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Ryūō (also Ryu-O, Ryu-oh, Ryuuou; in Japanese 龍王, 竜王, lit. "Dragon King") is an annual Japanese professional shogi tournament and the title of its winner. The current Ryūō title holder is Masayuki Toyoshima.

The Ryūō Tournament (Ryūō-sen 竜王戦) is sponsored by the Yomiuri Shimbun as well as the title awarded to its winner. It is one of the eight major professional shogi title matches and was first held in 1988. Among the eight titles in the professional shogi titleholder system, Ryūō and Meijin are the most prestigious ones. However, the Ryūō title gives out the highest monetary prize—even more than the Meijin title. Cash prizes are ¥42,000,000 for the winner of championship and new Ryūō titleholder, and ¥8,000,000 for the loser. Additional compensation includes ¥14,500,000 for the previous titleholder and ¥7,000,000 for the challenger.

This title should not be confused with that of Amateur Ryūō which is awarded each year to the winner of the Amateur Ryūō Tournament.


The dragon king

The basic meaning of ryūō is a "promoted rook". It can move as both a rook (hisha 飛車) and a silver (ginshō 銀将) during a turn and is one of the two most powerful pieces in shogi.

Tournament structure[edit]

The tournament consists of six class tournaments and one ladder-format challenger tournament. All current shogi professionals, four female professionals, one apprentice professional and five amateurs are assigned to one of six classes. There are 16 professional players in the classes 1–3, 32 professionals in classes 4 and 5, and the last class 6 has all remaining players (which is currently 51 professional + 4 female professionals + 5 amateurs for a total of 60 players). The top eleven players in these class tournaments (the top five players from 1st class, top two from 2nd class, and the top from each of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes) are then seeded into the challenger tournament. The two players advancing to the final of the challenger tournament play a three-game match to determine the overall winner. In the title match, the first player to win four out of seven championship games becomes the new titleholder. [1]


The Ryūō is a continuation of the earlier Tenth Dan (十段戦 jū-dan sen) title tournament. The Tenth Dan (1962–1987) itself is a continuation of the Ninth Dan (九段戦, 1956–1961) and the earlier 全日本選手権戦 (1948–1955) tournaments, which were also sponsored by the same Yomiuri Shimbun. The 全日本選手権 tournament became a title tournament in 1950, where the title was known as the Ninth Dan (九段) title. (At this time, the highest dan rank in shogi was 8-dan unlike the current ranking system.) Considering this lineage, the Ryūō is second historical title and the longest running title tournament apart from the Meijin title.[2]

Lifetime Ryūō[edit]

"Lifetime Ryūō" (Eisei Ryūō) is the title awarded to a player who wins the championship five times in a row or seven times in total. Active players may qualify for this title, but it is only officially awarded upon their retirement or death.[3]

Only two players have qualified for the Lifetime Ryūō title: Akira Watanabe and Yoshiharu Habu. Watanabe qualified for the title by winning his fifth championship in a row in 2008 (he has also won the title eleven times),[4] whereas Habu qualified by winning his 7th title overall in 2017.[5] Both players will be officially designated Lifetime Ryūō upon retirement or death.


The number in parenthesis represents the culmulative times the player had won the title to date.

No. Year Winner Score Opponent
1 1988 Akira Shima 4-0 Kunio Yonenaga
2 1989 Yoshiharu Habu 4-3 Akira Shima
3 1990 Koji Tanigawa 4-1 Yoshiharu Habu
4 1991 Koji Tanigawa (2) 4-2 Taku Morishita
5 1992 Yoshiharu Habu (2) 4-3 Koji Tanigawa
6 1993 Yasumitsu Sato 4-2 Yoshiharu Habu
7 1994 Yoshiharu Habu (3) 4-2 Yasumitsu Sato
8 1995 Yoshiharu Habu (4) 4-2 Yasumitsu Sato
9 1996 Koji Tanigawa (3) 4-1 Yoshiharu Habu
10 1997 Koji Tanigawa (4) 4-0 Keiichi Sanada
11 1998 Takeshi Fujii 4-0 Koji Tanigawa
12 1999 Takeshi Fujii (2) 4-1 Daisuke Suzuki
13 2000 Takeshi Fujii (3) 4-3 Yoshiharu Habu
14 2001 Yoshiharu Habu (5) 4-1 Takeshi Fujii
15 2002 Yoshiharu Habu (6) 4-3 Takashi Abe
16 2003 Toshiyuki Moriuchi 4-0 Yoshiharu Habu
17 2004 Akira Watanabe 4-3 Toshiyuki Moriuchi
18 2005 Akira Watanabe (2) 4-0 Kazuki Kimura
19 2006 Akira Watanabe (3) 4-3 Yasumitsu Sato
20 2007 Akira Watanabe (4) 4-2 Yasumitsu Sato
21 2008 Akira Watanabe (5) 4-3 Yoshiharu Habu
22 2009 Akira Watanabe (6) 4-0 Toshiyuki Moriuchi
23 2010 Akira Watanabe (7) 4-2 Yoshiharu Habu
24 2011 Akira Watanabe (8) 4-1 Tadahisa Maruyama
25 2012 Akira Watanabe (9) 4-1 Tadahisa Maruyama
26 2013 Toshiyuki Moriuchi (2) 4-1 Akira Watanabe
27 2014 Tetsurō Itodani 4-1[6] Toshiyuki Moriuchi
28 2015 Akira Watanabe (10) 4-1[7] Tetsurō Itodani
29 2016 Akira Watanabe (11) 4-3[8][a] Tadahisa Maruyama
30 2017 Yoshiharu Habu (7) 4-1[9] Akira Watanabe
31 2018 Akihito Hirose 4-3[10][11] Yoshiharu Habu
32 2019 Masayuki Toyoshima 4-1[12] Akihito Hirose


