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Sota Fujii Becomes Youngest Player to Win Major Shogi Title
Seventeen-year-old shogi phenomenon Sota Fujii made history on July 16, 2020 by capturing the Kisei title, one of the game’s eight major titles. By winning it, he became the youngest person to ever win a major shogi title, only adding to his legend.
The high-school student Fujii defeated Akira Watanabe to clinch the Kisei title. That wasn’t an easy undertaking — the 36-year-old Watanabe holds the Kio and Osho titles, other major marks in the game’s community.
Fujii won the title at the age of 17 years and 11 months old, breaking a record established in 1990 by Nobuyuki Yashiki, who won the Kisei title at 18 years and six months of age. Fujii turned 18 the Sunday after his victory.
“To be honest, it hasn’t really hit me yet,” Fujii said following the match. “As I’m in a responsible position now, I will work even harder to better play shogi.”
Over the last few years, the shogi prodigy has become a celebrated person across Japan. Originally hailing from Aichi Prefecture, he started playing shogi at the age of five after his grandmother gifted him a game set.
He quickly surpassed his grandfather at the game, and enrolled in shogi school. Fujii quickly impressed with a grasp of the game going well beyond most people, let alone those still in elementary school.
After spending several years training with an exclusive society geared towards developing gifted shogi players, Fujii turned professional in 2016, at the age of 14. He became the youngest person to ever achieve this in Japanese history.
More accolades followed in the years to come. In 2018, Fujii became the youngest player ever to earn the third-highest rank in shogi — known as “seventh dan” — after winning a match in an Osaka area tournament. Later that year, he won a major shogi tournament in Tokyo, once again notching a record for being the youngest to achieve something. By the end of the year, he became the youngest to reach 100 total wins.
These achievements turned Fujii into a household name. News shows and social media accounts followed his triumphs closely, reporting on each new record broken. Many of his victories even became breaking news story on TV.
*That was the case with his latest milestone. Despite most news coverage being focused on COVID-19, Fujii’s victory pushed its way to the front of nightly coverage.
*as of August 7, 2020
Key Words and Expressions
- phenomenon — someone or something that has special qualities or abilities
- legend — a series of stories about a respectable person
- defeat — to earn a victory over someone
- win a title — to get a certain position by beating other competitors
- surpass — to do better than someone or something
- gifted — having special ability by nature
- turn professional — to become professional in a certain area
- accolade — an approval or a special honor
- notch a record — to achieve the best or fastest result
- milestone — an important event of someone’s life
Reading Comprehension Test
- What was Sota Fujii’s latest historic accomplishment (as of August 7, 2020)?
a. He became the youngest player to 100 wins.
b. He became the youngest player to win the Kiou title.
c. He became the youngest player to win a tournament in Tokyo.
d. He became the youngest player to win the Kisei title.
- Why did Fujii start playing shogi?
a. His grandmother gifted him a game set.
b. His grandfather pushed him to play the game.
c. Professional shogi players thought he had potential.
d. His teachers told him to play shogi.
- Which of the following isn’t true?
a. Sota Fujii has become a sensation across Japan.
b. Sota Fujii has achieved many shogi records.
c. Sota Fujii has never won a major shogi title.
d. Sota Fujii has become a professional shogi player.
- How old was Sota Fujii when he won the Kisei title?
- Why are people so interested in Sota Fujii?