Azumi Sakai and Hiroshi Manabe are Japan Women and Senior Champions 2023
We are already into the eighth month of 2023, a year that has seemingly just breezed by. Right at the end of July, we saw new champions added to the list, as Japan Women’s Chess Championship and Japan’s Senior Chess Championship came to a close. Both tournaments were conducted over two days - 29th and 30th July at Shinagawa-ku Kumin hall called ‘Curian’. Each followed the six round Swiss-league, 45 minutes + 30 secs from move no.1, Japan National Rated format. The top two finishers of both tournaments would earn an invite to Japan Chess Championship 2024, and the respective “Champion” title will be accorded only to the highest finishing players registered under Japan Federation. The top two boards in each of the tournaments played on DGT boards. The games were broadcast live on Japan Chess Federation’s youtube channel, and one could follow the moves on chess.com and Lichess. Photos: Japan Chess Federation
FM Stephen Jones wins Japan Senior Championship 2023, Hiroshi Manabe is the Japan Senior Champion 2023
This year’s women’s chess championship featured 19 players, including two WCM title holders. Melody Takayasu, who was part of Japan’s team in the online Olympiad, also participated in this event.
The women’s championship of 2022 was won by then 12-year-old Rikka Mitsuyama, who featured in this year’s tournament as the defending champion. Azumi, who has represented Japan in Chess Olympiads, the latest being on board no.1 in Chennai in 2022, showed her strength and fighting spirit to wrest away the title with an unbeaten 6-0 run.
WCM Azumi Sakai thus became Japan’s Women’s Chess Champion 2023. In the process, she also got the better of Rikka, who also showed great ability and fight in the remaining games to finish second with a score of 4.5/6.
Misaki Shibata 4/6 finished third on better tie-breaks in a four-way tie for third spot with Ami Kato, WCM Emi Hasegawa, and Melody Takayasu.
Azumi Sakai and Rikka Mitsuyama will be seeded into next year’s Japan Chess Championship 2024, while Azumi Sakai gets a place in Japan’s team for Chess Olympiad 2024.
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In the senior championship, Japan Chess Federation’s President (Representative Director), Mr. Hiroshi Manabe was in top form, finishing second in a pool of 19 participants. The tournament’s top seed, a very active and strong magician, FM Stephen Jones (USA) who celebrated his 80th birthday last year, ended up winning the tournament with an unbeaten score of 5.5/6.
Hiroshi Manabe finished on 4.5 points, the same score as of Nobuyuki Koyama, but finished better on tie-breaks, thus becoming the highest placed player belonging to Japan Federation, and Japan’s Senior Champion 2023. Nobuyuki Koyama was the only opponent who managed to wrest half a point from FM Stephen Jones, in their fourth round encounter.
The senior tournament also featured games of top quality, especially those played by the eventual winners.
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About the Author
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. He has also been a top three finisher in a one-day OTB events in Japan in 2013, 2015, 2017 and online blitz in 2020. Currently he is making use of online platforms for chess improvement and learning Ayurveda. He loves salsa dancing, reading, traveling and teaching.