January 7, 2019
Tokyo--Elementary school fourth-grade girl Sumire Nakamura is set to become the youngest professional "go" player on April 1 at the age of 10, the Nihon Ki-in, a Japanese association for the traditional board game, said Saturday.
The girl, now 9 years old and the eldest daughter of ninth-dan professional go player Shinya Nakamura, 45, passed an exam for a newly established special go education program for gifted youngsters, paving the way for becoming a professional player, the Nihon Ki-in said. Her mother, Miyuki, 38, is an amateur go player.
Sumire, a resident of the western Japan city of Osaka, will rewrite the age record held by 20-year-old Rina Fujisawa, who became a professional go player when she was 11 years and six months old.
Sumire started playing go at the age of 3 and has received training also in South Korea, which has many strong go players, since she was 7.
In July last year, Sumire surprised many by winning in the open category of an online go competition participated by female amateur players.
"I'll do my best," Sumire said, with a smile and nervous look, at a press conference at the Nihon Ki-in on Saturday.
Sumire also said she wants to become a player like Yuta Iyama, a male professional go player, who now has five major titles. "I aim to win a title while I attend a junior high school." Miyuki described her daughter as "competitive," noting that Sumire "burst into tears when she was beaten by a younger boy in a game in South Korea in 2017." Sumire "may be good for go in terms of characteristics," the mother said.
Shinya said, "Sumire practices go for six or seven hours a day when there are classes at school and nine hours when there are no classes."
"It's sensational," professional go player Cho U, 38, who holds the title of Meijin, said after having a match with Sumire in the exam.
"I've never met such a greatly talented nine-year-old child," he said. "I'm absolutely sure that she'll be capable of competing in the international arena," Cho said. Jiji Press
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