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Lee Chang-ho

Lee Chang-ho
Full name Lee Chang-ho
Hangul 이창호
Hanja 李昌鎬
Revised Romanization I Chang-ho
McCune-Reischauer Yi Ch'ang-ho
Born July 29, 1975
Jeonju, North Jeolla, South Korea
Teacher Cho Hunhyun
Turned pro 1986
Rank 9 dan
Affiliation Hanguk Kiwon

Lee Chang-ho (born 29 July 1975 in Jeonju, North Jeolla) is a South Korean professional Go player of 9-dan rank. He is regarded by many as one of the strongest modern Go players. He was a student of Cho Hunhyun 9-dan. He is the only player to have won all eight international competitions at least once.


He turned professional in 1986 at the young age of 11. By the early 1990s, he started winning titles that his teacher, Cho, had won. By 1992 Lee had already won his first international title, which was the 3rd Tong Yang Cup. No other Go player comes close to his international title record. Lee has won all of the international Go tournaments at least twice, excluding the World Oza and Ing Cup, which are held every two and four years respectively. He is only the second player to record a "Grand Slam". The first was Cho Hunhyun. In 2006, Lee won the Wangwi title for the eleventh straight year. His teacher, Cho Hunhyun, holds the record for the most successive domestic titles with sixteen consecutive Paewang titles. Ma Xiaochun has the second-most successive domestic titles with thirteen Mingren titles.


"Stone Buddha" is one of Lee's many nicknames. It derives from the fact that he always keeps a straight face and never smiles or frowns during a match. The nickname reflects his playing style as well. His reading ability is among the best in the world. If he said "I'm going to win by 1.5 point", then he did so. It gave him a honorable nickname, "God of calculation." He does not attack much and never plays "wild Go". He often wins by making his opponents think they are winning, only to gradually defeat them in the later stages of the game. He rarely kills large groups or makes a single move that decides the match. His endgame skill is one of the strongest in history.

The Disciple Overcomes The Master

It was said by Lee's first teacher that he would always try to play brilliantly. That was until he became Cho Hunhyun's student. Cho did not think Lee's talent was of a high level, as he could not even re-create a game he played against Cho. Lee fell short of expectations in Cho's assessment. Although he did not have the conventional wisdom of a Go genius, his deep reading and study abilities were at a different level. Lee stopped his attempts at playing brilliant moves and started playing more "common" moves instead. Lee often toys with opponents by playing a normal move that would help him read moves ahead, rather than a brilliant move where he could not read ahead as well. It has been said that Lee's style of play in his early career was to only beat his teacher. He was not as effective against other top players as he was against his teacher. This is one of the reasons why he was underestimated so much by other players, such as Cho Chikun. His playing style would go on to be effective against anyone. Instead of adopting the style of his teacher's natural brilliance and quick thinking, he chose magnificent calculation and deep reading. Many are still unimpressed by Lee's style of Go, as it seems too simple.


Over the years, Lee's style of play has been broken down. Even Cho Chikun said that Lee Sedol would eventually pass Chang-ho because Chang-ho's style is no longer guaranteed due to the new generation of players. He has had to resort to abandoning his old style and improvising play against these new players. When asked if Lee's era was over, his teacher Cho Hunhyun simply replied, "No". He continued, saying that Lee Sedol is just someone who has finally fit the description of a rival for Chang-ho. He also said that both will battle many times and in the coming years the "smoke will settle" and one of them will come out on top.

After losing the 10th Samsung Cup to Luo Xihe, Lee came back and took the newly made Sibdan Cup against Park Young-Hoon. This was payback to Park, who had beat Lee in the 1st Prices Information Cup. Lee also won the 49th edition of Korea's oldest title, the Guksu. Unusually for him, Lee lost three times in 2006 representing Korea in international tournaments. First in the Nongshim Cup, then in the newly created Kangwon-Land Cup, and finally in the Asian TV Cup. This is a change for Lee, considering he has won 17 international tournaments over the past 14 years. In the final match of the 11th Samsung Cup, Lee lost 0-2 to Chang Hao of China. This was the second year in a row Lee lost the Samsung Cup.

In March 2007 the barely 19-year-old Yun Junsang beat title holder Lee Chang-ho 3-1 for the 50th Guksu title, but Lee got his revenge in July, beating Yun 3-2 to retain his Wangwi title.

Although not having had a successful year internationally, he was the highest earner in South Korea for 2006.

Personal life

Lee married the former amateur Go player Lee Do-yoon on 28 October 2010.

Titles and runners-up

Ranks #2 in total amount of titles in Korea and #1 in international titles.

Title Wins Runners-up
Guksu 10 (1990, 1993-1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2009) 7 (1989, 1991, 1992, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2006)
Myungin 13 (1991-1996, 1998-2003, 2009) 2 (1990, 1997)
Sibdan Cup 2 (2005, 2007) 1 (2009)
GS Caltex Cup 6 (1997, 1998, 2001, 2003-2005)
Prices Information Cup 3 (2005, 2009, 2010)
Chunwon 3 (1997-1999)
KBS Cup 11 (1988, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007-2009) 5 (1995-1997, 1999, 2000)
Kisung 11 (1993-2003) 1 (2004)
Electron-Land Cup 3 (2005, 2006, 2008) 1 (2007)
Wangwi 14 (1990, 1995-2007) 2 (1991, 1993)
BC Card Cup 5 (1991-1994, 1996) 1 (1995)
Chaegowi 8 (1989-1991, 1993-1997) 2 (1988, 1992)
Daewang 6 (1990-1992, 1995-1997) 1 (1993)
Baccus Cup 3 (1990-1992)
Taewang 4 (1991-1993, 1997)
Paewang 4 (1993, 1994, 2001, 2002) 3 (1988, 1995, 2003)
Kiwang 2 (1993, 1994) 1 (1995)
Gukgi 4 (1993-1996)
Paedal Cup 4 (1993-1995, 1997) 2 (1996, 1998)
Baedalwang 4 (1993-1995, 1997) 1 (1998)
Total 117 33
World Meijin 1 (2010)
China-Korea Tengen 4 (1997-2000)
Teda Cup 1 (2004)
Total 5 1
Ing Cup 1 (2000) 1 (2008)
LG Cup 4 (1997, 1999, 2001, 2004) 3 (2003, 2010, 2012)
Samsung Cup 3 (1997-1999) 2 (2005, 2006)
Chunlan Cup 2 (2003, 2005) 2 (1999, 2009)
Fujitsu Cup 2 (1996, 1998) 3 (2007-2009)
Asian TV Cup 3 (1995, 1996, 2002) 4 (1990, 1999, 2000, 2006)
World Oza 1 (2002)
Tong Yang Cup 4 (1992, 1993, 1996, 1998)
Zhonghuan Cup 1 (2007)
Total 21 15
Career total
Total 143 49

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