The first ever Thailand Open Rapid Chess Championship took place from 3-4 October 2015 in Nakhon Sawan, which is both the capital and also the central province best known as the meeting place of four major rivers including the mighty Chao Phraya, and is a pleasant and comfortable three hour drive north from Bangkok.
Following the decision of the Thailand Chess Association (TCA) to make the championship an open event, no less than 88 players from 7 countries made the journey at relatively short notice to a location still a little off the well beaten tourist track, and these included over 20 players under 18 years of age, the majority coming, not from Bangkok, but from other parts of Thailand.
Top seed was GM Gerhard Schebler from Germany and he was joined by eight FIDE Masters to make it a total of nine titled players in the FIDE Rapid rated event. Like Schebler, all the foreign participants were expatriates or as in the case of the many Filipinos, also chess trainers working in Thailand.
For long it has been Thai Chess – its own national variant of chess – that has been played throughout the country, but in recent years, perhaps helped by having both the annual Bangkok International Open and a becoming frequent host to the ASEAN+ Age Group Championships, chess has gained in popularity with more and more Thais moving to and also taking up chess with the last two years especially seeing numerous local competitions through the country.
International and private schools are employing chess teachers while a few chess schools have also both come into existence and prospered while a young generation of college age players have emerged to challenge the first generation of strong players including their first four FMs who now in their late thirties.
After seven exciting rounds, it was FMs Deniel Causo and Jirapak Pitirotjirathon on top with 6/7 after they quickly drew their last round encounter with GM Gerhard Schebler joining them in a three way tie for first place after he defeated the tournament’s surprise in Loreshyl Cuizon.
In fourth to sixth place on 5.5/7 was FM Jony Habla, FM Riste Menkinoski and Atippat Pornariyasombat while Cuizon in seventh place led six others on 5/7.
Ever present and engaged TCA President Kittiratt Na-Ranong was the guest of honour with Dr Prachart Rotarwut, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Assitant Professor Nitaya Chaninthayutha-Wong, Dean, Faculty of Management Science, Nakhon Sawan Rajabhat University at the closing ceremony and gave away the prizes.
The full results are at the Thailand Chess Association website www.thailandchess.or.th and Facebook Page www.facebook.com/ThailandChessAssociation.
A Little Bit About TCA President Kittiratt Na-Ranong
TCA President Kittiratt Na-Ranong is a technocrat who was just over a year ago Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Commerce & Finance and since taking office has shown himself to be very hands on.
He personally supervised Tournament Director Sahapol Nakvanich and Chief Arbiter Pratcharawee Brahmawong for the entire duration of the Thailand Open Rapid Chess Championship which guaranteed its success, and when 60 players from large neighbouring Phitsanulok province arrived late, Kittiratt himself organized and ran a special one day knock-out tournament for them on the second day of the competition!
It was no surprise to see him during the event getting the parents of children together to explain the benefits of chess and to even show them the moves, then to get them to play the game with each other!
The accompanying teachers of the Phitsanulok group also got the full benefit of Kittiratt’s energy and passion for chess as immediately after giving them his congratulations and thanks, he then sat down with them to give his advice as well as offer help as to how they could better organize chess in schools and develop young talent!
How often has once since a National Chess Federation President been seen doing what Kittratt Na-Ranong does?
Report and photos by Peter Long