• Kyodo

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Shogi sensation Sota Fujii set another record Monday by becoming the youngest player to hold three of the traditional board game's eight major titles at 19 years and one month.

Fujii defeated 31-year-old Masayuki Toyoshima three games to two for the Eio championship win, which Toyoshima held since last year. Fujii took Games 1, 3 and 5.

Fujii broke the previous record set by Yoshiharu Habu, 50, who first held three of the major titles at 22 years and three months before winning all seven major titles that existed in 1996.

"It was my first time to play full sets (until the very last game of a championship series), and I am happy to be able to produce a (good) result," Fujii said of his victory. "I don't care much about the youngest record. There are games ahead, so I would like to move forward."

Fujii also tied Akira Watanabe, 37, for the most titles held at present.

Sota Fujii (right) plays against Masayuki Toyoshima for the Eio championship in Tokyo on Monday. | KYODO
Sota Fujii (right) plays against Masayuki Toyoshima for the Eio championship in Tokyo on Monday. | KYODO

In a game long dominated by experienced veterans, Fujii has broken numerous "youngest" records, such as turning pro at 14 years and two months, winning his first major title, Kisei, in July 2020 at 17 years and 11 months, and taking his second major title, Oi, one month later after he turned 18.

Habu, who received the People's Honor Award from the Japanese government in 2018, was effusive in his praise of the youngster.

"To have three titles as a teen is an amazing feat, but it comes as no surprise as I look at how he has performed in recent years," Habu said. "I look forward to seeing what kind of strategies he will come up with and how he improves further."

Fujii will again challenge Toyoshima in the best-of-seven Ryuo championship series beginning Oct. 8.

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