TAKAMATSU - At just 8 years old, third-grade primary school student Nagisa Fujimoto will be the youngest player in the two-day national amateur tournament in Ryuo shogi (Japanese chess), which begins Saturday in Tendo, Yamagata Prefecture.
Nagisa won the Kagawa prefectural qualifying round for the first time this year, defeating one adult after another.
The national event is organised by the Japan Shogi Association and supported by The Yomiuri Shimbun.
Nagisa became fascinated by the nearly endless number of possible moves when his 40-year-old father, Nobuhiro, bought him a plastic shogi game for his sixth birthday.
He joined a shogi class in Takamatsu, and as he devoted himself to figuring out his opponents' next moves, "the best moves started popping into my mind," he said.
Forty players participated in this year's qualifying tournament, in which Nagisa overwhelmed his opponents with quick moves that lured them into making poor decisions.
His opponent in the final was Mitsuhiro Ogura, the 60-year-old defending champion and Nagisa's shogi teacher.
He drove Ogura into a corner and won in a close match.
Nagisa's favourite subject at school is P.E. He often plays dodgeball during breaks at school, but devotes himself to shogi after school. He does training exercises to play more effectively, reenacts other players' winning matches and participates in online battles.
He sometimes plays more than half the day. "It's exciting to think of moves that could turn the tables," Nagisa said.
Nagisa is aiming to place at the national tournament, and eventually become a professional player. His dream is to compete against Yoshiharu Habu, a professional player who has won four titles at major shogi championships.
"I want to be the strongest shogi player," said Nagisa, expressing the giant ambition in his just 1.27-meter body.