Francisco Vallejo Pons, 2014 Thailand Champion

By , April 23, 2014

Francisco Vallejo Pons Bangkok

An interview with GM Francisco “Paco” Vallejo Pons, winner of the 14th BCC Open 2014

Interview by Alexander J. Klemm

Right after the final ceremony, GM Francisco gave an interview in which he talked about his feelings after having won the tournament, some of his games, his impressions about the playing venue and the strength of the Open, his collaboration with, why Thailand feels like home, and much more.

AJK: Congratulations for your great achievement. You are the new champion. How do you feel now that the tournament is over?

FVP: Very happy of course. It’s been a long tournament with lots of games. I’ve played decent chess, so I’m happy about that as well. After all, becoming the champion is something special. I was third when I played here for the first time three years ago [in Pattaya 2011]. I shared first place too but was a little bit unlucky with the tiebreak. This time I’m a bit luckier.

AJK: What was your best game and is there a game with which you were not satisfied?

FVP: Well, there were a couple of strong games. I’ve won against strong players like Suat Atalik and Qingnan Liu. These were quite interesting games. I wouldn’t say they’re the best games of my life, but in order to beat such strong players you have to play a very good game. And about my worst games – this morning at 9am. I played a normal game actually. The position was equal and my opponent [GM Oliver Barbosa] played a solid game, so I couldn’t do much. It was a draw. And especially the game against John Paul Gomez. I really felt like my brain wasn’t working. I didn’t play so badly, but I felt like something was going wrong, so at some point I decided to offer a draw, after about 30 moves. My position may have been slightly better, but my feelings were bad, so I thought it was better to stop it. With this game especially I thought it wasn’t my day. Fact or fiction? [The Candidates] is the chess event of the year…
Paco Vallejo: Fiction. Isn’t that the Thailand Open?

AJK: What do you think about the overall strength of the competition in the open section?

FVP: This is a tournament that’s growing year by year. It is more known all over the world now. Of course, this year was a bit inconvenient because of the demonstrations. When I was on the plane I thought that maybe it was dangerous to be coming to Bangkok. I was a bit worried but was already on the plane when I realized I wasn’t going to turn around. Anyway, absolutely nothing has happened. It has been perfectly safe here. As I’ve heard and felt, Thailand is one of the safest places to be. I really feel like at home in Thailand. People are so respectful and so kind. I like it very well here. And back to the strength of the tournament. It’s growing but the political uncertainty didn’t help to encourage more people to come. Without this situation I think there could have been an extra 100 players.

AJK: What do you think about our host the Dusit Thani Bangkok Hotel and the overall organization of the tournament?

FVP: The Dusit Thani Hotel is simply a very good place. The rooms are wonderful and the playing venue is very good too. My only suggestions for improvement are these: to play the last round in the morning is tough for chess players. We’re not used to it. And I’m not so happy about the double-round, but understand it’s a need of the tournament. When I decided to come here I agreed on the schedule too. Playing a double-round isn’t my favorite, but it’s the way it is. And about the playing location: somehow I’ve enjoyed Bangkok much more than Pattaya. It’s much more full of life. Pattaya was a wonderful tournament too. It was beautiful and fun. But here, it’s the big city, it’s more entertaining, and it’s all interesting for me.

AJK: What are your further plans for 2014?

FVP: I actually have many tournaments coming up. First I play a closed tournament in Cuba against top players in the world. For example I will play against Vassily Ivanchuk and Leinier Dominguez, who are world-rated players [Copablanca Memorial Chess Tournament in Havana, 7-18 May 2014. Also invited are grandmasters GM Zoltan Almasi, GM Wesley So, and GM Lazaro Bruzon.] It’s going to be a nice tournament to be in. Then I will play the very strong rapid Leon tournament. [He’s probably referring to the Magistral Ciudad de Leon, Spain, 5-9 June 2014. In a series of short games he will face off against the GM Yifan Hou and the 14-year old GM Yi Wei both from China, and against Spanish GM Ivan Salgado Lopez.] Afterwards, I have the Olympiad coming up as well [Tromso, Norway, 1-18 August 2014] and probably some club competitions.

AJK: Do you have any chess-related projects?

