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.
  1. (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 [ext] 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 on February 18, 2021 - 10:30
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