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Shogi pro Habu reaches 2,000th official game in record time

Yoshiharu Habu, left, plays his 2,000th official game against Chikara Akutsu, who holds an eighth-dan ranking, during the A-class Meijin ranking tournament at the Shogi Kaikan hall in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on the morning of Nov. 21, 2018. (Mainichi/Susumu Maruyama)

TOKYO -- Yoshiharu Habu on Nov. 21 became the seventh shogi professional to play 2,000 official games, as he faced off against opponent Chikara Akutsu in the 77th Meijin ranking tournament in Tokyo.

Habu, the current Ryuo title holder, achieved the feat at the age of 48 years and one month, becoming the youngest Japanese chess player to reach the mark. His 2,000th official game, played during the top-tier Meijin ranking tournament, comes a total of 32 years and 11 months after his debut as a professional player -- the fastest time ever. The previous fastest time was 37 years, eight months, by Koji Tanigawa, who reached his 2,000th official game at the age of 52 years, four months. Tanigawa now holds a ninth-dan rank.

Habu's career record as of Nov. 20 stands at 1,416 wins and 581 losses. Regardless of the outcome of his 2,000th game, his winning percentage stands at 70.9 percent. This represents the highest proportion of wins for a player at this milestone, surpassing the 66.4 percent of the late Yasuharu Oyama.

Other players who have reached the 2,000-game milestone include Hifumi Kato, 78; Makoto Nakahara, 71; Michio Ariyoshi, 83; and Kunio Naito, 79.

Habu currently faces a challenge for the Ryuo title he holds, from 31-year-old Akihito Hirose, who has an eighth-dan ranking. If Habu defends the title, he will become the first professional shogi player to win 100 titles.

The Meijin Tournament is sponsored by The Mainichi Newspapers Co. and the Asahi Shimbun Co.

(Japanese original by Susumu Maruyama, Cultural News Department)

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