The final field of 65 that assembled at the Nihon Kiin in Tokyo to play for the Amateur Honinbo Title ranged from the current primary school Meijin (age 11) to octogenarians Hirata Hironori (87) and Kikuchi Yasuro (84), two of the outstanding Japanese amateurs of the 20th century. In between were the three outstanding amateurs of the current decade in Japan: the two Amateur Honinbos Hiraoka Satoshi (2010, 2012) and Nakazono Seizo (2011), and the Amateur Meijin Hong Seok-ui (2011-2013).
Hong won his way in by taking first place in the Osaka regional Honinbo tournament. Not being seeded, he had to enter at the preliminary round played on August 23, where he defeated the regional Honinbo from Aichi Prefecture by 19.5 points. This earned him a bye in the preliminary repechage, after which he won his second game of the day by forcing the regional Honinbo from Mie Prefecture to resign in the first knockout round.
Nakazono and Hiraoka were seeded into the second knockout round, which began at 9:30 on August 24. Together with Hong they breezed through that round and the next, defeating opponents from Nara, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Iwate prefectures and two opponents from Tokyo. In the fourth round, for the second year in a row Hiraoka was paired against Hong. Last year Hiraoka had won by half a point in the endgame. This year it was a different story. Both players made mistakes, but Hiraoka's mistake was bigger and came later, and Hong won by 5.5 points. Meanwhile, Nakazono lost to Katayama Hiroyuki, an assistant professor at the University of Tokyo making a strong comeback in Amateur Honinbo competition after a 17-year absence.
With his two most dangerous opponents both knocked out, Hong now found himself in a very promising position, but he still had to win two more games. In the semifinal round, played in the morning of August 25, he defeated former Student Honinbo Taniguchi Yohei by 15.5 points, while Katayama lost to Sato Koya, the 20-year old regional Honinbo from Shizuoka Prefecture. Sato turned out to be the surprise of the tournament. Although he has never been an insei, he is diligently training on his own with the aim of becoming a professional player at the Nagoya Branch of the Nihon Kiin.
The final round was played in a closed room next to a large hall, where pro Honinbo Iyama Yuta gave a public commentary on the clincher between Hong and Sato. Early in this game, Sato let Hong make a pon-nuki that Iyama rated as easily worth the proverbial 30 points, and from there on Hong was in control. Ultimately Sato was faced with the loss of half of a large group and resigned to finish second, while Taniguchi beat Katayama in the playoff for third place. The top four all received silver cups and crystal clocks from the sponsors, the Mainichi Newspaper and Sagawa Express.
Hong, who works as an instructor at the Ranka go club in Osaka, is the first player to hold both the amateur Honinbo and Meijin titles in Japan. Asked about future plans, he said he would like to work to spread the game of go, but for the time being he intends to work on what he called his many remaining go-playing weaknesses. Both Hong and Iyama said they were looking forward to the upcoming pro-amateur Honinbo match, which will be their first meeting across the go board.
Far Eastern players have been outperforming Europeans at the European Go Congress for the past decade, so it was a welcome change to see almost all the prizes go to European players at the 2013 Congress held July 27 to August 11 in Olsztyn, Poland. Also encouraging was the whole-hearted way in which the Polish media, the European go community, and even non-European organizations such as BadukMovies, KGS, Pandanet, and the World Pair Go Association lent their support to the Congress as sponsors or patrons. Here's a rundown of the results.
The ten-round main tournament was won by Hui Fan, the former Chinese pro who emigrated to France in 2000, quickly became Europe's top-rated player, has been making substantial contributions to the growing French go literature, and became a naturalized Frenchman this year. The last three rounds of this tournament included an eight-player playoff for the title of European Champion. This meant that Hui had to face two of his youngest and strongest opponents--Mateusz Surma of Poland and Pavol Lisy of Slovakia--twice each, but it seemed to make no difference who Hui played: he won all ten of his games. Mateusz and Pavol each lost one other game and finished 4th and 3rd, respectively.Finland's Antti Tormanen beat Pavol, lost to Hui and Mateusz, and finished 2nd. In the playoff section Pavol came 2nd, Mateusz came 3rd, and France's Thomas Debarre took 4th place. A grand total of 594 players participated, with European players capturing the top 23 places.
