Tue, Jul 11, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Teenage Japanese chess prodigy’s winning streak grinds to a halt

Fourteen-year-old shogi player, Sota Fujii, holds up a chess board on June 27 in Japan.

Photo: CNA

Fourteen-year-old Sota Fujii, a professional shogi (Japanese chess) player, smashed a 30-year shogi record and took his country by storm by pulling off a record-breaking 29-match winning streak.

Fujii, who practices extensively using computer chess software — and is Japan’s youngest professional shogi player, on June 26 broke the 30-year record in shogi of 28 consecutive match wins.

For Japan, a country which has been stuck in a trap of deflation and economic stagnation for more than 15 years, Fujii’s brilliant performance has attracted a posse of diehard fans from all walks of life — and even won him acclaim from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Speaking to reporters, Abe said: “The power of youth has made history. His victory is like a dream that gives hope to the Japanese people.”

Fujii, who battled for 11 hours against a 19-year-old pro, was as cool as a cucumber during the post-match interviews. “I never imagined that I would win 29 matches in a row. I feel very happy, but also extremely surprised.”

Fujii is coached by a veteran professional shogi player. However, according to Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper, after starting to practice with computer software around a year and a half ago, Fujii’s chess skills improved dramatically.

Training with a computer is frowned upon and viewed as unorthodox by many professional shogi players. However, a member of the Japan Shogi Association noted that, “During the course of his or her lifetime, a professional shogi player will be extremely fortunate to participate in as many as 1,000 matches. By using artificial intelligence chess programs, it is possible to play several thousand times more this number and accumulate professional-level skills.”


1. take… by storm

phr. 風靡… (feng1 mi3)

2. diehard

adj. 死忠的 (si3 zhong1 de5)

3. all walks of life

phr. 各行各業 (ge4 hang2 ge4 ye4)

4. as cool as a cucumber

phr. 沉著冷靜 (chen2 zhuo2 leng3 jing4)

5. artificial intelligence

phr. 人工智慧 (ren2 gong1 zhi4 hui4)

On July 2, Fujii was beaten while attempting to win a 30th consecutive victory, halting the new record at 29 matches. After the match, Fujii said: “A winning streak always comes to an end eventually. I was utterly defeated.”











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