14-year-old pro takes Japanese chess by storm after victory in 11-hour battle

14-year-old pro takes Japanese chess by storm after victory in 11-hour battle


No pressure then. Shogi pro Sota Fujii, 14, left, has just defeated Yasuhiro Masuda, 19, to break the record for the most consecutive games won.
Photo: Kyodo

A 14-year-old professional Japanese chess player has rocked Japan by breaking the record for the most consecutive matches won.  

Sota Fujii, pictured, broke a 30-year-old record with his 29th win in a row. His face was plastered across front pages of major newspapers today, getting more coverage than the bankruptcy filing of Japanese airbag maker Takata.

Sota, who is still in secondary school, holds the title of fourth dan, says Japan Times. Since December he has not lost a match. His latest win saw him break the record of the eighth-dan shogi star, Hiroshi Kamiya, 56.

Sota Fujii's talent was evident from a very young age - as was his desire never to lose

The game of shogi is similar to chess, although players may reuse captured game pieces as their own. The game, in which players attempt to capture their opponent’s king piece, is thought to have originated from the ancient Indian game of chaturanga. Sota defeated 19-year-old opponent Yasuhiro Masuda after a more than 11-hour battle that ended on Monday night.

He became the youngest player ever to qualify to enter the professional ranks last October, and has reeled off 29 straight victories since his first pro match in December.

Japan’s Kyodo News agency says Sota’s win has revitalised the game. Public interest has not been this high since 1996, when a master won all seven top championships in the same year.

Even Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe weighed in on Tuesday, telling reporters that Sota had made history with a victory that he thinks will give other Japanese people hopes and dreams.


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