Shogi prodigy Fujii commands ‘pieces’ in human shogi match

The Yomiuri Shimbu
Sota Fujii wears samurai armor while holding a katana in Tendo, Yamagata Prefecture, on Sunday.

The traditional spring event Ningen Shogi, or human shogi, was held Sunday for the first time in three years in Tendo, Yamagata Prefecture, known as a production center of shogi pieces.

Sota Fujii, 19, who became the first teenager in history to win five major titles, commanded the “pieces” for the first time, defeating sixth-dan player Daichi Sasaki, 26.

he Yomiuri Shimbun
People dressed in samurai armor serve as shogi pieces during Ningen Shogi (human shogi) in Tendo, Yamagata Prefecture, on Sunday.

In Ningen Shogi, people in armor serve as the shogi pieces and move around a board measuring approximately 17 meters by 14 meters. It is customary for the players to move every piece at least once and to speak the way samurai spoke.

“I am gladdened to receive an invitation to Tendo,” said Fujii, who was dressed in samurai garb. “I hope to enliven our forces and achieve victory.”

A total of 11,714 people applied for tickets in a lottery. However, the number of spectators was limited to 660 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.