Sensei's Gazette

    Keywords: Culture & History, Tournament

Welcome to the Sensei's Gazette. I am an amateur 5 dan player who loves keeping up with the exciting world of professional go. The goal of this page is to allow me to talk about my favourite professional players, and share any interesting anecdotes from the world of professional go with Sensei's Library. Please leave a note on Sensei's Library if you find any of the information provided here to be inaccurate. I also apologize that some of the information here is not credited, but in general, the information is researched and then translated by myself from Chinese or Japanese news sources into English. Some sources, although not comprehensive, include the TOM newscasts, the Zhongguo Qiyuan and Nihon Kiin websites, and various magazines from Go World, to Kido Yearbook, to Weiqi Tiandi. I also use [ext] Mr. Kin's Go News website extensively for research, so many thanks to the creators of that wonderful source of game records and results.

Table of contents
Table of diagrams
Apollo Fuseki
Strange Slant Fuseki
Kada Katsuji: Do we always play on the point of symmetry? (Go World 60)
Kada Katsuji: A couple difficult problems composed in 1992.
Cho U: Tsumego from the heart.
Index of sub-pages

Unofficial World Ranking of Professional Players (2013)

Have updated my points list, and the latest unofficial world ranking I have now is as below. Tournaments included are: Ing Cup, LG Cup, Samsung Cup, Chunlan Cup, Fujitsu Cup, BC Card Cup, MLILY Cup, Bailing Cup, and the Asian TV Cup. Different from previously, I have decided to give equal weightage to the Asian TV Cup, which may have skewed the ratings slightly. Not sure how this compares to Dr Taeil's rating system, but this simple scoring is just based solely on results in international tournaments, and a lot of weight is given to actually winning a world title. Dr Taeil's rating is clearly more robust, but I like celebrating the tournament winners.

Lee Sedol is still at the top of the pack after so many years, and I feel his ability to win the key matches still makes him the player to beat. Tournaments from 2014 have not been factored in. I will wait till the end of the year.

2013 (Results from 2011 to 2013)

1. Lee Sedol 9p (Winner: 17th Samsung, 8th Chunlan, 3rd B C Card) Born 3/2/83. Nothing much to comment. Still utterly dominating as mentioned before. Looking forward to the remainder of his jubango with Gu Li. Surprisingly, rated 3rd in Korea behind Park Junghwan and Kim Jiseok with 9755 points. Was once the youngest 9p in the world after winning everything in 2003, aged 21.

2. Park Junghwan 9p (Winner:24th Fujitsu) Born 1/11/93. While junior to a lot of the players on this list, he certainly is not junior to anyone in strength anymore. The fact that Park Junghwan is also No.2 on Dr Taeil's world rating probably attests to the fact that he deserves to be in this spot. Not only did he win the 24th Fujitsu, he was runner-up in the last Asian TV and Ing Cup too. He is also the current Korean Chunwon. Currently the top-ranked player in KBA ratings with 9907 points, 27-9 this year so far in Korea. He is also a very young 9p, taking only 5 years to go from 1p to 9p aged 17, however, not as young has Chen Yaoye or Fan Tingyu on promotion I believe.

3. Gu Li 9p Born 2/3/83. 9p in 2006. Its often been pointed out that Gu Li is born 2/3/83 and Lee Sedol is born 3/2/83. Its great that they have a even record before the start of their jubango (18 wins for Lee Sedol, 17 wins for Gu Li, and 1 tie game...if I recall correctly). Probably one of the greatest rivalries of the game ever, and I cannot even remember how many international titles they have won between the two of them. Currently 3rd in China behind Shi Yue and Chen Yaoye with 2662 points. Surprisingly no international titles for Gu Li in 3 years, but the fact that he came runner-up 4 times still attests to his strength. Game 6 soon to come...7th on Dr Taeil's list. I used to see Gu Li and Kong Jie as the two-headed eagle of Chinese go, but Gu Li seems to have emerged the bigger head.

4. Baek Hongsuk 9p (Winner: 4th B C Card, 24th Asian TV) Born 7/2/86. Currently rated 7th in Korea with 9541 points. His stellar international performance in 2012 has earned him this spot. Was promoted to 9p in 2012 for his B C Card and Asian TV performances. His performance at home has not been as consistent, and his no. 4 spot here is probably heavily influenced by his good hayago results, but he is still a deserving world champion. 22nd on Dr Taeil's last list.

