National

Osaka girl, 9, to become Japan's youngest pro go player in April

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

A 9-year-old girl from the city of Osaka will soon become the youngest professional go player in Japan.

Sumire Nakamura, a fourth-grader in elementary school, will be 10 when she joins the professional league and receives her ranking of first dan on April 1, officials at Nihon Ki-in, the Tokyo-based association for pro go players, announced at a news conference in the capital on Saturday.

Nakamura will break the record of Rina Fujisawa, who went professional at the age of 11 years and six months, in 2010.

The object of the traditional strategy game known for its characteristic black and white stones is to use the pieces to surround more territory than your opponent. The stones are placed at intersections on the square board, which has a grid superimposed on it.

She attended the news conference with her father, Shinya Nakamura, who holds the higher rank of ninth dan.

“It was rather shocking to see her ability, given her age,” said Chang Hsu, a ninth dan player who tested her skills for Nihon Ki-in as part of the screening process.

“She was very composed” and flexible while playing, he said.

Nakamura will be the first go player to turn pro under Nihon Ki-in’s special screening system for “prospective, talented” players who can compete with top players from other countries, said Nihon Ki-in Director-General Dan Hiroaki.