Strong juniors in the 7th Bangkok Chess Club Open

4/21/2007 – Why, oh why, did we not receive these photos twenty days ago?! We could have made such a lovely first of April report with them. Still, better late than never. Here's a report on the Bangkok Chess Club's strongest open tournament to date, with a total of 109 players from 30 different countries. It was won by an up-and-coming Australian talent, but the show was stolen by a Thai junior.

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David Smerdon wins in Phuket

Report by William Campi

The Bangkok Chess Club’s strongest open to date was held on one of the most spectacular locations in Asia: Phuket. The island is located off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and is home to a rare variety of stunning limestone shoals, coral gardens, lush rainforests and idyllic beaches. Amongst the tropical fruits, quiet contemplation and calmness of the ocean, you’d be hard pressed to find a more tranquil location for an international chess tournament.

The 7th Bangkok Chess Club Open, which was held from March 27th to April 1st, was squarely taken by up-and-coming Australian talent IM David Smerdon. Australian number one, GM Ian Rogers, was outdone by countryman, who won clear at 7.5 points from 9. The tournament was held in the sunny getaway that is Phuket Island in Thailand, and for some this made all the difference.


The tournament winner IM David Smerdon

Australian IM David Smerdon outplayed a field of four GMs and was the clear winner in the 7th Bangkok Chess Club Open. David had already earned his first GM norm, but in his last tournament a final round loss left him just a half-point shy of his second. With an understandable amount of disappointment he decided to go to Thailand to "have some holiday". And in the balmy tropics of Phuket Island, playing less than 500 meters from the great Indian Ocean, he convincingly made his second GM norm!


Inside the spacious playing hall, the top boards in front

The venue for this year’s BCC Open was the Graceland Resort & Spa. The site was spectacular. In between the morning and afternoon games, players were able to walk to the beach for lunch and a quick dip in the ocean. Others swam in the double-decker pools at the hotel. There were also several festivals taking place on the island during the tournament and the nightlife at Patong beach had a lot on offer.


The ocean was very calm and warm, and only a short walk from the hotel

In second place was GM Rogelio Antonio Jr of the Philippines who earned seven points from nine. He has won both the BCC Open and the blitz tournament three times since the inception of the event in 2000. Antonio, who won the Open last year, was followed by GM Ian Rogers from Australia, GM R.B. Ramesh from India, GM Dimitri Komarov from Ukraine, IM Simon Ansell from England, Cor van Dongen from the Netherlands and FM Martin Haag from Germany, all in third place.


GM Rogelio Antonio, a regular at the yearly tournament in Thailand

Group B was won by Bangkok Chess Club regular Paul Elauria from the Philippines, followed by 2nd place winners R. Hanumantha from India, Umnoui Atikachoemwartha and Pricha Srivatanakul from Thailand, and Reijo Ahjonen from Finland.

A total of 109 players representing 30 different countries participated for this event. The tournament’s Arbiter team was also multinational (Finland, Brunei, Thailand), headed by a Chief Arbiter Markku Kosonen. Special thanks to sponsors: Siam Commercial Bank, Sinaptiq, Martin Crichton, Ekasith Buasroung, P.K. Snowbird, Southern Fried Rice, and of course Phuket Graceland Resort and Spa, which provided us a great tournament venue!


Tepparit Yothinnorratham was the top Thai junior

Dr. Kantathi Suphamongkol, President of Thailand Chess Association and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, was at the awards ceremony in Phuket. Both he and his wife are avid chess players and Dr. Suphamongkol is a great supporter of chess in Thailand.


GM Ian Rogers, who tied for third, faces off against another talented Thai junior


An early draw offer, which was suprisingly accepted by the grandmaster

In their game FM Teerapong Heffalump offered GM R.B. Ramesh a draw after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3. It is not strictly ethical to do this at such an early phase of the game, but Ramesh said that Heffalump's demeanor and handshake were so firm that he was convinced the draw was in order.


Ogling and pointing while playing against an attractive female opponent, like WGM Anya Corke from Hong Kong, is definitely frowned upon. A case for the FIDE Ethics Committee?

Seriously: during the break day the Tourism Authority of Thailand graciously arranged for a baby elephant to visit the players poolside. Coconut cocktails and margaritas were served and some blitz was played. The elephant didn’t fare as well as expected, but then again these guys don’t joke around at the board.


FM Asko Hentunen, (leftmost) with the Finnish team, earned an IM norm

There was also a national team competition, where 5-6 players representing the same country could participate. A total of nine countries participated with their teams. Team Finland was leading until round seven, after which team Australia took the lead and kept it until the end. In extremely tight competition the winner was team Australia (GM Rogers, IM Smerdon, FM Tim Reilly, Damian Norris, Oleg Korenevski). A half point behind was team Ireland, which had a great run in the last two rounds, overtaking by a half point teams from India, Thailand and Finland. The other teams participating were from England, Malaysia, Singapore and Norway.


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