5. Chen Yaoye 9p (Winner: 9th Chunlan) Born 12/16/89. 2nd in Chinese ratings behind Shi Yue with 2674 points, as well as the reigning Chinese Mingren and Tianyuan, which he has dominated for a number of years. Once upon a time the youngest 9p in the world, only to have his record shattered by Fan Tingyu recently. Still remember watching him lay waste to KGS players. Yes, he likes territory, and no, it doesn't bother him. Was promoted to 9p after reaching the finals of the LG and the Asian TV Cup. Number 4 on Dr. Taeil's list, even ahead of Gu Li. Choi Cheolhan obviously believes he is the strongest player in China, having had a dismal record against him in recent years. On the other hand, Kong Jie probably has the one style that bothers Chen Yaoye the most. A darn confident player. Despite being so young, he was already on my 2007 list.

6. Kong Jie 9p (Winner: 23rd Asian TV) Born 11/15/82. Promoted to 9p later than Gu Li in 2009. From 2009 to 2011 was a period of Kong Jie dominance where he won the LG and Samsung Cup, along with 3 consecutive Asian TV Cups. 8th on Dr Taeil's list and currently only 27th on the Chinese rating list with 2529 points, largely due to the influx of really strong players born after 1990. In the early days, always thought Kong Jie would dominate in China and abroad, but Gu Li took the helm in his stead. It seems he has come into his element in recent years, looking forward to more great games from him.

7. Zhou Ruiyang 9p (Winner:1st Bailing) Born 3/8/91. One of the players born after 1990 who have taken down a world championship. Was probably the strongest 5p in the world before he gained promotion to 9p for winning the 1st Bailing. The current Chinese Qisheng and rated 5th in China with 2652 points, just behind the new world champion Mi Yuting. 10th in the world on Dr Taeil's rating list. 17-13 in China thus far.

8. Jiang Weijie 9p (Winner: 16th LG) Promoted to 9p for winning the LG Cup by defeating Lee Changho. Rated 11th in China just behind Fan Tingyu with 2606 points and 9th on Dr Taeil's list, truly an up-and-coming Chinese star. I truly believe he will dominate the Chinese go scene in future, but there sure are a lot of other new stars in China. 24-11 in China this year.

9. Won Sungjin 9p (Winner: 16th Samsung) Born 7/5/85. Rated 8th in Korea with 9538 points behind Baek Hongsuk, and 14th on Dr. Taeil's world rating. A really strong fighter and always one of my favorite players to watch play. Has been consistently at the top since 2002-2003 I feel. Promoted to 9p in 2007, but I am glad to see that he finally won a world title.

10. Iyama Yuta 9p (Winner: 25th Asian TV) Born 5/24/88. This is Iyama Yuta Kisei Meijin Honinbo Oza Tengen Gosei. And until recently he was the Judan too. The only Japanese player on this list, and it has been a while since a Japanese player is anywhere near the top 10 of a world ranking. Iyama Yuta is the only Japanese player with a decent international performance in recent years, winning the 25th Asian TV Cup by beating Park Junghwan, Wang Xi and Lee Changho. He also reached the semifinal of the 24th Fujitsu, defeating Choi Cheolhan and Gu Li along the way. His recent record in Japan is just too staggering to account for. Dr Taeil puts him on the 21st spot, and he is the highest rated Japanese player on that list too, and in fact, he is the only Japanese player in the top 30. He was the youngest Meijin ever in Japanese history, and thus the youngest player promoted to 9p in Japan.

11. Shi Yue 9p (Winner: 17th LG) Currently the top rated player in China with 2779 points. 16th in the world on Dr Taeil's list. I used to be impressed that he could hold his own against Chang Hao, but now I think I would be impressed with Chang Hao if he could hold his own against Shi Yue. 26-11 in China as of today (Jul 2014), having one of the best win rates thus far.

12. Tuo Jiaxi 9p (Winner: 18th LG) Rated 6th in China with 2623 points. Another player with frightening strength. Uncle makes no flashy moves, but somehow maintains a very high winning percentage. It was only going to be a matter of time before he broke through, and now he is a new 9p.

