The Mainichi answers some common questions readers may have about winning streaks in shogi (Japanese chess) and Go, following the recent success of 14-year-old shogi player Sota Fujii.
Question: Since his professional debut, Sota Fujii, who holds a fourth-dan rank in shogi, hasn't lost a game, has he?
Answer: Starting with his win against 77-year-old ninth-dan player Hifumi Kato, Fujii has won 17 games in a row. The previous record for the most number of wins after a player's debut was 10, achieved by Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, 45, and Masakazu Kondo, 45, who both now hold sixth-dan ranks. So Fujii is the record holder. The highest number of consecutive wins in a player's career is 28, achieved by eighth-dan player Hiroshi Kamiya, 56.
Q: Is 17 consecutive wins an impressive record?
A: The only players who have achieved 20 or more consecutive victories, besides Kamiya, are ninth-dan player Tadahisa Maruyama, 46, with 24 consecutive wins; 52-year-old ninth-dan player Yasuaki Tsukada, 46-year-old Oi title holder Yoshiharu Habu, and 36-year-old eighth-dan player Takayuki Yamasaki, who all have achieved 22 straight victories; and 81-year-old Michio Ariyoshi, a ninth-dan player who managed to win 20 consecutive games. If Fujii makes it to 18 straight triumphs, he will be tied for seventh place. Habu, who holds three of shogi's crowns, has a winning ratio of slightly over 70 percent, so even the best players can expect to lose two or three out of every 10 matches. However, the more a player succeeds, the more their chances of facing powerful players in league matches and tournaments increases, so continuing to rack up wins is difficult.
Q: What are the records for Go like?
A: The highest number of victories starting from a debut is 12, achieved by ninth-dan player Hiroyuki Hiroe, 50. Next, at 11 straight wins stand ninth-dan players Norimoto Yoda, 51, and Tomochika Mizokami, 39, and eighth-dan player Atsushi Ida, 23. Ninth-dan player Cho U, 37, achieved 10 straight victories from his debut. The highest number of straight wins over a career in Go is 29, achieved by the 23rd Honinbo Eiju (the late Eio Sakata, a ninth-dan player). Yuta Iyama, 27, who has a ninth-dan rank and holds the title of the Honinbo Monyu, and the honorary Tengen title holder, 75-year-old Kaiho Rin, both managed to achieve 24 straight victories. There are six shogi players with at least 20 straight wins, compared with seven in Go -- interestingly close figures. This may represent the limits of humans in games of the intellect.
Q: Are there any benefits from achieving a stream of consecutive wins?
A: In both shogi and Go, the number of matches increases, which means more match money, and the higher a player a goes, the greater the amount of winnings. (Answers by Satoshi Mogami, Tokyo Cultural News Department)