In the nine-round rapid tournament, Cornel Burzo (Romania) and Mateusz Surma (Poland) won eight games apiece, but Cornel took 1st place by one SOS point. Andrii Kravets (Ukraine), Alexei Lazarev (Russia), and Stanislaw Frejlak (Poland) scored six wins to take 3rd to 5th places. Tomasz Sek (6 kyu, Poland) and Josef Moudrik (10 kyu, Czechia) scored eight wins and finished 167th and 216th in the field of 276.
In the five-round weekend tournament (August 3-4) Ilya Shikshin (Russia) beat Jun-won Choi (Korea) and then Pavol Lisy, Cornel Burzo, Hui Fan, and Alexander Dinerchtein (Russia) to earn undisputed 1st place. His opponents finished 19th, 6th, 4th, 2nd, and 5th. Ali Jabarin (Israel) came in 3rd. Besides Ilya, there were eleven other five-game winners in the field of 378: Krzysztof Urtnowski (1 kyu, Poland), Sylvain Praz (2 kyu, Switzerland), David Vennink (3 kyu, France), Pawel and Jan Fraczak (both 4 kyu, Poland), Jakub Jansky (5 kyu, Czechia), Vojtech Vasa (9 kyu, Czechia), Krzysztof Kurzawa (10 kyu, Poland), Michael Thao (10 kyu, France), Josef Moudrik (10 kyu, Czechia), Mikulas Kubita (13 kyu, Czechia), and Sandra Freiburghaus (15 kyu, Switzerland). Ilya Shikshin also won the 20-player blitz knockout, beating Mero Csaba (Hungary), Zeno van Ditzhuijzen (Netherlands), and Cornel Burzo, and then defeating Ondrej Silt (Czechia) in the final game. On small boards,
Ilya Shikshin won the 9 x 9 tournament and Andrii Kravets won the 13 x 13 tournament. Stanislaw Frejlak (4 dan, Poland) won the eight-player phantom knockout, downing Gabor Albrecht (7 kyu, Hungary) in the final game.
Two Russian youths won 1st place prizes in the U18 competition: Alexander Vashurov (5 dan) topped the A group while Andrej Mramorov (4 kyu) topped the B group. Both were undefeated. Finishing 2nd were Jonas Welticke (5 dan, Germany) and Yuki de Groot (3 kyu, Netherlands).
The European Team Championship, held July 26-27, was won by a Czech team consisting of Ondrej Silt, Jan Hora, Lukas Podpera, Jan Prokop, and Vladimir Danek. The Czechs drew against Russia and defeated the Ukraine and Hungary. Russia drew against the Ukraine, and both Russia and the Ukraine beat Hungary. In a separate five-round team tournament, the Polish Wampiry team (Mateusz Surma, Stanislaw Frejlak, Majka Marcin) and the French Bogoss team (Benjamin Drean-Guenaizia, Pierre Paga, Cesar Lextrait) were both undefeated, so they held a playoff, won by Wampiry. The Polish Habu-Mos-Rzepnikowski trio beat the international Sexy Honte trio to take first place in the rengo tournament.
Pair go was organized into A and B groups. In the A group (all even games), 32 pairs competed for three full rounds in four blocks, then the best 16 competed in a final knockout. Korean pro Hajin Lee and Polish amateur Cezary Czernecki (3 dan) triumphed over Polish amateur Agnieszka Kacprzyk (1 dan) and Korean pro Young-Long Park in the final game of the knockout. The B group was a four-round Swiss system handicap tournament that ended with three pairs undefeated. Placed in SOS order, they were: (1) Dita Vasova and Lukas Podpera (Czechia) (2) Daria Kwietniewska (Poland) and Vit Brunner (Czechia) (3) Josefa Kubitova and Michal Timko (Czechia). Full results can be found at the congress website.
He Yuhan, who captured three major Chinese amateur titles this year (the amateur Tianyuan in February, the Fengcheng Cup in May, and the 3rd Qingdao Publishing Cup in June), ended his rampage by winning his way to profession shodan in the 2013 Chinese Go Ranking Promotion Competition, held July 20-25 in Yangzhou. In all, twenty men and five women qualified as pro shodan. The other men included Dai Zhitian, who beat He to win the Yellow River Cup in June, Li Weiqing, who took third in the Yellow River Cup, and Huang Jingyuan, runner-up in the Yellow River Cup last year. The qualification tournament is limited to players under 25 years old. He, Li, and Huang are still 13.
Meanwhile, the promotion competition for players who were already professional was being held July 17-30 at the Tongli Lake Resort. Two of the contestants played in the World Amateur Go Championship last year: Qiao Zhijiang (1st place, China), and Chen Cheng-Hsu (3rd place, Chinese Taipei).
