Final round – All good things…

The 21st edition of the Bangkok Chess Club Open has concluded with the victory of the top seed, Ukrainian Grandmaster Vitaliy Bernadskiy, who capped his stay in Hua Hin with a solid performance featuring six wins and three draws.  

He is joined on 7,5/9 by fellow GM Mitrabha, who successfully repelled a vicious, if unsound, attack from young FM Manon.  The player from Bangladesh will find solace knowing that his fine performance is crowned by an IM norm as well as the top spot in the junior category.  Another IM norm goes to untitled Chinese player Cao, who lost steam in the final three rounds after an astounding initial week, which saw him fight consistently on the top boards.  

With 5.5/9, James Constance of the UK and Guy West from Australia top the ranking of the Senior category, while the Ladies’ awards are split in a three-way tie between Eesha Karavade, Pattnaik Sherali (both from India) and Mongolian GM Altman-Ulzii Enkhtuul.

The Challenger tournament was won outright by Lorenzo Cantela with 7,5/9 ahead of a quartet on 7 points.  Of note is the fact that five of the top six finishers hail from the Philippines.  

This concludes our coverage of this year’s Bangkok Chess Club Open Tournament at the Sheraton Spa and Resort in Hua Hin.  We hope to see you all in Thailand at our next event.  Bye for now!

Games from top boards:

Round 8 – the longest day?

The Bangkok Chess Club Open entered its final stretch this Saturday, with what proved to be an intense afternoon.  The thing is, many chess masters are late sleepers, and therefore reluctant to pin all their hopes on a decisive result at a Sunday morning game that begins at the ungodly hour of 9:00am.  Much better to score big today and make do with a draw tomorrow, if at all possible.  Much better for one’s sleep quality, too.  

This appears to having been the approach of top seed Bernadskiy, who defeated his GM colleague Zhao on board one following a fine positional display to bag a crucial 7th point.  Other important wins were scored on boards 2 and 4 with the white pieces by GMs Mitrabha and Makhnev respectively.  GM norm hopeful Cao suffered a second successive defeat at the hands of Australian IM Morris, who had the looser shirt but the more compact position. 

The first and second prizes for competitors playing under the Thai flag have been all but awarded today, with co-leaders Wisuwat and Prin facing each other at board 31 in a dynamic Open Sicilian.  The young IM outlasted his veteran teammate with the black pieces with a string of sacrifices culminating in unusual material and positional imbalances.  

Meanwhile, uncertainty surrounds the overall ranking.  Three leaders on 6/7 and no less than fifteen pursuers on 5.5 before the start of the round remain in the scrap for the first prize of 100.000 baht.  

As the whale-shaped glass chandeliers of the Open tournament hall were chiming delicately, a tsunami overran board 10 when a glass of water was spilled accidentally, interrupting the live transmission.  Play resumed shortly after on the other side of the hall, with both contestants safe and dry, including FM Sek.  Games, hence with the exception of this particular one, are available at

Round 7 – of GM norms, curses and Thai chess 

Some are in it for the holidays, others for the money and to boost their rating.  And then a few leave the Bangkok Chess Club Open tournament with a much-coveted IM or GM norm.  The latter must be on the mind of Chinese junior Cao Qingfeng.  With a score of 5.5/6 and a performance towering above 2700, solid play is all he needs over the remaining three games in order to cap his first participation in the BCC Open with a spectacular first grandmaster norm.  Not too shabby for a 16 year old who entered the tournament seeded 96th with a rating just over 2000.  

Facing Australian GM Zhao with the black pieces is not likely to be a mere formality, though.  The other two co-leaders met on the adjoining table, with the game between IM Karazayev from Kazakhstan and top seed Ukrainian GM Bernadskiy petering out into one of the quickest draws of the round (

Meanwhile, battle rages in the Challenger section of the tournament, where we are being told that the top board is afflicted with a strange kind of curse.  Indeed, it would appear that no one manages to stay there longer than a day before diving back into the depths of the pairings.  Good thing chess players aren’t superstitious.  

