The Oteai was not a big title tournament like the others on the Japanese go scene. It was the tournament in which Japanese professionals earned their ranking. This explains why some players who were very successful in the title matches still had lower than 9 dan rankings. It meant they were either less successful in the Oteai, hadn't been playing for very long in it or didn't care about their ranking at all.
Examples of this were Ryu Shikun and Yamashita Keigo, who beat 9 dan opponents for top seven titles in recent years, all the while staying at relatively modest 7 and 6 dan ranks. The challenger for the 2001 Honinbo, Cho U, was at the time 6 dan.
John Fairbairn RIP the Oteai. It will be no more after April. Promotion will now be based on results in 12 top tournaments. Instant promotion, from any grade, to 9-dan for winning a world championship or top three title; 8-dan for challenging; 7-dan for getting to a league. Winning two minor titles (e.g.Oza, Judan) gets 9-dan; winning one gets 8-dan. Promotion also possible by winning a specified number of games at each grade, starting at 30 for 1- to 2-dan and up to 200 for 8- to 9-dan. It will thus be VERY hard to get to 9-dan in future, and the hope is that old pros who can't make high dans will retire and make way for young blood. But there will be no demotions so it will be a long while before the present top-heavy structure rights itself. There were already no game fees for the Oteai last year so this won't have any immediate impact on the Nihon Ki-in's finances, but the reason for the change is mainly economic.
JF Not yet. I've only seen this in the mainstream Japanese press. I've not seen it in any go magazine or website. Go has made front page news a couple of times lately - the assault and battery case against a very prominent pro and the death of Hans Pietsch. I think that has sensitised ordinary journalists to go news and they have latched on to this item because, essentially, it's a hard luck story not a reform.
I have seen mentioned: Kisei, Meijin, Honinbo as the big three; and Gosei, Judan, Tengen, Oza. The rest must be open to all pros, I presume, so I'd expect the NHK to be in and the Kakusei to be out, for example. From normal usage of the phrase, I'd expect all the world championships to be included, at least if they are fully open like the Samsung, and maybe they all make up the 12. We'll have to wait and see. I gather that technically the change has to go through some committee in the Ki-in, and maybe there is some rearguard fighting. The press stories could have been a leak to force somebody's hand.
One newspaper article did point out that the average pro would get 30 games a year in the events that count. Even if he won a silly number like 25 a year he would take years to get from 8-dan to 9-dan unless he won a title as well. Sounds even tougher than the old Korean system to me. And will they translate this toughness into amateur grades (or, more likely, will amateurs take action themselves)?
Charles Matthews Not surprisingly, the deflationary impact will mainly be absorbed by up-and-coming players. Do we know anything about the effect on insei training? You're not really supposed to become pro shodan and just stay there, but the chances are that many will, I guess. And will the Kansai Ki-in follow suit?
Tamsin What is this assault and battery case you mentioned? Are you referring to Kobayashi Satoru's incident with Ryu Shikun or to another matter?
Jasonred : OUCH!!! Looks like shodans will take a minimum of a year to rise to 2 Dan.
Hmm, looks like it's either play in tournaments and win, or take years and years per promotion.
Andrew Grant I would be quite surprised if this sort of change had not been informally agreed with the Kansai Ki-in beforehand. In any case, I doubt if in the long run the Kansai Ki-in will want its members to become overgraded with respect to the Nihon Ki-in's players - it would lose credibility.
John Fairbairn The alleged gbh case is not Kobayashi. It was a family dispute over inheritance. The pro resigned and we await a court case. The name has been mentioned in the press, of course, but while it is a serious case it is not directly related to go in the West, so it seems unnecessary to go any further. Re the Kansai Ki-in, I agree with Andrew's expectation that the KK has been consulted, but bear in mind that the NK believes the KK is already vastly overrated and this has always been the main dispute between them.
John Fairbairn An update. I still haven't seen full details but the Agon-Kiriyama Cup and Ryusei have been mentioned as qualifying events and a runner up in a world championship gets 8-dan. Also, up to 6-dan, the top two in the money rankings each year for that grade can be promoted (one in case of 6-dan), and there are some regulations that govern carry-over of previous results.
Separately, but still on the theme of go getting a bad press in Japan lately (no fault of go itself, mind you), the post-match commentary Ricoh Pairs final was disrupted by a racist old man in the front row who made a comment politely rendered as "a foreigner won" in the hearing of co-winner (with Inori) Cho Chikun. Cho blew up and pointed out he'd lived in Japan 40 years and could do without comments like that. With the 1,000-strong audience shocked into silence, ushers tried to remove the old man but he wouldn't budge. Eventually Cho told the ushers to desist as that would only make things worse. Racism is not new in Japanese go, of course. Go Seigen was a victim. But it seems indiscriminate. O Rissei seems to be another victim but Rin Kaiho is adored.
Andrew Grant The Nihon Kiin web site mentions another way to get promotion under the new system, namely by winning the most prize money of anyone at your existing grade in a year. So you could gain promotion by getting a long way in the preliminaries of a few tournaments, even if you didn't win any of them or get into a league.
Charles Matthews Ah, that'll reintroduce a bit of inflation, won't it? Given the trajectory of many pros' careers, which is to have five good years (or so) hacking it in the tournaments, it would mean a number of players shooting up quickly from lowly positions. No bad thing, I suppose: meritocratic and all that. But a bit random, too; certainly compared with the painstaking grind of the old system.
John Fairbairn I can't remember the details but there is some restriction on the prize money way of going up (e.g. it only applies of there's no promotion by the other routes). And as I already mentioned above, it only applies to the lower grades.
BobMcGuigan Will the new Nihon Ki-in promotion rules apply to Yamashita Keigo? He did win the Kisei title but I thought the new rules go into effect in April of 2003. Would Yamashita be promoted ex post facto? (Added April 2, 2003: Yamashita and Ryu Shikun have both been promoted to 9-Dan on the basis of winning major titles even though in both cases it was before the change in promotion rules.)
I wonder whether the new promotion rules will create in Japan a situation similar to that which has prevailed in Korea for some time, namely the difficulty of promotion may create a lot of very strong 3-Dans, stronger than some of the "old" 9-Dans.
anonymous: If Oteai is now scrapped, do the professionals still play regularly (the pro games)? And if so, is there a set schedule for them? As far as I know, there used to be aschedule that would say, i.e. Thursdays, 4-dans play 1-3 PM. or Fridays, 6-dans play 8-11 PM. And the players would be matched up and sent the monthly schedule. Is a schedule like this still in effect?
These were not involved in the Oteai games that occurred annually, right? So what were they for exactly? Also, are there any examples of the schedule? A real one I could have access to?