  • Most titles overall: Akira Watanabe, 11
  • Most consecutive titles: Akira Watanabe, 9 in a row (2004–2012)
  • Most times recapturing title: Yoshiharu Habu, 4[b]
  • Longest period between titles: Yoshiharu Habu, 15 years (2003–2017)
  • Oldest person to win title: Yoshiharu Habu, 47 years and 2 months[5]
  • Youngest person to win title: Yoshiharu Habu, 19 years and 2 months.[13]

Games played outside Japan[edit]

The first game of each of the following Ryūō title matches was played outside of Japan.[14][15]

No. Year Location
3 1990 Frankfurt, Germany
4 1991 Bangkok, Thailand
5 1992 London, England
6 1993 Singapore
7 1994 Paris, France
8 1995 Beijing, China
9 1996 Los Angeles, United States[16]
10 1997 Gold Coast, Australia
No. Year Location
11 1998 New York City, United States
13 2000 Shanghai, China
15 2002 Taipei, Taiwan
17 2004 Seoul, South Korea
19 2006 San Francisco, United States[17]
21 2008 Paris, France
27 2014 Honolulu, United States[18]

29th Ryūō challenger controversy[edit]

Hiroyuki Miura won the three-game challenger playoff match for the 29th Ryūō tournament by defeating Tadahisa Maruyama two games to one in early September 2016. Three days before Miura was to begin play against reigning Ryūō Akira Watanabe, however, the Japan Shogi Association (JSA) announced that Maruyama was replacing Miura as the challenger. The official reason given by the JSA had to do with Miura failing to follow proper procedure in requesting to be allowed to withdraw from the match, but there also had been suspicions raised about Miura's recent frequent leaving of his seat during official shogi games. Suspicions had been raised that he was doing so to consult shogi software or an app installed on a smartphone. Miura denied the accusations at a meeting of the JSA managing directors on 11 October, and said he was withdrawing from the upcoming title match because he could not play shogi under such circumstances. The JSA said that Miura failed to submit an official notification of withdrawal by the required deadline on 12 October and as a result Miura was suspended from official game play until 31 December 2016.[19][20]

The JSA subsequently established an independent investigative panel at the end of October 2016 to determine whether Miura had actually done anything wrong and to evaluate the appropriateness of its response to the allegations.[21][22] The panel held a press conference on 26 December 2016 to announce its findings. The panel found there was insufficient evidence to support the accusations of cheating made against Miura and that the claim that he had excessively left his seat during official games was false. Regarding the action taken by the JSA, the panel stated that it believed that the JSA response was appropriate given the circumstances since it had no real option other than to act the way it did.[23] In response to the panel's report, both the JSA and Miura held separate press conferences. JSA president Koji Tanigawa apologized to Mirua and announced he was being allowed to return to active status in January. Tanigawa also stated that he and three other executives of the JSA would have their salaries cut by 30% for a period of three months.[24] Miura criticized the JSA in his press conference and stated that "he wonders why the association banned him from participating in the Ryu-oh championship match since there was no evidence of wrongdoing" and that "he wants things to be settled as soon as possible and that he will try hard to get back to his winning ways".[25]

On 18 January 2017, Tanigawa announced that he was resigning as JSA president to assume responsibility for the JSA's handing of the matter.[26] The following day, the resignations of Tanigawa and Akira Shima, the director in charge of the JSA's handling of the Miura allegations, were accepted at an emergency meeting of the JSA's board of directors.[27]