FVP: I’m collaborating closely with this website called It’s been a pleasure to work on it because everyone involved has such a great vision. They have many people working on it and are developing the website constantly. I’ve made lots of videos for them, explaining openings, games, and chess in general. I have never done this before. I have to say during my first few videos I felt a bit strange in front of the camera. I’m alone there and felt a bit stupid. But after a while and a few dozens of videos I started to feel better and to be more confident in front of the camera. I think my work there is improving.


AJK: This sounds like you have a long-term commitment to

FVP: Yes I hope so. It’s a beautiful project. The preparation ran for a year and we came out with it not long ago. We’re still improving lots of things.

AJK: Who else is involved?

FVP: There are many collaborators. Peter Svidler has made amazing videos. Even for a player like me, being ranked 40 to 50 in the world, I enjoy his videos. You can watch them at many levels.

AJK: Now that you have won the title, you have a very good reason to come back to Thailand and to defend it. What are the chances to have you back in the tournament next year?

FVP: I would love to come back. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s one of my favorite places. I’ve probably been to more than 30 countries and this place is … It feels so good to be here. It’s like home. People are so respectful and kind. Of course there are some bad things too, but being here only for ten or twenty days you don’t realize them so easily. In general I’m a bit tired of Europe. Europe is all the same and I’m a little bored there. I’d love to be in Asia or South America more often. But South America – it’s getting a crazy there. There are so many political issues, so much instability, and the crime rate is high.

AJK: But most top-100 players are based in Europe.

FVP: Yes, because the best tournaments are supposed to be there, but I hope in the future it will move more to the East. China and India already have very good players.

AJK: Sure, but for you to make a living …

FVP: … I don’t actually play that much. I don’t play so many tournaments. I play some team competitions and a few private tournaments. Probably, ten years ago, it was more important to me to be in Europe, but now it isn’t. My family and friends are there, but they’re more important than the tournaments because there aren’t so many of them. Especially in Spain, for example, we used to have lots of tournaments but nowadays we don’t.

AJK: In Thailand, too, there aren’t many tournaments, there are just a handful of FMs, and the overall playing strength isn’t that high.

FVP: That is because there is no tradition here for international chess. Vietnam and the Philippines have a strong tradition though. It’s something that takes time.

AJK: Maybe next year you could combine this tournament with the open in Kuala Lumpur. Many players first play the open there and then come to Thailand to play this one. If you want to play 18 games in a row, that is.

FVP: I’ll think about it. Playing 18 games in a row is quite tiring, but I’ll think about it. In Malaysia, right? That would be a new place for me and that’s something I value. It’s not like I play tournaments just for money. Not at all. I prefer to earn less but to have fun and to enjoy the atmosphere of new places.

Bangkok, 19 April 2014

(Please come back soon to read interviews with runner-up GM Oliver Barbosa and third-placed GM Jan Gustafsson.)

GM Vallejo Pons is the new Thailand Champion

By , April 19, 2014

GM Paco Vallejo Pons with WGM Xiaobing Gu in Bangkok

GM Vallejo Pons wins 14th BCC Open 2014, GM Barbosa is runner-up on tiebreak

Report by Alexander J. Klemm

The last round of the 14th Bangkok Chess Club Open 2014 saw the much anticipated clashes  GM Oliver Barbosa (7) vs. GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (7) on the first board, and GM Jan Gustafsson (6½) vs. GM Bartosz Socko (6½) on the second. Yet, their games were somewhat anticlimactic, as no risks were taken. The players agreed to strategic draws after two hours, assuring them all top rankings and prize money.

The Spanish grandmaster and tournament number one seed GM Francisco Vallejo Pons wins with 7½ points. Congratulations to ‘Paco’ and many thanks for his return to the BCC Open after his first appearance in 2011. We hope he will come back again next year to defend his title. The runner-up is GM Oliver Barbosa, who also reached an impressive 7½ points. GM Barbosa also won the Blitz tournament for the second year running, against stiff competition. Congratulations to the mighty Filipino for his outstanding performance. GM Jan Gustafsson, IM Qingnan Liu and GM Bartosz Socko all reached a very solid 7 points, putting them in 3rd to 5th place.

