Japan’s youngest professional shogi player, 14-year old Sota Fujii, has set a record in his first matches as a professional player by winning 29 consecutive matches.
Sujii set his record Monday, June 26, after a match against 19-year-old Yasuhiro Masuda that went on for 11 hours, including breaks to eat and go the bathroom.
Shogi has similarities to chess in that the goal of the game is to capture the king. One big difference between chess and shogi is that pieces captured from opponents can be recycled and put back into the game, making it more complex. The game is played on a nine by nine square board on a block of wood on the floor between the two players, and there are 20 pieces.
The previous record of 28 wins was set in 1987 by Hiroshi Kamiya, then a 56-year-old eighth dan player, the Japan Times reported. The ranking system for Shogi is fourth dan through ninth dan, with fourth being the lowest and ninth being the highest.
Even Sujii, a fourth dan player, was surprised by his winning streak.
“Personally winning 29 times in a row was something beyond my imagination,
so I feel happy but at the same time am also very surprised,” he said.
In his first match in December, Sota defeated the previous youngest professional shogi player, 76-year-old Hifumi Kato, the AP reported. Kato was the youngest player back in the 1950s.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a reporter outside his home, “I think it was a victory that gave hope and dreams to the people in Japan.”
Sujii’s not resting on his laurels though. He said he wants to increase his skills so he can keep his title.
He will have an opportunity to extend his winning streak in less than a week as his next match is July 2, the AP reported.