On 27 February 2017, another emergency meeting of JSA professionals was held in response to a petition signed by 28 current and former professionals asking that the JSA remove five board members involved in the handling of the controversy. The meeting took place via teleconferencing at JSA offices in Tokyo and Osaka, and a vote was held to determine whether the five should be asked to step down. Out of the 234 voting members of the JSA, 216 votes (including 64 by written proxy) were cast and a majority voted for the dismissal of three of the five: Teruichi Aono, Daisuke Nakagawa and Daisuke Katagami.[28][29]

On 24 May 2017, Miura and JSA president Yasumitsu Satō held a joint press conference to announce that a settlement had been reached to resolve any outstanding issues between the two sides. Both sides acknowledged their acceptance of the findings in the independent investigative panel's report and expressed their desire to move on from the matter. It was also announced that the JSA agreed to pay Miura an undisclosed financial settlement to compensate him for not only lost game fees, but also for the mental anguish and damage caused to his reputation. Miura also announced that he met with Ryūō title holder Watanabe prior to the press conference and that he accepted Watanabe's apology for his role in the controversy.[30][31]

Players by Ryūō class[edit]

Below is a list of professional players grouped by their class for the 32st Ryūō league including their dan ranking.[32][33] In addition to the regular professional players were the three women's professional title holders—Kana Satomi, Tomoka Nishiyama, Mana Watanabe—and multiple major title challenger Sae Itō 3-dan.[34] The league was won by Masayuki Toyoshima who then went on to beat the defending Ryūō Akihito Hirose 4 games to 1 to capture his first Ryūō title in December 2019.

31st Ryūō
Name Dan
Akihito Hirose 8


  1. ^ This 2016 tournament playoff was affected by the 29th Ryūō challenger controversy which prevented Hiroyuki Miura from challenging Watanabe who also played a part in the controversy.
  2. ^ Habu lost the title for first time in 1990, but won it back in 1992. He lost the title again in 1993, only to recapture it for the second time in 1994. He lost title for the third time in 1996, but recaptured it again five years later in 2001. He lost the title in 2003, but recaptured it for a fourth time in 2017.