Round 9 results at top boards:

  1. GM Oliver Barbosa (7) ½ – ½ GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (7)
  2. GM Jan Gustafsson (6½) ½ – ½ GM Bartosz Socko (6½)
  3. GM Suat Atalik (6) ½ – ½ GM Darwin Laylo (6)
  4. GM John Paul Gomez (6) ½ – ½ GM Marat Dzhumaev (6)
  5. GM M.R. Venkatesh (6) 0 – 1 IM Qingnan Liu (6)

Final ranking of top players after round 9:

  • 1-2 (7½ pts.): GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, GM Oliver Barbosa
  • 3-5 (7 pts.): GM Jan Gustafsson, IM Qingnan Liu, GM Bartosz Socko
  • 6-12 (6½ pts.): GM John Paul Gomez, GM Suat Atalik, GM Marat Dzhumaev, IM Aleksandar Wohl, IM Roy Saptarshi, IM Rolando Nolte, GM Monika Socko

A GM norm was achieved by fourth-placed IM Qingnan Liu from China and a WIM norm by Ying Zhu (5 ½), also from China. Best lady player is Polish GM Monika Socko (6½). Best juniors are the Chinese youngsters Yan Liu (6) and Xiongjian Peng (6), as well as Richi Sardana (5½) from Australia. Congratulations to these players for their well-earned successes.

In the Challenger category, this year’s 14th BCC Open champion is Leonardo Alidani from the Philippines. He scored six points, as did his fellow countryman Marvin Ting, who is second based on tiebreak. Thotsaporn Thanatipanonda (THA), Kumar Samuel (IND) and Trong Binh Phan (VIE) scored 5½ points, which puts them on 3rd to 5th place.

Please visit for complete rankings, results and further details about the tournament.

A very big thank you goes to the 210 players from Asia and around the world for their hard-fought games and the many chess fans who followed the action in the playing hall and live online.

We thank our sponsors Thai Bev, Univentures, PYN Fund Management, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Chess4Thai, and the marvelous playing venue hosted by the Dusit Thani Bangkok Hotel. The tournament could not happen without their wonderful and generous support.

Many thanks also to all the members of the dedicated BCC Open tournament team who kept the tournament running smoothly at all times.

Coming soon at are interviews with some of the top GMs.


GM Vallejo Pons and GM Barbosa lead 14th BCC Open 2014, clash in final round

By , April 18, 2014

IM Quingnan Liu and Marat Dzhumaev

Report by Alexander J. Klemm

Rounds 7 and 8 of the 14th Bangkok Chess Club Open 2014 saw again exciting and some very long-fought games at the top boards. In the much anticipated round 7 clash between German GM Jan Gustafsson and Open leader GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, the players drew after solid play on both sides. Obviously, the teammates of German chess league winner OSG Baden Baden know each other very well and may find it hard to surprise each other in the opening. Playing with white, GM Gustafsson put pressure on ‘Paco’, but the Spaniard’s choice of the Nimzo-Indian Defense proved to be a good one. He equalized in the middle-game and a draw was agreed on move 34. This result made it possible for several players to close the gap.

GM Oliver Barbosa won against fellow Filipino GM Laylo Darwin on board two, GM Suat Atalik had obviously recovered from his defeat against GM Vallejo Pons in the previous round and won against GM Marat Dzhumaev in a 92-move marathon match. IM Qingnan Liu also used the opportunity to stay on track to success with a fine win against GM John Paul Gomez.

Round 7 results at top boards:

  1. GM Jan Gustafsson (5) ½ – ½ GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (5 ½)
  2. GM Darwin Laylo (5) 0 – 1 GM Oliver Barbosa (5)
  3. GM Suat Atalik (5) 1 – 0 GM Marat Dzhumaev (5)
  4. IM Qingnan Liu (5) 1 – 0 GM John Paul Gomez (5)
  5. GM Bartosz Socko (4 ½) 1 – 0 GM Gerhard Schebler (5)
  6. IM Alexsandar H. Wohl (4 ½) 1 – 0 GM Monika Socko (4 ½)
  7. FM Paulo Bersamina (4 ½) 1 – 0 IM Roy Saptarshi (4 ½)
  8. Rishi Sardana (4 ½) ½ – ½ FM Shinya Kojima (4 ½)

In round 8 the four leading players of the tournament were paired against one another, as were the four players on their heels. GM Vallejo Pons reached a clear advantage early in the game, but IM Qingnan Liu was tough and fought on until he finally had to resign in a rook vs. 2 pawn endgame. GM Suat Atalik again played a five-hour game, but this time lost against GM Oliver Barbosa. The Turkish GM must be commended for his outstanding fighting spirit. He has won six and lost two games with no draws to his account.

