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 Post subject: Japanese ranks
Post #1 Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 7:07 am 
Gosei

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Over the years there have been many posts on rank inflation in Japan and also some on the suggested ranks for tsumego and similar problems. My first tsumego books were the classic Maeda three volume works Maeda Shokyuu Tsumego (Maeda Beginner Tsumego), Maeda Chuukyuu Tsumego (Maeda Intermediate Tsumego), and Maeda Joukyuu Tsumego (Maeda Advanced Tsumego), now out of print. When I got the Kiseido Graded Go Problems for Dan Players, I noticed some problems from the Maeda books among those in the graded problems for dan players. There is quite a big difference in the rank levels between the Maeda books and the Kiseido books. I found several examples of problems rated by Maeda as 6k to 8k level that are rated in the problems for dan players as 3d. If these ratings are appropriate it seems to indicate approximately a 9 rank level of inflation! Here is an example of a problem ranked at 6 to 8 kyu by Maeda and at 3d in the Kiseido volume 1.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$B Black to play Dan problems 3d
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . O O X . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . O . . . O X X X . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . O O O O . . |
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O . . |
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


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[go]$$B Black to play Maeda 6k - 8k
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O O . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . O O X O . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . O X X X . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . O O X . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


Incidentally the problem has the same dan rating in the Japanese version of the Graded Dan Problems book. (Edit: My copy of the Maeda Books dates back to the mid 1960's.)


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese ranks
Post #2 Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 7:25 am 
Judan

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As well as grade inflation, could there be a difference in what the grade of a problem means, various combinations of:
[all / over 90% / most / some] people of the grade can solve ([with certainty / with high probability / problably] they didn't miss a variation) the problem in [a glance / 10 seconds / 1 minute / 10 minutes / hours] doing it [in their head / on a board] having [never seen the problem before / not seen the problem for some years / seen it recently].

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese ranks
Post #3 Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 7:51 am 
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My impression is that the author of Graded Go Problems doesn't evaluate correctly the difficulty of problems. Volume 3 is supposed to be for 15-20 kyus, but I found it difficult when I was 15 kyu (EGF). On the other hand, when I was 9 kyu I solved at a glance a problem which was labeled "solve in a minute = 1 dan".


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese ranks
Post #4 Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:22 am 
Honinbo

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Uberdude wrote:
As well as grade inflation, could there be a difference in what the grade of a problem means, various combinations of:
[all / over 90% / most / some] people of the grade can solve ([with certainty / with high probability / problably] they didn't miss a variation) the problem in [a glance / 10 seconds / 1 minute / 10 minutes / hours] doing it [in their head / on a board] having [never seen the problem before / not seen the problem for some years / seen it recently].


I hardly expect that Maeda -- or any other pro -- gathered statistics on the difficulty of problems for amateurs at different ranks, but made educated guesses. I would trust go problems.com over any book for rating difficulty. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese ranks
Post #5 Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:49 pm 
Oza
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From April 1952 through September 1954 (publication dates per GoGoD) Kikuchi Yasuro played a series of 2-stone (no komi) teaching games against top pros. At the beginning of the series he was an amateur 4 dan!

He went 12-1 in the match, beating Miyashita Shuyo, Segoe Kensaku, Karigane Junichi, Sakata Eio, Suzuki Tamejiro, Hashimoto Utaro, Iwamoto Kaori, Fujisawa Hideyuki, Hashimoto Shoji, Kitani Minoru, and Takagawa Shukaku. His only loss was to Fujisawa Kuranosuke.

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese ranks
Post #6 Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:27 pm 
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ez4u wrote:
From April 1952 through September 1954 (publication dates per GoGoD) Kikuchi Yasuro played a series of 2-stone (no komi) teaching games against top pros. At the beginning of the series he was an amateur 4 dan!

He went 12-1 in the match, beating Miyashita Shuyo, Segoe Kensaku, Karigane Junichi, Sakata Eio, Suzuki Tamejiro, Hashimoto Utaro, Iwamoto Kaori, Fujisawa Hideyuki, Hashimoto Shoji, Kitani Minoru, and Takagawa Shukaku. His only loss was to Fujisawa Kuranosuke.


I read about Kikuchi's matches with pros from the past, but I never knew that he played with pros as a 4-dan ama. Was that maybe the top ama rank, in early 50s?

I only know Kikuchi as one of the top Japanese amateurs, 7-dan, and I know he used to have one of the most famous Go schools in Japan, where many pros and insei were training together. I had the chance to visit it several times when I was insei.
If I remember correctly, Japanese pros call Kikuchi "sensei" (even those who did not train at his school), even if he is not a pro.

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese ranks
Post #7 Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:58 am 
Honinbo

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sorin wrote:
ez4u wrote:
From April 1952 through September 1954 (publication dates per GoGoD) Kikuchi Yasuro played a series of 2-stone (no komi) teaching games against top pros. At the beginning of the series he was an amateur 4 dan!

He went 12-1 in the match, beating Miyashita Shuyo, Segoe Kensaku, Karigane Junichi, Sakata Eio, Suzuki Tamejiro, Hashimoto Utaro, Iwamoto Kaori, Fujisawa Hideyuki, Hashimoto Shoji, Kitani Minoru, and Takagawa Shukaku. His only loss was to Fujisawa Kuranosuke.


