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Shinya Kojima wins Tokai Open 2024

by Sheldon Donaldson - 01/02/2024

Mayur Gondhalekar and his good friend, Sheldon Donaldson regularly keeps us updated about the Japan chess scene. Sheldon writes a blog about his experience playing his first tournament of the year - Tokai Open 2024 (FIDE U2400). The Canadian origin, currently residing in Japan, Sheldon's article is full of high quality photos and some interesting moments from his games. He loves playing, analyzing and making us enjoy various moments from his games. Check out his experience taking part in the tournament which took place in Nagoya, Japan. IM Shinya Kojima won the tournament scoring an unbeaten 4.5/5. Taro Shinoda secured second place also scoring 4.5/5. Akira Kinoshita was placed third 4/5. Photos: Sheldon Donaldson

I tried to outmaneuver an IM

“Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe”

– Ancient Proverb

Open Top three (L to R): 3rd Akira Kinoshita (USA) 4/5, 1st IM Shinya Kojima (JPN) 4.5/5 and 2nd Taro Shinoda (JPN) 4.5/5

U1800 Winner - Yunosuke Kuroda (JPN) 3.5/5 and U1540 runner-up - Seyed Reza Diba 3/5

An artist conception of me getting crushed

Hello, my fellow chess giants, and welcome to another edition of the Osaka Papers. The Japanese chess calendar kicked off with the first FIDE rated event of the year. The Tokai Open 2024 (FIDE U2400) took place in Nagoya, Japan from January 7th through 8th. The tournament boasted a field of 38 players, consisting of 5 rounds, with games having a time control of 60 minutes + 30 seconds bonus.


The Tokai Open will be one of the only four FIDE rated tournaments scheduled to take place in Japan this year. Despite this fact, I came in to the tournament hoping to use it as a warm-up for the upcoming national qualifiers which take place throughout Japan in March.


So, I set my goals low, finishing with 3 points or even 2 points, would suffice so long as a played well and didn't succumb to any of the outlandish blunders which have so marred my games of late.


It would turn out that I achieved half my goals...


But before we get into all that, how about some pictures to prove that any of this actually happened.

The Venue

The playing hall

The Postmortem Room

The inscription reads: Deep in the Dark Forest Caissa Lurks.~ Probably...

Nagoya's famed Twisty Building

The Nagoya Chess Club has the unfortunate habit of not announcing the pairings the night before the tournament, so we participants must suffer not knowing what will befall us in the opening round. Based on my position I believed I would be matched with someone from the bottom half of the playing list, with any luck my opponent would be some unrated player or maybe a junior rated in the 700s.

My Pairing:



That's right, I have been paired with Japan's only professional chess player, a man who makes his lively primarily from teaching and playing chess. I am not so insane as to think I can actually win this encounter, but a draw or simply giving him a good game would be a victory in of itself.

The Professional

Overall, I was happy with my play, although looking back there were a few moves I should have done a better job considering c5 and Rcd1 for certain. Playing an International Master is a highlight for me, but there was still an entire tournament to get through, I just hoped that I hadn't expended all my brain power in the first game.

A Counterattack

“On the chessboard, lies and hypocrisy do not survive long. The creative combination lays bare the presumption of a lie; the merciless fact, culminating in the checkmate, contradicts the hypocrite.”

- Emanuel Lasker


In the second round I was paired with a young player rated in the 1200s, I have developed a healthy fear of such players, one never really knows what you're gonna get. This particular player had the habit of getting really exciting when he saw a good move and jumping across the table to slam his piece down. He came very close to knocking over the whole board doing this...O_o...

Kotaro - Sheldon, Round 2

Position after 31.Nb7

Never mind the fork on the rook and the loose bishop on c5, two forcing moves followed by two threats put an end to White's pretenses.

I went onto win my third round game as well, an interesting game, but instead self-congratulating, let's take a look at two painful misses.

A Split Decision

“The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.”

- Savielly Tartakower


In round four, I was up against my good friend Flipi, we have only played a few times over-the-board, but in each encounter I tend to blunder horribly throwing away the game within the first 20 moves. This time it was different after a suboptimal opening I managed to play myself into a winning position, but this has cost me a lot of time and I'm down to increments.

Flipi - Sheldon, Round 4

Position after 36.Bf2

Split second decision: The knight on f4 is loose and the queen is overloaded trying to defend it, besides there is a potential royal X-ray attack that White must avoid at all costs. Should you play Qh6 or Ref8? One leads to certain victory the other defeat.

A Death Threat

“Give me a difficult positional game, I will play it. But totally won positions, I cannot stand them.”

- Hein Donner


At last we come to the fifth and final round. One of the interesting things about over-the-board chess is that it takes so long. In many cases, games take two to three hours to complete, so although it seems that I just made a move recently, it may have been literally hours ago.


In the following game I made a threat against Black's g7 pawn, but as the game carried on I forgot about the potential tactics that this can lead to.

Sheldon - Yoshiaki, Round 5

Position after 22...Qc7

The looses piece on the seventh rank along with the threat to the g7 square mean that Black has bitten off more than he can chew.

Final standings

Rk.SNoNameGrFEDRtgIRtgNPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
11IMKojima, ShinyaJPN229824734,51714,752278
22Shinoda, TaroJPN195919134,51613,752179
38Kinoshita, AkiraUSA1811184241611,502000
46Okabe, YumaJPN1909200841510,502021
53Scott, TylerJPN19471980414,510,501934
65Yamaguchi, ToseiJPN192419303,51610,252053
710Kuroda, YunosukeAJPN176917943,513,58,751796
84Higashishiba, TeruomiJPN194119253,5138,251849
915Takayasu, MelodyAJPN167816993,5127,001717
109Abe, TaroAJPN17991597314,56,001739



And that was it, that was the Tokai Open 2024, so what did I learn:


Remember your threats, if you set up a tactical threat, you better not forget that it exists.


Time trouble makes everything more difficult, it is is wise to take your time, but if you get down to increments calculating accurately becomes nearly impossible.


If you're gonna try and outmaneuver an IM, you'd best make some threats, don't just shuffle your pieces around the board waiting for him to get around to killing you.


As always, thanks for reading and feel free to share these games with your friends down at the bar or up in the clouds.


Cheers, SheldonOfOsaka.

About the Author

SheldonOfOsaka is a 42-year-old chess player originally from Canada, who has lived in Japan for the past 13 years; he took up chess 10 years ago, but only began to play over-the-board tournaments last year.

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