Is there a difference between amateur and professional dan levels in go? If yes, how are they related?

  • Hi EOL, have you had a look at boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/5599 ? Does that link answer your question, or is it still unclear? If so, let us try and work out the differences, as right now this question looks like a dupe.
    – mafu
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 21:43
  • Thanks. The only information from the linked question is not an answer to this question: "Professional players are obviously stronger than amateurs, since they studied the game very intensely for years and received training by pros. Only top amateurs have a chance of winning." In fact, this leaves the question of the relationship (if any) between amateur and professional dan levels pretty much undefined. Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 12:20

1 Answer 1


For amateurs, each level is one stone difference. So an amateur seven dan is six stones stronger than an amateur shodan. "Seven dan" is about as strong as a "pure" amateur is likely to get, although there are some amateurs that have had professionalized training, and are believe to be "eight dan" in strength, on the amateur scale.

"Pro" starts about where amateurs leave off. That is a pro one dan is about an amateur seven dan. Pro dan levels go from one to nine, but the difference in each level is about one third of a stone, rather than a whole stone. So a pro nine dan might be a "ten" dan on the amateur scale.

  • Wow, I had never realized that! The fact that amateurs and professional both get dan levels, and that it is commonly said that dan levels come after kyu levels made me think that a professional 1 dan was one stone away from 1 kyu (and that amateurs simply did not make a living with go, contrary to professionals). The range of strengths that you are describing is amazingly huge. Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 8:34
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    @EOL: The 6-8 dan amateurs are often capable of surprising a pro at one-, two- and three-stone games (because they are stronger at ONE aspect of the game than a weak pro). A five or six dan amateur is strong enough to teach, and Japan has a bunch of "teaching pros" at about that strength. But only the pros can compete in pro tournaments, that is, the Go equivalent of "Grand Slam" events in tennis.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 14:53

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