Japan Chess Championship Qualifiers (Part I)

by Mayur Gondhalekar
4/2/2021 – The months of February and March are quite busy with excitement in Japan’s chess calendar. Qualifying tournaments are held in various regional chess clubs to select candidates for the strongest event of the year, held in May — the Japan Chess Championship, a FIDE-rated event. Mayur Gondhalekar brings you all the news and updates from Japan in a two-part report. | Pictured: The playing hall at the ‘En Passant Chess Club’ in Osaka

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Chess in Japan

The qualifying events for the Japan Chess Championship are played according to the following criteria: one player qualifies for every eight participants and the host club can nominate one additional player.

JapanCompared to last year’s disruptions due to Covid-19, this year has been kinder, with the qualifying tournament scheduled as follows:

  • Chiba Qualifying tournament (February 27, 28)
  • Aichi Qualifying tournament (February 28)
  • Osaka Qualifying tournament (March 7)
  • Tokyo Qualifying tournament (March 20, 21)
  • Hokkaido Qualifying tournament (March 27, 28)
  • Hyogo Qualifying tournament (March 28)

Part I covers the tournaments conducted in Osaka, Chiba, and Aichi (Nagoya); Part II covers the tournaments conducted in Tokyo, Hokkaido and Hyogo (Kobe).

All tournaments followed anti-Covid guidelines:

  • No participation if body temperature is above 37.5 C
  • No handshakes, avoid post game discussions
  • Disinfection of chess pieces between rounds
  • Limited number of participants
  • Disinfection of hands
  • Wearing of a mask at all times

Note: All tournaments are conducted under the jurisdiction of the National Chess Society of Japan, the country’s FIDE-affiliated organization.

Osaka qualifying tournament

This tournament took place on March 7, 2021 and was conducted by Mr. Tabe Masaharu of the “En Passant” Chess club in Osaka, right after the covid-related restrictions were lifted in Japan’s second largest city. Sixteen players participated in this tournament.

The tournament consisted of 3 rounds, with a time control of 35 minutes + 30 seconds/move, from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm.

This was my first chess event in Osaka. The organizers and the participants were very friendly. While all participants are currently living in Japan, we did have a lot of different countries of origin — South Africa, Iran, India, Philippines, Mongolia, and, of course, Japan. Furthermore, the participants spanned a wide age range, from approximately 16 to 65 years of age! It was a strong field, as the tournament saw the participation of CM Nakahara Kan, who was Japan’s Under-14 champion in 2019; Takayasu Melody, who played in the Japan women’s team in the Asian Online Nations Cup 2020; and WCM Kojima Natsumi.

Personally, I  had a disastrous performance — I was hammered in the first round, defended well but lost on time in the second, and finally won the last round. Nevertheless, the tournament was thoroughly enjoyable. I was happy to meet Mr. Diba Seyed Reza, with whom I played a lot of games last year in NCS Japan’s online blitz events.

In the last game to finish on March 7, between WCM Kojima Natsumi and Mr. Okada Mitsuhiro (organizer of the Hyogo qualifying tournament), Black missed a nice win. In the final position, we saw a fitting tribute to the “International Women’s Day”, which was celebrated the next day, as there were four queens on the board:

Japan, chess

Four queens on the board! | Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

Before the appearance of the four queens on the board, Okada missed a win.

 

The game went on with 58...b1=Q. What was the winning continuation which Black missed in the game?

58...Qb7+ 59.Kf2 Qa7+ 60.Kf3 Qa8+ 61.Kf4 b1Q and Black wins.

Takayasu Melody

Playing Takayasu Melody — my first time against a ‘national representative’ in a rated game!

In round 2 I faced Takayasu Melody. I was winning for the better part of the game, but then I missed a chance to score a full point.

 

What is the best continuation after 34...Qg6? I played 35.Rxa4 and lost on time later on.

35.f5 removing the defender 36.Qh6 Rxb1 and White wins.

