Takumi Ito, the new Eio, talks about how he was able to beat Sota Fujii, the seven-time champion. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Takumi Ito, the new Eio, talks about how he was able to beat Sota Fujii, the seven-time champion.

The "Prince of Sangenjaya," who broke his monopoly on all the Shogi titles, is still immersed in Shogi after his accomplishment.

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Eio Ito made a triumphant return to Echo Nakamise, the shopping district in Sangenjaya where he was born and raised. He is also known for his fashion sense and was stylishly dressed in a navy blue suit.

He dominated all the Shogi titles for 254 days. The “new Eio” who defeated the “impregnable genius” Sota Fujii, 21, who had won 22 consecutive Shogi titles, made a triumphant return to his birthplace, Sangenjaya, in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.

Takumi Ito, 21, smiled bitterly, “No one noticed me.

“Thankfully, many people contacted me to congratulate me. But I still wasn’t good enough to be approached while walking down the street. …… (laughs).”

The Eioh five-game tournament, which ended on June 20, was a full set of fierce battles, with each side taking two wins each going into the final game. This is the first title for Eio Ito.

In the fifth and final game of the Eioh title game, it was a tough game from start to finish. Especially in the 101st move, when Mr. Fujii made an Ote Tigar move and let his own ball escape. However, in spite of the bad situation, I managed to make a shape to persist in the game.

Eio Ito started playing Shogi at the age of 5 and honed his skills at the Sangenjaya Shogi Club, where his master, Toshio Miyata 8-dan (71), serves as a teacher. Even so, he was no match for Fujii 7-kan, who had lost 10 consecutive official tournaments before the Eioh Tournament.

When asked about the reason for his victory, Eio remained humble to the point of humility.

I think I was able to win because I continued to do my best in difficult situations. I was lucky to win this time. I don’t think I am in a position to say that we are rivals, because Mr. Fujii is clearly superior to me.

However, the professionals have a different view. There is no atmosphere of accepting the result of the tournament as a ‘big event.

In the five games of the Eioh Tournament, all the games (five games) were played in a style called “Kakutawari,” in which both sides exchanged their horns in the early stages of the game. Eio Ito’s performance in defeating the “Kakuhawari” strategy, which is known as the absolute champion Fujii’s favorite strategy, foreshadowed the arrival of the “Fujii-Ito Era”.

Days of “immersed in Shogi

His master, Mr. Miyata 8-dan, was also impressed by his pupil’s accomplishment.

The day after he won the title and returned to Tokyo from Yamanashi, where he played, he was studying at a study group. In my day, it would have been a booze-fest for sure, but times have changed.

When I asked him about his “favorite restaurant” in Sangenjaya, Eio’s mouth was heavy with questions about his research …… without even celebrating.

He replied, “Oh, nothing in particular. …… I don’t go out much.

However, Master Miyata considered this statement to be a “questionable move.

There are two ramen shops near the station that I often go to. Ito’s signature? No, I don’t have one! (Laughs.) He won the title, but he is still in the Setagaya class (in terms of name recognition). From now on, I hope he will become the Ito of Tokyo and of Nippon.

The young warrior, who is ranked second in the ranking after Fujii, is about to open the door to a new era of Go.

When he played in the national tournament in 2012, he defeated Fujii and made him cry. Many certificates from that time were displayed at the Sangenjaya Shogi Club.
Unpublished cut from the magazine: Takumi Ito, the new Eio, reveals why he was able to beat Sota Fujii, the seventh place finisher.

From the July 19, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Hiroyuki Komatsu

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