White’s lower side group from 43, but White’s responses were nice and calm.

Black tried to attack White’s corner with 69, but White 70 was a good counter, and the game became better for White.

White 88 was a mistake, and the game became complex with the ko fight from 91.

White 114 was questionable, and the game seemed to be reversed with 115.

White 118 was a subtle reduction, and Park tried to attack that stone severely with 119, but it was the wrong decision of play.

The sequence from White 126 to 134 was excellent, and it became hard for Black to capture the whole group.

Black 157 was a severe attack, but White 164 to 168 were nice responses.

White 174 and 176 were brilliant moves, and the trade up to Black 181 was unavoidable.

White restarted the ko with 182, and the game was decided. Black couldn’t win the ko because White was solid and strong everywhere.

 

Game 3

Park Junghwan vs Kim Jiseok

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The opening up to Black 21 was the same as in game 2, but Kim chose to play the higher extension at 22.

White 30 was interesting, and the result up to White 38 was even.

White 44 and 46 were strong responses, and White 52 was a well timed probe.

Black 53 and 55 were a nice counter, but White 60 and 62 were also nice moves.

The result up to White 70 was satisfactory for White, and Kim took the lead with 76.

White 78 was big, but it was a bit too greedy, and White’s right side group became thin and weak.

Black 99 and 101 were nice tesuji, and Park reduced White’s territory in sente.

Black 113 and 115 were strong moves, but White 120 and 122 formed a nice counter.

Black caught up a bit up to Black 137, but White was still in the lead.

Black 165 and 181 were big reverse sente endgames and the game was reversed.

Black 191 was a small mistake, but 223 was the last big endgame move, and the game was decided. Kim tried to catch up with a ko, but it didn’t succeed.

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