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Missed wins in Osaka

by Sheldon Donaldson - 23/03/2023

Mayur Gondhalekar and his good friend, Sheldon Donaldson keeps us updated about the Japan chess scene. This time Sheldon writes a blog about Osaka Chess Championship 2023 in which he also participated. The Canadian origin, currently residing in Japan, was making an attempt to qualify for the Japan Chess Championship which is slated to take place later this year. Since the number of participants are less and few players have already qualified, a score of 2.5/4 would be enough to secure a spot. Will Sheldon be able to qualify and return to Tokyo? Check out his experience of playing at Osaka held on 5th March. He also talks about his games with analysis and shared photos of the tournament. All photos in this article: Sheldon Donaldson

Osaka Chess Championship 2023

Hello, my fellow over-the-board fanatics, and welcome to another edition of the Osaka Papers. Recently, our benevolent overlords here at, added the term "Miss" to game analysis. In layman's terms, a "miss" is a move that would have won material or the game, while a "blunder" is a move that loses material or ends the game. A curious mind might ask the question: is it more painful to lose because of a "miss" or a "blunder"? My latest foray into OTB chess would teach me the answer to this question and more.

Champion Takahiro Horie giving his victory speech

Congrats to my good friend Melody on her second place finish

Don't ask

The Osaka Chess Championship was played Sunday March 5th in, you guessed it, Osaka, Japan.  Consisting of four rounds, the games were 30 mins + 30 seconds, 18 players contested the event, with qualification to the Japan Chess Championship at stake.

Players list

1Takashima, Bunji1890Q
2Jones, Tibor1888Q
3Okada, Mitsuhiro1754
4Horie, Takahiro1739
5Takayasu, Melody1732Q
6Mizumoto, Takahiro1711
7Akai, Kiyotaka1705
8Kojima, Natsumi1660Q
9Donaldson, Sheldon1529
10Yokota, Yoshiaki1505Q
11Takayasu, Nobuyuki1492
12Mammadov, Emil1464
13Ono, tadashi1383Q
14Diba, Seyed Reza1330
15Iizuka, Hiroshi1300
16Dela Victoria, Jesrel1299
17Yamada, Misaki1232
18Yoshizawa, Kazufumi1039


Only the top three finishers would qualify for the national championship, however as you can see a number of the participants had already qualified (as denoted by the Q beside their names) through other means, this gave me a lot of hope. I would most likely only need to score two and half points to be assured of qualification, even two points might be enough.


Surely, I will have no issue securing at least two points?!...O_o


But, before we answer that query, let's look at a few photographs to prove that any of this actually happened.

The playing hall, a dingy old community center as per usual

The neighborhood

The Competitors

A Time for Revenge

Round one, saw me paired with Kazufumi Yoshizawa. We have a rating difference of nearly 500 points, despite that, the last time I played him at the Japan Open, I lost. So, by Caissa, and all the Gods and Goddesses of chess, I swore revenge.

Sheldon - Kazufumi, Round 1

Position after 14...Nh4

Can you see how to take advantage of Black's last move?

A Positional Miss

In round two, I was paired with Yoshiaki Yokota, another player that I faced several times. Our match-ups have been fairly equal, but I felt confident that I could win this encounter. After a somewhat shaky opening, I managed to play myself into a pleasant position. Unfortunately, impulse and greed got the better of me.

Yoshiaki - Sheldon, Round 2

Position after 26.Nd3

In the above position, Black should cut out White's counterplay and take control of the center. Can you find the move that I missed?

A Disconnect

In round 3, I played against Emil Mammadov. Have you ever analyzed a game you've played, only to question whether or not your brain was connected to the rest of your body? Well, this is such a game. I started off by misremembering my prep, despite this I gained a fairly equal position, which I subsequently threw away by not only playing an inaccurate move, but by following it up with an out and out blunder. A game I wish I could forget.

Sheldon - Emil, Round 3

Position after 24.Nd3

Self-described Memelord SheldonOfOsaka has just put his knight en prise, can you punish him for this silly gambit?

Here my fate was decided

Final Chance

In the final round, I was paired with Mitsuhiro Okada. Notwithstanding, the calamities suffered in round two and three; I still had a chance to qualify for the nationals. Yes, my opponent outrated me by more than 200 points, but such matters are of no great import here in Japan, where the player pool is small and we have little opportunity to increase our ratings. Most importantly, what Gods of favor that oversee chess in Japan had smiled upon me; I would play with the White pieces for the third time in a four-round tournament. I went into the match with a lot of confidence, surely the full point was within reach.

Final standings

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
14Horie, Takahiro17393,5897,75
25Takayasu, Melody1732Q38,510,57,00
32Jones, Tibor1888Q37,59,56,50
48Kojima, Natsumi1660Q36,58,56,25
57Akai, Kiyotaka17052,58,59,54,75
66Mizumoto, Takahiro17112,588,54,00
73Okada, Mitsuhiro17542,57,58,54,50
81Takashima, Bunji1890Q28,510,54,75
911Takayasu, Nobuyuki14922893,00
1014Diba, Seyed Reza13302783,00
1110Yokota, Yoshiaki1505Q2672,00
1212Mammadov, Emil1464266,51,50
17Yamada, Misaki1232266,51,50
1413Ono, tadashi1383Q17,580,50
159Donaldson, Sheldon152916,570,50
16Dela Victoria, Jesrel129916,570,50
1715Iizuka, Hiroshi13000,55,560,25
1818Yoshizawa, Kazufumi10390,544,50,25



And that was it, that was the Osaka Chess Championship. There will be no Japan Chess Championship for me, no glorious return to Tokyo, to set right the defeats of the past.


Yet, what did we learn?


First, as FM James Canty III wants to remind us: "Calculation Over Everythang", how can you win, if you can't calculate a winning continuation?


Second, and perhaps more importantly, I must work on impulse control, many of my blunders and misses were moves I played on impulse. I have to do a better job calming myself down, and not playing the first good looking move I see.


Third, it is more painful to lose through a "miss" than a blunder. It's one thing to throw a game away with a bad move, but to have the game won and not see it, just makes you question your life choices.


Nevertheless, I think the most painful losses teach us the greatest lessons, so perhaps our benevolent overlords at are on to something with this new "miss" analysis.


Anyways, that's all for today. As Always thanks for reading and feel free to share these games with your friends down at the Bar or Dingy Community Center.


Cheers, SheldonOfOsaka

About the Author

SheldonOfOsaka is a 41-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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