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'Fujii fever' fires up again: Shogi prodigy hits 50 wins at record-breaking pace

Fourth-dan shogi player Sota Fujii is seen in Osaka's Fukushima Ward on Nov. 21, 2017. (Mainichi)

OSAKA -- Junior high school shogi prodigy Sota Fujii racked up his 50th win since his professional debut last winter, breaking yet another record.

The 15-year-old's win came during the first qualifying round for the Oza Tournament, one of seven titles in professional shogi, against seventh-dan Shingo Hirafuji, 54, at 10 months and 29 days since his debut on Dec. 24, 2016. Fujii's extraordinary pace in attaining 50 professional wins is the fastest of all five shogi players who debuted when they were junior high school students, and three months faster than previous record holder 47-year-old Yoshiharu Habu's 14 months and 10 days. Habu is a lifetime Oza title holder.

After winning his debut match against 77-year-old ninth-dan Hifumi Kato, fourth-dan Fujii went on to break the record for consecutive wins at 29 matches on June 26, 2017, and stirred up "Fujii fever." As of Nov. 21, his professional career statistics are 50 wins and six losses, excluding unaired TV matches.

"I am deeply moved that I reached this milestone by accumulating (wins) one match at a time," Fujii commented afterward.

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