Keywords: Go term, Tournament

Chinese: -
Japanese: 角番 (kadoban)
Korean: -

Kadoban is a Japanese word adopted by the English speaking go community.


  1. (Original Japanese meaning, also used in English) In a title match series, the game that could lose the series for one player. Or, under an old-fashioned match handicap system, the game which if lost will require taking a greater handicap.
  2. (Expanded meaning in English only) Players who often meet generally agree that after *x* games (often), the winner advances by one handicap grade. Kadoban refers to both the system being used ("Joe and I play three-game kadoban") and the condition of being at such risk ("You have won two games, so this is kadoban for me.")

English equivalents

  • do-or-die
  • must-win
  • back against the wall (or back to the wall)
  • up against the wall
  • on the ropes
  • on the bubble

Is it only kadoban for the potential loser?

It is common for kadoban to be applied only to the person who is at risk to lose (the so-called unilateral meaning of kadoban). However, in English, it can also be used to generically describe the game where the title is at stake (the bilateral usage).

Related expressions

  • Surviving kadoban: kadoban dasshutsu, kadoban wo shinogu, survive a kadoban
  • Falling into kadoban: kadoban ni oikomareru, kadoban ni tatasareru, kadoban ni naru, face kadoban (when the next game will be kadoban)

Sumo usage

The other known use of kadoban is in sumo. If someone at the ozeki rank loses two tournaments in a row, he is demoted. So if he loses one tournament, the next tournament is kadoban for him -- the one that if he loses he will be demoted. This usage is reported to have been borrowed from go and shogi. English usages include a kadoban tournament for the ozeki, Musoyama finds himself kadoban, Kaio is kadoban, the kadoban ozeki, under kadoban, in a kadoban situation, etc.

See Kadoban/Discussion

Kadoban last edited by hnishy on November 7, 2022 - 22:55
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