  1. ^ "Ryūōsen: Ryūō Rankigu Kesshō Tōnamento ni Tsuite" 竜王戦: 竜王ランキング戦・決勝トーナメントについて [Ryūō Tournament: About the Ryūō Ranking Leagues and Challenger Tournament] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  2. ^ https://www.shogi.or.jp/column/2017/09/post_233.html
  3. ^ "Purokisen no Kitei ni Kansuru Goshitsumon - Q: Eisei Shōgō no Kitei wa Dō Natteiru no Deshōka" プロ棋戦の規定に関するご質問 — Q:永世称号の規定はどうなっているのでしょうか。 [Questions Regarding Professional Shogi— Q: What are the requirements for lifetime titles?] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association.
  4. ^ "Watanabe Akira Ryūō no Kyōdō Kisha Kaiken" 渡辺明竜王の共同記者会見 [Akira Watanabe Ryūō, Kyodo News Press Conference] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association. 19 December 2008. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Habu Yoshiharu Ōi ga Ryūōi wo Dakkaishi, Shijōhatsu no 「Eisei Nanakan」 no Shikaku wo Kakutoku" 羽生善治が竜王位を奪回し, 史上初の「永世七冠」の資格を獲得 [Ōi title holder Yoshiharu Habu recaptures Ryūō title and becomes the first "Lifetime 7-crown" in history] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association. 5 December 2017. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Itodani Shin-Ryūō ga Tanjō, Taitoru Hatsuchōsen de Dasshu" 糸谷新竜王が誕生 タイトル初挑戦で奪取 [New Ryuo Itodani Is Crowned. Captures Major Title on First Try]. Nihon Keizai Shimbun (in Japanese). 4 December 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  7. ^ Fukamatsu, Shinji (3 December 2015). "Watanabe Kiō ga Ryūō Kaerizaki, Tsūsan Jikkime" 渡辺棋王が竜王返り咲き, 通算10期目 [Watanbe Kio recaptures Ryuo Title for the 10th Time Overall]. Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  8. ^ Yamamura, Hideki (22 December 2016). "Ryūōsen, Watanabe Nikan ga Bōei, Maruyama ni Yonshō Sanpai" 竜王戦, 渡辺2冠が防衛, 丸山に4勝3敗 [Ryūō match, Watanabe 2-crown defends title, defeats Maruyama 4-3]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  9. ^ Yamamura, Hideki (5 December 2017). "Japanese shogi pro Habu becomes first to qualify for 7 lifetime titles". Mainichi Shimbun. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Hirose Shinryūō ga Tanjō, Habu Zenryūō wa Nijūnananenburi Mukan" 広瀬新竜王が誕生, 羽生前竜王は27年ぶり無冠 [Hirose is the new Ryūō titleholder; Habu unable to defend title and holds no major titles for the first time in 27 years]. Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Shogi star Habu loses Ryuo title, holds no major crown for 1st time in 27 years". Mainichi Shimbun. December 21, 2018. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "Toyoshima Meijin ga Hatsu no Ryūō Shōgi, Nikan ni Fukki" 豊島名人が初の竜王位 将棋, 2冠に復帰 [Toyoshima Meijin captures Ryūō title for first time and returns to 2-crown status]. Sankei Shimbun (in Japanese). December 7, 2019. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  13. ^ Yoshikawa, Kei (December 5, 2017). "Habu Yoshiharu ga Ryūōsen de Shori, Shijohatsu 「Eisei Nanakan」ni" 羽生善治が竜王戦で勝利 史上初 「永世七冠」に [Youshiharu Habu captures Ryūō title to become first "Lifetime 7-crown" in shogi history]. Huffington Post Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "Kaigai Taikyoku no Reikishi" 海外対局の歴史 [History of major title match games held overseas] (in Japanese). Yomiuri Shimbun and Japan Shogi Association. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  15. ^ "Dai Nijūnanaki Ryūōsen Nanaban Shōbu" 第27期竜王戦七番勝負 [27th Ryūō 7-game Match] (in Japanese). Yomiuri Shimbun and Japan Shogi Association. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  16. ^ Gordon, Larry (18 October 1996). "Shogi Makes a Move: Stars of Chess-Like Japanese Game Play Tourney Round in L.A." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  17. ^ Burress, Charles (12 October 2006). "Venerable Japanese game's high-stakes battle / Shogi players vie for title and $300,000 -- contest brought to U.S. to boost interest". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  18. ^ Mark, Steven (14 October 2014). "Professional Shogi Tournament to Kick Off in Isles". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 7 July 2016 – via PressReader.
  19. ^ Murase, Shinya; Fukumatsu, Shinji (13 October 2016). "Top 'shogi' player suspected of cheating pulls out of title match". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Top shogi player banned amid cheating allegations". Mainichi Shinbun. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  21. ^ "Daisansha Chōsaiinkai Sechi no Ochirase" 第三者調査委員会設置のお知らせ [Establishment of a third-party investigative panel] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association. 27 October 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  22. ^ "Shogi association to set up investigative team to look into cheating allegations". Mainichi Shimbun. 22 October 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  23. ^ "Inquiry clears top 'shogi' player Hiroyuki Miura of cheating". Asahi Shimbun. 27 December 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  24. ^ "Chief of 'shogi' body reinstates top player, apologizes over cheating charge". Japan Times. Kyodo News. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  25. ^ "Shogi player cleared, criticizes association". NHK World. 27 December 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  26. ^ Yamamura, Hideki; Mogami, Satoshi (January 18, 2017). "Head of shogi association resigns after top player cleared of cheating". Mainichi Shimbun. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  27. ^ Yamamura, Hideki (January 19, 2017). "Tanigawa Kaichō to Shima Riji no Jinin Shōnin Rinji Rijikai" 谷川会長と島理事の辞任承認 臨時理事会 [Resignations of President Tanigawa and Director Shima accepted at emergency board of directors meeting]. Mainchi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  28. ^ "3 shogi board members sacked over mishandling of software 'cheating' scandal". Mainichi Shimbun. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  29. ^ Murase, Shinya (27 February 2017). "Shōgi Renmei no Riji Sannin wo Kainin Sofuto Fusei Sōdō no Taiō Mondai Kaishiin" 将棋連盟の理事3人を解任 ソフト不正騒動の対応問題視 [Three Japan Shogi Association directors dismissed for problems related to the handling of the issue of inappropriate software use]. Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  30. ^ Yamamura, Hideki; Maruyama, Susumu (24 May 2017). "Miura Kudan to Wakai Sofuto Mondai de" 三浦九段と和解 ソフト問題で [Settlement reached with Miura 9-dan over software cheating problem]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  31. ^ Yoshikawa, Kei (24 May 2017). "Miura Kudan to Shōgi Renmai ga "Shōgi Sofuto Fusei Giwaku" de Wakai Isharyō wa Hikōkai (Kaiken Shōhō)" 三浦弘行九段と将棋連盟が「将棋ソフト不正疑惑」で和解, 慰謝料は非公表(会見詳報) [Miura 9-dan and JSA reach settlement over "shogi software in appropriate use suspicion", amount of financial compensation undisclosed (press conference details)]. Huffington Post Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  32. ^ "Kishi Dētābēsu" 棋士データベース [Player database] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  33. ^ https://www.shogi.or.jp/match/ryuuou/
  34. ^ https://www.shogi.or.jp/match/ryuuou/32/6hon.html

External links[edit]