Yoshiharu Habu

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Yoshiharu Habu at International Shogi Forum 2011

Yoshiharu Habu (羽生善治 Habu Yoshiharu?, born September 27, 1970) is a professional shogi player and a chess FIDE Master. He studied shogi under Tatsuya Futakami[ja] (二上達也 Futakami Tatsuya?).

Early life[edit]

Yoshiharu Habu was born in Tokorozawa, Saitama in 1970 and moved to Hachioji, Tokyo before entering kindergarten. Habu first encountered shogi in his first year of elementary school, when his classmates taught him how the shogi pieces move. He was so fascinated by the game that his mother entered him in a shogi tournament held at the Hachioji Shogi Club in the summer of 1978. Although Habu was eliminated during the preliminary rounds with a record of 1 win and 2 losses, his parents took him to the shogi club every weekend from October 1978. Habu improved so rapidly that he was promoted to amateur 5-dan in October 1981 at the age of 11.[1][2]

During his elementary school days, Habu regularly participated in regional and national shogi tournaments, mainly for children. At these tournaments, Habu played against several children of the same age who also became professional players, including Toshiyuki Moriuchi[ja], Yasumitsu Sato[ja] and Manabu Senzaki[ja]. Those players born around 1970 are now known as the Habu generation[ja], not just because they were born in the same year, but also due to their outstanding achievements as players.[1]

In July 1981, Habu qualified to participate in the Amateur Meijin Tournament[ja] as the youngest ever representative ever of the Tokyo Suburban Area, and won four tournaments for elementary school children the following August. In April 1982, Habu won the 7th Elementary School Meijin tournament[ja] (小学生将棋名人戦 Shōgakusei meijinsen?).[3] He expressed his desire to become a professional player and asked advice from Katsuyasu Nakajima, the owner of the Hachioji Shogi Club and a student of Tatsuya Futakami. Habu applied to the Apprentice professional training school[ja] (奨励会 shōreikai?) [4] as Futakami's student and was accepted as a member later in 1982.

Shogi professional[edit]

Habu became a 4-dan professional in 1985 at the age of 14. He was the third "junior high school kid professional" in shogi history following Hifumi Kato[ja] and Koji Tanigawa. In 1989, at the age of 19, Habu 6-dan won the Ryu-oh championship, defeating Akira Shima[ja] who led a 4-person shogi study group "Shimaken" in which Habu himself took part. This was the first time Habu won one of the seven major titles making him, at the time, the youngest titleholder ever. Although he lost the Ryu-oh title to Tanigawa the following year, Habu won the Kioh championship four months later in 1991.[2] Since then he has held at least one of the seven major titles every year since then, and according to custom of the titleholder system he has, therefore, never been referred to by his dan ranking since winning that first championship in 1989.

Accumulating three wins in major championships (Ryu-oh in 1989, Kioh in 1991 and 1992), Habu actually did qualify for promotion to 9-dan in March 1992, but the existing promotion rules required him to be promoted to 8-dan first and then to wait one year before his next promotion. He was officially promoted to 9-dan on April 1, 1994.[5]

In 1992 Habu won the Oza championship defeating Bungo Fukuzaki[ja] to hold two titles (Kioh and Oza) simultaneously. He went on to hold the Oza title for 19 terms in a row. In 1996 (February 14 to July 30), Habu became the first professional to ever hold all seven major titles (Ryu-oh, Meijin, Kisei, Oi, Oza, Kioh, and Osho) at the same time, a remarkable feat that has not been duplicated since.[2]

In July 2012, Habu won his 81st shogi title overall when he won in the Kisei title, becoming 1st on the all-time title-winners list, and surpassing the 80 of the late Yasuharu Oyama.[6]

In June 2014, Habu defeated the defending Meijin Toshiyuki Moriuchi four games to none to become the 72nd Meijin. Habu lost his Meijin title to Moriuchi in 2011 (69th Meijin match) and was unable to defeat Moriuchi and regain the title in both 2012 (70th Meijin match) and 2013 (71st Meijin match). By defeating Moriuchi, Habu not only moved into a tie with both Moriuchi and Yoshio Kimura for third place on the all time Meijin winner's list, he also became the first person the recapture the title for the third time.[7]

In November 2014, Habu won his 1300 official game, becoming the fourth player to do so, the youngest player to do so (44 years and 1 month) and the fastest player to do since turning professional (28 years and 11 months). Habu's win came in his 1801 game as a professional and his winning percentage of 72.3 percent at the time is the all-time highest of any professional player to reach 1300 wins to date.[8]