I read about Kikuchi's matches with pros from the past, but I never knew that he played with pros as a 4-dan ama. Was that maybe the top ama rank, in early 50s?


That's my guess. It would explain a remark Segoe made in one of his books that being shodan meant that you could take four stones from a pro.

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Post #8 Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 4:17 am 
Oza

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I don't understand how Kikuchi got in here - I assume it was an oblique way of talking about the validity of Japanese grades?

Anyway, Kikuchi is still an outstanding player. He has beaten pros in the Agon-Kiriyama Cup in recent years at over 80 years old (he was born in 1929). He is now amateur 8-dan. He won the World Amateur in 1992, which in Korea and China would have given him the right to turn pro.

He learnt go at three and became a regular at an all-day Sunday club at age 7. By the time he entered junior school (1942) he was amateur 2-dan. Because of the war he moved out to Yokohama from Tokyo in 1943 and there was able to study with Koizumi Shigero 5-dan, Morikawa Masao 1-dan and Fujisawa Kuranosuke 7-dan. By the time he went to university to read economics (1947) he was informally amateur 5-dan. He entered the first amateur championship after the war and reached the semi-finals, but more importantly was noticed by the legendary Yasunaga Hajime, author of Shin Fuseki. With him as a mentor, although he began ordinary working life in a steelworks in 1953, he went on to win over 20 amateur titles (including the Amateur Honinbo 10 times.) He is the only amateur to have a book of his collected games published (by Seibundo no less), although Yasunaga and other amateurs have had books of selected games. Apart from the pro-bashing exploits mentioned above, he beat Kajiwara Takeo in a 10-game match with Black.

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If I remember correctly, Japanese pros call Kikuchi "sensei" (even those who did not train at his school), even if he is not a pro.


Sensei just means prior born so is used respectfully of older people - this forum, please note :) - but even in its more specific use a teacher it applies to Kikuchi. He has produced over a dozen pros in his Ryokusei Academy, including Yamashita Keigo. His total is far more than Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi combined. His teaching method is based on all-play-all leagues but pupils also study both ancient and modern games. He also stresses not just the refinement of on-the-board skills but also decorum and stamina. And, in that connection, the fetishists who throw a wobbly if Black doesn't first play in the top right corner might note that Kikuchi liked to play in the lower right.

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I hardly expect that Maeda -- or any other pro -- gathered statistics on the difficulty of problems for amateurs at different ranks, but made educated guesses.


That may be right but is worth querying. For the youngsters here, in the days before e-mail there was something called a postal service in which people trained pigeons (though aristocrats had owls as in Hogwarts Castle) to carry messages to other people. Sometimes human pigeons were also used to keep hoi polloi off the streets. Readers of Kido and other Japanese magazines were fond of the monthly tsumego competitions and would despatch pigeons with their answers in large numbers, and so the supervising pros such as Maeda were able to get a large bank of data on answers - 500 to 1,000 each month - to their problems, and also on how they were solved as variations often had to be shown. On top of that, it was (and is) standard practice for pros to have a set of problems in their heads which they would trot out for fans at amateur events they attended. They would wow the fans by assessing their grades on the basis of how they answered. This knowledge of amateur grades was of course refined by playing them in games and mentally cataloguing the sort of mistakes amateurs of each grade made. Since this sort of intuitive wisdom is acquired by experienced people in almost every profession, I see no reason to doubt that it works in go, too.

Indeed, there used to be a class of itinerant problem setters who would pose problems on street corners and challenge passers-by to solve them for a stake. It was more usual with shogi (and the same applied in China with xiangqi). But whatever the game, the hustlers had to know the strength of their audiences otherwise they starved.

Actually, talking about Japanese amateur grades is meaningless. Apart from the fact that the system changed after the war, they long had a lore based on perception of grades, in which the highest grade possible was a Hiroshima 4-dan, who terrified even pros. The point was that Hiroshima (the prefecture) covered a patchwork of islands in the Inland Sea which were then very isolated. The denizens had little to do but study go but were inspired by their favourite son, Honinbo Shusaku. It was a hothouse atmosphere (and produced people like Segoe Kensaku, of course). There were other pockets of excellence, though - one was Niigata. Travelling pros would tip each other off about who and where to treat with caution. But they got very nervous about areas with little data, e.g. as when visiting Japanese amateurs in China.

Elsewhere the "country 1-dan" (inaka shodan) was typically an old guy who had bought a consolation 1-dan diploma when he worked in the city, needing this to save face in his village when he retired there. So the range was, and still is, enormous. I have been in clubs in Japan where they even rank themselves up to 9-dan.


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Post #9 Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:09 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
"country 1-dan" (inaka shodan)


That's the first time I've heard this term; I like it. :)

A Go vocabulary site defines it like this (as far as I can translate it): "A term making fun of people who like to fight strongly but play antisuji; of people who have no game sense but just cut and attach everywhere."

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Post #10 Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 12:02 pm 
Gosei

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In Japan there used to be chihou kishi (地方 棋士) which were also known as teaching pros. Chihou means countryside or country and kishi, of course, means go (or shogi) player. These were often failed inseis or deshis of pros and they went out into the country to teach go


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Post #11 Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 3:06 pm 
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country 1-dan inaka shodan (田舎 初段) ...
chihou kishi (地方 棋士)

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