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Top shogi player banned amid cheating allegations

Hiroyuki Miura (Mainichi)

The Japan Shogi Association (JSA) announced on Oct. 12 that it has banned 9th-dan-ranked Hiroyuki Miura from taking part in official competitions until the end of the year after cheating allegations surfaced.

The JSA decided to take the punitive step against 42-year-old Miura because he failed to meet the deadline set by the association to submit a request to withdraw from an upcoming tournament. Allegations have surfaced that Miura was using shogi software during a match after a shogi player who played against him suggested that he had left his seat on many occasions in unusual ways. The JSA launched an investigation into the issue and interviewed Miura.

It had earlier been decided that Miura would be a challenger at the 29th Ryuo best-of-seven championship tournament due to be held at Tenryuji Temple in Kyoto from Oct. 15. But 9th-dan-ranked Tadahisa Maruyama, 46, will instead face Ryuo titleholder Akira Watanabe, 32, in the tournament. The JSA's decision was also approved by the Yomiuri Shimbun Co., the organizer of the tournament, though it is extremely rare to switch a challenger of such tournaments.

JSA Managing Director Akira Shima said at a news conference on Oct. 12 that when Miura was asked about why he had left his seat so many times toward the end of the match at an executive board meeting on Oct. 11, he explained, "I was taking a break in a room." Shima said that Miura told JSA officials he would skip the tournament, saying, "I will withdraw from the tournament because I can't play shogi under these circumstances." The JSA waited for his formal request to withdraw from the tournament until the 3 p.m. deadline on Oct. 12, but he failed to submit it, prompting the association to take the punitive step.

Hailing from Gunma Prefecture, Miura became a professional shogi player in 1992. In 1996, he came under the spotlight for seizing the "Kisei" title -- one of the seven major titles -- from then 7th-dan-ranked Yoshiharu Habu, 46, and stopping him from holding all of the major shogi crowns.

Miura told the Mainichi Shimbun, "It is absolutely an unjustified accusation. I have not cheated. I will consult a lawyer."

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