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.

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