Shogi Star Sota Fujii Becomes Youngest to Gain ‘Eisei’ Status

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shogi star Sota Fujii holds up his autograph on which he wrote “eisei Kisei” after defending his Kisei title.

NAGOYA (Jiji Press) — Japanese shogi star Sota Fujii on Monday became the youngest player to earn “eisei” lifetime status for a title by fending off a challenge for his “Kisei” crown.

Fujii, who also holds six other titles, defended his Kisei title in Nagoya by winning the first three matches in a best-of-five series against challenger Takayuki Yamasaki, 43.

He secured the eisei status for Kisei at the age of 21 years 11 months after winning the title for five straight years, starting with his first win in July 2020.

The previous record for the youngest eisei status was set 53 years ago by the now-retired Makoto Nakahara, 76, when he became eisei Kisei in 1971 at 23 years 11 months.

The latest feat makes Fujii the sixth eisei Kisei, joining the ranks of the late Yasuharu Oyama and 53-year-old ninth-dan player Yoshiharu Habu. The eisei title is used after retirement in principle.

Despite losing the “Eio” title on June 20 this year and relinquishing his monopoly on all eight major titles, Fujii has continued to put on strong showings.

“I am pleased I was able to seize my first opportunity to gain eisei status,” he said in a postmatch media interview. “It is a privilege, and I guess my future performances will be scrutinized even more closely.”