Round 8 results at top boards:

  1. GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (6) 1 – 0 IM Qingnan Liu (6)
  2. GM Oliver Barbosa (6) 1 – 0 GM Suat Atalik (6)
  3. GM Bartosz Socko (5 ½) 1 – 0 IM Alexsandar H. Wohl (5 ½)
  4. IM Roy Saptarshi (5 ½) 0 – 1 GM Jan Gustafsson (5 ½)
  5. IM Mahmood Lodhi (5) 0 – 1 GM John Paul Gomez (5)
  6. Hamed Nouri (5) 0 – 1 GM M.R. Venkatesh (5)
  7. Ellan Asuela (5) 0 – 1 GM Darwin Laylo (5)
  8. GM Marat Dzhumaev (5) 1 – 0 Rishi Sardana (5)

Ranking of top players after round 8:

  • 7 pts.: GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, GM Oliver Barbosa
  • 6½ pts.: GM Bartosz Socko, GM Jan Gustafsson
  • 6 pts.: GM Suat Atalik, GM Marat Dzhumaev, GM John Paul Gomez, GM M.R. Venkatesh, GM Darwin Laylo, IM Qingnan Liu

GM Barbosa and GM Vallejo Pons are the two leaders before the ultimate round tomorrow. They will cross swords in what promises to be a nail-biting finish to the tournament. While GM Barbosa has the small advantage of playing with white, GM Vallejo Pons had the much shorter game today and may be more refreshed going into the last round. The winner will be new BCC Open champion. But if they draw, either GM Jan Gustafsson or GM Bartosz Socko may pull even with the two leaders in their matchup on board two. Both players are trailing the leaders by only half a point.

Top pairings of (final) round 9:

  1. GM Oliver Barbosa (7) vs. GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (7)
  2. GM Jan Gustafsson (6 ½) vs. GM Bartosz Socko (6 ½)
  3. GM Suat Atalik (6) vs. GM Darwin Laylo (6)
  4. GM John Paul Gomez (6) vs. GM Marat Dzhumaev (6)
  5. GM M.R. Venkatesh (6) vs. IM Qingnan Liu (6)

In the Challenger category, things have been heating up as well, and the last round has to decide over who will be the new champion. In round 5 the sole leader Behrang Kaboodi (4 pts., Elo 2064) lost against Andrej Vospernik (3½, 2053), which made the latter player tournament leader. Leandro Alidani (3½, 1959) won against Ko Khin (3½, 2087) on board 2. In the round 6 clash between leaders Andrej Vospernik (4½) and Leandro Alidani (4½), the Filipino player kept the upper hand and is now the sole leader before going into the final round.

Round 6 results at top boards:

  1. Andrej Vospernik (4½) 0 – 1 Leonardo Alidani (4½)
  2. Marvin Ting (4) 1 – 0 Behrang Kaboodi (4)
  3. Trong Binh Phan (4) 1 – 0 Michael Williams (4)
  4. Arnulfo Gavilan Jr. (4) 0 – 1 Buragohain Nandan (4)

Top pairings of (final) round 7:

  1. Leonardo Alidani (5½, 1959) vs. Trong Binh Phan (5, 2064)
  2. Buragohain Nandan (5, 1924) vs. Marvin Ting (5, 1962)
  3. Kumar Samuel (4½, 1850) vs. Ko Khin (4½, 2087)
  4. Andrej Vospernik (4½, 2053) vs. Thotsaporn Thanatipanonda (4½, 2074)

The top six boards in the Open section can also be watched live with computer analysis at

The latest results, standings and fixtures can be accessed at


GM Vallejo Pons beats GM Atalik

By , April 17, 2014

Bangkok Chess Club Open 2014

GM Vallejo Pons beats GM Atalik in round 6 and takes lead at 14th Bangkok Chess Club Open 2014
Report by Alexander J. Klemm

Round six saw an exciting matchup on board one between number one seed GM Francisco Vallejo Pons and number five seed and tournament leader GM Suat Atalik. After a less than optimal opening, GM Vallejo Pons had to dig deep to squeeze out a win against his Turkish opponent. ‘Paco’ is now in the sole lead with 5½ points, while GM Atalik stays in contention with 5.

