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If cheating concerns remain unaddressed, shogi world could self-destruct: report

A panel of attorneys set up by the Japan Shogi Association (JSA) to investigate allegations that a top shogi player used game software during matches to cheat cleared the star of the suspicions.

The allegations made by the association cited several shogi players' testimonies that frequent and long breaks were taken by ninth-dan player Hiroyuki Miura, 42, during matches. Miura, meanwhile, categorically denied the accusations. Many top shogi players who were questioned during the investigation said that the moves made by Miura were within the range of ordinary moves taken by professional players.

The software cheating scandal emerged amid developments in shogi software technology, which has begun to overtake the abilities of human shogi players, and the fact that this could have a major effect on the shogi world.

The report released by the panel said the JSA faced "an unprecedented crisis." If the JSA fails to address the concerns shogi players have about opponents possibly using shogi software to help them in their matches, "we feel a danger that shogi -- which is a part of our country's spiritual culture -- will corrode from the inside out," the report said.

The JSA took the measure of banning electronic devices from match venues in October, but this step cannot be considered sufficient. There is a need to keep an eye on changes in software and other kinds of technology, and to implement new measures as necessary. Ultimately, it will be up to each and every shogi player's conscience to keep the game fair.

The report noted that the JSA's suspension of Miura from competition in October could not have been avoided at the time. However, great challenges lie ahead for the association.

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