Yu Zhiying’s 2015 Samsung Cup breakthrough

Yu Zhiying 5p stunned everyone this week, by defeating heavyweights Mok Jinseok 9p and Choi Cheolhan 9p, in her breakthrough performance at a major international tournament.

Yu Zhiying 5 dan: The marketing department at Samsung need to get Yu a Samsung Galaxy... pronto!

Yu Zhiying 5 dan: The marketing department at Samsung need to get Yu a Samsung Galaxy… pronto!

From September 8-10, players from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the USA gathered in Beijing, China for the group stage of the 2015 Samsung Cup.

Yu’s impressive play earned her a spot in the upcoming round of 16, as the only woman remaining at this stage of the tournament.

Yu Zhiying

11 year old Yu won two gold medals at the 1st Chinese National Mind Games.

11 year old Yu won two gold medals at the 1st Chinese National Mind Games.

Yu first came to the Go world’s attention in 2009.

At the tender age of just 11, she scooped up two gold medals at the 1st Chinese National Mind Games, in the amateur division.

Since turning pro, she’s become quite a formidable opponent among female professionals.

2014 was her most successful year (until now), because she won the 21st Xinren Wang (Rookies’ Cup).

Day one

(Note: the Samsung Cup is a bit different to other Go tournaments, click here to learn how it works.)

Yu Zhiying defeated Mok Jinseok 9p on the first day of play. That caused quite a stir, because Mok is the current GS Caltex Cup title holder in Korea and has been a consistent performer for over a decade.

Mok Jinseok 9 dan (left) faces Yu Zhiying 5 dan on day one of the group stage.

Mok Jinseok 9 dan (left) faces Yu Zhiying 5 dan on day one of the group stage.

China’s top rated player, Shi Yue 9p lost to Park Younghun 9p. The latter seems to be in excellent form lately.

Japan’s Yoda Norimoto 9p was the oldest player in the group stage and he almost defeated Park Junghwan 9p. Yoda was ahead, but he couldn’t maintain his lead until the very end, and eventually lost by half a point.

Korea’s Choi Jung was defeated by Zhang Tao 4p in her first game.

The USA’s Benjamin Lockhart 7d, the only Western representative in the group stage, was defeated by Gan Siyang 4p.

Benjamin Lockhart (right) at the 2015 Samsung Cup.

Benjamin Lockhart 7 dan (amateur, right) at the 2015 Samsung Cup.

Gan is well known for his unconventional openings. In his game with Lockhart (below) he played a 6-4, 6-4 opening, which is fairly tame by Gan’s standards, but was still interesting!

Day two

Koreans Park Junghwan 9p, Lee Sedol 9p, Kim Jiseok 9p, Park Younghun 9p and Lee Changho 9p chalked up two wins each and proceeded through to the round of 16.

Front row from left: Kim Jiseok 9 dan, Park Younghun 9 dan, Lee Sedol 9 dan and Lee Changho 9 dan.

Front row from left: Kim Jiseok 9 dan, Park Younghun 9 dan, Lee Sedol 9 dan and Lee Changho 9 dan.

 

Ke Jie 9p, Tang Weixing 9p and Jiang Weijie 9p also qualified for China, leaving eight places to be decided on day three.

Japan's Ida Atsushi 8 dan was knocked out in the group stage.

Japan’s Ida Atsushi 8 dan defeated Choi Jung 6 dan, but was knocked out of the group stage on day three.

Choi Jung 6p lost to Japan’s Ida Atsushi 8p and was knocked out. Choi’s elimination left Yu Zhiying as the only woman remaining in play.

Yoda and Lockhart faced one another and Lockhart was eliminated.

 

Day three

The third and final day of the group stage was the last chance for players with one win and one loss to stay in contention.

Yu Zhiying knocked out another Korean title holder (Choi Cheolhan 9p), astonishing onlookers and becoming the darling of the media for the round. The game record is below.

Yu Zhiying 5 dan (right) knocked out Choi Cheolhan 9 dan on day three!

Yu Zhiying 5 dan (right) knocked out Choi Cheolhan 9 dan on day three!

Chinese representatives Shi Yue 9p, Yu Zhiying 5p, Zhou Hexi 5p, Zhang Tao 4p and Gan Siyang 4p survived the round.

Meanwhile Na Hyun 6p, Byun Sangi 4p and Kim Dongho 4p bolstered Korea’s representation in the next round.

Unfortunately, none of the players from Japan, Taiwan or the USA were able to run the gauntlet of the group stage, leaving only Chinese and Korean representatives in the next round.

The knockout phase

When the Samsung Cup resumes, from October 6-8, 2015, Yu Zhiying will come up against her toughest opponent yet – none other than Lee Sedol 9p!

The next two rounds of the 2015 Samsung Cup will be in Gyeonggi-do, Korea. Here are the full pairings for the round of 16:

  • Na Hyun 6p vs Ke Jie 9p
  • Kim Jiseok 9p vs Shi Yue 9p
  • Kim Dongho 4p vs Jiang Weijie 9p
  • Lee Changho 9p vs Tang Weixing 9p
  • Park Junghwan 9p vs Zhou Hexi 5p
  • Byun Sangil 4p vs Gan Siyang 4p
  • Lee Sedol 9p vs Yu Zhiying 5p
  • Park Younghun 9p vs Zhang Tao 4p.
Kim Jiseok terrorizing everyone with Go problems, as usual.

Kim Jiseok terrorizing everyone with Go problems, as usual.

Will Yu Zhiying’s dream run continue?

I’m excited to see Yu’s success in this tournament so far and hope that she can continue her run in the next round.

Go Game Guru readers have been following her career for several years now, and the 16 year old is approaching the age where many top players win their first major tournament.

Can she do it?

Lee Sedol is an incredibly formidable player, but he’s not invincible.

I’ll be back next month to pick up where we left off with the round of 16!

Subscribe to our weekly Go newsletter so that you don’t miss anything.

And let me know what your predictions for the next round are below!

More photos

Yu-Zhiying-20th-Samsung-Cup
Yu-Zhiying-2009-1st-China-National-Mind-Games
Mok-Jinseok-Yu-Zhiying-20th-Samsung-Cup
Tang-Weixing-Yu-Zhiying-20th-Samsung-Cup
Choi-Cheolhan-Yu-Zhiying-20th-Samsung-Cup
Yoda-Norimoto-Gan-Siyang-20th-Samsung-Cup
Team-Korea-20th-Samsung-Cup
Kim-Jiseok-Park-Younghun-Lee-Sedol-20th-Samsung-Cup-1
Kim-Jiseok-Park-Younghun-Lee-Sedol-20th-Samsung-Cup
Group-stage-winners-20th-Samsung-Cup
Seo-Bongsu-20th-Samsung-Cup
Ida-Atsushi-20th-Samsung-Cup
Lin-Junyan-20th-Samsung-Cup
Ben-Lockhart-20th-Samsung-Cup
Liu-Xiaoguang-20th-Samsung-Cup

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 best of three matches.

The time limit for games is 2 hours and 5 x 1 minute byo-yomi.

Samsung is a well known Korean conglomerate.

Game records

Yu Zhiying vs Choi Cheolhan

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Shi Yue vs Park Younghun

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Yoda Norimoto vs Park Junghwan

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Lee Sedol vs Ida Atsushi

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Benjamin Lockhart vs Gan Siyang

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Ke Jie vs Peng Liyao

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