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Shinya Kojima wins Japan Open 2022

by Mayur Gondhalekar and Sheldon Donaldson - 19/11/2022

The last couple of years saw the pandemic take its toll on Over-the-board events. This year has been far better. Travel has again become possible worldwide, with Japan also reopening to tourists from October. Sheldon Donaldson shares his thoughts with us again. Yet, the more things changed, the more they seem to have remained the same. IM Shinya Kojima pulled off yet another win at the Japan Open 2022. He won the previous edition early this year in January. Once again he remained undefeated. Check out the tournament report by Mayur Gondhalekar and his good friend Sheldon Donaldson who also took part in this event. Photo: National Chess Society of Japan

Kojima clinches Japan Open for the second time in 2022

Japan Open 2022, one of the rare FIDE rated standard events held in Japan, was just concluded on November 6, in Tokyo’s Ota-ku. This seven round event with a time control of 90 minutes + 30 seconds/move from move 1, is conducted over a hectic four-day period sandwiched between a national holiday and a weekend, and features as many as three double round days.

The open category winners: L-R: 4th CM Tran Thanh Tu, 2nd FM Yamada Kohei, 1st IM Kojima Shinya, 3rd Otsuka Shou and 5th Higashino Tetsuo | Photo: National Chess Society of Japan

This year saw the participation of 54 players from all parts of Japan, and the top boards were again broadcast on NCS Japan’s youtube channel. The tournament was an exciting one, very closely fought at the top, ending with three players finishing on 6/7. Three winners from last year’s Japan Open – CM Tran Thanh Tu, FM Yamada Kohei, and IM Kojima Shinya finished in the top five again. They were joined by Otsuka Shou and Higashino Tetsuo.


Japan #2 CM Tran Thanh Tu, who crossed 2400 Elo in July this year, lost his fourth round game to second place finisher FM Yamada Kohei whose amazing run featured two draws against the two members of the top five. IM Kojima Shinya, who seems to love this event, gifted himself another first place finish.


The winners:

1st IM Kojima Shinya 6.0/7

2nd FM Yamada Kohei 6.0/7

3rd Otsuka Shou 6.0/7

4th CM Tran Thanh Tu 5.5/7

5th Higashino Tetsuo 5.5/7

U-1800 Group A winners: 2nd Ishizuka Mirai and 1st Okabe Yuma | Photo: National Chess Society of Japan

Group A winners: (U-1800)

1st Okabe Yuma 5.0/7

2nd Ishizuka Mirai 4.0/7

3rd Fukuda Toyoaki 4.0/7


The open category winners are seeded for Japan Chess Championship 2023, a closed event that determines the “Japan Chess Champion”, to be held in May 2023.

Replay available games

Round 1: Ishizuka Mirai vs IM Kojima Shinya: 0-1 | Photo: National Chess Society of Japan

Round 2: Nguyen Tuan Anh vs CM Tran Thanh Tu: 0-1 | Photo: National Chess Society of Japan

Our good friend, Mr. Sheldon Donaldson, was kind enough to agree to share his thoughts, games, and photos from the event through his unique blogs:


Hello, my fellow Over-The-Board enthusiasts; and welcome to another edition of the Osaka Papers. The Japan Open 2022 was held November 3rd through 6th in Tokyo, Japan. One of only three FIDE rated tournaments held in Japan this year.


At last year's open, I finished with only 3 points out of a possible 7, it being my first time at a major event, I was quite happy with the result. Yet, this year I set my sights much higher. For the past year I have been training every single day with tactic trainer, Aimchess and Chessable to improve my overall skill; moreover, I have taken every opportunity to play OTB chess at all the local clubs here in the Osaka area.


With that in mind, I was really optimistic about my chances, of course I was never gonna challenge for one of the top spots, but 4 points maybe even 5 points, was not beyond the realm of possibility.


These musings turned out to be the delusional ravings of a madman, who had no idea what he was up against... but more on that later; let's check out some pics to prove that any of this actually happened.

When the venue looks like a spaceship... | Photo: Sheldon Donaldson

The playing hall looked like a playing hall | Photo: Sheldon Donaldson

What could be more Japanese than a Torii Gate | Photo: Sheldon Donaldson

I'm gonna tell people that this is the chess God of Calculation | Photo: Sheldon Donaldson

The view from the top | Photo: Sheldon Donaldson

Round 2: When you get Crushed by a 12-year-old | Photo: Sheldon Donaldson

In round one, I was paired with the Senior Champion of Japan who quickly crushed me in 20 moves, no surprises there. Yet, round two saw me paired with a 1200 rated 12-year-old (I'm not actually certain of his age. He looks about 12. Let's say he is 12, anything younger would just be more embarrassing).


Shuma seems like a nice kid, and apparently he is a reader of this blog, but one thing I will say about him is that I have never played someone who seemed to be paying so little attention to the board. There were times that I would play a move and he literally looked like he didn't know it was his turn? He would look at the board for a few seconds, blitz out a move and then spin around in the swivel chair...O_o


Meanwhile, I'm taking 10 or 15 minutes for a single move... it didn't matter, he still crushed me.

Round 5: When you finally spot a cool tactic | Photo: Sheldon Donaldson

Rounds 3 and 4 were disappointing, despite winning in round 3, I had to swindle my way out of a bad position, then in round 4, I lost to a much lower rated player, granted that player has improved a great deal and had a good tournament, it still bothered me to only have one win after 4 rounds, so spotting this tactic was a Godsend.

Sheldon - Kentaro, Round 5

Position after 38.Qxf5!!

WWTD - What would Tal do?

Round 7: When it all comes down to the Endgame | Photo: Sheldon Donaldson

I lost a really sharp and enjoyable game in round 6, so my dreams of scoring 4 points were dashed...without a clear win I would have actually gotten a worse score then last year?! So, I was absolutely determined not to give anything away. What follows is a very workman like, but accurate game, as per usual, it would all come down to the Endgame.

There were a couple hours left before the closing ceremony, so I decided to celebrate with an old friend. | Photo: Sheldon Donaldson

Justice for my performance rating... just look at it?!

Congrats to Shuma Endo on a breakout tournament | Photo: Sheldon Donaldson

And that was it, that was the Japan Open 2022.


What did we learn:

1. Be careful of 12 year olds. (He was actually 11 years old - Mayur)

2. Always do what Tal would do.

3. Study your Endgame.


As always thanks for reading, and feel free to share these games with your friends down at the Library or Bar.

Final standings

Rk.SNoNameGrFEDRtgIRtgNClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
12IMKojima ShinyaJPN23302495630,53428,2512448
24FMYamada KoheiJPN2172228762830,524,7512711
35Otsuka ShouJPN2118202662629,523,5011931
41CMTran Thanh TuJPN240925735,53032,523,5012364
56Higashino TetsuoJPN206421505,527,530,522,0011833
613Kitagami ShowJPN1902196152829,518,0011252
715Sakai EnjuJPN18951844522,52415,0010741
822Okabe YumaAJPN17691741519,520,513,508222
97Shiomi RyoJPN206321154,52528,517,0011091
1014Nguyen Tuan AnhVIE189917994,523,524,513,7510728



National Chess Society of Japan

About the Authors

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.

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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