Tickling shodan

    Keywords: Humour

Tickling shodan is a fuzzy rank which describes someone who is almost shodan, such that they have on a few occasions beaten bona-fide shodans - sometimes handily. But the tickling shodan state is one where the individual is likely never to reach shodan, for various reasons, like a lack of intelligence, lack of desire to study, or an excessively strong desire to reach an idealized perceptual goal. The idealized anticipation of reaching a static (yet illusory) goal is often the result of a character failing, and therefore not necessarily related to Go.

Many who call themselves shodan are in fact lying - they may be tickling shodan - i.e. range from 8 kyu to 1k. Some who tickle shodan rank may in fact be stronger than the average international shodan for a short while, before realizing that they have made the leap into the dan ranks - which quickly causes a loss of purpose (since the desired goal is reached) and interest in Go instantly wanes, which may cause them to go back to playing something like chess, or they will sink back into the kyu ranks again.

A shodan tickler's rank is always in a state of hyperflux, and useless for statistical analysis. Shodan tickler's can often beat legitimate shodans, but instead of rising to shodan themselves, they will remain 2-1k, and the bonafide shodan is generally left with some explaining to do.

Eratos: I used to dabble in the martial arts, and the 'problem' is evident there too - by far the highest drop out rate from any martial art is after obtaining that elusive black belt. I got mine about a year ago, and haven't trained seriously since then. That's just the way it goes I guess! However, is there really any need for this artificial distinction between kyu and dan grades? Apart from the Japanese cultural influence, why not rename 30th kyu to 1st grade, making 1st kyu the new 30th grade, and 1st dan 31st grade, etc. In fact, why give grades like this at all, just call them rating points, so the phrase, "I'm a 1st kyu" becomes "I've got 30 rating points".

  • on the other hand, maybe if there was not such thing as "shodan" or "black belt", people would drop out in dribbles much earlier, with the same or greater net loss

anon: I think there is a real distinction between kyu and dan. I noticed that as I approached and broke through the dan barrier, there was an attainment of a deeper understanding of and connection between what had previously felt like distinct ideas. That is, for me, as I hit shodan, the individual concepts I'd been studying all allong coalesced and I felt a new synergy in my thinking. Sounds like a bunch of hoey when I write it down, but I really did notice a difference. Thus, for me, shodan is more than 1 stronger than 1 kyu. Becoming a "master" is more than getting just a bit better. Suddenly, the parts work together to make more than the sum of them individually. This may just be my personal experience.

Hu: Some rating systems do have that kind of effect (removing the distinction of crossing the shodan barrier), but you are unlikely to eliminate the dan / kyu distinction any more than you are unlikely to eliminate the black belt distinction. You are urged to study the existing rating systems.

I have not heard this phrase, tickling shodan. It has some intuitive appeal, but I feel there may be other phrases that might be even more intuitive or more immediately obvious.

Matt Noonan: The KiwiGo folks once web-published some informal statistics on how long people get stuck at various ranks. There was the expected sticking points of 8k, 4k, and a deep one at 1k. The authors made the proposal that shodan is where it is because of this deep sticking point. Seems plausible to me!

JohnAspinall: Perhaps you're referring to [ext] these stats which I mentioned in BottleneckTheories.

Neil: Plausible, yes, but in need of testing. If the deep sticking point still existed in a group of players that didn't revere that rating point, only then would we know for sure whether the prestige caused the sticking point or the other way around.

ChrisSchack: Given that some rating systems are stronger than others, you might be able to compare the "sticking" points in each of them ... this might show what's due to prestige and what isn't.

Bill: It is rather more plausible that the sticking point at 1 kyu is a psychological phenomenon caused by shodan shyness instead of shodan gravitating to just above the plateau. Especially as amateur shodans got weaker over time in the 20th century, and arguably are still getting weaker in Japan. The book, "Breakthrough to shodan" is now more like "Breakthrough to 3 dan".

Malweth: Shouldn't this page have the keyword "Humour?" (I did it) In any case, although Shodan is the goal for many, I view it as the next step in the journey for higher strength. In this case, once the Shodan Tickler finds out they've reached Shodan and realizes that the work to gain a rank suddenly doubles (or more), they give up and leave. In this case it isn't simply because they've reached their goal, but also because further goals require 100 times the effort of their previous goal.

8 kyu, hm? I guess that at 9k I'm tickling Shodan-tickling...

Klay: This page seems ridiculous. All the rank of shodan means is that someone who is a shodan will win against another shodan 50% of the time. a 1 or 2k beating a shodan is just as natural a part of the probabilities that determine ranks as is winning. Now, if the 2k or 1k beats the shodan 20 times in a row, then it's probably time for some serious reconsideration of either the person claiming the shodan rank or the person claiming the kyu rank.

I guess I can't see why getting close to shodan makes your rank somehow "useless for statistical analysis" or makes your rank somehow more changable than others. Statistical analysis is all a rank is! Being a "bonafide" shodan is an arbitrary distinction, nothing more. There's certainly no guaranteed move that you can point to and say "that makes me shodan, and you an X kyu."

Harpreet: I second the comments above. Not every possible term that can be coined is useful or needs its own page. Proofread your thoughts for content.

