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Unprecedented chess events in Japan with GM Short – Check Mate Lounge

Short with Habu and Kojima

Article by Check Mate Lounge (official site)

GM Nigel Short stayed in Japan and participated in two chess events. On the 21st, one of the biggest events in the Japanese chess history, “Check Mate Lounge”, took place at a night club in Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo. As we named this event Check Mate Lounge, we divided the word “checkmate” into two because we wanted to emphasize each word with a specific meaning: Check for chess, Mate for friends, and Lounge for a place of social interaction. In this event, Nigel played against the two top FMs in Japan. One was Yoshiharu Habu, professional shogi (Japanese chess) player, and the other was Shinya Kojima, former Japan champion.

While shogi and go are quite popular, chess has not yet attracted much attention in Japan. Therefore, Shinya Kojima as the organizer asked his elder brother, Joji Kojima, for help to make this event as charming as ever for the Japanese audience. Joji Kojima is a jewelry designer whose aesthetic creation has been highly admired. Velours, the venue of the event, was one of the few prestigious night clubs in Japan, where Michael Jackson had a party while he stayed here.

Nigel Short played against Habu and Kojima in the Clock Simul style with 60 minutes plus 30 seconds/move. After two and a half hours, Habu drew with Short, while Kojima lost. Short praised Habu for his high skills, this is a second successful result for Habu after he had drawn last autumn with French Champion Vachier-Lagrave.

GM Nigel Short – FM Yoshiharu Habu

Check Mate Lounge, 21.04.2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.d4 d6 9.c3 Bg4 10.a4 Qc8!? Habu’s orinigality, which must have been developed through his shogi plays took great effect here. 11.axb5 axb5 12.Rxa8 Qxa8 13.d5 Na5 14.Ba2 c6 15.h3 Bh5 16.Na3 cxd5 17.Bxd5 Nxd5 18.Qxd5 Bxf3 19.Qxa8 Rxa8 20.gxf3 Nb3! An important move. Black has to block White b-pawn. 21.Be3 Rb8 22.Rd1 f6 23.Rd5 b4 24.Rb5 Rxb5 25.Nxb5 bxc3 26.Nxc3 Kf7 27.Kf1 Ke6 28.Ke2 f5 29.Kd3 f4 30.Bb6 Bh4 31.Nd5 Kd7 32.Kc3 Nc5 33.Bxc5 dxc5 34.b4 cxb4+ 35.Nxb4 Bxf2 36.Nd3 Bd4+ 37.Kc4 Ke6 38.Nxf4+ exf4 39.Kxd4 g5 A draw might have been a reasonable here for both sides, but Short continued the game for the audience. 40.e5 h5 41.Ke4 g4 42.fxg4 hxg4 43.hxg4 f3 44.Kxf3 Kxe5 45.Kg3 Kf6 46.Kf4 Kg6 47.g5 Kg7 48.Kf5 Kf7 49.g6+ Kg7 50.Kg5 Kg8 51.Kf6 Kf8 52.g7+ Kg8 ½–½

GM Nigel Short – FM Shinya Kojima

Check Mate Lounge, 21.04.2012

1.e4 c5 2.Ne2 Nc6 3.Nbc3 Nf6 4.f4 d6 5.d3 g6 6.h3 Bg7 7.g4 b6 8.Bg2 Bb7 9.0–0 0–0 10.Be3 Nd7 11.Qd2 Nd4!? This is an interesting pawn sacrifice because Black gains a good control on the dark squares. 12.Bxd4 cxd4 13.Nb5 e5 14.Nxd6 Ba6 15.Nc4 Bxc4 16.dxc4 Nc5 17.Rad1 Rc8 18.b3 Qe7 19.Kh1 Rcd8 20.Nc1 exf4 21.Qxf4 Be5 22.Qf2 Ne6 23.Nd3 f6 24.a4 g5?! This is not a necessary move which weakens f5. 25.Qd2 Nf4 26.a5 Bb8 27.axb6 axb6 28.Qb4 Bd6 29.Qxb6 Ne2?! After this move, White is completely winning. 29… Nxd3 might be better. 30.Rf2 Ng3+ 31.Kg1 Bc7 32.Qc5 Bd6 33.Qc6 Rfe8 34.c5 Bf4 35.Nxf4 gxf4 36.b4 Qe5 37.Bf3 Re6 38.Qb5 1–0

Joji Kojima (left), producer of the event, is widely known as a jewelry designer for Lady Gaga and many others

One of the reasons for this event to be considered unprecedentedly unique is its collaboration with Nico Nico Douga (possibly translated in English as “smile videos”). Nico Nico Douga is the biggest video sharing website in Japan. It resembles Youtube, but differs in that the audience’s comments may instantaneously be overlaid onto the video. Check Mate Lounge was uploaded live for more than seven hours. It had some 100,000 viewers and received over 70,000 comments.

Another Check Mate Lounge is planned for autumn 2012. We are currently looking for overseas players who could come and participate in it. To enter the show, visit the official site.

Yoshiharu Habu

Kojima not only organized the event but also participated as a player

Short contemplates the next move

The audience enjoyed the chess games on the iPads and…

and also on a big screen!

The event venue was a high-grade club, Velours

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