Qiao Zhijiang turned pro shortly after the 2012 WAGC and won a promotion to 2 dan with a 9-3 score in the 2012 Promotion Competition. Overall, his pro record was 21-13 in 2012, and stands at 24-21 so far in 2013, including a strong 7-3 performance in the new HTC Cup. Qiao broke even (6-6) in the 2013 Promotion Competition, and remains 2-dan.
Chen Cheng-Hsu, who turned pro at age 13 in China to challenge himself, started off his professional career by scoring 4-6 at the Chinese Individual Championships in September 2012. Since then he has been continuing to meet his self-imposed challenge head-on; his cumulative professional record after 11 months is a level 29-29. His result in the 2013 Promotion Competition was 7-5, so he remains shodan.
The 34th World Amateur Go Championship will open on August 31 and be held on September 1-4 at the Sendai City Information & Industry Plaza in the AER building in Sendai, Japan. Located next to Sendai Station, AER is a popular commercial complex with many shops and restaurants.
The field of 62 players will range in age from 14 to 57 and in official rank from 7 kyu to 8 dan. The field is headed by the contestants from China and Korea (Yuqing Hu and Hyunjae Choi); those two countries have not dropped a single game to any other country in this event since 2006. The players from perennially strong Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Hong Kong (Wei-shin Lin, Kikou Emura, and King-man Kwan) will also bear watching, particularly 14-year-old Lin, who will move on from the World Amateur to a pro career in Taiwan.
These Asians will be challenged, however, by a strong European contingent, led by Slovakian prodigy Pavol Lisy, who finished runner-up to former Chinese pro Fan Hui in this year's European Championship. Joining Pavol will be four other young finalists from the European Championship: Thomas Debarre (France), Ilya Shikshin (Russia), Artem Kachanovskyi (Ukraine), and Nikola Mitic (Serbia). Also competing will be such established European stars as Ondrej Silt (Czechia), Csaba Mero (Hungary), Cornel Burzo (Romania), Merlijn Kuin (Netherlands), and Franz-Josef Dickhut (Germany).
Challenging the Asians and Europeans will be a pair of North American high school students: Curtis Tang (USA), who trained for a year at a go academy in China, and Bill Lin (Canada), who played in the World Mind Games last December and is coming off a 3-1 defense of his Canadian Dragon title.
The Southern hemisphere will be represented by Hao-Song Sun (Australia, 11th place at the 2008 World Mind Sports Games), Xuqi Wu (New Zealand, 12th place at the 2009 Korea Prime Minister Cup), and a pack of hopeful new players from South America and South Africa.
In the past the World Amateur Go Championship has been held in the spring, but this year the schedule was moved back because of the effects of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.
Thanks to support from all over the world during the past two years, most of the regions hit by the earthquake are now recovering. It is hoped that through the game of go this tournament will give the world proof of the recovery and encourage the local people to press ahead with the long recovery process.
Game records are available at the go4go website.
Among the many summer go events for Japanese kids, the Toto Cup is a west-end special. It's for kids aged 3 to 18 in Kyushu (westernmost of the four large Japanese islands), in the adjoining prefectures of Okinawa (farther west) and Yamaguchi (the west end of Honshu, the largest island), and from overseas (still farther west). This year the overseas participants made up about 30% of the field: 55 came from five cities in China and 15 came from Taipei. Although no three-year-old took part, one of the contestants was five, and she won a third-place award -- but we're getting ahead of our story.
The 251 young hopefuls assembled at the Asia-Pacific Import Mart in Kitakyushu City on August 5th. They were watched, supervised, and taught by a roughly equal number of organizers, officials, volunteer assistants, parents, teachers, and guests, including four professional go players. The competition was divided into five classes and the venue was partitioned into two rooms. In one room, the kids in the unlimited class (where ranks went as high as 7 dan) played four rounds of even games and the kids in class A (1-5 dan) played four rounds of handicap go. In the other room, the kids in classes B (1-5 kyu), C (6-10 kyu), and D (11-20 kyu) played five rounds of handicap go, and a dozen beginners (class E) got their first taste of go. Overseas players were paired against Japanese opponents as far as possible.