13. Xie He 9p 21st in Chinese ratings but an emphatic 3rd on Dr Taeil's list. Previously the single most feared player by Korean professionals, but it seems many players have joined that list. Promoted to 9p by special provisions due to outstanding performance in the 2012 Nongshim Cup where he defeated Kim Jiseok, Won Sungjin and Lee Changho in succession.

14. Tang Weixing 9p(Winner: 18th Samsung) Tied 6th in China with Tuo Jiaxi. Not even in Dr. Taeil's top 30 from 2011-2012 since all his accomplishments came more recently. He held his own against Lee Sedol in the 18th Samsung finals, played calmly and eventually took the title. No small feat for Win rate this year 20-11.

15. Fan Tingyu 9p (Winner: 7th Ing) Rated 10th in China with 2607, 12th on Dr Taeil's list. The youngest player to be promoted to 9p ever at age 16. 19-11 for 2014 so far.

16. Mi Yuting 9p (Winner: 1st MLILY) Rated 4th in China with a rating of 2659 just behind Gu Li. 20-10 in China this year.

17. Lee Changho 9p Born 7/29/75. 9p in 1996. A legend that needs no introduction. The oldest player on this list without a doubt, and its incredible that he is still on it. Currently 23rd on the Korean rating list after dropping 3 spots. He has not won any international titles in the last 3 years, but still managed to reach the finals of the 16th LG before losing to Jiang Weijie, who I think will be the future Chinese no. 1. I hope to see Lee Changho here for many years yet! He is now 28th on Dr. Taeil's list.

18. Choi Cheolhan 9p Born 3/12/85. Promoted to 9p in 2004. A frightfully strong player that also has been at the top for the last decade. Was a previous Ing Cup winner, now still going strong and rated 4th in Korea with 9647 points, and the reigning Korean Myeongjin. 13th on Dr Taeil's world rating.

19. Qiu Jun 9p 15th in the Chinese rating list, 19th on Dr Taeil's world ranking.

20. Kim Jiseok 9p Born 6/13/1989. Was promoted to 9p after defeating Lee Sedol in a 3:0 shutdown in the 2013 GS Caltex Cup. A consistent performer in the international scene who has just fallen short of becoming world champion. 20-8 so far this year, he is still in good form. Currently has the second highest rating in Korea with 9876 points. As expected, on Dr Taeil's list at 15. His bane, probably Gu Li, who he has a real tough time with.

Unofficial World Ranking of Professional Players (2005 to 2007)

In light of the absence of an official world ranking, I have come up with a unofficial ranking of professionals by scoring their performance in various international world championships. Tournaments included are: Samsung Cup, LG Cup, Ing Cup, Chunlan Cup, Toyota Denso Cup, and the Fujitsu Cup, and to a lesser extent, the Asian TV Cup. For my latest calculations shown here, I have excluded the Zhonghuan / JP Morgan Cup in the overall ranking.

2007 (results from 2005-2007)

  1. Lee Sedol
  2. Lee Changho
  3. Chang Hao
  4. Gu Li
  5. Cho U
  6. Choi Cheolhan
  7. Zhou Heyang
  8. Park Younghoon
  9. Park Jungsang
  10. Zhou Junxun
  11. Hu Yaoyu
  12. Yu Bin
  13. Luo Xihe
  14. Cho Hansung
  15. Chen Yaoye
  16. Peng Quan
  17. Wang Xi
  18. Yoo Changhyuk
  19. Kong Jie
  20. Song Taekon

2006 (results from 2004-2006)

  1. Lee Sedol (Winner: 9th Samsung, 18th Fujitsu, 2nd Toyota Denso)
  2. Lee Changho (Winner: 8th LG, 5th Chunlan)
  3. Choi Cheolhan (Winner: 2nd Zhonghuan)
  4. Park Younghoon (Winner: 1st Zhonghuan, 17th Fujitsu)
  5. Cho U (Winner: 9th LG,17th Asia TV)
  6. Chang Hao (Winner: 5th Ing)
  7. Zhou Heyang
  8. Gu Li (Winner: 10th LG)
  9. Song Taekon
  10. Yu Bin (Winner: 16th Asia TV)
  11. Yoo Changhyuk
  12. Cho Chikun (Winner: 8th Samsung)
  13. Park Jungsang (Winner: 19th Fujitsu)
  14. Wang Xi (Winner: 18th Asia TV)
  15. Luo Xihe (Winner: 10th Samsung)
  16. Yoda Norimoto
  17. Cho Hansung
  18. Kong Jie
  19. Hu Yaoyu
  20. Hane Naoki