On board two Filipino GM John Paul Gomez and 3rd seed GM Jan Gustafsson, repeated moves early in an equal position. While their draw keeps both players in close contact with ‘Paco’, it may prove to be too little to reach first place in the end. In a matchup between spouses on board 3, Mr. & Mrs. Socko battled it out until only the king’s were left standing. Playing with the black pieces, GM Eugenio Torre had a slightly better position against GM Oliver Barbosa, but in time trouble the veteran went wrong several times and soon lost to his fellow countryman. In the game on board eight between Pattaya-based German GM Gerhard Schebler and Thai FM Wisuwat Teerapabpaisit, the former player came out on top. GM Schebler has recovered from his round 5 loss against GM Atalik and has a good chance for a strong finish.

Round 6 results at top boards:

  1. GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (4 ½) 1 – 0 GM Suat Atalik (5)
  2. GM John Paul Gomez (4½) ½ – ½ GM Jan Gustafsson (4½)
  3. GM Monika Socko (4) ½ – ½ GM Bartosz Socko (4)
  4. GM Oliver Barbosa (4) 1 – 0 GM Eugenio Torre (4)
  5. GM Darwin Laylo (4) 1 – 0 Rolando Andador (4)
  6. Hamed Nouri (4) 0 – 1 IM Qingnan Liu (4)
  7. GM Marat Dzhumaev (4) 1 – 0 Yan Liu (4)
  8. GM Gerhard Schebler (4) 1 – 0 FM Wisuwat Teerapabpaisit (4)

Ranking after round 6:

  1. 5½ pts.: GM Francisco Vallejo Pons
  2. 5 pts.: GM Suat Atalik, GM Jan Gustafsson, GM John Paul Gomez, GM Oliver Barbosa, GM Darwin Laylo, GM Gerhard Schebler, GM Marat Dzhumaev, IM Qingnan Liu

Top pairings of round 7:

  1. GM Jan Gustafsson (5) vs. GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (5½)
  2. GM Darwin Laylo (5) vs. GM Oliver Barbosa (5)
  3. GM Suat Atalik (5) vs. GM Marat Dzhumaev (5)
  4. IM Qingnan Liu (5) vs. GM John Paul Gomez (5)
  5. GM Bartosz Socko (4½) vs. GM Gerhard Schebler (5)

Here is the round six game GM Vallejo Pons vs. GM Atalik
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d3 Bd6 13.Re1 Bf5 14.Qf3 Qf6 15.Bxd5 cxd5 16.Be3 Qe5 17.g3 Bxd3 18.Nd2 Rfe8 19.Kg2 Be4 20.Nxe4 dxe4 21.Qe2 Bf8 22.Rad1 Qe6 23.a3 Rad8 24.Rxd8 Rxd8 25.Rd1 Rxd1 26.Qxd1 f6 (weakening the e6-square) 27.a4 Qc4 28.a5

VallejoPons-Atalik Diagram 1

The position is roughly equal, yet with his 3-2 pawn majority on the left side of the board white can put pressure on black. Now black should keep his queen on white squares in order to protect his pawns on a6 and e4, for example: 28…Qc6 29.Qd8 Kf7 30.Qb6 Qc8 31.Qd4 Qc6 32.Qa7+ Kg8 33.Qb6 Qc8 34.Qa7 Qc6 =

However, Atalik went for the weak 28… b4 (?). After this mistake, white missed the strong continuation 29.cxb4 h6 30.Qd7 Qxb4 31.Qe6+ Kh7 32.Qxa6 Bc5 33.Bxc5 Qxc5 34.Qe6 Qxa5 35.Qxe4+ f5 36.Qb7. This would have given white a winning position, as the b-pawn is unstoppable and perpetual checks impossible.

However, Vallejo Pons opted for the imprecise but still sufficient 29. b3 (?!) Qb5 30.c4 Qxa5 31.c5 Qc7 32.Qd5+ Qf7 33.Qxe4 f5 34.Qxb4 g5 35.h3 f4 36.gxf4 gxf4 37.Qxf4 Qxf4 38.Bxf4 Bxc5.

VallejoPons-Atalik Diagram 4The queens are off the board and white is a pawn up. Black can’t defend his weak pawn on a6 from attacks by the white king and stop white’s f-pawn at the same time. Vallejo Pons makes the rest look easy: 39.Be3 Bb4 40.Kf3 Kf7 41.Ke4 Ke6 42.f4 Bc3 43.Bd4 Be1 44.Be5 h5 45.f5+ Kf7 46.Kd3 Ke7 47.Kc4 Kd7 48.Bc3 Bf2 49.Kd5 Bh4 50.f6 Bg5 51.Ke5 Bh6 52.Bb4.

