In a surprising series of upsets, three players, all under 16 and who turned pro earlier this year, have defeated some of the top-rated Korean players.
Byun Sangil 2P (right) was born in 1997 and became a pro in early 2012; he’s currently ranked number 18 in Korea, and recently played in the Bailing and Olleh KT Cups.
Shin Minjoon 1P (left) and Shin Jinseo 1P (below right) both became pros this July at the “Prodigy Pro Draft qualifier for ‘young talented students under 15.” They were born in 1999 and 2000 respectively.
Top players Lee Changho 9P, Lee Sedol 9P and Choi Cheolhan 9P each agreed to play exhibition matches against the rising stars. Unexpectedly, Lee Changho and Choi lost to their respective opponents, Shin Jinseo and Shin Moonjoon.
Lee began his game with an old-fashioned opening, and took the lead, but had the game reversed through the middle and end games.
“I can’t say that much about Shin after playing only one game,” said Lee afterwards, “but he seems to be very good at making good shape and fighting. He’s already quite strong, so if he keeps studying hard, I’m sure he’ll reach the top in the near future.”
Choi’s style of play is aggressive, and served him well when he defeated Shin in the preliminary rounds of the GS Caltex Cup. However this time Shin was about to seize on an early opportunity and held up through the endgame for a 2.5 point win.
“It’s easy to improve a lot at Shin’s age,” said Choi, “and if he can win some important matches, he’ll become a great player in the future.”
Lee Sedol was the only pro who managed to hold off his opponent, defeating Byun Sangil, his former student, by half a point.
“I was quite surprised to see the results of the other two games. I know the young players are already quite strong, but it’s still very impressive,” said Lee. He added that, “this is kind of event isn’t the same as a real match, so I don’t want the youngsters to become too excited. But they should reflect on this experience and keep going.”
Adapted from a report on Go Game Guru; click for game records and more information. Edited by Ben Williams