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Japan Chess Championship Qualifiers - Part I

by Mayur Gondhalekar - 28/03/2021

The months of February and March are quite busy with excitement in Japan's chess calendar. Qualifying tournaments are held by various regional chess clubs to select candidates for the strongest event of the year, held in May – the Japan Chess Championship, a FIDE rated event. Mayur Gondhalekar brings you all the news and updates from Japan in this two-part report. Part 1 covers events from Osaka, Chiba and Aichi (Nagoya). Check out this report containing few games and beautiful photos from the events along with annotations of his own and few other games by Mayur himself. Photo: Mr. Horie/Nagoya Chess Club

Japan Chess Championship Qualification criteria: one person qualifies for every eight (or part of) participants. Any already qualified players, or anyone who decline the invitation are skipped. The host club can nominate one additional person.


Compared to last year's disruptions due to covid, this year has been kinder, with the qualifying tournament schedule as follows:

• Chiba Qualifying tournament (February 27, 28)

• Aichi Qualifying tournament (February 28)

• Osaka Qualifying tournament (March 7)

• Tokyo Qualifying tournament (March 20, 21)

• Hokkaido Qualifying tournament (March 27, 28)

• Hyogo Qualifying tournament (March 28)


Part I covers tournaments conducted in Osaka, Chiba, and Aichi (Nagoya); Part II covers tournaments conducted in Tokyo, Hokkaido and Hyogo (Kobe).


All tournaments followed the Anti-covid guidelines as follows:

- No participation if body temperature is above 37.5 C

- No handshakes, avoid post game discussions

- Disinfection of chess pieces between rounds

- Limited number of participants

- Disinfection of hands

- wearing of mask at all times.


Note: All tournaments are conducted as part of National Chess Society of Japan, Japan's FIDE affiliated organization.

Part I: Osaka, Chiba, Aichi (Nagoya)

Osaka Qualifying tournament

This tournament was conducted on March 7th 2021, by Mr. Tabe Masaharu of the “En Passant” Chess club in Japan's second largest city of Osaka, right after the covid related 'emergency declaration' was lifted there. 16 players participated in this tournament.


The tournament consisted of 3 rounds, with a time control of 35 minutes + 30 seconds/move, from 10:30 am to 6 pm local time.


This was my first chess event in Osaka. The organizers and the participants were very friendly. While all participants are those currently living in Japan, we did have a lot of different countries of origin – from South Africa, Iran, India, Philippines, Mongolia, and Japan itself. Further, the participants spanned a wide age range, from approximately 16 to 65 years! It was a strong field, as the tournament saw the participation of CM Nakahara Kan who was Japan's Under-14 champion 2019 and played on the Under-20 board in 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad, Takayasu Melody, who played in the Japan women's team in Asian Online Nations Cup 2020, and WCM Kojima Natsumi.


Personally, I  had a disastrous performance – I was hammered in the first round, defended well but flagged myself in the second, and finally won the last round. Nevertheless, the tournament was thoroughly enjoyable. I was happy to meet, Mr. Diba, Seyed Reza with whom I played a lot of games last year in NCS Japan's online blitz events.

CM Nakahara Kan, and Tsogt Ochir won the tournament with a score of 3.0/3.

In the last game to finish on March 7th, between WCM Kojima Natsumi and Mr. Okada Mitsuhiro (organizer of Hyogo Qualifying tournament), black missed a win but the final position ended up being a fitting tribute to the following day's “International Women's Day”, with 4 queens on the board:

Four queens | Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

Before there were four queens on the board, Okada missed a win against Kojima.

Kojima - Okada, Round 3

Position after 58.e7

The game went on with 58...b1=Q but what was the winning continuation which black missed in the game?

Osaka Qualifiers playing area | Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

Mayur vs Takayasu Melody (my first time against a 'national representative' in a rated game)

Against Melody, Mayur was winning for the better of the game.

Mayur - Melody, Round 2

Position after 34...Qg6

Find out the winning continuation for white after 34...Qg6. Mayur missed the opportunity and played 35.Rxa4 instead.

