TOKYO -- The Nihon Ki-in announced on Jan. 5 that it will sign on 9-year-old Sumire Nakamura as a professional player of the traditional board game of Go as of April 1 this year -- making her the youngest ever to go professional.
Sumire, a resident of Osaka's Konohana Ward in western Japan, is the eldest daughter of Shinya Nakamura, 45, a player with a ninth-dan rank belonging to the Kansai general headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in, or Japan Go Association.
A bashful Sumire addressed a group of reporters at a news conference held in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Jan. 5.
The 9-year-old is the first player ever to be selected for the Nihon Ki-in's special new program to recruit and train young talent to compete globally.
As of April 1, when Sumire will be 10 years old, she will be the youngest professional Go player after Rina Fujisawa, who turned pro at age 11 years and six months. Fujisawa, now aged 20, holds the female Honinbo title.
Sumire's entry into the professional world of Go was screened and approved by renowned title holders such as Yuta Iyama, 29, as well as national team managers and coaches.
(Japanese original by Satoshi Mogami, Cultural News Department)