2005 (results from 2003-2005)

  1. Lee Changho (Winner: 1st Toyota Denso, 4th Chunlan, 8th LG, 5th Chunlan)
  2. Lee Sedol (Winner:7th LG, 16th Fujitsu, 9th Samsung, 18th Fujitsu, 2nd Toyota Denso)
  3. Chang Hao (Winner:5th Ing)
  4. Park Younghoon (Winner: 1st Zhonghuan, 17th Fujitsu)
  5. Choi Cheolhan (Winner: 2nd Zhonghuan)
  6. Cho U (Winner: 9th LG, 17th Asia TV)
  7. Song Taekon
  8. Zhou Heyang (Winner: 15th Asia TV)
  9. Yu Bin (Winner: 16th Asia TV)
  10. Yoo Changhyuk
  11. Cho Hunhyun (Winner: 7th Samsung)
  12. Cho Chikun (Winner: 8th Samsung)
  13. Wang Lei
  14. Yoda Norimoto
  15. Cho Hansung
  16. Hane Naoki
  17. O Rissei
  18. Gu Li
  19. O Meien
  20. Kong Jie

Yamashita Keigo 9p (2007)

In the last few years, there has been a lot of attention on the playing style of Yamashita Keigo 9p. His unique playing style has garnered him many fans in Japan and around the world. His somewhat unorthodox use of gonogo, tengen and mokuhazushi have captured the imagination of many amateurs. He seems to favor the chinese fuseki/sanrensei and jabberwocks, and often manages to use his moyo to attack the board effectively. In recent years, he seems to have moved away from the center-oriented plays, but he is still achieving a high rate of success in the Japanese pro scene. As of 2007, he still holds the Kisei title, the most important title in Japan.

The most well-known game was probably the one he played with Takao Shinji in the Shin'ei finals in 2000. The game was made even more famous by references in HnG (refer to strangeproopening3). I have collected some Yamashita Keigo games that I have found to be exciting in one way or another, and have listed them here. They are good study material, so interested parties should look the games up.

  1. Oza-sen Finals Game 3 2006-11-30 Yamashita Keigo (B) vs Cho U B+R
  2. Tengen-sen Finals Game 3 2006-11-20 Kono Rin (B) vs Yamashita Keigo B+R
  3. Oza-sen Finals Game 2 2006-11-16 Cho U (B) vs Yamashita Keigo W+1.5
  4. Meijin-sen League Match 2006-07-06 Yamashita Keigo (B) vs Imamura Toshiya B+R
  5. Fujitsu Cup Round 1 2006-04-08 Cho Hanseung (B) vs Yamashita Keigo W+R
  6. Kisei-sen Finals Game 3 2006-02-08 Yamashita Keigo (B) vs Hane Naoki B+1.5
  7. Tengen-sen Finals Game 3 2004-11-26 Hane Naoki (B) vs Yamashita Keigo W+R
  8. Oza-sen Challenger Finals 2004-08-30 Yoda Norimoto (B) vs Yamashita Keigo W+R
  9. Ing Cup Round 2004-04-20 Gu Li (B) vs Yamashita Keigo W+1.0
  10. Toyota-Denso World Oza Round 1 2002-03-19 Park Younghoon (B) vs Yamashita Keigo W+R
  11. Gosei-sen Finals Game 2 2001-07-19 Yamashita Keigo (B) vs Kobayashi Koichi B+17.5
  12. Gosei-sen Finals Game 2 2000-07-13 Yamashita Keigo (B) vs Kobayashi Koichi B+R
  13. Gosei-sen Finals Game 4 2000-08-23 Yamashita Keigo (B) vs Kobayashi Koichi W+1.5
  14. Gosei-sen Preliminary Tournament 2000-06-01 Yamashita Keigo (B) vs Kataoka Satoshi B+R
  15. Shinei Finals 2000-03-19 Takao Shinji (B) vs Yamashita Keigo W+R
  16. Tengen-sen Prelims 2000-01-27 Yamashita Keigo (B) vs Otake Hideo B+R
  17. Shinjin-O Finals Game 2 1999-10-04 Hane Naoki (B) vs Yamashita Keigo W+R
  18. Shinjin-O Semifinals 1999-07-26 Kim Sujun (B) vs Yamashita Keigo W+R

Gan Siyang 3p (2007)

For those interested in unique opening styles, you can check out the games of Gan Siyang 3p, who can often be found playing on TOM weiqi server. In recent years, he has used 6-4 (ootakamoku) almost exclusively, and his unique style has also garnered him many fans and supporters. In the 2005 Chinese City B League, he played 6-4 in every game, and he estimates that he opens with 2 6-4 points in about 60% of his games. In the 2007 Chinese Rank Promotion Tournament, Gan Siyang opened almost exclusively at the 8-8 point, as both black and white.

