Tokyo: A 14-year-old Japanese player of the traditional chess-like board game of shogi has captured the nation’s heart by winning a record straight 29 matches, breaking a record held for 30 years.
Sota Fujii, who trains himself with computer software and was the youngest player ever to turn professional, surpassed the previous record of 28 consecutive wins on Monday.
His feat, a rare bright spot in a nation grappling with more than 15 years of deflation and stagnation, drew applause from all walks of life ranging from avid shogi fans to the prime minister. His picture was all over Tuesday’s front pages.
“Young power has made history. This victory gives dreams and hopes to the Japanese people,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
After a gruelling 11-hour match on Monday with a 19-year-old fellow professional, Fujii was calm before reporters.
“Winning 29 straight matches was beyond my wildest imagination. I’m delighted, but very surprised as well,” said Fujii.