Recognized in the Guinness Book of Records
"JT Japan Series - Table Mark Children's Tournament", recognized in the Guiness book of records in November 2012 as a record for the 1,574 matches held in the same place at the same time. © Kyodo News Service
With the spread of personal computers, anyone can now easily polish their skill at Shogi by their computer, or over the internet. The number of Shogi enthusiasts under elementary and junior school age is said to have increased to some 4.5 million at present.
In November 2012, there was a huge children's Shogi tournament held in Tokyo. It was attended by around 3,200 elementary school students and the number of competitions that took place on the day reached 1,574. This record was recognized in the Guinness Book of Records as having the largest number of Shogi competitions held in the same place, at the same time.
Every year has seen an increase in the number of girls taking part in these grand tournaments for elementary and junior school students. Satomi Kana, aged 21, is said to be the most talented professional female shogi player and she too is reputed to have honed her skills at such elementary school tournaments. She has taken part in mixed tournaments with boys and used her frustration at losing to act as a springboard to drive her onwards, so that now she is the owner of three major titles.
Karolina Styczyńska, a Pole visiting Japan who hopes to become a professional Shogi player. © Kyodo News Service
The number of people with a real interest in Shogi is also growing in the West, in countries such as France, Germany and the U.S.A. Karolina Styczyńska is a university student from Poland living in Japan who hopes to become a professional player; she discovered Shogi while reading Japanese manga some 6 years ago, and it seems she has been improving her skills on the internet.
Computers vs. Human Skill
Meanwhile, the fact that Shogi computer software has caught up with professional Shogi players is big news. Developed in the 1970s, the first Shogi software could not even beat players who had barely learned the game; however software has increased its performance and become stronger and stronger.
The Denousen have attracted attention as an official game between computers and professional Shogi players. © Japan Shogi Association
In last year's "Denousen" between professional Shogi players and computer software, the computer won 3 out of 5 battles. The computer that won the 5th battle used the most powerful system that linked 600 PCs together and had the capacity to read an opponent's movement combinations at a rate of 280 million per second. In future, how will humans stand up against computers that get stronger the more they play? The Denousen is on again this year in March/April.