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Chess in Thailand - 1st Phitsanulok International Open 2017

by Peter Long - 05/07/2017

When the words Thailand and chess are said together the Bangkok Open comes to mind. It is one of the biggest tournaments in the world and strong players like Nigel Short, Jan Gustafsson, Wang Hao have been the participants. Until now chess in Thailand had been limited to this one big event. However, with the organization of the 1st Phitsanulok International Open 2017, we are witnessing a change in the chess culture of the country. Thai chess is on the rise and Peter Long tells you all about it.

Over the years the Bangkok Club Open Chess Championship has become a must-attend event for many - a world class venue and an excellently run tournament alternating between Bangkok and Pattaya - with the attractions being for many the promise of sun and sand while for others simply great shopping and even better eating!


But chess in Thailand is so much more and in recent years, under the leadership of Thailand Chess Federation President Kittirat Na Ranong and Secretary Sahapol Nakvanich, a growing grassroots chess revolution is starting to take hold.

Nakvanich Sahapol is not only a great administrator, but also a good chess player

The base was Thailand's own chess - Thai Chess - with many of their top players drawn from the ranks of the very best players of Thai Chess. However, as has been the case with China which went through a similar phase, pure chess players in the game we all love so well are now emerging.


Kittirat and Sahapol are hands-on leaders and at least one of them is present in and helping organise the chess tournaments that are now sprouting up all over the country. With the Phitsanulok International Open held from 15-18 June 2017 Thailand has now organised its first FIDE rated standard chess event outside of the Bangkok Chess Club and Thailand Open Championships.

Starting rank:

No.     Name FideID FED Rtg
1   IM Wynn Zaw Htun 13002783 MYA 2406
2   IM Stokke Kjetil 1502964 NOR 2346
3   FM Causo Deniel 5203660 PHI 2274
4   FM Kulpruethanon Thanadon 6201610 THA 2227
5     Salvador Louie 5216036 PHI 2152
6     Sie Thu 13002767 MYA 2132
7     Dungca Ryan 5202140 PHI 2129
8     Parondo Rolly 5217407 PHI 2094
9     Pornariyasombat Atippat 6200516 THA 2083
10     Kasetchol Sathit 6200168 THA 2013

Complete list of players

Phitsanulok is an hour flight from Bangkok or four to five hours by car, bus or train and while best known for being the starting point of a fascinating excursion to the Ancient Kingdom that is Sukhothai and designed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the town of some 80,000 itself has a lot to offer.

The ancient kingdom of Sukhotai is a UNESCO Heritage site

The Sukhothai Historical Park covers the ruins of Sukhothai, literally "Dawn of Happiness", capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom in the 13th and 14th centuries
Wat Mahathat is one of the most impressive temples in the Sukhotai historical park
A perfect place to meditate

The Thailand Chess Association has for the second time in their history engaged the services of two coaches - a Grandmaster (Avetik Grigoryan from Armenia) for their men's team and an International Master (Kjetil Stokke) for their women's team - who have already started preparing them for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) to be held in Tukmenistan from 17-27 September 2017.


What is different this time around is the members of the national team have had to commit to full-time training and regular competition for the next two months. And so, in Phitsanulok, their two women entered in the standard chess event - Tawseesupmun Chanida and 13-year-old Chuersakul Sacrocha.

13-year-old Chuersakul Sarocha. The future of Thai women chess.

A very representative field typical of most Thailand tournaments included several Filipino professionals who are employed by local chess academies, Thailand No. 1 Thanadon Kulpruethanon, Pornariyasombat Atippat, and local Kasetchol Sathit, and Myanmar's top player and top seed Wyn Zaw Htun who came with fellow Baku Olympiad teammate Sie Thu.

The entrance of the tournament

The beautiful, spacious and well lit playing hall

Kjetil's decision to also play and the appearance of three young players from Malaysia, Ng Jen Sheng, Chin Shun Yi and Goh Jie Yi certainly added to the tournament!

Coach of Thai women's team Kjetil Stokke also took part in the event and was the second seed 
Three young players from Malaysia, Ng Jen Sheng, Chin Shun Yi and Goh Jie Yi added to the diversity of the event

On the weekend the twenty-six participants in the Open were joined by 150 locals playing in the annual Phitsalunok Chess Club Rapid Championships which was also designated a regional event.

