• Kyodo, Jiji


The 18-year-old shogi prodigy Sota Fujii on Thursday became the youngest player ever to win two of the game's eight major titles.

Fujii defeated title defender Kazuki Kimura, 47, in a straight 4-0 victory in a best-of-seven series to capture the Oi title, and also became the youngest to rise to the second-highest rank, eighth dan. Just last month, the high school student clinched the Kisei title, defeating Akira Watanabe, 36.

"I wasn't focused on (the record), but I'm glad to have achieved good results," Fujii said, following Thursday's match.

If he wins this year's remaining Osho title game, he would become the holder of three major shogi titles.

At 18 years and one month old, Fujii takes the distinction of being the youngest to clinch two major titles from ninth-dan player Yoshiharu Habu, 49, who had set the bar at 21 years and 11 months in 1992.

Fujii became the youngest ever to be promoted to the rank of eighth dan, unseating Hifumi Kato, 80, who in 1958 accomplished the feat at the age of 18 years and 3 months. Professional shogi players are ranked between fourth dan, the lowest rank, and ninth dan, the highest.

The recent promotion follows his advancement to the rank of seventh dan in May 2018, which he reached in record time.

Fujii said Friday that he is determined to further enhance his ability and aim even higher.

"I'm filled with deep emotion," said Fujii at a news conference held in the city of Fukuoka.

"I still have to enhance my ability," he said. "I found some new issues in the Oi title matches, so I'll aim higher."

The light green haori jacket worn by Fujii over a kimono during the final match on Thursday was a gift from Masataka Sugimoto, 51, Fuji's mentor. "The haori's color was so vivid that it had a sobering effect. It was nice that I could achieve the victory in such a condition," Fujii said.

Debuting as the youngest professional shogi player at the age of 14 in October 2016, Fujii has broken a series of records, including achieving an unprecedented 29 consecutive wins following his debut and reaching his 100th victory in official matches at the fastest pace in history in December 2018.

On July 16, the Aichi Prefecture native became the youngest player at 17 years and 11 months to take the Kisei title in a best-of-five series.

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