Two weeks before China’s 16-year-old Fan Tingyu became the youngest player ever to gain a major international professional go title by winning the Ing Cup, 13-year-old He Yuhan showed that even younger players can gain big titles by winning the Amateur Tianyuan, a major national tournament in China. This is actually his second major triumph; he won the top youth division of the Lark Cup in 2011, at age 12.
Also known as the Qingyun Cup, the Amateur Tianyuan was played at the New World Hotel in Lishui on February 18-22. The tournament drew seventy amateur players to this city in a part of China noted for its forests and mineral resources. Most of the players had 5-dan rankings, but the field included three 7-dans: Hu Yuqing, Wang Chen, and Qian Liuru, who finished 1-2-4 in this year’s Evening News Cup. He Yuhan was one of seventeen 6-dans. The tournament was run as a 9-round Swiss system with 75-minute time limits and no overtime.
He’s first opponent was Sha Xingyu, who was five years older and had won the Hotel Cup last November. The game was played in the evening of February 18 and He made a good start by winning it. After drawing somewhat easier opponents in the next three rounds, He then scored his fifth straight victory by beating China’s top-rated amateur Hu Yuqing in round 5 on February 20. In round 6 He beat the only other undefeated player left to take sole posession of the lead. Next morning, however, He lost to Qian Liuru. Hu Yuqing also lost in this round, to Feng Yi. He, Qian, and Feng won in the afternoon to stand neck-and-neck at 7-1.
The deciding final round was held on the morning of February 22. He’s last opponent was Beijing University student Wang Tianyi, who won a gold medal playing xiangqi (Chinese chess) at the 2012 World Mind Games. Not only is Wang China’s xiangqi champion; he is also rated among China’s top fifty amateur go players, but He prevailed. Meanwhile Feng beat Qian to tie He with eight wins and one loss, but He had better SOS points. He’s triumph brings honor to his native city of Chongqing and to the Nie Weiping Daochang where he trains.