He hopes that his opening ideas will become mainstream in time to come. Chinese fans have given his openings rather interesting names, a few examples of which are given below. You can also find some of his games at [ext]

Apollo Fuseki  

This was named for the Apollo space program for its cosmic nature. Gan relates it to playing cosmic sanrensei.

Strange Slant Fuseki  

This is related to Go Seigen's concept of ideal sanrensei and the sanseiren opening Go Seigen played during the [ext] game of the century, according to Gan 3p.

The Art of Composing Tsumego and Famous Artists (2007)

Tsumego, like chess problems, can often be exquisite works of art. Looking at some of the masterpieces presented in the classic problem collections like the igo hatsuyoron, the gokyo shumyo, the gengen gokyo, or the kanzufu, it is apparent that some problems must have taken a long time to compose, and bear variations that are mind-blowingly complex. While professionals are adept at solving tsumego, only a few professionals have developed a reputation for being experts at tsumego composition.

It is usually mind-boggling to amateurs how one goes about composing go problems. In the Go Q&A Room on IGS Pandanet [ext], Suzuki Ayumi 3p gives three common methods she employs:

  1. Take positions from actual games
  2. Randomly scatter some stones on a goban
  3. Sequences that occur to you in play

She does mention that methods two and three are indeed quite difficult.

In the last century, three Japanese professionals gained reknown as tsumego composers, namely Kada Katsuji 9p, also known as Tsumego no Kamisama (the god of life and death), Maeda Nobuaki 9p, and Hashimoto Utaro 9p. In addition, Go Seigen 9p is also known to be a very accomplished creator of tsumego.

Kada Katsuji 9p

Kada Katsuji was aptly named the god of life and death. Go World 1990 No. 60 highlighted a couple of Kada sensei's problems (presented below), and had this to say: "Rather than spinning out variations ad infinitum on the standard problems, which is how a lot of problem composers fill their quotas, he is noted for the originality and ingenuity of the problems he creates. The drawback is that they are sometimes quite difficult to work out, though the solutions are always elegant and convincing." His problems have been known to stump even top professionals. Shown below is a sample of four tsumego composed by Kada Katsuji. Feel free to wrack your brains out. All are white to play (problem 3 has colours inverted from the original problem to make this the case).

Kada Katsuji: Do we always play on the point of symmetry? (Go World 60)  
Kada Katsuji: A couple difficult problems composed in 1992.  

Cho U 9p

Among contemporary players in Japan, Cho U 9p has shown an uncanny talent for creating original life and death problems. His latest book, Cho U's Tsumego, is an exhibition of his craft. More information on the book can also be found at [ext] His autograph is often accompanied by one of his tiny tsumego. He specializes in small tsumego that require very few stones, but substantial hair pulling to solve. It is rumoured that he is quite obsessed,and has to compose a new tsumego daily.

Here are a few amusing anecdotes about Cho U concerning life and death problems. Legend has it that Zhou Junxun 9p was unable to solve a particularly difficult tsumego despite substantial effort, and wasted no time in seeking help from tsumego expert Cho U himself. Cho solved it instantaneously, much to Zhou's dismay. What he did not suspect was that this particular problem was actually one of Cho U's proud creations.

Cho Chikun 9p is a formidable life and death aficionado, writer of an incredible life and death encyclopedia. He is well-known as an expert in amashi and shinogi. Just like Cho U, he seems to be able to make life under the most adverse conditions. In Cho U, Cho Chikun has found a worthy adversary. At a ceremony during the 5th Chunlan Cup, Cho Chikun pulled out his latest tsumego creation as a test for the various experts present. When Cho U's eyes fell on the problem, he whispered to Hane Naoki 9p who was standing right next to him, "This problem does not look too hard!" At which Hane exclaimed, "I knew you were going to say that!"

