The Young and the Old *

Round number four got underway 2 1/2 hours early in Hua Hin this Tuesday, so as not to interfere with the all-important blitz tournament scheduled in the same evening.  All top games are, as always, available at

One third of this 21st Bangkok Chess Club Open is now behind us, and a few trends are beginning to emerge.  Thirteen players remain with the maximum score, of which almost half are under 18 years old.  As a fellow pundit astutely observed the other night, something definitely happened during those Covid years.  Kids used to play quickly and leave pieces hanging.  Nowadays they eat IMs for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

At a cautious distance from the tournament leaders we find the first two Thai players, who could hardly be more different from one another.  

Young Prin Laohawirapap is the reigning Thai champion as well as the first Thai national to hold the title of International Master.  He combines his schooling with an intensive study of chess, whipping up a chess book or checking out online resources at every opportunity.  Aided by professional coaching and steadfast support from his family, he appears well on his way to become Thailand’s first ever GM.

FM Wisuwat Teerapabpaisit, on the other hand, is the quintessential Renaissance man, if such a thing may apply to the world of chess.  His areas of interest range from numerous chess-like games in addition to go, backgammon and more, all of which he practices at a competitive level.  He is also one of the few active players who remain from the early days of the Bangkok chess club, some 25 years ago.    

Back then, Thailand’s team for the Olympiads were essentially drawn from the elite echelon of the local Makruk (Thai chess) league.  Most of them were also regulars at the BCC’s blitz tournaments, while some foreign residents returned the favour by taking part in the national championship on a few occasions.  Chess, back then, was a different kind of game.  A post-mortem analysis wasn’t all about asking Stockfish.  It was, instead, a social affair typically involving (around the Din Daeng suburb at least) much revelry around a chess board and, more often than not, lots of cigarette smoke as well as a half-empty bottle of Mekong whisky.  

Now.  How cool was that, kids?

*With apologies to the great English band Madness for the misappropriation of their song’s title.

High Goals and Fond Memories

Round 3 of the Bangkok Chess Club Open witnessed several closely contested, heavyweight encounters, as the Elo gap between opponents continued to shrink.

The round was brutal, with upsets on Board 3 with Subhayan Kundu defeating Chinese GM Peng Xiongjian, and Board 5 with FM Manon overcoming GM Lalit. Only two Grandmasters retain their places in the top 15 for Round 4.

Games from the top 10 boards are available at

Yesterday, a twelve year old boy defeated an International Master. (Add video link maybe), after which he shared in his dream of becoming World Champion someday.  

This conjures up memories of a juvenile Gukesh overjoyed upon defeating 3-time BCC champion Nigel Short here in Thailand a few years ago.  

Why Gukesh and fellow former BCC contestants Praggnanandhaa and his sister Vaishali elected to travel to Toronto’s unending winter instead of this tropical paradise of Hua Hin, we may never know (but then again, we might).  

All the same, don’t conclude that there are no superstars at the BCC Open this year.  We guarantee you will find some hidden gems here.

Just give it a few years.

BCC Open gathering Steam

Round number two saw the Bangkok Chess Club Open rapidly gather steam.  After an initial day in which most of the favourites emerged unscathed, the first skirmishes between titled players took place this Sunday.

Notable performances on the top boards include the Indian junior Ajay Santosh holding GM Samant Aditya to a draw on Board 5

Elsewhere, the only two French players in the Open section – one a real estate tycoon, the other a software wizard – were pitted against each other in a battle that started like fierce duel worthy of Alexandre Dumas himself, but concluded as peacefully as an Armistice Day commemoration atop the Maginot line.  

On a nearby board, the battle of the organisers lived up to its billings, with BCC tournament director Kai Tuorila trying to overcome the stubborn resistance of Blue Chevaliers Chess Tournament mastermind Peter Frost, but ultimately conceding a hard-fought draw.

In other news, the celebrations surrounding the Thai New Year or Songkran are in full swing, meaning that even those players who were able to keep their calculations watertight over the weekend may not be as lucky if they venture out to town over the coming days.  

As for those who prefer to stay indoors, don’t forget to avail yourself of the games at, and videos on 

Beach Boys and Chandeliers

Round one of the 21st edition of the Bangkok Chess Club Open is underway at the Sheraton Resort and Spa in Hua Hin, Thailand.

Hua Hin, while not quite exactly on the same footing as the French Riviera, the Bahamas or other locations popularised by the Beach Boys and related artists, has become a magnet for local tourists and Western retirees alike.