In the final position, black will soon be forced to give up his bishop for white’s f-pawn. 1 – 0

A short profile of the new leader and nominally the strongest player at the BCC Open is indicative of the great caliber of professionals the tournament has managed to attract year after year.

Player’s profile: GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (nickname ‘Paco’)
The top seed at the 14th Bangkok Chess Club Open 2014 was born on 21 August 1982 in Es Castell, Minorca, Spain. His current Elo-rating of 2693 puts the 31-year-old at 52nd place on Fide’s World ranking. Over the last few years Vallejo Pons has consistently reached ratings of over 2700, peaking at 2724 in July of 2011.

This is the second time that he has participated in the BCC Open, the first time being in Pattaya in 2011, where he reached third place on tiebreak behind champion GM Jan Gustafsson and runner-up GM Nigel Short, all three players scoring 7½/9.

Naturally, the Spaniard’s opening repertoire is rock solid. Playing with white he favors 1.e4, with the Sicilian being the opening he encounters most often. Playing with the black pieces against 1.e4 he regularly chooses the Sicilian or the French Defense, and against 1.d4 he prefers the Semi-Slav.
His professional successes include, among many, the following:

  • 20th youngest player to become grandmaster (at the age of 16 years and 9 months)
  • winner of the 2000 Under-18 World Youth Chess Championship
  • a solid showing at the Linares Super GM tournament in 2002
  • Spanish champion in 2006 and 2009
  • wins against GM Magnus Carlsen, GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Vassily Ivanchuk at the 4th Bilbao Masters
  • 2nd place (8th on tiebreak) at the 13th European Individual Championship 2012
  • 3½ – 2½ victory against GM Veselin Topalov at the 25th Ciudad de Leon, 2012
  • 1st place (6th on tiebreak) at the 12th European Individual Championship 2013
  • 1st place with OSG Baden Baden in the 2013/14 season of the German chess league (Schachbundesliga), scoring 6 ½/8 (15 rounds in total).

After six rounds of play, with three rounds to go, and having beaten one of his closest rivals, ‘Paco’ has put himself in a good position to win the tournament, yet all of his next opponents will surely put up a fight. The round 7 matchup between GM Gustafsson and GM Vallejo Pons promises more great chess.

The top six boards in the Open section can also be watched live with computer analysis at

The latest results, standings and fixtures can be accessed at

Turkish GM Suat Atalik takes sole lead after round 5 of the 14th Bangkok Chess Club Open

By , April 16, 2014


Report by Alexander J. Klemm

After 5 rounds of play the Thailand Open Chess Championships 2014 / 14th Bangkok Chess Club Open, taking place in Bangkok 12-19 April 2014, is well under way.

As in 2012 this year’s tournament is hosted by the beautiful 5-start Dusit Thani Bangkok Hotel, which is located in Bangkok’s business district Silom. During the last few years the BCC Open has been hosted either by the Dusit Thani Bangkok Hotel or by the Dusit Thani Pattaya Hotel. Thanks to the great cooperation with these outstanding venues, the BCC Open one of the most attractive chess events in Asia, with established a loyal base of strong amateurs and professionals, and keeps attracting new players from around the world.

As is tradition the tournament features an Open (9 rounds) and a Challenger (7 rounds) category. With over 200 players in both categories combined, the tournament has again drawn a big and internationally diverse crowd. The number of participants is lower than a year ago when the tournament took place in Pattaya, which may be due to some players’ concerns about lingering political tensions in Thailand. Nevertheless, the first half of the tournament has shown that the chess is as strong and the event is as competitive as ever.

The Open section includes a tough field of 55 titled players (!), among them 13 grandmasters and 12 international masters. Obvious favorites for the title are first-seed GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spain, ELO rating 2693, =1st place in 2011), GM Bartosz Socko (Poland, 2635), and GM Jan Gustafsson (Germany, 2634, winner in 2011, 3rd place 2013). Their closest rivals GM Oliver Barbosa (Phi, 2580) and GM Suat Atalik (Tur, 2562) certainly also have a shot at the championship. GM Zong-Yuan Zhao, last year’s champion and Australia’s strongest player, has not returned to Bangkok to defend his title.

