The Oteai (大手合 Ō'te'ai) was a form of rank promotion system that originated in Japan. In the system players play games in an, usually, annual or bi-annual tournament to earn rank promotion. Early records of Oteai games exist in groups such as the Hiseikai from the early 1920s. However, the system grew to popularity when the Nihon Kiin adopted it as the primary way for its professionals to earn rank promotion and income from 1927. Games were played in a bi-annual tournament with weekly schedules, and players received a fee for each game played. The Oteai games were traditionally played without komi, forcing many professionals to modify their style once they became 5-dan and started taking White more often than Black. The Kansai Kiin, which splintered away in 1950, also continued their Oteai.
However, in 1961, the Asahi newspaper quitted sponsoring the Oteai, because the Kiin allowed Yomiuri newspaper to create the Meijin tournament. For some while, the Kiin continued to pay game fees to players at its own expense, it was finally forced to stop payment for financial reasons. Thereafter, rank promotion was the only incentive for the players; no game fees were paid. Some players began declining to play in the Oteai because they could get promoted with achievements in other tournaments. The rules were also different from other tournaments; the old match handicap system was used and players had to play no-komi games in the Oteai.
In addition, the system contained an inherent problem; starting from 1967, those who had achieved the final promotion to 9 dan were excluded from the Oteai. This continuously weakened the field and inflated professional ranks slowly but consistently; in the 1990s, 9 dans' share in all professionals exceeded 20%.
In 2003, the Oteai in Japan was replaced by a different rank promotion system. The new system allows ranks to be earned in three primary ways; 1) accumulating a certain number of wins, 2) ranking high in prize money among same dan players, and 3) entering certain title leagues or winning certain titles. For details, see Nihon Ki-in new promotion system.
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