ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronCrossEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Life

Prodigy rewrites Japanese-chess records at age 14

Youngest-ever pro tops some of the best on his way to 29 straight wins

Sota Fujii made his professional debut only last fall.

TOKYO -- Sota Fujii has taken the world of shogi by storm since his debut by overturning a 30-year record with 29 straight victories in a professional career barely more than six months long.

Last fall, Fujii became the youngest professional player ever of the chess-like Japanese game at 14 years and 2 months. His winning streak has sparked a shogi fever not seen in two decades.

Fujii learning moves at age five.

Fujii's still-boyish features give way to a face brimming with uncanny concentration and competitiveness once in front of the board. His weapon is the ability to solve complex shogi puzzles, allowing him to hold his own against Japan's top players despite being in the sixth grade. In addition to an outstanding endgame, Fujii has closed gaps in his opening and middle game by incorporating artificial intelligence into his training since last summer.

Fujii hates losing. As a younger boy, he would cling to the board and bawl after a loss. He admits to thinking about the game when he walks, causing him to fall into a street drain once due to his focus -- or lack of it. Fujii may be a shogi fanatic, but he makes time for other pursuits as well. He is an avid newspaper reader, as demonstrated by his broad vocabulary in interviews.

This spring, the middle schooler trounced shogi greats including Yoshiharu Habu, who wowed Japan in the 1990s, in a series of unofficial matches broadcast on the internet. Some expect him to become the youngest player to win a title. But Fujii remains humble, saying "I'm still nowhere near good enough, but I'd like to put myself in a position to aim for a title soon."

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media