Takayasu Nobuyuki, Tabe Masaharu, CM Nakahara Kan, Mr. Yokoo

Organizers Takayasu Nobuyuki and Tabe Masaharu with CM Nakahara Kan and Mr. Yokoo, Swiss manager operator and arbiter | Photo: Mayur Gondhaleka

En Passant Chess Club, Osaka

A commemorative photograph at the En Passant Chess Club in Osaka


Final standings                   

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Nakahara Kan 3,0 4,5
  Tsogt Ochir 3,0 4,5
3 Onishi Kosuke 2,0 5,0
4 Takashima Bunji 2,0 4,5
5 Mizumoto Takahiro 2,0 4,0
6 Tomii Yoshikatsu 2,0 3,0
7 Akai Kiyotaka 1,5 5,5
8 Yoshida So 1,5 5,0
9 Kojima Natsumi 1,5 4,5
10 Okada Mitsuhiro 1,5 3,0
11 Takayasu Nobuyuki 1,0 7,0
12 Takayasu Melody 1,0 6,0
13 Flipi Poggenpoel 1,0 4,0
14 Gondhalekar Mayur 1,0 2,5
15 Diba Seyed Reza 0,0 4,5
  Gosar Jitesh 0,0 4,5

Full info at Chess-Results


Selected games - Osaka qualifier

 

Aichi qualifying tournament

This tournament took place on February 28, 2021 and was conducted by Mr. Horie Takahiro of the Nagoya Chess Club, in Nagoya city (Aichi Prefecture). Fourteen players participated. This is the same club where India’s GM Sriram Jha won the Nagoya Open in 2019.

The qualifying tournament consisted of four rounds, with a time control of 30 minutes + 30 seconds/move. I had participated in this tournament last year. Mr. Horie was kind enough to provide the photos of this year’s tournament, on request.

Top seed Scott Tyler won the event.

Aichi, chess

Aichi Qualifying Tournament playing area | Photo: Mr. Horie/Nagoya Chess Club

Wakamori Tsuyoshi, Scott Tyler, Jiang Likai

Wakamori Tsuyoshi, Scott Tyler and Jiang Likai | Photo: Mr. Horie/Nagoya Chess Club


Final standings                   

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Scott Tyler 3,5 9,0
2 Jiang Likai 3,0 9,0
3 若森 毅士 2,5 10,5
4 富井 義括 2,5 10,0
5 岡部 悠真 2,5 8,5
6 神田 大吾 2,5 5,5
7 澤村 哲司 2,0 9,5
8 金原 弘道 2,0 8,5
9 藤沢 寛 2,0 8,0
10 大原 アンドレ 1,5 7,5
11 阿部 太郎 1,5 6,5
12 上原 純 1,5 6,5
13 坂本 彬紘 1,0 6,0
14 松本 賢信 0,0 7,0

Full info at Chess-Results


Chiba qualifying tournament

This tournament took place on February 27-28th, 2021 and was conducted by Mr. Ogasa of the Chiba Chess club, in Chiba city. Twenty-two players participated in this tournament. It consisted of five rounds, with a time control of 30 minutes + 30 seconds/move. The top seed was CM Averbukh Alex (2318). Kitagami Sho won the event, while Noguchi Koji and Ogawa Tomie were the runners-up.


Final standings (top 15)         

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Kitagami Sho 4,5 0,0
2 Noguchi Koji 4,0 0,0
3 Ogawa Tomie 4,0 0,0
4 Averbukh Alex 3,5 0,0
5 Kojima Natsumi 3,5 0,0
6 Clark Domenic 3,0 0,0
7 Saito Hiromasa 3,0 0,0
8 Nodon Jeremi 3,0 0,0
9 Ishii Ichiro 3,0 0,0
10 Ushiyama Sotaro 3,0 0,0
11 Kamate Aiyu 3,0 0,0
12 Endrina Julius 2,5 0,0
13 Nagai Toshiyuki 2,5 0,0
14 Yoshida So 2,5 0,0

Full info at Chess-Results


Beyond Chess

With its amazing railway network, trains are the most convenient way to get around in Japan. Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe are all connected by one of the Shinkansen (bullet train) routes. Travelling at 275 kmph without a minute’s delay, en route we get to see beautiful views of Mount Fuji. During spring, we also get to see the beautiful cherry blossoms flowering all over Japan. Enjoy the photos.

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji from the Shinkansen | Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

Shinkansen, Japan

Shinkansen at Shin-Osaka station | Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

Japan

Beautiful vista | Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

Links


Mayur is an IT engineer and a chess enthusiast from Mumbai, working in Japan since 2013. He has played over-the-board tournaments in India, USA and Japan. Currently, he is making use of online platforms for chess improvement and learning Ayurveda. He loves salsa dancing, reading, travelling and teaching.
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