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Azumi Sakai and Hiroshi Manabe are Japan Women and Senior Champions 2023

by Mayur Gondhalekar - 29/08/2023

We are already into the eighth month of 2023, a year that has seemingly just breezed by. Right at the end of July, we saw new champions added to the list, as Japan Women’s Chess Championship and Japan’s Senior Chess Championship came to a close. Both tournaments were conducted over two days - 29th and 30th July at Shinagawa-ku Kumin hall called ‘Curian’. Each followed the six round Swiss-league, 45 minutes + 30 secs from move no.1, Japan National Rated format. The top two finishers of both tournaments would earn an invite to Japan Chess Championship 2024, and the respective “Champion” title will be accorded only to the highest finishing players registered under Japan Federation. The top two boards in each of the tournaments played on DGT boards. The games were broadcast live on Japan Chess Federation’s youtube channel, and one could follow the moves on and Lichess. Photos: Japan Chess Federation

FM Stephen Jones wins Japan Senior Championship 2023, Hiroshi Manabe is the Japan Senior Champion 2023

This year’s women’s chess championship featured 19 players, including two WCM title holders. Melody Takayasu, who was part of Japan’s team in the online Olympiad, also participated in this event.

Champion - WCM Azumi Sakai 6/6

Top 3 (L to R): 2nd Rikka Mitsuyama 4.5/6, 1st WCM Azumi Sakai 6/6, 3rd Misaki Shibata 4/6

The women’s championship of 2022 was won by then 12-year-old Rikka Mitsuyama, who featured in this year’s tournament as the defending champion. Azumi, who has represented Japan in Chess Olympiads, the latest being on board no.1 in Chennai in 2022, showed her strength and fighting spirit to wrest away the title with an unbeaten 6-0 run.


WCM Azumi Sakai thus became Japan’s Women’s Chess Champion 2023. In the process, she also got the better of Rikka, who also showed great ability and fight in the remaining games to finish second with a score of 4.5/6.


Misaki Shibata 4/6 finished third on better tie-breaks in a four-way tie for third spot with Ami Kato, WCM Emi Hasegawa, and Melody Takayasu.


Azumi Sakai and Rikka Mitsuyama will be seeded into next year’s Japan Chess Championship 2024, while Azumi Sakai gets a place in Japan’s team for Chess Olympiad 2024.

Replay all available games

Final standings

Rk.SNoNameRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
12WCMSakai Azumi1787622,519,522,50
27Mitsuyama Rikka14534,521,520,513,50
36Shibata Misaki15404222012,00
44Kato Ami15844211912,50
55WCMHasegawa Emi1567420,518,510,50
63Takayasu Melody1780419,517,510,50


In the senior championship, Japan Chess Federation’s President (Representative Director), Mr. Hiroshi Manabe was in top form, finishing second in a pool of 19 participants. The tournament’s top seed, a very active and strong magician, FM Stephen Jones (USA) who celebrated his 80th birthday last year, ended up winning the tournament with an unbeaten score of 5.5/6.

Champion - Stephen Jones 5.5/6

Runner-up - Hiroshi Manabe 4.5/6

Japan Senior Chess Championship 2023 winners: 3rd Nobuyuki Koyama 4.5/6, 1st FM Stephen Jones 5.5/6, 2nd Hiroshi Manabe 4.5/6

Hiroshi Manabe finished on 4.5 points, the same score as of Nobuyuki Koyama, but finished better on tie-breaks, thus becoming the highest placed player belonging to Japan Federation, and Japan’s Senior Champion 2023. Nobuyuki Koyama was the only opponent who managed to wrest half a point from FM Stephen Jones, in their fourth round encounter.


The senior tournament also featured games of top quality, especially those played by the eventual winners.

Replay all available games

Final standings

Rk.SNoNameRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
11FMJones Stephen2218O655,518,52118,75
23Manabe Hiroshi19734,520,523,516,00
38Koyama Nobuyuki1621O654,52022,515,25
45Ishii Ichiro1737R1,2,3 bye416,519,512,75
52AIMHigashishiba Teruomi19783,519,522,511,00
64Sugimoto Koichi1875O653,516188,50



Japan Chess Federation

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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