Last year three Japanese middle-schoolers (Hashimoto Junpei, Nasu Haruki, and Nishimura Ryotaro) finished 1-2-3 in the unlimited class. This year all three tried their luck again, but each lost once in the first three rounds. At the end of those rounds there were five undefeated unlimiteds and four of them were Chinese. The fifth was Sasaki Shuma, an 11-year-old primary-school boy from Nakama, right next to Kitakyushu, but in the final round he bowed to Ding Yuexiang, a 13-year-old middle-school student from Shanghai. That made Ding unlimited champion. Niu Zebing, a classmate of Ding's, took second place by winning his final game against Luo Ruichen, a 12-year-old from Guangzhou. Cao Weilong, the fifth undefeated player, lost his final game to Nishimura to join the group of eleven who ended with three wins. Luo Ruichen had the best SOS in this group, so the first three unlimited places all went to players from China, and the top two places both went to players from Shanghai.
Since Shanghai has a population of over 20 million and a strong go organization, it was not a complete surprise to see youngsters from that city also triumph in three of the four handicap tournaments: Wu Zijie (age 12) won class A, Wen Zehai (age 12) won class B, and Wang Kaichen (age 10) won class C. In class D, however, the Japanese side finally came through: Eto Kotaro won all five of his games to finish first, while Usui Makoto, who is still in kindergarten, won four games and took third place.
None of the participants questioned by Ranka mentioned any ambition to play go professionally. 'I started too late' said Eto Kotaro. Niu Zebing hopes to run his own business, like his restaurateur father. Ding Yuexiang has no career plans yet, but named English as his favorite subject at school.
In addition to the class competition, selected kids had chances to play pair go with or play 13 x 13 instructional games against former Meijin Otake Hideo, who was born in Kitakyushu, former women's Honinbo Yashiro Kumiko, former winner of the TV-Osaka Lady's Cup Izawa Akino, and Takemiya Yoko, the son of former Honinbo Takemiya Masaki. The kids found their professional partners and opponents 'amazingly strong.' The pros also held a beginners' instructional session. One of the attendees was four years old.
Notwithstanding the youngster who burst into tears after losing to two opponents from Taipei, it was a cheerful crowd that departed from the Import Mart in the late afternoon, looking forward to a day of sightseeing on August 6. And Toto Ltd., a company that has consistently improved the world (they manufacture toilets), had just made it even better.
The game between Ding (white) and Sasaki can be viewed here.
This year Japan's Amateur Meijin title match had a new twist: the challenger, Wu Poyi, was a native of Taiwan. He learned to play go there in kindergarten. Inspired by the feats of Taiwan-born Chang Hsu (Cho U), Wu dreamed of becoming a pro in Japan, but he remained in Taiwan until 2009, when Miaoli County, where he had entered junior high school, granted him financial assistance to study as an insei in Tokyo. Over the next four years he worked his way up from class F to the top of class A in the insei rankings, but was never able to take one of the top two places in the Tokyo round robin that annually qualifies two new pro shodans. In March 2013, being 17 years old, he had to retire as an insei, but he has not abandoned his dream. He now lives and studies at Hong Mal-geun-saem's dojo in Tokyo, and will attempt to win his way into the round robin as a non-insei, the age limit for doing which is 22.
Since Japanese insei do not compete for Japanese amateur titles, the Amateur Meijin was Wu's first major amateur tournament in Japan. To become challenger, he had to start by earning one of the two places reserved for Tokyo residents. His start was promising: he won the Tokyo Amateur Meijin preliminary in April. Then he had to win a six-round challenger knockout held July 14-15. His six straight victories in the knockout began with a resignation win over a 14-year old opponent from Nagasaki prefecture, and ended with a 3.5-point ko-powered win over an opponent his own age from Tomiyama prefecture. In between, he defeated the oldest player in the knockout, Nishimura Osamu, winner of the Asahi Amateur Best Ten tournament (the forerunner of the Amateur Meijin) in 1972.
And then Wu faced his toughest opponent, the defending Korean-born Amateur Meijin Hong Suk-eui (Japanese reading: Hon Soggi). While Wu had been working his way toward the challenger's spot, Hong had been competing with remarkable success in the Agon Kiriyama Cup, defeating seven pro opponents, culminating in a victory over a 9-dan that put him into the best-16 stage (where he finally lost). In 2009, while still living in Korea, Hong had accomplished a similar feat in the BC Card Cup. He had also won about half a dozen Korean amateur titles. 'If I lose to him, it will be only natural,' Wu said.
