The Tengen is the direct descendant of the Nihon Ki-in Championship and the Kansai Ki-in Championship, which were thus merged. The sponsors of both the old and the new events are the Shinbun Sansha Rengo, a federation of three newspaper companies.
The number of regional newspapers carrying the event is currently 12: the main newspapers Hokkaido Shinbun (published in Sapporo, Hakodate, Asahikawa and Kushiro), Tokyo Shinbun, Hokuriku Chunichi Shinbun (Kanazawa), Chunichi Shinbun (Nagoya, Tokyo, Kanazawa and Hamamatsu), Kobe Shinbun, Tokushima Shinbun and Nishi Nippon Shinbun (Fukuoka), plus the sports papers Doshin Sports, Tokyo Chunichi Sports, Chunichi Sports, The Daily Sports and Nishi Nippon Sports.
The winner's prize money is 10.4 million yen.
All players in the Nihon Ki-in and Kansai Ki-in are eligible. Two preliminary tournaments are held. The first is a partial knockout for 1-dan to 4-dan players to give the last eight players (six from the Nihon Ki-in, two from the Kansai Ki-in) who proceed to the second preliminary, where they join with the 5-dan to 9-dan players in another partial knockout.
This produces around 30 players (just over half from the Nihon Ki-in), who go into a main knockout with the previous challenger (or losing title holder) and semi-finalists to find a challenger to the title holder. Because the actual numbers usually exceed 32, there are usually a couple of playoff games to get down to that number.
Time limits are now 5 hours each (used to be 6 hours). Komi has always been 5.5 points.
Tengen (origin of Heaven), although originally a Chinese word, acquired a special go sense of centre of the board. This is attributed to the Imperial astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai (1639-1715; he was 7-dan in go). The go sense has been borrowed back into Chinese Tianyuan), and also into Korean (Chunweon), as the name of tournaments. Although they are organised separately, there are international matches between the respective champions.
The old Nihon Ki-in Championship was a knockout for all players but with players of 5-dan and above seeded into a Chuken Kishi (core players) section. Komi here was 4.5 points and time limits in the final were 10 hours each.
Because there were holders of both the Nihon Ki-in and Kansai Ki-in titles to respect when the Tengen was formed, the first term did not have a title holder. But the incumbent champions were compensated by being made honorary holders.
The Kansai Ki-in Championship, which was sponsored by the Kobe Shinbun, ran from 1959.