The basic meaning of "Ryu-oh" is a "promoted rook". It can move as either a rook (hisha 飛車, lit. flying chariot") or a king (gyokushō 玉将, lit. "jade general") during a turn, and is one of the two most powerful pieces in shogi.
"Ryu-oh" also refers to the annual Ryu-oh Tournament (Ryūō-sen 竜王戦) sponsored by the Yomiuri Shimbun as well as the title awarded to its winner. The Ryu-oh Tournament, which is one of the seven major professional shogi title matches, was first held in 1988. It comprises preliminary tournaments in six classes and one final. The final tournament, which determines the challenger, involves competitions among eleven players (the top five players from 1st class, top two from 2nd class, and the top four from 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes). The first player to win four out of seven championship games becomes the new titleholder. This title should not be confused with that of "Amateur Ryu-oh" which is awarded each year to the winner of the Amateur Ryu-oh Tournament.
Cash prizes are ¥32,000,000 for the winner of championship and new Ryu-oh titleholder, and ¥8,000,000 for the loser (approximately US$320,000 and $80,000 respectively). Additional compensation includes ¥14,500,000 for the previous titleholder and ¥7,000,000 for the challenger (approximately US$145,000 and $70,000).
The Ryu-oh 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 九段戦 (1956–1961) and the earlier 全日本選手権戦 (1948–1955) tournaments. Considering this lineage, the Ryu-oh is the longest running title tournament apart from the Meijin title.
"Lifetime Ryu-oh" ("Eisei Ryu-oh") 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.
The only player to qualify for the Lifetime Ryu-oh title to date is Akira Watanabe[ja]; Watanabe qualified for the title by winning his fifth championship in a row in 2008. He will be officially designated as "The First Lifetime Ryu-oh" upon his retirement or death.
The number in parenthesis represents the culmulative times the player had won the title to date.
|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||Tetsuro Itodani||4-1||Toshiyuki Moriuchi|
|28||2015||Akira Watanabe (10)||4-1||Tetsuro Itodani|
|29||2016||Akira Watanabe (11)||4-3||Tadahisa Maruyama|
- Most titles overall: Akira Watanabe, 11
- Most consecutive titles: Akira Watanabe, 9 in a row (2004-2012)
- Most times recapturing title: Yoshiharu Habu, 3 [a]
- Longest period between titles: Toshiyuki Moriuchi, 10 years (2003-2013)
Games played outside Japan
29th Ryu-oh challenger controversy
Hiroyuki Miura 9d won the three-game challenger playoff match for the 29th Ryu-oh tournament by defeating Tadahisa Maruyama 9d two games to one in early September 2016. Three days before Miura was to begin play against reigning Ryu-oh 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.
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. 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. 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. 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".
On 18 January 2017, Tanigawa announced that he was resigning as JSA president to assume responsibility for the JSA's handing of the matter. 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.
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.
On 24 May 2017, Miura and JSA president Yoshimitsu 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 Ryu-oh title holder Watanabe prior to the press conference and that he accpeted Watanabe's apology for his role in the controversy.
- 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.
- "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.
- "Watanabe Akira Ryūō no Kyōdō Kisha Kaiken" 渡辺明竜王の共同記者会見 [Akira Watanabe Ryu-oh, Kyodo News Press Conference] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association. 19 December 2008. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
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- 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.
- 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 [Ryu-oh match, Watanabe 2-crown defends title, defeats Maruyama 4-3]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 25 December 2016.
- "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.
- "Dai Nijūnanaki Ryūōsen Nanaban Shōbu" 第27期竜王戦七番勝負 [27th Ryu-oh 7-game Match] (in Japanese). Yomiuri Shimbun and Japan Shogi Association. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
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- Murase, Shinya; Fukumatsu, Shinji (13 October 2016). "Top 'shogi' player suspected of cheating pulls out of title match". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- "Top shogi player banned amid cheating allegations". Mainichi Shinbun. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- "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.
- "Shogi association to set up investigative team to look into cheating allegations". Mainichi Shimbun. 22 October 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
- "Inquiry clears top 'shogi' player Hiroyuki Miura of cheating". Asahi Shimbun. 27 December 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- "Chief of 'shogi' body reinstates top player, apologizes over cheating charge". Japan Times. Kyodo News. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- "Shogi player cleared, criticizes association". NHK World. 27 December 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- Yamamura, Hideki; Mogami, Satoshi (January 18, 2017). "Head of shogi association resigns after top player cleared of cheating". Mainichi Shimbun. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- 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.
- "3 shogi board members sacked over mishandling of software 'cheating' scandal". Mainichi Shimbun. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.