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Shogi legend Habu extends record with 1,500th win

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shogi player Yoshiharu Habu uses his fingers to signal his milestone 1,500th win on Thursday at the Kansai Shogi Kaikan in Osaka.

Shogi master Yoshiharu Habu has reached another milestone with his 1,500th victory as a professional, extending his record for most wins in a career.

The victory by the highest rank ninth-dan Habu came Thursday against eighth-dan Takayuki Yamasaki, 41, in their opening match of a preliminary challenge round in Osaka of the Meijin tournament.

The 51-year-old has a 1,500-654 record, for a .696 winning percentage, to go along with his 99 career titles. He had set the mark for most wins in June 2019, breaking the record of the late Yasuharu Oyama, who went 1,433-781 until his death in 1992.

In December 1985, Habu became the third junior high school student in history to become a professional shogi player.

He won his first title, the Ryuo, in 1989, then had a short spell without a title. After he won the Kio title in 1991, he held at least one title every year up until 2018.

In 1996, he became the first player to hold at the same time all the major shogi titles, when there were seven of them.

For the Meijin tournament, the winner in the A class obtains the right to challenge for the Meijin title. Habu, a nine-time Meijin titleholder, was in the A class for 29 consecutive seasons. However, after a poor 2-7 record in the preliminary challenge round last season, he was demoted to the B1 class this year.

“I’m glad I’ve reached this milestone during the course of accumulating one thing at a time,” Habu said after the match. “This is not the end of the road, so I will keep looking ahead to continue making progress.”