Chen Yaoye makes 5 in a row – wins the 27th Tianyuan title


Chen Yaoye 9 dan wins his fifth consecutive Tianyuan title.

No, it’s not Gomoku. It’s the Tianyuan.

On May 13 and 15, 2013, Chen Yaoye 9p defended his Tianyuan title against yet another challenger, in the 27th Tianyuan title match, in China.

This victory marks Chen’s fifth consecutive year as title holder!


A challenger appears!

This year’s challenger, Gu Lingyi 5p, won the right to challenge Chen earlier in February.


Chen Yaoye (left) and Gu Lingyi play a curious opening in game 2 of the 17th Tianyuan final.

Gu, was once considered one of the most promising players in China.

He broke into the top 10 Chinese pros (by ranking) in 2009, and unsuccessfully challenged the more famous Gu (Li 9p) for the Mingren (Chinese Meijin) title in 2010.

However, he was unable budge Chen from his Tianyuan throne – losing in two games straight.

Chen to equal Gu’s record?

Chen has maintained a stranglehold on the Tianyuan title since 2009, when he ended Gu Li’s six year run.

Chen’s now only one title defense away from equalling Gu’s record.


Gu Lingyi (left) and Chen Yaoye sign a commemorative Go board for the 17th Tianyuan title match.

The China Korea Tengen


Chen Yaoye takes a well deserved break during lunch.

Chen’s victory means that he’ll once again represent China in this year’s China Korea Tengen playoff (probably sometime in September).

His record in the ‘international edition’ of the tournament is just as impressive, with Chen having won three out of the four matches he’s competed in.

Chen’s defensive, counter-attacking style is noted as being particularly effective against the stereotypical Korean attacking style, which is exemplified by players like Choi Cheolhan 9p (whom Chen faced in 2011 and 2012).

However, his opponent this time round will be Park Younghun 9p, who won this year’s 17th Chunwon tournament in Korea.

Park’s style is very different to Choi’s. He’s a master of the endgame and tends to prefer more peaceful, territory oriented games.

In good form for the Chunlan Cup?


Gu Lingyi (left) and Chen Yaoye receive trophies at the 27th Tianyuan award ceremony.

In recent years, Chen’s regularly appeared to be in excellent form – especially around this time of year, when he’s defended his Tianyuan title.

However, success in a major international title still eludes the wunderkind who’s now all grown up.

The child prodigy reached his first international final in 2006 – at the age of 16 – defeating Lee Changho 9p en route, but eventually losing to Gu Li in the final of the 10th LG Cup.

Now 23 years old, Chen will have another chance on the international stage in June, when he faces the formidable Lee Sedol 9p in the final of the 10th Chunlan Cup.

Game 1 of the final will be played on June 17, 2013. See the Pro Go Calendar for more details.

The Tianyuan

The Tianyuan title is the Chinese equivalent of the Japanese Tengen title.

The tournament uses a knockout format consisting of 48 players vying for the right to challenge the previous year’s winner. 16 players are seeded into the second round of the knockout tournament.

The title match is decided over the best of three games. The current winner’s prize is 150,000 RMB (approximately $25,000 USD at the time of writing).

27th Tianyuan photos

Game records

Gu Lingyi vs Chen Yaoye – Game 1


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


Chen Yaoye vs Gu Lingyi – Game 2


Download SGF File (Go Game Record)


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About Jing

Jing likes writing, and can occasionally be convinced to play a game of Go. Even though she doesn't play Go as often as she once did, she still enjoys following the professional Go scene and writing about it on Go Game Guru.

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  1. Thank-you for the nice article Jing.

    I hope Gu Lingyi will win a title soon, because I don’t want to see him eternally stuck at 5d. He has a creative & exciting style, and has been sticking it out at as 5d since 2007.

    • Gu Lingyi does have some questionable ethics though. There was one tournament in China that allowed internet qualifiers and his girlfriend was trying to win a berth. However, by the game records, it is highly likely that Gu played in place of her.

  2. I’m a fan of Chen. I really wonder what his favorite food?

  3. I am a bit surprised by Chen’s move 5 in game 2. This is not so frequent, is it? It looks like the now classical chinese fuseki, but one line closer to the corner… What I find intriguing is that it is not the first time I see it. Lluis Oh (a strong 6d amateur player from Barcelona) played that move each time he had black in his games of the Paris tournament, last easter. Is it a new fashion?

    • David Ormerod says:

      Hi Matrok,

      Yes, that move has become more popular in last few years. It started out as a variation of the mini Chinese I think (at least that’s where I started seeing it more).

      Personally I think it’s less well balanced than the original low Chinese opening. When I asked Younggil what he thought, he said that sometimes pros try things to mix the game up and play an opening that their opponent might be less familiar with.