The Go Ranking System

It's important to understand the go ranking system, not only so that you can be aware of your own playing level, but because if you want to get strong you should play against evenly ranked opponents. These are the ranks/ratings in go:

  • 30 kyu - 20 kyu(beginner level): If you understand all the rules on this page(with the exception of advanced kos), but have not played a game yourself, then you are 30 kyu.
  • 19 kyu - 10 kyu(advanced beginner level): Most players pass the 20 kyu level after playing 50 or so games. This varies greatly though. Some get there after 10 games, others after 100.
  • 9 kyu - 1 kyu(intermediate level): This is where most casual players are at. It usually takes a year or so of studying with hundreds or maybe thousands of games to reach around 5 kyu EGF(varies greatly), and many people no matter how much they play, never advances from the intermediate level range.
  • 1 dan amateur - 9 dan amateur(advanced level): From an outside perspective, the players at this level may be considered good players, although many of the lower dans(like myself) will probably tell you that they are weak. This is because the distance from 1 dan to 9 dan is gigantic. For many people it's much more difficult to advance even a single level at this stage than the road from 30 kyu to 1 kyu.
  • 1 dan professional - 9 dan professional(professional level): 1 dan professionals are about as strong as 7-9 dan amateurs, while 9 dan professionals are as strong as they come. To advance in go rankings on the professional level, you must be given a new rank by the go association that gave you your professional rank, unlike for amateurs, who naturally advances by beating opponents. To get to 1 dan professional an exam must be taken, with the exception of honorary dan awards. Honorary ranks are given to players that have done something special, like promoting go in the West.

Your rank will differ depending on what country you live in. The European ranks(EGF) are about the same, or one rank below those on the KGS and IGS servers(see online go servers). The official American rankings(AGA) and Japanese rankings are generally 2 ranks weaker than EGF, so an EGF 1 kyu would be AGA 3 kyu, but this varies from country to country in Europe and also within America. The Korean ranks are a bit stronger than the European ranks, while the Chinese I believe is about the same as in Europe.

It's important to point out the difference between a rank and a rating. The rating is a direct feedback to your performance in tournaments, while the rank is something you, or your club sets for you. Most ranking systems don't go above 7 dan on the amateur level, while the ratings go as high as need be. The problem with this is that in the AGA there's a massive 3 stone rating difference on the same 7 dan rank, with some having a rating of 10 dan. I don't live in America, but that seems confusing to me since people tend to go by their rank, and it's what they are listed under in tournaments. There's a huge difference between a 7 dan and a 10 dan rated player. In Europe this isn't an issue since there's only a few people with an 8 dan rating. When playing online, there is no separation between rank and rating.