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The dragon king

Ryu-oh or Ryūō (竜王, lit. "Dragon King") is the name of a promoted piece in shogi, a Japanese professional shogi tournament, and the title of its winner.

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).

Among the seven titles in the professional shogi titleholder system, Ryu-oh and Meijin are the most prestigious ones.

Lifetime Ryu-oh

"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; 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.


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 4-2 Taku Morishita
5 1992 Yoshiharu Habu 4-3 Koji Tanigawa
6 1993 Yasumitsu Sato 4-2 Yoshiharu Habu
7 1994 Yoshiharu Habu 4-2 Yasumitsu Sato
8 1995 Yoshiharu Habu 4-2 Yasumitsu Sato
9 1996 Koji Tanigawa 4-1 Yoshiharu Habu
10 1997 Koji Tanigawa 4-0 Keiichi Sanada
11 1998 Takeshi Fujii 4-0 Koji Tanigawa
12 1999 Takeshi Fujii 4-1 Daisuke Suzuki
13 2000 Takeshi Fujii 4-3 Yoshiharu Habu
14 2001 Yoshiharu Habu 4-1 Takeshi Fujii
15 2002 Yoshiharu Habu 4-3 Takashi Abe
16 2003 Toshiyuki Moriuchi 4-0 Yoshiharu Habu
17 2004 Akira Watanabe 4-3 Toshiyuki Moriuchi
18 2005 Akira Watanabe 4-0 Kazuki Kimura
19 2006 Akira Watanabe 4-3 Yasumitsu Sato
20 2007 Akira Watanabe 4-2 Yasumitsu Sato
21 2008 Akira Watanabe 4-3 Yoshiharu Habu
22 2009 Akira Watanabe 4-0 Toshiyuki Moriuchi
23 2010 Akira Watanabe 4-2 Yoshiharu Habu
24 2011 Akira Watanabe 4-1 Tadahisa Maruyama
25 2012 Akira Watanabe 4-1 Tadahisa Maruyama
26 2013 Toshiyuki Moriuchi 4-1 Akira Watanabe
27 2014 Tetsuro Itodani 4-1 Toshiyuki Moriuchi
28 2015 Akira Watanabe 4-1 Tetsuro Itodani


Games played outside Japan

The first game of each of the following Ryu-oh title matches was played outside of Japan.

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
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
21 2008 Paris, France
27 2014 Honolulu, United States