The best-of-three Amateur Meijin title match was held at the Sekitei inn in Yugawara. Since Hong now lives in Osaka and Wu in Tokyo, the match was an east-west confrontation, something that Japan revels in. Drawing white in the first game on July 27, Wu played aggressively in the opening and middle game, but Hong found a successful counterattack that forced Wu to resign. In the second game on July 28, Hong took an early lead but relaxed in the middle game and then had to fight hard to recover. In the end he out-read Wu and won again by resignation. Hong is the first player to win the Amateur Meijin title three times, and he hopes to make it four next year.
The 2013 U.S. Go Congress, to be held in Tacoma, Washington August 3-11, will include 18 separate tournaments. In addition to the U.S. Open, there will be open tournaments on 13 x 13 and 9 x 9 boards, open tournaments for women and pairs, an open lightning tournament, a teachers' workshop, and an open song and poetry contest. No less than five youth tournaments are scheduled, plus a youth-adult pair tournament. At the high end of the competition, there will be the annual masters'tournament and a strong players' tournament, each restricted to 16 invited professional and amateur players, and the final match of the Pandanet-AGA City League. Pros from China, Japan, and Korea will be in attendance to teach and comment.
Tacoma is located on the Puget Sound and is within easy reach of Seattle. For further details of the Congress and the many local attractions, visit the congress website.
The registration deadline is July 31.
The 2013 European Go Congress will be held the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland, July 27-August 11. Attendance is expected to approach one thousand, including most of the strongest European players, some strong Far Eastern amateurs, and pros from China, Japan, and Korea. In addition to the ten-round main tournament, there will be a five-round weekend tournament, a nine-round rapid tournament, and a six-round blitz tournament, plus tournaments for pairs, teams, children, and computers, tournaments on 13 x 13 and 9 x 9 boards, and more. For those who can tear themselves away from the go board, there will be equipment for other board games, plus a gymnasium, basketball and volleyball courts, and a football field.
For those with academic interests, the congress will include a new event: the first EGC Science Conference, covering go-related topics in computer science as well as the history, culture, psychology, and pedagogy of go. Olsztyn is in the Masurian Lakes district of Poland, so there will also be opportunities for swimming and boating.
Further information can be found at the congress website.
The first two rounds of the 64-player knockout to determine the winner of the Mlily Cup were played in Beijing July 9 and 11. Of the four Korean amateurs who won places among the 64, Oh Jangwook drew as his first opponent Taiwan's 19-year-old 6-dan pro Joanne Missingham, aka Hei Jiajia. This game caught the eye of the media (Joanne attracts attention whenever she sits down to play), but that did not bother Oh; taking white, he won by 1-1/4 stone, the Chinese equivalent of 2-1/2 points.
But that was to be the only win by an amateur player. In the second round Oh drew Korean 9-dan Choi Chulhan, men's gold medalist at the 2012 World Mind Games, and lost by resignation. The other three amateurs (Choi Hyeonjae, Jeong Seunghyeon, and Lee Changseok), lost to 9-dan pros Kong Jie (China) and Yuki Satoshi (Japan) and 15-year-old 2-dan pro Kun Yanyu (China) in the first round. The other two women competing also departed in the first round: Song Ronghui, women's gold medalist at the 2008 World Mind Sports Games lost to Choi Chulhan, and Wang Chenxing, whose eight straight wins powered the Chinese women's team to victory in the Huang Longshi Cup last year, was beaten by Korean 9-dan Cho Hanseung.
In some other notable games, six 4-dan and lower-ranked pros overcame famed 9-dan opponents: China's Tang Weixing, who won the men's individual gold medal at the recent Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games, beat Ing Cup winner Fan Tingyu; Na Hyun, who led the Korean men's team to a gold medal in the Indoor & Martial Arts Games, beat LG Cup winner Shi Yue; China's An Dongxu beat Japan's Meijin Yamashita Keigo; China's Mi Yuting eliminated former Fujitsu Cup winners Kang Dongyun and Lee Sedol; Chinese shodan Lei Zhenkun beat former winner of almost everything Lee Changho; and China's Dang Yifei beat Xie He, whose victory over Lee Changho gave China the Nongshim Cup in 2012. Dang, Mi, and Tang were among the thirteen Chinese survivors of the second round, giving China a tremendous edge over Korea (two survivors) and Japan (one survivor). The third round will be played on August 9.
