Cho Insun: An amateur turned professional Go player

On September 20, 2011, Cho Insun 7d beat Park Jeonggeun 4p in the main tournament of the 39th Myeongin (Master) Cup, and became a professional Go player.

Cho Insun – new 1 dan professional baduk player

He was the first player to qualify as a professional under a new points system in Korea for amateur players.

His results so far against pros are outstanding. I’m writing this on September 28, 2011.

How Cho qualified under the new system

He has won 11 games out of 14 against pros, and earned 110 points under the new system. 30 points were from 16th LG Cup and 80 points were from the 39th Myeongin. 100 points are required to qualify as a pro, so Cho Insun achieved this goal.

The “special case for amateur players in the open tournaments” was enacted from July 2009 by the Hankuk Kiwon (Korean Baduk Association).

It is intended to give more motivation to amateur players, and Cho’s the first player to take advantage of these rules.

Cho sensationally beat Dang Yifei 4p and Ding Wei 9p from China in the preliminary matches of 16th LG Cup. He was eventually defeated in the final round of the preliminary match by Mok Jinseok 9p.

Cho’s next game in the 39th Myeongin

In the 39th Myeongin, Cho will next play against Lee Changho 9p in the quarter final. It will be certainly be very exciting for Go fans everywhere!

Park Jeonggeun (4 dan pro) plays Cho Insun (7 dan amateur) in the 39th Myeongin

Professional players aren’t really concerned about or interested in this new points system, but amateur players must be very excited. However, it’s still really hard to get 100 points against pros and only the strongest players will be able to do it.

But Cho did do it, and it should be very good news for amateur players who want to become pros!

What I think about the new system

In my opinion, this new system can give motivation to top amateur players, so I support this system. There are so many young talented players in Korea and elsewhere, but because of the high level of competition, some of them couldn’t get a chance to become a pro.

However, under this sort of system, anyone can challenge and grasp the opportunity. Even players who, like Cho, have become too old to qualify through the yeongusaeng (Korean insei) system.

I played several unofficial games with Cho Insun, before I came to Australia, and now he becomes a pro. I’m really glad to hear this news and I hope more top amateur players beat pros and get a second chance to make their dreams come true.

What do you think?

I’d like to hear what amateur players around the world think about these changes. Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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About Younggil An

Younggil is an 8 dan professional Go player with the Korean Baduk Association. He qualified as a professional in 1997 and won an award for winning 18 consecutive professional matches the following year. After completing compulsory military service, Younggil left Korea in 2008, to teach and promote the game Go overseas. Younggil now lives in Sydney, Australia, and is one of the founders of Go Game Guru. On Friday evenings, Younggil is usually at the Sydney Go Club, where he gives weekly lessons and plays simultaneous games.

You can follow Go Game Guru on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube.


  1. its a good thing for amateur to still have a chance to become a professional i hope also that china and japan do the same thing also the country that are playing go would have like a professional system that way we can spread the game of go

  2. Are there any other amateurs that are getting close to 100?

  3. Sorry for being the guy, but the headline is a bit misleading. Every pro player was an amateur until they turned pro.

    How about “amateur turns pro after amazing results?”

    • Alvaro Lopez says:

      From my humble point of view, a yeongusaeng student is not an amateur player, is more a intermediate stage. So the headline would be correct.
      Anyway, I think we all understand the big issue! ^_^


  4. I will be a professional player in the next several years. I hope Western players can look forward to it.

  5. I suppose this would be harder enough so only Go prodigies can achieve it. I think is very possible some of the strongest players from all the time was wasted because of the old systems, do or die exams are not the best way.

  6. >>I believe it was also the first time an amateur player had reached a quarter final in a professional Go tournament.

  7. What are exacly the rules of new system?
    Can you give some links, please?

  8. Jeremiah Donley says:

    How do I apply?
    I am really interested in becoming pro 😮

    • Younggil An says:

      Firstly, you should go to one of the countries which have professional system, and enjoy studying go to become a pro! 😀

  9. I think it’s wrong to have this system. People should work hard to become part of the insei first. There are foreigners in Asian insei ranks and I think that is a great thing indeed. I have heard that there are some foreigners who were given special recommendation to pass through to professional and I feel like that is looking down on the foreigners in a way. Though I do concede that the foreigners are already sort of cheating the system because they are usually older than the other insei but that is because they may have heard of go rather later in their life. Whereas Asians do not have this same excuse because there are go salons everywhere. If some top amateurs couldn’t become insei when they were younger because they were not good enough then obviously it’s not fair to allow them to skip.

    • Younggil An says:

      Thanks Wenpei for your opinion.

      That makes sense, and I partly agree to your thought. However, the new system is still very hard for strong amateur players to achieve, and only one more amateur player (An Jungki) turned a pro under that system.

      An Jungki was actually an insei, but he had chances to participate pros’ tournament, and he defeated a few strong pros such as Chen Yaoye 9p.

      By the way, I still think your opinion is reasonable, but there could be different opinions.

  10. Even if it’s still hard for amateurs to go through, if the person used to be an insei then he should know when it’s over. If he could not get through and used to be an insei it’s even worse. Also, I’m not say professional players will lose on purpose easily but because of the lack of funding I heard of a while ago in 2009, isn’t there the risk of bribing professionals who are in dire straits? Even if only one or two professionals give in to bribes, that may change the outcome of the point system. It’s better to not even let this be an issue.