National

Record-setting winning streak of shogi prodigy Sota Fujii halted at 29 games

by Kakumi Kobayashi

Staff Writer

A record-setting winning streak by 14-year-old shogi prodigy Sota Fujii ended Sunday with his defeat at the hands of Yuki Sasaki, 22, in a high-profile match of the traditional chess-like game.

Fujii, who is the youngest shogi pro and holds the lowest rank of fourth dan, caused a nationwide sensation with his 29-game unbeaten streak in official matches that began with his pro debut in December.

Fujii, a junior high school student from Seto, Aichi Prefecture, set the all-time record for most consecutive wins last week by beating fellow fourth dan Yasuhiro Masuda.

Ahead of Sunday’s match, Sasaki, a fifth dan player, said he was determined to halt Fujii’s streak in a match for the Ryuo Sen championship, known as the highest prize among shogi’s eight major titles.

His first victory of the streak came against the oldest top-ranked player, Hifumi Kato, a ninth dan player, who recently retired.

The winner of the Ryuo final takes home the largest prize purse of the year, around ¥43.2 million in addition to anything earned from previous matches in the tournament.

Fujii broke the consecutive-win record by Hiroshi Kamiya, a 56-year-old eighth dan player, who won 28 straight matches in 1987.

Professionals are ranked between fourth dan, the lowest, and ninth dan, the highest.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5