In this article, the CNS (Clube Nacionales de Shogi) tells us under what circumstances shogi became popular in Brazil.

Shogi has landed in Brazilian shores with the first japanese imigrant ships, in the early 1900s, and remained kind of “hidden” among japanese people and descendentes for a long time. Unlike other countries, Brasil has a traditional official shogi entity, the Brazilian Shogi Association, since the mid 1900s, but the game remained practiced only by these few people.

During the last decades there was a great loss in Shogi popularity, even though its public was already restricted: japanese descendents have gradually showed less interest in the sport. Fortunately, much has changed with Internet arise, and together with animes popularization. Around 2016, a group called “Recanto do Shogi” was formed, attracting Young brazilian players throughout the internet and promoting activities as tournaments in 81 Dojo, YouTube videos and free-training sessions on Discord. But in its way to become another official shogi entity, the Recanto founders have suddenly closed the activities in march 2021 and, in order to keep the Community alive, we (Alvaro Cambuy, Luciano Correa, Nicholas de Toledo, Nicholas Lopes, Raquel Vilhalva and Rebeca Vilhalva) have formed the CNS Brasil. From this moment on, a great Brazilian shogi player and disseminator also increased his activities: Koshiro Hama, many times Champion of Brazilian Meijin-sen (and current title holder), thus considered the best brazilian player today – he has a YouTube Channel named Shogi Brasil, and usually helps CNS Brasil with his great shogi knowledge.

These peculiarities let brazilian shogi in a curious situation. The fact is that we have two main kinds of players here: one of them makes up the “Internet Generation” – young people who learned in Internet, and some of them (of us, in fact…) have never played with a physical board! We have access to the fantastic online learning tools, but even some of us have good ratings in virtual platforms as 81 Dojo, we are not the strongest players! The real brazilian “bakemono” are the japanese descendents (some of them barely speak portuguese!), who learn the shogi within their families since their childhood and play in the official Tournaments (Osho-sen and Meijin-sen) at Brazilian Shogi Association, in São Paulo; some of them don’t even play online at all!

Very recently (specially during the pandemics), there has been an approximation between the Brazilian Shogi Association and the Internet Generation, and they invited us several times to take part in JSA virtual events. Also, some of these traditional strong players (as Yuji Takano, vice Champion of last Meijin-sen, and Koshiro himself) are playing more online, giving us the chance to play against them and teaching us a lot (specially Koshiro), creating an incredibly profitable environment for our shogi.

The only official classification system we have in Brazil is the Association’s System, which is somewhat based more in Japanese System: new participants of official presential tournaments compete in the lowest available category, and have to win the tournament to be promoted to the next category. In the two last events (2019 Osho-sen and Meijin-sen), first timers competed in Isshodan category, altogether of 2nd Dan players; there still were a 3rd Dan, a 4th Dan and a 5th Dan category. However, JSA certificates are also accepted to rank players; so, if anyone applies for such certificate through an eletronic Shogi platform as 81 Dojo or Shogi Wars, it can be considered an official level (thus, it generates a kind of hybrid system, as 81 Dojo uses its own system, based on rating points). Nowadays is more difficult to level up in Brazilian Association, because until some years ago there were 4 official tournaments per year, but now there are just Osho-sen and Meijin-sen.

After we’ve seen a closing movement of clubs in traditional japanese imigration centers, as in Maringá, some Strong Brazilian players as James de Toledo (current vice-president of Brazilian Association) and Rodrigo Yuji, started to promote some teaching actions in São Paulo schools in the decade of 2010. Another important institution was Consciência do Xadrez store, located in São Paulo and ran by Edy Sakita, a great encouraging of mind games practice (sadly deceased in 2021); many shogi events were ran there. And presential brazilian shogi is receiving a welcome boost in this present year of 2021: there are some nascent shogi cells arising, one in Palmas/TO (in Padre Josimo Moraes Tavares School, led by the Teacher Luciano Teixeira), and another in Porto Seguro/BA (led by shogi player Pedro Régis). Both lie in regions with no significant japanese imigration, what significantly represents this new shogi internet wave in Brazil (these two players have learnt the game in eletronic environments and are bringing it back to physical boards, teaching brazilian kids).

Besides the children, brazilian women are being strongly encouraged to play too. We are always including a female category in our virtual tournaments prizing, and recently we had the creation of a female studying group, led by our most outstanding female player today, Rebeca Vilhalva. Another proof of brazilian female shogi strength lie in the hands of her syster, Raquel Vilhalva, the chief editor of the Shogi magazine “Revista CNS”, of bimonthly frequency. 

We all are anxiously looking forward to what the near future will bring to brazilian shogi. Our players are frequently expressing the desire to meet personally and play, even though Brazil is a continental country. Thus we can expect a great increase of presential events after the pandemics, and we can also preview a reduction in the strength difference between the traditional players and the best representatives of Internet Generation. 

Luciano R. Correa – CNS Brasil co-founder