The organizers Takayasu Nobuyuki and Tabe Masaharu with CM Nakahara Kan, and Mr. Yokoo, Swiss manager operator and Arbiter | Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

Commemorative photograph | Photo: En passant Chess Club, Osaka

Replay few games from Osaka Championship

Final Standings

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2 
11Nakahara KanJPN21223,04,54,50
16TSOGT OCHIR03,04,54,50
37Onishi KosukeJPN18142,05,02,00
42Takashima BunjiJPN19322,04,52,50
56Mizumoto TakahiroJPN18212,04,01,00
63Tomii YoshikatsuJPN18302,03,02,00
74Akai KiyotakaJPN18221,55,51,75
813Yoshida SoJPN14601,55,02,25
99Kojima NatsumiJPN17451,54,50,75
105Okada MitsuhiroJPN18221,53,00,75
1111Takayasu NobuyukiJPN15571,07,02,00
128Takayasu MelodyJPN17621,06,01,00
1310Flipi PoggenpoelJPN16631,04,00,00
1412Gondhalekar MayurUSA14941,02,50,00
1514Diba Seyed RezaJPN13980,04,50,00
15GOSAR JITESH00,04,50,00


Aichi Qualifying Tournament

This tournament was conducted on February 28th 2021, by Mr. Horie Takahiro of the Nagoya Chess Club, in Nagoya city (Aichi prefecture). 14 players participated in this tournament. This is the same club where India's GM Sriram Jha won the Nagoya Open in 2019.

Sriram Jha won Nagoya Open in 2019 | Photo: Nagoya Chess Club

The qualifying tournament consisted of four rounds, with a time control of 30 minutes + 30 seconds/move. I had participated in this tournament last year. Mr. Horie was kind enough to provide the photos of this year's tournament, on request.


The top seed was Scott Tyler who also won the tournament.

Aichi Qualifying Tournament playing area | Photo: Mr. Horie/Nagoya Chess Club

The winners: Wakamori Tsuyoshi, Scott Tyler and Jiang Likai | Photo: Mr. Horie/Nagoya Chess Club

Final Standings

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
11Scott TylerJPN21213,59,07,752027
25Jiang LikaiJPN16913,09,06,501828
36若森 毅士JPN16202,510,55,751730
42富井 義括JPN18302,510,05,251724
59岡部 悠真JPN15292,58,54,751720
63神田 大吾JPN17982,55,52,751556
78澤村 哲司JPN15322,09,53,501656
812金原 弘道JPN13082,08,53,001562
94藤沢 寛JPN17802,08,01,501715
1013大原 アンドレJPN11971,57,52,251415
117阿部 太郎JPN15601,56,51,751278
1210上原 純JPN15181,56,51,251416
1314坂本 彬紘JPN11761,06,00,001409
1411松本 賢信JPN14860,07,00,00768


Chiba Qualifying tournament

This tournament was conducted on February 27th and 28th 2021, by Mr. Ogasa of the Chiba Chess club, in Cbiba city. 22 players participated in this tournament. It consisted of five rounds, with a time control of 30 minutes + 30 seconds/move. The top seed was CM Averbukh Alex (2318). Kitagami Sho won this event, while Noguchi Koji, and Ogawa Tomie were the runners-up.

Final Standings

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 
14KItagami ShoJPN20004,50,014,512,013,257226
23Noguchi KojiJPN21244,00,016,014,011,507395
32Ogawa TomieJPN21564,00,014,512,011,507462
41Averbukh AlexJPN23183,50,013,512,58,507270
58Kojima NatsumiJPN17453,50,013,012,07,756669
611Clark DomenicJPN16733,00,015,513,58,508084
75Saito HiromasaJPN18503,00,015,513,58,007803
86Nodon JeremiJPN18003,00,014,013,56,007033
97Ishii IchiroJPN17603,00,013,012,06,006898
1010Ushiyama SotaroJPN16883,00,010,510,05,505070
1117Kamate AiyuJPN13743,00,010,09,54,506115
1212Endrina JuliusJPN15912,50,015,014,05,008009
139Nagai ToshiyukiJPN17112,50,014,013,54,757440
1415Yoshida SoJPN14602,50,013,512,54,756603
1514Nakasa YusukeJPN15352,00,011,010,52,006596
1621Takagi HidekazuJPN02,00,010,510,03,504522
1716Nisioka MasanariJPN13812,00,010,510,02,006364
1813Sato TakeruJPN15391,50,013,010,53,751711
1922Yumiyama AnnaJPN01,00,011,010,02,504869
2019Tochikubo JinJPN10811,00,011,010,01,006252
2118Obata AkitoshiJPN11701,00,010,510,01,006619
2220Yamashita YasutakaJPN10311,00,010,09,02,504620


These tournaments see the participation of a strong set of players, who aim to qualify and make the Japan Chess Championship a far stronger field.

Beyond Chess

With its amazing railway network, trains are the most convenient way of getting around in Japan. Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe all connected by one of the Shinkansen (bullet train) routes. Traveling at 275 kmph without a minute's delay, en route we  get to see beautiful views of Mount Fuji. During spring season, we also get to see the beautiful cherry blossoms flowering all over Japan. Enjoy the photos.

Mount Fuji from the Shinkansen } Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

Shinkansen at Shin-Osaka station | Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

Beautiful vista | Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

Sakura at Kawazu, Shizuoka | Photo: Mayur Gondhalekar

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.

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