Personal life[edit]

In March 1996, Habu married actress and singer Rie Hatada[ja] at Hato no Mori Hachiman Shrine in Sendagaya, Tokyo not far from the head office of the Japan Shogi Association. The two had met for the first time in September 1994 and officially announced their engagement in July 1995. It was reported that 80 police officers were assigned to the ceremony due to the popularity of the two.[9] As of 2012, they have two daughters.[2] He is also one of the best chess players in Japan, with an Elo rating of 2415 (February 2014).[10][11]

Promotion history[edit]

The promotion history of Habu is as follows:[5]

  • 1982, December 2: 6-kyu
  • 1983, February 2: 5-kyu (6 wins, 3 losses)
  • 1983, March 28: 4-kyu (6 wins, no losses)
  • 1983, May 11: 3-kyu: (6 wins, no losses)
  • 1983, July 7: 2-kyu: (6 wins, no losses)
  • 1983, August 24: 1-kyu: (6 wins, no losses)
  • 1984, January 11: 1-dan (12 wins, 4 losses)
  • 1984, September 10: 2-dan (14 wins, 5 losses)
  • 1985, April 25: 3-dan (12 wins, 4 losses)
  • 1985, December 12: 4-dan (13 wins, 4 losses)
  • 1988, April 1: 5-dan (for being promoted to Class C1 of Meijin ranking leagues)
  • 1989, October 1: 6-dan (for being the Ryu-oh challenger)
  • 1990, October 1: 7-dan (for being the Ryu-oh title holder, but needed to wait one year after 6-dan promotion)
  • 1993, April 1: 8-dan (for being promoted to Class A of the Meijin ranking leagues)
  • 1994, April 1: 9-dan (Qualified for rank in 1993 after holding a major title for three periods (years), but needed to wait one year after of 8-dan promotion before promoted to 9-dan [12])

Titles and other championships[edit]

Major titles[edit]

There are 7 major titles in shogi. Below is a list of number of times and years Habu has won each title.[5]

Title Years Number of times overall
Ryu-oh 1989, 1992, 1994–95, 2001–02 6
Meijin 1994–96, 2003, 2008–10, 2014-15 9
Kisei 1993–95, 2000, 2008–2016 (current) 15
Oi 1993–2001, 2004–06, 2011–16 (current) 18
Oza 1992–2010, 2012–16 (current) 24
Kioh 1991–2002, 2005 13
Osho 1996–2001, 2003, 2005–09 12

Lifetime titles (qualified for, but awarded upon retirement or death): Lifetime Meijin, Lifetime Kisei, Lifetime Oi, Lifetime Oza, Lifetime Kioh, Lifetime Osho.[5]

Holds the record number of title match victories for the following titles: Oi, Oza, Kioh

Holds the record number of consecutive title match victories for the following titles: Kisei, Oza, Kioh

Other tournaments[edit]

In addition to major titles, Habu has won the following non-title tournaments.[5]

Tournament Years Number of times
Tatsujin-sen[ja] 2011–12 2
Asahi Cup Open[ja] 2009, 2011, 2013–15 5
*Asahi Open[ja] 2003–06 4
*All Nihon Pro[ja] 1990, 1992, 1998 3
Ginga-sen[ja] 1997–98, 2000–01, 2004, 2006, 2012 7
NHK Cup 1989, 1992, 1997–99, 2001, 2008–11 10
*Hayazashi Senshuken[ja] 1992, 1995, 2002 3
Nihon Series[ja] 1991, 1998, 2003, 2010–11 5
Shinjin-Oh[ja] 1988 1
*All Star Kachinuki-sen[ja] 1988, 1990, 1997, 1999 4
*Tenno-sen[ja] 1987–88 2
*Young Lions[ja] 1987, 1989 2

Lifetime titles: Lifetime NHK Cup Champion

Note: Tournaments marked with an asterisk (*) are no longer held.