A good turn out for the rapid event
The same playing hall was used for the rapid event. Nearly 150 players took part

Coming back to the classical event, both the third-seeded Filipino Causo Deniel and fourth-seeded Thai Thanadon, also his country's best hope to be their first IM, played steady chess to emerge as joint winners. Deniel took the championship on tie-break. Local star and veteran Sathit Kasetchol, who came to help as an arbiter, proved to be the sensation of the tournament with wins over both the top seeded IMs, first Wynn and then Kjetil!

Kulpruethanon Thanadon scored same points as the winner, but had to be content with the second spot on tie break
The winner of the tournament - Deniel Causo
One of Deniel's fine wins in the tournament:
[Event "Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.06.17"]
[Round "5.2"]
[White "Wiwatanadate, Poompong"]
[Black "Causo, Deniel"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A28"]
[WhiteElo "1941"]
[BlackElo "2274"]
[PlyCount "46"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
[WhiteClock "0:17:08"]
[BlackClock "0:31:55"]

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e4 Bc5 5. Nxe5 O-O 6. Nf3 Nxe4 7. d4 Bb4 8.
Qc2 d5 9. Bd3 Bg4 10. Be3 Re8 11. O-O-O Nxc3 12. bxc3 Ba3+ 13. Kb1 dxc4 14.
Bxh7+ Kf8 15. Bf5 Bxf5 16. Qxf5 Ne7 17. Qa5 Qd6 18. Bf4 Qb6+ 19. Qxb6 axb6 20.
Kc2 Nd5 21. Bg3 Be7 22. Kb2 Ra3 23. Nd2 Rea8 0-1
Sathit Kasetchol was the arbiter for the event. He played so that no one would get a bye. But in the end he finished fifth defeating two IMs. The local hero of the tournament!
Here's one of the victories by Sathit Kasetchol over an opponent who was rated nearly 400 points above him:
[Event "Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.06.16"]
[Round "4.7"]
[White "Wynn Zaw Htun"]
[Black "Kasetchol, Sathit"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A06"]
[WhiteElo "2406"]
[BlackElo "2013"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "167"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
[WhiteClock "0:02:22"]
[BlackClock "0:24:37"]
1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c6 4. d3 Nbd7 5. Nbd2 e5 6. e4 Bc5 7. O-O O-O 8. b3
a5 9. Bb2 Re8 10. a3 Bd6 11. Re1 d4 $5 {An interesting decision. The rook has
moved from the f-file, so Black closes the centre and now f4 is more difficult
to execute.} 12. Rf1 Nf8 13. Nh4 Bc7 14. h3 Ng6 15. Ndf3 b5 16. a4 bxa4 17.
Rxa4 c5 18. Qe2 Bd7 19. Ra2 Qc8 20. Kh2 Qb7 21. Rfa1 Ra6 22. Bc1 Rea8 23. Bg5
h6 24. Bd2 a4 25. bxa4 Rxa4 26. Rxa4 Rxa4 27. Rxa4 Bxa4 {Black has the
slightly better position here because the c2 pawn is under attack and the
black queen can infiltrate into the position.} 28. Nxg6 fxg6 29. c4 Qb2 30. Bf1
g5 31. Qe1 Bc2 32. Qc1 Qxc1 33. Bxc1 {Although d3 is weak, it is well defended
and the position should be round about even.} Nd7 34. Bd2 Nb8 35. Be2 Nc6 36.
Kg2 Nb4 37. Ne1 (37. Bxb4 cxb4 $19 {gives Black a winning advantage.}) 37...
Bb1 38. Kf3 Kf7 39. Bf1 Ba2 40. Ke2 Bb3 41. Nf3 Bc2 42. Ne1 Ba4 43. Kf3 Bd7 44.
Be2 Nc6 45. Kg2 Ba5 46. Bxa5 Nxa5 47. Bd1 Kf6 48. h4 gxh4 49. gxh4 Nb7 50. Kg3
g5 51. hxg5+ hxg5 52. Nf3 Nd8 53. Nh2 Nf7 54. Nf3 Nd6 55. Nd2 Ne8 56. Bc2 Nc7
57. Bd1 Na6 58. Nf3 Nb4 59. Ne1 Na2 60. Be2 Ba4 61. Bf1 Bd1 62. Bh3 Nc1 63. Bf1
Kg6 64. Nf3 Bxf3 65. Kxf3 Kh5 66. Kg3 g4 67. Kg2 $6 (67. f3 $1 gxf3 68. Kxf3 {
Should be a draw.}) 67... Kh4 68. Kh2 Na2 69. Be2 Nb4 70. Kg2 Nc6 71. Kf1 (71.
f3 g3 $19) 71... Ne7 72. Ke1 Ng6 73. Kd2 Nf4 {The knight has come to a great
position now.} 74. Bd1 (74. Bf1 g3 $1 75. fxg3+ Kxg3 {The bishop has no
squares and the game is over.} 76. Be2 Nxe2 77. Kxe2 Kg2 $19) 74... Kh3 75. Kc2
g3 76. fxg3 Kxg3 77. Kd2 Kf2 78. Bg4 Ng2 79. Bd7 Ne1 80. Be6 Nf3+ 81. Kd1 Ke3
82. Bg4 Nh4 83. Kc2 Ng2 84. Kd1 {The d3 pawn falls and with it the e4 and c4
pawns as well. A great game by Sathit Kasetchol.} 0-1

