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Japan's youngest shogi professional sets record with 11th straight win since debut

Fourth-dan shogi player Sota Fujii, who has claimed his 11th straight win since his debut, is pictured at Kansai shogi hall in Osaka's Fukushima Ward on April 4, 2017. (Mainichi)

OSAKA -- Japan's youngest shogi professional, 14-year-old Sota Fujii, on April 4 claimed his 11th straight victory since his debut -- a record for a new player.

    Fujii, who holds a fourth-dan rank, beat 40-year-old seventh-dan player Hiroshi Kobayashi in 104 moves in their game at Kansai shogi hall in Osaka's Fukushima Ward to set the record.

    After winning his previous match in March, Fujii had managed to equal the 10 straight wins recorded by Yoshiyuki Matsumoto and Masakazu Kondo since their debuts.

    "Honestly, I'm delighted at this result, which is more than I could dream for," Fujii said. "I didn't read the board well in today's match and my strategy wasn't good. I want to try to extend my winning streak, but I still lack skill. I want to improve my ability overall."

    Fujii made his debut in October last year at the age of 14 years and 2 months to become the youngest professional player of shogi, or Japanese chess. Previously the youngest age for a debut was 14 years and 7 months, set by ninth-dan player Hifumi Kato, who is now 77.

    In the past, 32-year-old Akira Watanabe, the current Ryuo title holder, and 46-year-old Yoshiharu Habu, the Oi title holder, who turned pro during junior high school, held the record for the most consecutive wins since their debut, at six.

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