Habu's has received the following awards in recognition of his accomplishments throughout his career. The "Annual shogi awards" are awarded by the Japan Shogi Association, or JSA, to its members each year in recognition of performance during official play throughout the previous professional shogi year or shogi"nendo" (年度?) (April 1 to March 31).[13] "Other awards" includes those awarded by the JSA for career accomplishments and those awarded governmental organizations, etc. for contributions made to Japanese society.[5]

Annual shogi awards[edit]

  • 14th Annual Awards (April 1986 — March 1987): Best Winning Percentage, Best New Player
  • 15th Annual Awards (April 1987 — March 1988): Best Winning Percentage, Most Victories, Fighting-spirit
  • 16th Annual Awards (April 1988 — March 1989): Player of the Year, Best Winning Percentage, Most Games Won, Most Games Played, Most Consecutive Games Won
  • 17th Annual Awards (April 1989 — March 1990): Player of the Year, Best Winning Percentage, Most Games Won, Most Games Played, Most Consecutive Games Won
  • 19th Annual Awards (April 1991 — March 1992): Fighting-spirit
  • 20th Annual Awards (April 1992 — March 1993): Player of the Year, Best Winning Percentage, Most Games Won, Most Games Played, Most Consecutive Games Won
  • 21st Annual Awards (April 1993 — March 1994): Player of the Year
  • 22nd Annual Awards (April 1994 — March 1995): Player of the Year, Most Games Won
  • 23rd Annual Awards (April 1995 — March 1996): Player of the Year, Best Winning Percentage, Most Games Won, Special Award
  • 24th Annual Awards (April 1996 — March 1997): Player of the Year
  • 26th Annual Awards (April 1998 — March 1999): Player of the Year, Most Games Played
  • 27th Annual Awards (April 1999 — March 2000): Player of the Year
  • 28th Annual Awards (April 2000 — March 2001): Player of the Year, Best Winning Percentage, Most Games Won, Most Games Played, Most Consecutive Games Won
  • 29th Annual Awards (April 2001 — March 2002): Player of the Year
  • 30th Annual Awards (April 2002 — March 2003): Player of the Year, Most Games Won, Most Games Played
  • 32nd Annual Awards (April 2004 — March 2005): Player of the Year, Most Games Won, Most Games Played
  • 33rd Annual Awards (April 2005 — March 2006): Player of the Year, Most Games Played, Most Consecutive Games Won
  • 34th Annual Awards (April 2006 — March 2007): Excellent Player, Game of the Year
  • 35th Annual Awards (April 2007 — March 2008): Player of the Year, Most Games Won, Most Games Played, Game of the Year
  • 36th Annual Awards (April 2008 — March 2009): Player of the Year, Game of the Year
  • 37th Annual Awards (April 2009 — March 2010): Player of the Year
  • 38th Annual Awards (April 2010 — March 2011): Player of the Year, Most Games Won
  • 39th Annual Awards (April 2011 — March 2012): Player of the Year, Most Games Won, Most Games Played
  • 40th Annual Awards (April 2012 — March 2013): Excellent Player, Most Games Won, Most Games Played, Game of the Year, Special Award
  • 41st Annual Awards (April 2013 — March 2014): Excellent Player, Most Games Won, Most Games Played, Game of the Year
  • 42nd Annual Awards (April 2014 - March 2015): Player of the Year, Game of the Year
  • 43rd Annual Awards (April 2015 - March 2016): Player of the Year, Special Game of the Year

Other awards[edit]

  • 1994: Tokyo Resident Culture Honor Award (Awarded by the Governor of Tokyo in recognition of cultural achievements by a Tokyoite)
  • 1996: Prime Minister's Award (Awarded by then Japanese Prime Minister Ryūtarō Hashimoto in recognition of becoming the first person to hold all seven major shogi titles at the same time.
  • 1999: Shogi Honor Award (Awarded by the JSA in recognition of winning 600 official games as a professional)
  • 2003: Shogi Honor Fighting-spirit Award (Awarded by JSA in recognition of winning 800 official games as a professional)
  • 2007: Special Shogi Honor Award (Awarded by the JSA in recognition of winning 1,000 official games as a professional)
  • 2008: 56th Kikuchi Kan Prize (Awarded by the publishing company Bungei Shunju in recognition of cultural achievements)
  • 2010: 25 Years Service Award (Awarded by the JSA in recognition of being an active professional for twenty-five years)

Year-end prize money rankings[edit]

Since 1993, Habu has finished at the top of the year-end prize money rankings a total of 22 times (1993–96, 1998-2012, 2014–16) and second twice (1997 and 2013). All amounts are given in Japanese yen and consist of tournament winnings and other game fees received during the calendar year (January 1 to December 31).[14]

  • 1993: \100,630,000
  • 1994: \112,970,000
  • 1995: \165,970,000
  • 1996: \161,450,000
  • 1997: \101,820,000
  • 1998: \114,660,000
  • 1999: \78,720,000
  • 2000: \105,950,000
  • 2001: \115,190,000
  • 2002: \110,480,000
  • 2003: \129,100,000
  • 2004: \112,720,000
  • 2005: \103,910,000
  • 2006: \93,760,000
  • 2007: \81,320,000
  • 2008: \107,110,000
  • 2009: \112,780,000
  • 2010: \115,760,000
  • 2011: \98,860,000
  • 2012: \91,750,000
  • 2013: \72,810,000
  • 2014: \114,990,000
  • 2015: \119,000,000
  • 2016: \91,500,000


Habu has written numerous books, articles, etc. on shogi and various other topics. The vast majority of these are in Japanese, but there are some written in English.