Several other Thais also impressed, Nunbhakdi Tawin Matthew deservingly taking the other Thai player prize but it was also clear that a big future awaits 11-year-old Laohawirapap Prins and 13-year-old Sacrocha.

He has it in him to be the first GM of Thailand - 11-year-old Laohawirapap Prin

Final Ranking after 7 Rounds:

Rk. SNo     Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4   TB5  K rtg+/-
1 3   FM Causo Deniel PHI 2274 5,5 0,5 28,0 24,0 4,0 194,5 0 0,0
2 4   FM Kulpruethanon Thanadon THA 2227 5,5 0,5 25,0 22,0 4,0 197,5 20 10,4
3 5     Salvador Louie PHI 2152 5,0 0,0 27,0 23,0 4,0 191,5 20 16,6
4 8     Parondo Rolly PHI 2094 5,0 0,0 26,5 23,0 4,0 192,0 20 27,4
5 10     Kasetchol Sathit THA 2013 5,0 0,0 26,5 23,0 4,0 182,5 20 40,6
6 2   IM Stokke Kjetil NOR 2346 4,5 0,0 26,5 23,5 3,0 201,0 10 -11,4
7 1   IM Wynn Zaw Htun MYA 2406 4,5 0,0 24,0 21,0 4,0 176,0 10 -18,8
8 6     Sie Thu MYA 2132 4,5 0,0 22,0 19,0 3,0 168,5 10 -9,9
9 7     Dungca Ryan PHI 2129 4,0 0,0 29,5 25,5 3,0 191,5 0 0,0
10 11     Nunbhakdi Tawin Matthew THA 1998 4,0 0,0 24,5 22,5 4,0 178,5 20 5,8

Complete ranking list

Beautiful trophies were awarded to the winners

I was honoured again by the Thailand Chess Association to be the Chief Arbiter and basically had nothing to do!

Yours truly on the left with organizer Suchart Srisawat and Thailand Chess Association Secretary Sahapol Nakvanich

Thanks to the wonderful team led by Suchart Srisawat and the volunteers from the incredibly efficient Phitsalunok Chess Club further bolstered by friends coming to help from as far away as Chiang Mai. 

The very elegantly designed t-shirts of the Phitsanulok Chess Club

Wonderful company, delicious food! The girls on the left are two of the best Thai female chess players Manunthon Atikankhotchasee (left) and Ruja Phitchayarom 
Absolutely not to be missed are these rice based Thai sweets

Download games of the tournament in PGN

About the author


Peter Long has been appointed the Asian Chess Federation Media Officer for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games 2017. He heads the Institute for Chess Excellence which is also Malaysia's National Chess Academy but still finds time to write a regular column for the Malay Mail Online while serving as the Features Editor for American Chess Magazine.

Did you know the nearly 60% discounted prices on ChessBase products for Indians is now available to players of seven countries - Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh.

People living in these above mentioned countries can now buy ChessBase products from the ChessBase India online shop using Paypal. You can also purchase it by contacting Peter Long at

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