The gauntlet was thrown. On the flight back to Japan, Cho Chikun challenged Cho U to a contest in tsumego composition. In a short time, Cho Chikun presented an original tsumego to Cho U, who promptly solved it and even pointed out some small refutations. The elder Cho immediately snatched the kifu back, and set about correcting his problem. He tidied up his problem in short order, and was soon fast asleep. Cho U did not expect Cho Chikun to take the contest so seriously, and started to panic. His mind blanked and was unable to get any inspiration. Fortunately, he was able to draw on his wealth of experience, and came up with a tsumego before the plane landed. Cho Chikun looked at the problem and concluded,"From the standpoint of content, it seems that I should lose. However, I composed my problem in a much shorter time, so I get bonus points. Let's call it a draw."

It is said that in courting his future wife, Kobayashi Izumi, Cho U presented her with a couple of tsumego on her birthday. The two tsumego cleverly represented the two characters in Kobayashi Izumi's given name. Cho U's teacher and grand-teacher, Rin Kaiho and Go Seigen respectively, could only be impressed with such a unique method of courtship.

His expertise in life and death translates into his play, and his groups have often been described as "charmed" and are almost impossible to kill. A few games that illustrate his life and death prowess are listed below:

  1. Meijin-sen Finals Game 2 2005-09-22 Kobayashi Satoru (B) vs Cho U W+6.5 (Dragons are really hard to kill!)
  2. Honinbo-sen Finals Game 1 2005-05-09 Cho U (B) vs Takao Shinji W+R (He lived in the most unlikely of places but eventually lost the game.)
  3. Honinbo-sen League 2002-12-02 Cho Chikun (B) vs Cho U W+R [ext] game is one of my personal favourites. It terminates in an incredibly complicated life and death problem. Cho U proves that he is just as good at killing as he is at living, and killing Cho Chikun is no small feat! A very detailed explanation of the life and death problem at the end of the game can be found in stonebase under the collection of Cho U's games.)

Shown below are a couple of famous tsumego composed by Cho U. Black to play.

Cho U: Tsumego from the heart.  

Youngest Players to be Promoted to 9 Dan Professional and Professional Promotion Systems (2008)

On 13th June 2007, Chen Yaoye of China defeated Choi Cheolhan 9p of Korea in the semifinals of the 19th Asia TV Cup by 6.5 to earn a place in the finals against Lee Sedol 9p. Having been a finalist twice in major international competition, Chen earned automatic promotion to 9p according to the rules laid out by the Zhongguo Qiyuan. This makes him the youngest 9p in history, acheiving this amazing feat at the tender age of 17 years 5 months and 28 days, smashing the previous record held by Ma Xiaochun 9p who was promoted to 9p at the age of 19 years 3 months and 3 days. Chen Yaoye is the 27th Chinese professional to be promoted to 9p.

The youngest player to be promoted to 9p from Korea is Park Younghoon 9p at the age of 19 years 3 months and 4 days. A more recent promotion to 9p in Korea was Kang Dongyun at the end of 2008, also aged 19, but he fell shy of breaking Park's record. The youngest player to be promoted to 9p from Japan is Cho U 9p at the age of 23 years 5 months and 21 days. It seems that this record is likely to be broken by Iyama Yuta, who is still in his teens and is already 8p. Recent promotions credited to the new promotion rules in China and Korea include Wang Xi 9p, who was promoted for winning the Asia TV Cup in 2006 at the age of 22 years 7 months and 2 days and Park Jungsang 9p for winning the Fujitsu Cup in 2006 at the age of 21 years 10 months 10 days. One of the fastest promotions in history was that of Lee Sedol, who in 2003, captured the LG Cup title and Fujitsu Cup title, and was a finalist in the Korean KT Cup, earning a promotion from 3p to 9p in the short time span of 4 months. It should also be noted that if the current promotion rules in Korea applied, Lee Changho would have been promoted to 9p at the age of 15 for winning oodles of local titles in Korea. If he was subject to the current promotion rules in China, he would still have been promoted to 9p at the age of 16 for winning the Tongyang Securities Cup in 1992. However in reality, Lee Changho was only promoted to 9p at the age of 21.

