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JSA Comment in Response to the Third-party Committee's Investigation Report

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Published at: 2016-12-27 09:55

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On December 26th, the Japan Shogi Association received the report of the third-party committee's investigation.
In response to this we held a press conference today at the Shogi Kaikan, Tokyo.
Below is a summary of the press conference by Chairman Koji Tanigawa

Summary of Press Conference by Tanigawa

Yesterday morning we received the report from the third-party committee.
We are grateful to the committee for making a thorough investigation, as well as holding a press conference yesterday afternoon.

The report consists of two conclusions: (1) There was no software-assisted cheating by 9-Dan Hiroyuki Miura, (2) Suspension of Miura, decided by the directors, was appropriate.
Even though our decision has been found appropriate, we deeply regret that we made 9-Dan Miura suffer a lot as a result, and there are things that we should have done better.
First of all, we were too slow in establishing rules regarding the use of electronic devises during games. We once had a committee to discuss this a few years ago, but concluded that we would leave it to each player's discretion, due to the opinions saying that having such strict rules itself would be a shame for the organization.
Secondly, this case started from 9-Dan Toshiaki Kubo's remark in July at a conference, and it is our fault that we did not verify whether this was the truth. Not to mention the discrepancy in the time length of 9-Dan Miura's leaving the board, we also learned that the matching percentage of the moves, which we initially believed to be a reliable data source, actually have as much as 20% of tolerance; we should have collected more accurate information.

On the other hand, regarding the actions we took since October 11th, I would like to mention that there was a serious fact that a tabloid journal would most probably cover the story of 9-Dan Miura.
If we had started the 7-game Ryuou title match between Watanabe and Miura, seeing this article one week after the 1st game, it would have caused not only a chaotic situation but also even a cancellation of the title match, which is the worst scenario.
Because we asked 9-Dan Maruyama to be promoted to the challenger, the title match ended uneventfully. We are grateful to 9-Dan Maruyama for accepting to be the challenger in such a short notice.
As mentioned in the report, this decision was inevitable considering the limited time and realistic options we had. But the committee pointed out, we should not have called it a "punitive suspension" but a "suspension measure". We think this is entirely true.

9-Dan Miura will be playing the games starting January. The Japan Shogi Association will make every effort to prepare the environment for Miura to be able to concentrate on his games.
In that sense, we have made a decision. Miura could not play the 5th and the 6th games of A-class Ranking League (Jun-i-sen) due to the suspension. Taking the committee's report into consideration, this time we will handle the A-class specially, making only one player drop down to B1-class, and letting Miura play in A-class in the next term. To be more specific, Miura's results will be 1 win and 3 losses, followed by the non-played games during the last 3 months, and then by the 7th, 8th, and 9th games staring from January which will be also non-played, only his opponents receiving winning points.
The promotion from B1-class will be two players, resulting in 11 players in the A-class for the next term, where Miura will start from the 11th rank in the league.

We have caused serious troubles and inconvenience for our sponsors, particularly Yomiuri Newspaper that sponsors Ryuou Championship. We would also like to address our deep gratitude to Asahi Newspaper and Mainichi Newspaper for allowing us to adopt the special measures in the A-class, despite the fact we caused them trouble by suspending Miura's 5th and 6th games.
In Oui Championship, the non-played games will not be losses-by-default for Miura.
In Asahi Cup, the pairing of the second qualify round was done excluding Miura.
We apologize the sponsors of Oui Championship and Asahi Cup for all these troubles.

I would also like to comment on the suggestion made by the committee.
Regarding electronic devises, we already enforced new regulations on December 14th before this report, prohibiting to bring in electronic devises to the game as well as to go out of the building while playing; but paying respect to the committee's suggestion, we will keep studying further solutions that will let the players concentrate on the board without being distracted by having suspicions.
Regarding leaving the board during game, it is not possible to establish a rule for it. However, in my personal opinion, the players should refrain from leaving the board unnecessarily long, considering the the fact that the level of shogi AIs is already similar to that of the strongest professional players.
9-Dan Miura had reduced the amount of time he leaves the board since August 8th, when the JSA sent him a note asking to refrain from leaving the board for a long time. In contrast, his total time of leaving the board at the game in July against Kubo was long, according to the report.
In any case, a professional shogi game is something that stands up on both players' respect for each other. All players of the JSA will take the committee's suggestion seriously and reconsider how we should face shogi, in order to have shogi fans enjoy our earnest, heated battles on the board.

Lastly I would like to address our sincere apology to the shogi fans, the sponsors, particularly Yomiuri Newspaper sponsoring Ryuou Championship, and more than anybody, to 9-Dan Miura and his family and his related parties for the troubles we caused to them.
From now on we will endeavor to realize fair and wholesome management of the tournaments, avoiding such incidents to happen again.

December 27th, 2016

Koji Tanigawa, Chairman of the Japan Shogi Association

Translated by Hidetchi