National

Sota Fujii, 16, becomes youngest shogi player to reach 100 wins

Kyodo

Sixteen-year-old shogi prodigy Sota Fujii secured his 100th official match victory Wednesday, becoming the youngest professional player of the Japanese board game to reach the milestone in addition to doing so at the fastest pace in history.

Fujii has taken the shogi world by storm since making his debut in October 2016 as the youngest-ever professional player at age 14, smashing numerous records, including an unprecedented 29 consecutive wins in 2017.

Fujii, now 16 and ranked seventh dan, the third-highest rank in Japanese chess, achieved the latest feats in two years and two months since turning pro. He has an 84.7 percent win rate, also a record high, having lost just 18 times.

“I’m proud,” Fujii told a news conference after defeating Kenjiro Abe, 29, also ranked seventh dan, while paying his respects to what he called the “great senpai” predecessors who established the previous records.

He said he tried not to think about his chance to achieve a milestone victory during the match. “I tried to play shogi as usual because I thought I wouldn’t do well if I thought about it.”

Previously, Ryuo title holder Yoshiharu Habu, 48, was the youngest player to reach 100 wins in the shortest period, having done so at age 17 and six months over the span of two years and three months, according to the Japan Shogi Association.

The previous record for highest win rate had been held by Makoto Nakahara, a 71-year-old retired shogi master, at 82.6 percent (100 wins and 21 losses), the association said.

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