Comparing the path to 9p in the 3 countries, it can be said that Korea has the most stringent promotion criteria. There is no mechanism to be promoted directly to 9p in Korea. Winning a major international title merits a promotion of 3 ranks, and being a finalist only merits a promotion of 1 rank. (Following these rules, Wang Xi would now only be 8p and Chen Yaoye would only be 7p). Winning one of the three major Korean titles merits a promotion of 2 ranks. Another means of promotion is to maintain a rather high win rate in games against other professionals, which is more stringent than in other countries.

Promotion in Japan is probably the easiest, winning one of the three major national titles (Kisei, Meijin, Honinbo) or winning a major international title merits an automatic promotion to 9p. Challengers for the three major titles and finalists in major international titles merit promotion to 8p. Winning one of the remaining four major national titles (Judan, Tengen, Oza, Gosei) merit promotion to 8p and challenging for them merit promotion to 7p. Retaining one of these titles for two consecutive years, such as recently acheived by Kono Rin 9p for keeping his Tengen title two years in a row, also merits promotion to 9p. Furthermore, it is also possible to get promoted by having the highest win rate or the highest tournament winnings (prize money) for the year in each rank class.

The Chinese promotion system is the only one of the three that still retains a rank promotion tournament (like the Japanese Ooteai of old). Since there is still a rank promotion tournament, it is not possible to gain promotion through win rate like is the case in Japan and Korea. Since many Chinese professionals no longer participate in the promotion tournament, the "easiest" way to attain 9p rank is to be a winner or finalist in major international tournaments (winning or becoming a finalist twice merits promotion to 9p). The most recent player to be promoted to 9p is Ding Wei in 2007 via the Chinese promotion tournament. Ding Wei said it is becoming increasingly harder to promote, as many high dan Chinese professionals no longer play in this tournament. The primary deterrent being the lack of monetary incentive for doing well in this tournament, and the risk of losing rating points. In the Chinese professional go world, it seems that rating has become more important than rank. In fact, as an indicator as to how unpopular this tournament has become, in the 2007 rank promotion tournament, only 2 Chinese 8ps participated, Ding Wei and Qiu Jun. Ding Wei had been promoting pretty steadily at a pace of 1 rank a year since he turned professional, but it took him from 2001 to 2007 to get enough promotion points to move from 8p to 9p. In 2008, no 8ps took part in the Chinese promotional tournament, a rather dismal state of affairs.

A Brief Summary of Formal Promotion Systems in Professional Guilds

| SYSTEM         | IT  | NT  | WR  | AI  | RP  | PT  |
| China          | Yes | No  | No  | No  | No  | Yes |
| Korea          | Yes | Yes | Yes | No  | Yes | No  |
| Japan          | Yes | Yes | Yes | Yes | No  | No  |
| Chinese Taipei | Yes | Yes | Yes | No  | No  | No  |

IT = Performance in International Tournaments

NT = Performance in National Tournaments

WR = Annual Win Rate/Games Won

AI = Annual Tournament Income

RP = Rating Points

PT = Promotion Tournament

This is a very simple comparison table. An indication of "Yes" means that it is possible to promote by the means described above, and an indication of "No" means that it is not possible to promote by the means described. Note that the rules determining each means varies from country to country (some of which has already been explained above). It is also important to note that while some systems such as Rating Points are not used for professional dan promotion in China, Rating Points in China are used for many purposes, including national rankings and selection for international tournaments, and are highly regarded.

See also Nihon Ki-in new promotion system, and Professional promotion tournaments.

Updates: Iyama Yuta has indeed been promoted to 9p after winning the Meijin title in 2009 at the age of 20 years 4 months. Park Junghwan is now the youngest Korean player to be promoted to 9p at 17 years 11 months.

Lee Sedol and Gu Li, a head-to-head analysis (2012)

One of the most exciting rivalries of our time, and in recent years, both players have put in a pretty good bid to being the strongest player in the world. Their most recent encounter was during the 3rd B C Card Cup Finals. Prior to this encounter, they had met a total of 22 times, and had won 11 games each. Of the games that Lee Sedol lost, 9 games were lost to Gu Li taking white. Gu Li and Lee Sedol also won the 1st and 2nd installments of the B C Card Cup respectively, making this finals even more exciting. In terms of world titles won, Lee Sedol has the better record, 15 titles to Gu Li's 7 titles. Lee Sedol eventually defeated Gu Li 3-2 in the best of 5 finals.

Sensei's Gazette last edited by on October 3, 2014 - 03:35
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