Game records are available at the go4go website
The 2013 German Championship was played in two stages. The first was a six-round Swiss system among sixteen players, held in mid-June in Kassel. The final stage was a round robin among eight players, played July 4-7 in Darmstadt. Both stages featured a 6-point compensation, which produced two draws in the Swiss system and one in the round robin, and helped sort out the standings with less need to use tie-breaking points.
The stars of the first stage were Lukas Krämer, Bernd Radmacher, and Marlon Welter. They beat each other (Lukas beat Bernd, who beat Marlon, who beat Lukas) and won all their other games to take the top three places and proceed to the final stage. Joining them was Mathias Terwey, who won four games and finished fourth.
The round robin began on the morning of July 4 at Darmstadt's Gastspielhaus, a mecca for players of games ranging from Abenteuer Menschheit to Zug um Zug. Franz-Joseph Dickhut, the oldest contestant at age 44, was now the player to beat: he had won eleven previous German championships, including the last three in a row. His first-round opponent was Lukas, the youngest contestant at age 20. Lukas has compiled an impressive record over the past five years, starting with the German youth championship in 2008, and he now added another victory to it. Bernd Radmacher also made a good start, by beating 2006 German youth champion Johannes Obenaus.
The tournament then moved to the Bertolt-Brecht School. There Lukas beat Johannes on the afternoon of the 4th, took an undisputed lead by downing Jun Tarumi and Benjamin Teuber on the 5th while Bernd lost to Franz-Josef, and clinched the championship with wins over Marlon and Matthias on the 6th, while Bernd lost to Marlon in a dramatic ko fight. Lukas finally dropped a game, to Bernd, in the last round on the 7th, which gave Bernd second place (five wins). Johannes finished third; after losing his first two games, he had scored four wins and a draw.
Full results, pictures, and further information (in German) can be found here.
The 3rd SportAccord World Mind Games will be held in Beijing, China, December 12-18, 2013.
The Mind Games will be preceded by the 3rd SportAccord World Mind Games Online Tournament, which will be played on the Internet Go Server (IGS, aka Pandanet). This tournament is open to amateur players in all countries and territories belonging to the International Go Federation. The winner will receive an expenses-paid trip to Beijing to watch the Mind Games and meet the players, and other prizes will be given out as well. Registration closes on August 18, 2013.
Full details are available here.
The first annual Vienna International Go Tournament drew 90 players to Austria to enjoy a mid-June weekend of go at the edge of the Vienna Woods, and to compete for prizes ranging from €70 for tenth place to €1000 for first place. Five McMahon rounds were scheduled, with starting points assigned according to the European rating system. The top group consisted of fourteen players rated over 2500, led by Germany's Seok-Bin Cho (2795) and including Ilya Shikshin (2735) and Alexander Dinerchtein (2717), who dominate Russian go and have won ten European Championships since 1999.
The first round started at a leisurely 11:00 on June 15th, with the top fourteen paired against each other. The seven winners included the above three, two from Czechia (Ondrej Silt and Jan Hora), another German (Benjamin Teuber), and one Spanish player (Lluis Oh). In the second round the two Germans kept winning but the Russians were upended: Benjamin beat Ilya and Lluis beat Alexander. Seok-Bin was drawn down against Czechia's Vladimir Danek, whom he beat, and Jan defeated Ondrej in an all-Czech match. In the third round Seok-Bin and Lluis bested Jan and Benjamin to end the day undefeated.
The climactic game was the next morning's confrontation between Seok-Bin and Lluis, both of whom grew up in Korea. Victory went to Seok-Bin, who then downed Ilya in the final round to win the tournament with a perfect 5-0 score. This was Seok-Bin's fourth unbeaten triumph of the year, following Madrid, Amsterdam, and Strasbourg, and it sent his rating over 2800. Meanwhile, Ondrej beat Benjamin and Lluis in the last two rounds to take second place with a 4-1 score. Jan and Lluis tied for third with 3-2 scores and equal SOS points. Also finishing in the money were Benjamin (5th), Ilya (6th), Pavol Lisy (Slovakia, 7th), Pal Balogh and Csaba Mero (Hungary, tied for 8th), and Alexander, who split the tenth-place prize with Austria's Viktor Lin.
Below the McMahon bar, Austrian champion Schayan Hamrah came in 18th; three kyu-ranked players from Czechia (Ondrej Jurasek, Tereza Salajkova, and Petr Kratochvil) earned two books apiece and raised their ratings substantially by winning all their games; and many others earned single-book prizes by winning three of their first four games.
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.