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Chongqing Go Player Becomes China's New Top-ranked Player

By YAN DENG|Mar 08,2023

Chongqing - With a rating of 2714.2, Chongqing Go player Li Xuanhao becomes China's new top-ranked player as he surpasses Ke Jie, a professional Go player and world champion, breaking his number one record of 51 months, according to the Chinese Weiqi Association on March 2.

Chongqing Go player becomes China's new top-ranked player, surpassing Ke Jie's ranking. (Photo/Chinese Weiqi Association)

In the last round of the 2023 Weijia League on February 7, Ke Jie was unexpectedly defeated by Gu Lingyi and was surpassed by Li Xuanhao in points for the first time. Ke Jie later returned to the top spot with a string of wins in the Weijia League playoffs, but Li Xuanhao overtook him again in mid-February.

"Li Xuanhao's ability to surpass Ke Jie in the rating rankings is directly related to his outstanding performance representing the Chongqing T23 team in the Weijia League," according to the Chongqing Chess Academy. "In the previous season of the Weijia League, Li Xuanhao ranked first in the league with 15 wins in 17 games, helping the Chongqing team achieve its best results since the league was reformed."

Go players are in a field where youth is essential, with Gu Li becoming the domestic rating leader at the age of 20. However, Li Xuanhao, born in 1995, entered his prime at the age of 28.

Two years ago, when he was 25 years old, Li Xuanhao was still a professional 7-dan player who had never won a domestic tournament. His truly remarkable progress came in 2022 when he won the 9th Quzhou-Lanke Cup and the 3rd King of Kings Tournament, and his rating rose from 14th at the beginning of the year to 2nd at the end, surpassing Ke Jie to take first place.

Nowadays, many Go players use Go AI for training and have seen their playing strength greatly improve, including Li Xuanhao, who is particularly diligent in using AI for training. 

Speaking about how AI has helped him, Li Xuanhao said, "In some situations, I don't know how to play, but AI can provide some enlightenment. The moves that AI makes, even if you don't understand them then, can make sense when you think about them later. Now, everyone is studying AI's openings, which opens up one's thinking."

For Li Xuanhao, the most important event soon is the Chunlan Cup World Professional Weiqi Championship in July this year, where he will compete for his first world championship. 

(He Hanyue, as an intern, also contributed to the report.)


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