This year the Yellow River Cup was held at the Armed Police Sanatorium in the Beidaihe seaside resort district in Qinhuangdao, 300 km due east of Beijing. A total of 288 players ranked 5 dan and up competed for assorted prizes, including 20,000 yuan (about $3200 or €2500) for individual first place. Among the contestants was He Yuhan, the 13-year-old boy wonder who won the Amateur Tianyuan title in February and the Fengcheng Cup earlier in May.
After disposing of his morning and afternoon opponents on the first day of play (May 27), He faced China’s number-three-rated amateur Ma Tianfang in the evening round. He had beaten Ma in the Fengcheng Cup, and now he beat him again. Next morning the other three members of China’s top amateur quartet (Hu Yuqing, Bai Baoxiang, Wang Chen) joined Ma in the one-loss group while He continued to win, adding four more victories on May 28 and 29 to his opening streak. Here the tournament adjourned for a day. When play resumed on May 31, He was drawn down against Bai in the morning round. Bai suffered his second loss while He remained undefeated.
The only other undefeated player at this point was Dai Zhitian, a 17-year-old from Shanxi Province who learned go at the age of seven, trained at the Ma Xiaochun Daochang and now trains at the Ge Yuhong Daochang in Beijing, won the Shanxi Championship in 2011, and took eighth place in the national Evening News Cup in January. He and Dai were paired against each other on the top board in the afternoon round, and here He’s winning streak ended. Dai, playing white, gradually pulled ahead in the middle game. He, unable to shake his opponent’s lead, had to resign.
Four rounds still remained, but as it turned out, the winner of the cup had already been decided. Dai and He continued to beat all comers. Their closest challenger was Li Weiqing, another 13-year-old, who lost to He in the evening round on May 31 and faced Dai in the last round on June 2. In that final match, Dai (black) played a free-wheeling galactic-style game, surrounded a huge area in the center, and won by resignation in 139 moves. Li came in third, He came in second, and Dai finished first with a perfect 13-0 score.
In addition to the cup, Dai received an immediate promotion to 7 dan, the highest amateur rank awarded in China. Asked about future plans, Dai said that his dream is to play go professionally, but if he does not make pro this year, he will proceed with higher education.
Dai was not the only winner. There were also team prizes (the team from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics took first place) and prizes for the best youth, female, and senior players. Even those who do not understand Chinese will enjoy seeing Dai, He, Li, and other winners and contestants in Sports-Sina’s slide show.