Kjeld Petersen: In Denmark use a formular to calculate the expected winning percent. We use a normal distribution N( x ; 0 ; 3.568 ). Ranking is calculated with 2 decimals. A Shodan would have a ranking between -0.50 and 0.49. The average Shodan would be 0.00. The winning percent for a Shodan aganst an average 1k is N( 0.00 - -1.00 ; 0 ; 3.568 ) = 63 %. The winning percent for a Shodan aganst an average 2k is N( 0.00 - -2.00 ; 0 ; 3.568 ) = 71 %. For more description se the Danish Rating System.

Blake: I'm a tad annoyed at some of this page, along with some other portions of go culture. "the tickling shodan state is one where the individual is likely never to reach shodan, for various reasons, like a lack of intelligence, lack of desire to study, or an excessively strong desire to reach an idealized perceptual goal." Why is the failure to progress at go seen in such a quasi-moralistic sense by so many people? I've been a double digit kyu for ages, and it's hardly because I'm stupid or don't study, but rather because of prioritization. Go comes after my obligations and some of my other hobbies...

Pierre?: I don't think it's on purpose Blake, but I will agree it comes off as quite condescending. I don't agree with the lack of intelligence comment and would remove it from the article. I have met the type of player the article is describing, but I would recommend a better formulation for it. As for the seperation between kyu and dan, I would say that there clearly exists a difference between 1k and 1dan, however this is more because of a significant bottleneck (see Bottleneck Theories ) that occurs around there.

Anon: To some extend I have to agree with Blake. Some of this page is a bit offending.

For some people, obtaining a certain proficiency in an activity is a goal in itself. From my own life, I can name the following:

- Attained 6th degree (out of 6) in playing a musical instrument. After the 6th degree, you would need to go to a conservatory (music school), which is a 4 year full time study to progress further; if you do so, you normally become a professional. I did not want that, so I just maintain my current proficiency and play as a hobby.

- I hold a Shodan in Judo and Hapkido. Graduating for the second and further dans will take more time for each grade: 2 years for the second, 3 years for the third, 4 years for the fourth, and so on, and requires going to more and more traineeships and such, for which I do not have the time. Therefore I picked up Taekwondo, and maintain my skill at Judo and Hapkido at Shodan level. Maybe one day I will train for another grade in Hapkido but I don't know yet.

- In Chess, the division between classes is often made as follows:

  • Under 1200 ELO: Beginner
  • 1200-1400 ELO: Weak club player
  • 1400-1600 ELO: Intermediate club player
  • 1600-1800 ELO: Strong club player
  • 1800-2400 ELO: Expert amateur/club player
  • 2400+: international master, grandmaster (professionals)

I think the above list can be roughly compared to the following in Go:

  • Under 1200 ELO: 30th to about 15th kyu
  • 1200-1800 ELO: about 15th to 1st kyu
  • 1800-2400 ELO: 1d to 7d amateurs
  • 2400+ ELO: 1p to 9p professional players

(Side node: ELO ratings between Chess and Go cannot be compared as the players are obviously not in the same pool. Go ELO ratings seem to go above 2900 already, where in chess nobody ever reached Kasparov's 2851 from 1999 again. Therefore, it may be that the level of expert amateur player, which is 1800 in chess, may be 2000 or 2100 ELO in Go, for an amateur Shodan. The numbers cannot be compared.)

Assuming that advancing in Chess and Go takes about the same amount of time and study, I think that the following is true: becoming an "expert amateur", 1800+ ELO in Chess, would be comparable to reaching Shodan in Go.

When i played Chess very actively as a teenager, my rating rose from a beginner to over 1800 ELO in about 4 years (self study, casual playing), then flucuated between 1800 and 1875 ELO for about a year, and I quit all competition with an 1830 rating when I was about 17. IMHO, it can be said that I did achieve an "amateur shodan" in Chess (although there is no such thing, but you get the meaning).

I never studied to become stronger, to be honest. At the moment, I don't have a rating and have no clue about my strength because I didn't play against humans for about 15 years.

Recently, I have turned my attention to Go, and I am a complete beginner. Nevertheless, looking back through my life, I see it as completely possible that I will reach an actual amateur Shodan rating in Go in due time (and even get the certification, if such a thing in the Netherlands exists), after which I'll just maintain my level without putting extra time into the game to become stronger.

Some people, me being one of them, see Shodan in Asian sports/activities, or the highest amateur grade (as in instrument playing in my case) as a nice proficiency to strive for, after which people find that they are "good enough" and don't warrant it to put more and more time into the activity to become even better. They just don't have the drive, the inclination, or, even simpler, they may not have the ever increasing amount of time needed to spend on study and practice.

This has nothing ot do with a character failing or lack of intelligence or anything like that.

However, it could be said that creating an artificial barrier such as Shodan makes people drop out after reaching that goal. Still, even in chess, where there is no such barrier, many people have a goal, like I did: "Become an 1800+ (amateur) expert player" (for me), "Get above 2100 to get into the national league", "reach 2400 to become an International Master" (professional comparable to 1p in Go), and they stop improving after reaching such a goal.

DrStraw: How about Tickling Godan? When I first learned to play the highest amateur rank was considered to be 5 dan. I think there was only one around at the time in the UK. That was always my goal. Even though a US 5 dan is weaker than a UK 5 dan, when I reached that level I sort of felt I had made it. I pretty much stopped improving (althought my son being born around that time probably has something to do with it) and now I could probably beat a 5d only rarely if I were to try.

Tickling shodan last edited by on October 16, 2020 - 20:08
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