The open and challenger sections of the tournament are hosted separately in two dazzling ballrooms boasting huge chandeliers, not dissimilar from the Hua Hin beach sunrise. Hyperbolic? Maybe, though not that much if you are, like most chess aficionados, used to playing chess in taverns, school cafeterias or multi-sport halls. But we digress.

This year, a total of over 300 participants hailing from close to fifty different countries have congregated to Thailand, making the BCC open once more a staple of Asia’s chess calendar.

While this number is not in itself a record, what is remarkable about the 2024 edition is the sharp increase in players representing India. More than a hundred showed up in Hua Hin, representing the bulk of titled players in attendance.

Good thing is, we are told, this particular hotel specialises in large Indian weddings. Although it can be expected that, in this particular instance, most participants will have slightly different mating patterns on their minds.

As a fairly uneventful first round unfolds, one is tempted to reflect on the event’s longevity and consistency, over a period of 23 years only briefly interrupted by the Covid pandemic. Or receive an initiation to the local variant of chess, which is endemic to Thailand and Cambodia, courtesy of the Makruk Association. Or get ready for happy hour by the pool bar. Take your pick, and join us at this year’s Bangkok chess club open. Or if you can’t, do check out the games from the top boards on

Chess on the Beach

This week marks the start of Songkran, the water festival that is the biggest holiday of the year in Thailand.

It is also when the most popular chess tournament in Southeast Asia takes place in the beautiful setting of the Sheraton Hua Hin. More than 300 chess enthusiasts, young and old, are traveling from nearly 50 countries to test their wits against the Grandmasters that will be taking part.

“This will be our 21st edition of the Bangkok Chess Club Open, and it is shaping up to be the best yet,” notes Kai Tuorila, the Tournament Director. “After all the difficulties over the past few years, we are delighted to see so many of our regulars as well as new visitors coming together in a spirit of friendship and competition.”

The tournament takes place over 9 days, with all players taking part for the whole tournament. There is also a short Blitz Tournament taking place, with games that take only ten minutes to complete.  “The Open is not a knockout tournament, all participants will have chances right to the end of the tournament,” Kai added. “In the Blitz, the Juniors can really challenge the older players, even the Grandmasters.”

Nicolai Mitchell, General Manager at the Sheraton explained that this a unique new experience for them. “We are very popular for weddings and corporate events, and this new sporting event should help us reach a wider audience via the Marriott Bonvoy programme, particularly as there are more than 100 chess players coming from India.”

The tournament runs from 13-21 April, and spectators are welcome – but should note that no electronic devices including mobile phones are allowed in the playing hall. Games from the top boards are broadcast live on the international chess website 

Local Hero Stops Top Seed at Bangkok Open

In 2016 Poompong Wiwatanadate was working as an arbiter at the Bangkok Chess Club Open, collecting results and ruling on disputes. Three years later the 29-year-old has become the toast of Bangkok by holding a draw against – and almost beating top seed and former world title challenger Nigel Short.

Wiwatanadate had twice lost to Short in earlier BBC Opens, an event Short has won thrice, but said before today’s game that he would not be scared. At various points during the game Short seemed to be gaining the upper hand but Wiwatanadate fought hard and eventually the veteran Englishman started to go wrong.

However just when Wiwatanadate had the game at his mercy he missed a winning breakthrough and Short managed to hang on and force a repetition of position. The draw was a career-best result for Wiwatanadate and forced Short down outside the top 30 in the 201 player field.

Short was not the only high profile casualty in the second round of the BCC Open, being held at the Centara Grand Hotel in Ladprao. Third seed Babu Lalith drew with 13-year-old Filipino rising star Alekhine Nouri.

The upsets leave German Grandmaster Jan Gustafsson in the box seat to win his second BCC Open, although with seven rounds remaining and more than 30 players on a perfect score, plenty of players still have hopes to secure the 100,000 Baht first prize.

One Grandmaster was defeated in the second round – India’s Dopade Swapnil beaten by Australian journeyman Colin Savige. Swapnil lost on time on move 61 in a difficult position but one which he would nonetheless have expected to draw. The top Chinese player in the BCC Open, International Master Lou Yiping suffered the biggest upset of the round, losing to German veteran Mick Tobor, with the 68-year-old launching a decisive attack to beat the 12th seed.

The Bangkok Chess Club Open, often known as the Thai Open, is Thailand’s most popular open tournament and alternates between Bangkok and other major Thai cities. It is held through the period of Songkran, formerly Thai New Year and now a traditional water festival washing away bad moves and bad luck.

The BCC Open will be held daily until April 14th at the Centara Grand Hotel in Central Plaza, Ladprao, Bangkok. The third round of the Open division and the first round of the Challengers section begin on Monday April 8th at 15.00. Spectator entry is free.

For complete results, visit