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Youngest professional Go player aged 10 marks debut with loss

Ten-year-old Go prodigy Sumire Nakamura makes her professional debut against Ran Omori at the Kansai Office of Nihon Ki-in in Osaka's Kita Ward on April 22, 2019. (Mainichi/Yusuke Komatsu)

OSAKA -- Ten-year-old Go prodigy Sumire Nakamura made her debut as a professional player on April 22 in the preliminary round of the Ryusei tournament here in western Japan but was defeated by 16-year-old Ran Omori.

Nakamura became the youngest ever female professional of the traditional board game in Japan on April 1. At age 10 years and 1 month, Nakamura, broke the record for the youngest player to appear in an official match previously held by Rina Fujisawa, who made her debut at age 11 years and 8 months. Fourth-dan ranked Fujisawa, now aged 20, holds the prestigious female Honinbo title.

First-dan Nakamura took on the same ranked Omori, who also became a pro on April 1, at the Kansai Office of Nihon Ki-in (Japan Go Association) in Osaka's Kita Ward. In an unusual move, the match was broadcast live on a CS satellite channel and about 100 members of the media gathered to cover the showcase event.

After the two young players drew lots, Nakamura led off and the game was evenly matched at the beginning. However, Omori gained the upper hand in a crucial phase in the middle stage of the game and defeated Nakamura by 174 stones.

Sumire Nakamura is the only daughter of Shinya Nakamura, 46, a male professional player with a ninth-dan rank. The wunderkind started to play Go at age 3 and was selected in January for the Nihon Ki-in's special new program to recruit young talent.

Appearing at a press conference after the match, Sumire said, "I was anxious. I couldn't play well in the latter half. I will do my best next time."

(Japanese original by Hiroaki Niidoi and Satoshi Mogami, Osaka Cultural News Department)

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