Notable is the solid number of female players fighting for accolades in both categories. The strongest among them this year are GM Monika Socko (Pol, 2450), WGM Anda Safranska (Fra, 2286), WGM Xiaobing Gu (Chi, 2265), IM Nisha Mohota (Ind, 2253) and WGM Kulkarni Bhakti (Ind, 2246). For the first time in several years British GM Nigel Short, winner in 2012, is absent, yet with veteran GM Eugenio Torre (Phi, 2427), Asia’s first GM, one of the world’s strongest players of the 1970s/80s and the most successful player to herald from the Philippines, the BCC Open has welcomed back an outstanding veteran of the sport. Torre reached second place in the 2005-edition of the tournament, and with his great experience he can beat any of the younger masters of today. The Philippines is the nation with the strongest representation in the Open section. Alongside Barbosa and Torre, other Filipino players are battling for ELO points and good results. They include GM John Paul Gomez (2524), GM Darwin Laylo (2511), IM Rolando Nolte (2417), and a good dozen of their countrymen. Thailand’s strongest players FM Jirapak Pitirotjirathon (2274), Uaychai Kongsee (2271), FM Wisuwat Teerapabpaisit (2250) and FM Boonsueb Saeheng (2200) are also participating. While they may not have the consistency to break into the top ranks, they all have the ability and experience to beat higher rated opponents.

After four rounds GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, GM John Paul Gomez (Phi, 2524), GM Suat Atalik, and GM Gerhard Schebler (Ger, 2451) were the remaining players with a clean sheet.

In hard-fought battles, the former two players drew their game, while in the latter encounter GM Atalik kept the upper hand against GM Schebler in a marathon match.

Round 5 results at top boards:

  1. GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (4) ½ – ½ GM John Paul Gomez (4)
  2. GM Suat Atalik (4) 1 – 0 GM Gerhard Schebler (4)
  3. GM Jan Gustafsson (3 ½) 1 – 0 IM Lodhi Mahmood (3 ½)
  4. Yan Liu (3 ½) ½ – ½ GM Darwin Laylo (3 ½)
  5. IM Qingnan Liu (3 ½) ½ – ½ GM Marat Dzhumaev (3 ½)

Ranking after round 5:

  1. 5 pts.: GM Suat Atalik
  2. 4 ½ pts.: GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, GM John Paul Gomez, GM Jan Gustafsson

His win in round 5 has made GM Atalik, the second seed of the tournament and Turkey’s second strongest player, the sole leader, confirming his role as a favorite to win the tournament. Yet much can still happen in the remaining four rounds. The competition is heating up and the stakes are high. GM Atalik is on a roll, but now he is facing top-seed GM Vallejo Pons, who will do everything to stop him.

Top pairings of round 6:

  1. GM Francisco Vallejo Pons (4 ½) vs. GM Suat Atalik (5)
  2. GM John Paul Gomez (4 ½) vs. GM Jan Gustafsson (4 ½)
  3. GM Monika Socko (4) vs. GM Bartosz Socko (4)
  4. GM Oliver Barbosa (4) vs. GM Eugenio Torre (4)
  5. GM Darwin Laylo (4) vs. Rolando Andador (4)
  6. Hamed Nouri (4) vs. IM Qingnan Liu (4)
  7. GM Marat Dzhumaev (4) vs. Yan Liu
  8. GM Gerhard Schebler (4) vs. FM Wisuwat Teerapabpaisit (4)

In the first three rounds of the Challenger category, only 3 players won all their games and are leading the standings: Arnulfo Gavilan Jr. (Phi, 2031), Behrang Kaboodi (Iri, 2064) and Buragohain Nandan (Ind, 1924). The top encounters of round 4 are Gavilian vs. Kaboodi and number one seed Ko Khin (Mya, 2087, 2 ½) vs. Nandan.

Players and visitors of the BCC Open can follow the top four boards live on a big screen in the playing hall, which is a much appreciated addition to the event.

The top six boards in the Open section can also be watched live with computer analysis at

The latest results, standings and fixtures can be accessed at

Visit for PGN files of the games and further updates about the playing action.

And if you can read Japanese, check out Shinya Kojima’s lengthy blog.

Thailand Open – PGN games

By , April 15, 2014

PGN files are now available for download (not all games are complete).

round1 round2 round3

round4 round5 round6


(Click image to download).

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