In the Dark? Professionals and International Organisations

Here is the In The Dark guide to professional players and international organisations.

The Nihon Ki-in

The Japanese Go Association was founded in 1924 after the great Kanto earthquake of 1st September 1923 left the former Go "Houses" in disarray. This is the main association that professionals must belong to in Japan (the other is the Kansai Ki-in). The head office is in Tokyo, but it has branch offices in Osaka and Nagoya. Amateur players do not join the Ki-in as members, but most Go clubs are affiliated to it. About 350 active professionals are members.

The Kansai Ki-in

Post war discrimination between players in the Kansai district of Japan, in and around Osaka, and the main group in Tokyo caused the break away Kansai Ki-in to be formed in 1950. There about 100 professionals in the Kansai Ki-in. Hashimoto Utaro was their first great player; he was Honinbo at the time of the split.

Hankuk Kiwon (KBA)

The Hankuk Kiwon is one spelling of the Korean name for the Korean Baduk Association (KBA). It is run on a similar basis to the Nihon Ki-in. It was founded in 1956 and in 1980 was declared a cultural asset by the Korean government. It has about 170 professionals and 30 branches in major cities, supporting the 4 million or more Korean Baduk or Go players.

China Weiqi Association (website in Chinese)

The current incarnation was formed in 1973 and is similar to the Nihon Ki-in, overseeing both professional and amateur games.

International Go Federation

The International Go Federation (IGF) is a organisation representing the Go playing counties of the world. It is organised out of the Overseas Department of the Nihon Ki-in and directors are appointed from the Ki-in and from Korea, China, Europe, America and so on. Its main purpose is to run the annual World Amateur Championships and to publish the Ranka Yearbook.


An insei is a trainee professional in Japan. Usually of secondary school age they often live with a high dan professional, who facilitates their learning rather than actually teaching. They compete in a 60-player league and also the annual professional qualification tournament together with some strong amateurs. Usually about 7 new professionals are appointed each year at the Nihon Ki-in, with some places reserved especially for women (though some like Inori Yoko got in through the open places).


The Oteai was the Japanese professional promotion tournament, that was replaced a a new qualification system early in the 21st Century. Other countries have their own systems. Game fees for newspaper tournaments are based on rank, 5 dan usually being the watershed between low and high pay. The tournament lasted all year, without about 12 games per player; limited game fees and small prizes were awarded. Promotion was gained using a complicated points system, with the players having to claim promotion over a series of usually 12 games. Promotions could also be made by special decree. Some oddities existed as a consequence in that Ryu Shikun was still 7 dan and Chinen Kaori was still 2 dan, despite both being title holders towards the end of the Oteai system. Now, winners of lots of games, high perceantage wins and champions earn promotion.

Western Professionals

The late Manfred Wimmer was the first European professional in Japan in 1978, but he went home to Austria after making 2 dan. American James Kerwin has been professional 1 dan since 1978 also and lives, teaching Go, in the US. Janice Kim is a Korean 1 dan; she is half Korean and half American. Michael Redmond, the half-English American who went to Japan as a child star, made pro in 1981 and made it to 9 dan in 2000; he is the first Westerner to get that far. European professional Catalin Taranu from Romania got to 5 dan. Hans Pietsch from Germany, who was killed whilst on a Go promotion tour to Guatemala, was awarded posthumous 5 dan. In 2002 Russians Alexandr Dinerstein (or Dinerchtein) and Svetlana Shikshina were made professionals in Korea.


The European Go and Cultural Centre was founded in 1992 by the great Iwamoto (9 dan), as part of his desire to see a Go centre on every continent. It is partly a branch of the Nihon Ki-in and was paid for by Japanese sponsors, including the Obayashi building company after whom the annual tournament is named. The centre is situated in the Amstelveen district of Amsterdam, where there is a high Japanese population. It is self financing through letting the building for other uses and has used some of its surplus income to run a Go promotion plan throughout Europe.

This page is one of a series of In The Dark articles.

Last updated Fri Sep 22 2017.
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