As a beginner, you may be wondering: How do I know how strong I am against another player?
Well, most of the Go world uses the Japanese Grading System, a way of labeling one’s strength.
As a beginner, your starting rank is 30 Kyu (30k) and as you become stronger, the number lowers all the way to 1 Kyu.
When you progress past 1 Kyu, you start at 1 Dan (1d) and move up to 7d. 8 Dan is an honorific title that can sometimes be given to an extraordinary amateur player.
Those are the ranks for an amateur player. If someone becomes a professional, they start at 1 Dan Professional (1p) and make their way up to 9 Dan Professional through promotions.
Every time you go up a rank, it is said that you gain a stone. If you’re just starting Go and want to play online, I would suggest starting at the 30-20kyu ranks.
Professionals are called such because they’re paid to play Go. Mostly professionals are sponsored by their government but sometimes professionals can be sponsored by an organization instead.
Not many governments have a Go sponsorship program, however. The most notable governments that sponsor professional Go players are China, Japan and South Korea.
Usually to become a pro – upon meeting certain criteria – you must be the best of the best of the best. Extremely talented and skilled players who applied for professional sponsorship are pitted against each other and the few who come out on top wins the sponsorship(s).
So long as adequate and ongoing participation is met, sponsorship is usually for one’s lifetime. These professionals are paid to focus solely on Go and participate in national and international tournaments, sometimes for large amounts of prize money.