The Yellow River Cup, one of the largest and oldest of the Chinese amateur go tournaments, was held this year from May 26 to June 1 in Dezhou, China’s ‘solar city’, located between the Yellow River and Beijing. The 341 participants, all ranked 5 dan or higher, included former world amateur champions Hu Yuqing (2005 and 2009) and Bai Baoxiang (2011), last year’s Yellow River Cup winner Ma Tianfang, many other noted Chinese amateurs, and a few players from Canada, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. The tournament was organized by the China Weiqi Association and received local public- and private-sector support.
The contestants played a 13-round Swiss system, one game on May 26 and then two games per day for the rest of the tournament. There were cash awards for the top twelve finishers, the top female player, the top senior player (born before 1967), and the top junior player (born after 2000). Although the tournament was basically an individual competition, many of the players also entered as members of teams representing China’s numerous go schools and other organizations. The teams were ranked according to their members’ scores, and the top eight teams received cups.
After the first six days of play, the undefeated leader was Hu Tian, age about 17, a pupil of 1985 world amateur champion (now pro 9-dan) Wang Jianhong. (Names are being given in Chinese order, family name first, and ‘about’ means plus or minus one year.) Hu was already a nationally noted player, having finished sixth in the Yellow River Cup in 2008 and second in the Mingbo Cup in 2011. Right behind Hu was Ding Hao, age about 11, whose only loss had been to Hu in round nine. On the morning of the seventh day Hu lost by half a point to Ma Yichao (age 14) and Ding lost to Xu Jiayang (a Nie Weiping pupil, age about 13), but Hu won his afternoon game to finish in undisputed first place with twelve victories and only one defeat. For this he received the 20,000-yuan first prize (about 3000 U.S. dollars or 2500 euros) and a promotion from 6 dan to 7 dan. Xu Jiayang, Su Anyue (age about 19), and Ma Yichao finished second to fourth with only two losses apiece. Then came Xue Guanhua (age about 10), who won the 1,200-yuan junior award in addition to his 4000-yuan fifth-place award. The top female player was Li Yirong (37th place). The top senior was Liu Wenming (253rd place), one of only two seniors competing. The team prize went to the Ge Yuhong Weiqi Daochang (go school).
And what of the famed Bai Baoxiang, Ma Tianfang, and Hu Yuqing? They finished 20th, 22nd, and 25th, respectively. To do well in Chinese go tournaments these days, it helps to be young.