SHIMONOSEKI, YAMAGUCHI PREF. – Yoshiharu Habu, a 48-year-old shogi master, on Friday lost his Ryuo title to 31-year-old challenger Akihito Hirose, leaving him without a major shogi title for the first time in 27 years.
In the last game of the best-of-seven competition for the 31st Ryuo title in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Hirose defeated Habu with the 167th move. Habu also lost a chance to notch his 100th tournament victory.
The new Ryuo title holder is a native of Sapporo. After becoming a professional shogi player in 2005, Hirose won his first title, the Oi, in 2010.
Habu gained his first title, a Ryuo, in 1989 at the age of 19. Although he lost it the next year, he went on to win the Kio title in 1991. Since then, he had held at least one of the seven major titles — Ryuo, Meijin, Oi, Oza, Kio, Osho and Kisei — at any one time.
In December 2017, Habu became the first shogi player to have received all seven of the eisei lifetime titles , excluding the new Eio title.
Despite Friday’s loss, Habu, who has won 1,419 official games in total, needs only 14 more to reach the record held by late shogi master Yasuharu Oyama.
On Friday night, Hirose told a news conference, “I am filled with great happiness now.”
Habu said: “The poor result means I didn’t have enough ability. I’ll develop my skills further to get another chance.”
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