And then all lights went out in both playing halls for a good ten minutes, following some unexplained power cut.  Last time we mess around with the spirits in Hua Hin, promise.  You don’t want that again in the middle of time pressure now, do you? 

Earlier today, the indefatigable instructors of the Makruk Association organised a Thai chess tournament in which 11 players took part, including BCC Open chief arbiter Maung Maung Lwin as well as several titled players.  Jan Emmanuel Garcia emerged first, ahead of his fellow IM and compatriot Paulo Bersamina.  A similar event is scheduled this Saturday morning so there is still an opportunity to ‘go native’, should you so wish.

Sheraton Hua Hin push the boat out 

Hoist the sail, matey!

Drinks, logo’s, adventures at sea and even a drone: the Sheraton Resort and Spa spared no expense in making this year’s photo shoot memorable.  The hotel management and even the provincial governor were there to witness a mock chess match at sea, contested in a traditional fishing vessel.  

A large Bangkok Chess Club Open logo was affixed to the boat’s mast amidst a strong breeze, which would have sent its passengers all the way to Pattaya had the wind direction turned east.  We are however pleased to report that the participating grandmasters were not waylaid by the elements, and reported well on time for today’s round.  

Food & beverage manager Mr. Jakub Mares indicated that, although his hotel tends to specialise in conventions and weddings, sporting events such as the Bangkok Chess Club Open bring additional visibility.  He then stated that the Sheraton would soon host an important boxing event and shared his hope for further cooperation with the Bangkok chess club. 

It is, therefore, this author’s firm belief that all stars are properly aligned for Hua Hin to become an international chessboxing hub in the near future.

The blitz finals last night were a feisty affair, with Timur Gareev edging out M. Panesh on tie-break to take first place.  Amidst pieces flying in all four corners of the board, the perennial question came back to mind: is chess sport, art or science?  It would, at this stage, appear that the modern chess player is something of a hybrid between a quantum physicist and a ratcatcher.  In blitz especially.

Meanwhile , the Open tournament is entering its sixth round, with games available here:  Information regarding the prize fund has been released, which means that the money time is right around the corner.

Bliss, just like the devil, is in the details.  

Running a tournament like the Bangkok Chess Club Open successfully is, first and foremost, about getting all sorts of details right.   A comfortable playing venue with ample space for every board is a trademark of the event.  

As are the quirky photo opportunities staged by the organisers year after year.  Former world championship contender Nigel Short playing chess with both feet deep in seawater while wearing formal attire. Grandmasters Gustafsson and Vallejo dressed up as traditional Thai boxers.  Chess on a fishing boat, under a waterfall or on a rooftop.  Or with an elephant handling the pieces.  

Speaking of important details, the Challenger section is run just as smoothly and professionally as the main event.  With a similar level of comfort, too.  The row with the top boards is an exact replica of the one in the open section, giving those players the same feeling one would experience while facing a seasoned master.  

Just like elsewhere, many of the rating favourites had a tricky first half of the tournament as the youngsters take over.  One may expect many of those to join the ranks of the Open group next year, many of them from well-established chess powers like the Philippines and India, but, perhaps more surprisingly, also Kazakhstan.  

Interviewed by the BCC press team for the occasion, all three Challengers tournament referees collectively described the event as uneventful, which is probably just how they want it to unfold. 

Yesterday’s blitz tournament qualifiers were equally impressive in their organisational efficiency, with eight groups of fourteen players facing off in a round robin – a system that gives any rank amateur the opportunity to play against several top class opponents.  All complete with a designated referee, ensuring that the pairings are communicated quickly and accurately.  Considering the quality of play observed last night, the blitz finals which will take place this Wednesday promise to be quite spectacular.

As we reach the main tournament’s halfway mark, the number of co-leaders has dwindled to just four, including Vietnamese aces Trang Gia Phuc Pham and Nho Kiet Dinh as well as Chinese underdog Qingfeng Cao, who stands to gain more than a hundred rating points in just four games:  

They, too, would certainly agree that good chess is all about little details.