Though neither the Korean Baduk Association nor the Chinese Weiqi Association have officially confirmed whether the rumored 10-game match, or jubango, between Sedol Lee 9P (right) and Li Gu 9P (left) will actually occur, buzz surrounding the potential match hints otherwise. Major Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo reports that “both players have agreed to play the ten games between October 2013 and May 2014, in various locations throughout China.”
While some details remain fuzzy, including venues and exact dates, news reports claim the budget for the match is estimated to be approximately $1.15 million USD. The reason Lee cites for this sum is the damage the loser’s reputation will suffer “throughout the go world and in the history books.” As many fans hail Lee as Korea’s top player and Gu remains the top Chinese player, his concern is understandable. It is not personal, however. In an interview after their most recent match (March 20), Lee said, “Gu Li is the best rival for me to play against, but he’s also a best friend of mine for life.” Gu echoed the sibling-esque rivalry when he said, “I always fight intensely whenever I play against Lee Sedol. I’d like to create more exciting games for go fans.”
So, is it still possible? Will the two players, born the same year and then became pro together twelve years later, have a face-off like never before? Korean player An Younggil 8p says that despite the missing pieces “we have reasons to be optimistic.”
Right now, Lee and Gu’s official record is 17-15 with Gu in the lead (17-17 if one includes exhibition games). For more details surrounding the Lee-Gu jubango, visit Go Game Guru.
-Annalia Linnan, based on a longer article on Go Game Guru