  • — (1992–1994). Habu no Zunō Shirīzu 羽生の頭脳シリーズ [Habu's Brain (Series)]. 10 volumes (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: 日本将棋連盟 (Nihon Shōgi Renmei, Japan Shogi Association). 
  • — (2000). Habu's Words. Translated by Tony Hosking; Yamato Takahashi. Stratford-upon-Avon, England: The Shogi Foundation. ISBN 978-0953108923. 
  • — (2006). "Forward". Classic Shogi: Games Collection. By Hosking, Tony. Stratford-upon-Avon, England: The Shogi Foundation. ISBN 978-0953108930. 
  • —; Hosking, Tony (2010). Masters of Shogi. Stratford-upon-Avon, England: The Shogi Foundation. ISBN 978-0953108947. 

Video games[edit]


  1. ^ a b Takenokuchi, Katsuhiro (April 1996). "Habu Yoshiharu, Oidachi no Ki" 羽生善治, 生い立ちの記 [Yoshiharu Habu: Personal History]. Shogi Sekai (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association (Special Issue: 7 Crown Yoshinaru Habu): 168–175. 
  2. ^ a b c d Thakrar, Raju (7 January 2007). "Yoshiharu Habu: Japan's king of the board". Japan Times. Tokyo, Japan. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Ito, Karin; Nakamura, Taichi (12 April 2015). "Shōgi Fōkasu Tokushū: Shōgakusei Meijinsen Yonjūneni" 将棋フォーカス 特集: 小学生名人戦40年 [Shogi Focus Feature: Grade School Meijin 40 Years]. Shogi Focus (in Japanese). Event occurs at 19:22. NHK-E. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "The Girl Who Hopes to Become a Professional Shogi Player". Kids Web Japan. December 2004. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Kishi Shōkai: Habu Yoshiharu" 棋士紹介: 羽生善治 [Player Introduction: Yoshiharu Habu] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Habu, Tsūsan Taitoru Kakutokusu Rekidai Tandoku Ichii ni" 羽生、通算タイトル獲得数歴代単独1位に [Habu, Number 1 on the list of all-time title winners] (in Japanese). 日本将棋連盟 (Japan Shogi Association). 6 June 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  7. ^ 山村, 英樹 (21 May 2014). "Meijinsen: Habu Yonrenshō de Yonkan ni Aratana "Heisei Densetsu" Tanjō" 名人戦:羽生4連勝で4冠に 新たな「平成伝説」誕生 [Meijin Match: Habu wins four in a row, becomes a 4 crown. A new Heisei legend is born.]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan. Archived from the original on May 22, 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "Habu Meijin, Sensanbyakushō wo Tasei!" 羽生名人、1300勝を達成! [Habu Meijin, reaches 1300 wins!] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Keisatsukan Hachijūnin no Genkeitaisei no Naka de Habu Yoshiharu to Hatada Rie ga Kyoshiki" 警察官80人の厳戒態勢の中で羽生善治と畠田理恵が挙式 [Yoshiharu Habu and Rie Hatada's wedding ceremony strictly guarded by 80 police officers]. Nikkan Gendai (in Japanese). Kodansha. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "Rating Progress Chart: Habu, Yoshiharu (JPN)". World Chess Federation (FIDE). Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "When a shogi champion turns to chess". ChessBase GmbH. 17 May 2002. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "Yoku Aru Shitsumon: Taitoru wo Sanki Ijō Kakutokushita Kishi ga Kachiboshi de Hachidan ni Shōdanshita Baai, Kudan Shōdan wa Itsu ni Naru Deshōka." よくある質問:タイトルを3期以上獲得した棋士が勝ち星で八段に昇段した場合、九段昇段日はいつになるのでしょうか。 [FAQ: When is a professional who holds a major title for 3 periods (years) and is promoted to 8-dan based upon number of wins officially awarded the rank of 9-dan?] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "Shōgi Taishō Jushōsha Ichiran" 将棋大賞受賞者一覧 [List of Annual Shogi Award Winners] (in Japanese). Japan Shogi Association. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  14. ^ The following sources are cited in support of Habu's year-end prize money rankings:

External links[edit]