Server comparison (ranks)

In a European-context, “Japan ranking” in practice means the rank a Japanese person visiting a European tournament/club says they are. And we know that if you take that at face-value for pairing, you get lopsided games.


When I used the term “inflation” in the other thread, …

… I meant that I suspect that the level associated with specific rank labels (such as “1d”) has decreased over time in Japan. I don’t know in which time period that happened, but I think it was before the 90s.
To me that (hypothetical) process seems similar enough to the devaluation of money which is commonly called “inflation”.

The terms “inflation”/“deflation” may not fit as well if used for any shift in rank needed when converting between different servers or regions.
In monetary terms, I think that would be more like converting from one curreny to another via some exchange rate (like when converting dollars to euros). The fact that 1.00 dollar is (currently) worth 0.92 euro doesn’t mean that the dollar currency is “inflated” or that the euro currency is “deflated”. They could be, but one can’t really base such a claim exclusively on the exchange rate.


In the case of the tournaments that I went to that gathered folks from different clubs, we didn’t register a rank. We just registered for a category. These depended on the tournament, but were something like “everyone up to 1 kyu”, “1-dan to 3-dan”, and “4-dan +”.

Tournament results didn’t influence my club rank. Club ranks were determined internally through a seasonal round-robin tournament held within the club.

OK but then how do they know they are 1k or weaker? Do they base this assumption on their club rank, or online rank, or previous tournament results, or something else?

Yes. Your answers were quite informative @gennan. Thank you for sharing.

The level decrease you mention makes sense given what I have seen in some Japanese Go books. I don’t have them with me here to check (they are back home in Canada), but I recall that some older tsumego books have problems labelled 8 kyu to 5 kyu that seem just as challenging as problems labelled 1 kyu in more modern books.


For the tournaments I was exposed to, I believe it was a mix of club rank and tournament results? Frankly speaking, I didn’t go about asking people how they decided their tournament rank.

Most of the people at my local club didn’t play online. The majority were senior citizens uninterested in online Go.

In my case, when I won the up to 1-kyu division, I started playing in the 1-dan to 3-dan division in following tournaments even though I hadn’t reached 1-dan at my club yet.


Interesting discussion. I agree that it’s perfectly fine for different countries to have their own ranking scale based on local customs, traditions, player age, etc. As was mentioned before, I guess the Chinese and Japanese rankings are mainly based on live games on a real board in Go clubs, not on server games.


There is a famous story from 1970 where Kageyama Toshiro, who was 6p at the time, would give 6 stones handicap to a Japanese 1k student, although he still beat him on 9 stones when his student challenged him. From this story it seems that 6 stones handicap was more a teaching game handicap, while 9 stones handicap was an actually competitive handicap for the gap between them.

Today I think a 6p would be expected to give 9 stones handicap to a EGF 2k in a competitive setting. So from this reference, it seems that a 1970 Japanese 1k was similar to a modern EGF 1k.

From modern references (such as yours, and the 2018 survey that @yebellz linked to) it seems there is a 4+ stone gap between a modern Japanese 1k and a 1970 Japanese 1k.

In the Netherlands, I think club players tend to start out with club ranks which are calibrated by handicap against stronger club members that play in tournaments with some regularity, thus indirectly calibrating to other players in their local region, the Netherlands and nearby European countries.
I suppose there are some Dutch tournament/club players who started online and initially declare an online rank when they start playing offline, but after that I think they will adjust their declared rank to match the declared ranks of their offline peers.

I see your current OGS rank is about 2k. Which rank do you usually declare in Japan nowadays? My guess would be 2-3d.


I don’t play here enough anymore to declare any local rank (I’ve been on and off Go since leaving Japan in 2014, mostly off).

In 2014, I was wavering between 3k and 2k KGS. And had a local rank of 1 dan at both clubs I went to.

Since then, the only places I’ve been to used point systems and asked for my pandanet ranking at registration (which i don’t have). The folks I met don’t like to play Fox.

I haven’t gone yet on this trip, but I’ll try to go to a couple of clubs between now and mid April, and be a bit more curious about ranks / competition ranks.


Please share your findings with us :slight_smile:

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Please share your findings with us :slight_smile:

I only visited one Go club since this discussion (Uchuu Kiin) in Yokohama.

Based on that short experience I’d say 1D OGS was around 4D at that club.

For context, I told them I was a “strong Pandanet 1d” and they set me around the 2D-3D “number” (they don’t use dans, but a point system I started at 270). Overall, I would say that the rank they gave me was at least one if not two stones too weak. Sunday is “tournament day” at this club. I played 5 games in all with different handicaps and won all of them.

What’s difficult to evaluate compared to Western Go clubs is that it was only older folks playing (in their 60’s / 70’s) and none of them appeared to be actively studying. For example, from my 3-4 stone, I played a low two-space pincer in most of those games and all of them responded with a jump instead of the typical lean in modern go.

When I used to be part of a Go club here (over 10 years ago), it was also older folks but they were more serious about the game (e.g. going to tournaments in the region).

This club, while big enough, seems to cater to people playing for fun, so rank comparisons are possibly not that representative. I asked a few if they play online or go to tournaments and none of them did.

Not sure if I’ll have time to visit another club, but if I do, I’ll visit a different one to get a different sample.