Fujii, teen who holds 5 of 8 shogi titles, suggests he’s still far from his peak

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shogi star Sota Fujii speaks during a press conference in Tachikawa, Tokyo, on Sunday.

Shogi fans might be shocked to hear that star player Sota Fujii considers himself to be far from his peak abilities.

The teen sensation might have a handful of titles in his pocket, but during a press conference in Tokyo on Sunday he expressed his determination to put in more effort to improve his skills in the board game, a day after he became the youngest player to hold five of the eight major titles simultaneously.

Asked at which station on Mt. Fuji he is at metaphorically in the shogi world, Fujii said: “Shogi is a profound game and I can’t see the summit. I would say I’m right before the tree line and I haven’t even ascended to any elevation.”

Fujii swept the best-of-seven Osho title series against defending champion Akira Watanabe in Tokyo on Saturday.

A 19 years and 6 months, Fujii also holds the Ryuo, Oi, Eio and Kisei titles. He has yet to challenge for the three titles outstanding: the Meijin and Kio that Watanabe holds, and the Oza held by Takuya Nagase, 29.

Speaking of the 37-year-old Watanabe, Fujii complimented his opponent.

“I felt his strengths anew with the ways he seeks to balance the middle game and his skills in closing in” on the opponent’s key pieces, Fujii said.

He then added, “Now it hits me for real, the joy of earning the Osho title.”