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Sriram Jha becomes the first titled Indian player to triumph in Japan

by Shahid Ahmed - 02/12/2019

Sriram Jha became the first titled Indian player to compete and win an open tournament in Japan. He scored an unbeaten 6.0/7 and finished a half point ahead of the competition. This was Sriram's first ever visit to Japan and he won a tournament in his very first attempt. The New Delhi resident shares his best game from the tournament with his annotations. We also get to know about his experience in playing there and how easy it was to get everything done to reach in Japan in a short interview with him. Photo: Nagoya Chess Club

Sriram Jha jubilant in Japan

India's 21st GM Sriram Jha became the first titled Indian player to compete and win an open tournament in Japan. Sriram scored an unbeaten 6.0/7 to win Nagoya Open 2019. He was the only Indian to take part in the tournament.

Sriram Jha with his championship prize along with other prize winners | Photo: Nagoya Chess Club

Sriram's unbeaten championship run

After learning about Sriram's monumental feat, I caught up with him for an interview.


Shahid Ahmed (SA): Congratulations for winning Nagoya Open 2019. How was it winning a tournament in Japan?

Sriram was the first ever titled player to play in Japan | Photo: Nagoya Chess Club

Sriram Jha (SJ): Thank you for your wishes. It was amazing to win a tournament in Japan. I was the first ever titled chess player to play a tournament in Japan and then to win it was a special feeling.


SA: Is this your first visit to Japan?

Sriram won a tournament in Japan in his first visit | Photo: Nagoya Chess Club

SJ: Yes it was my first ever visit to Japan, known as the land of the rising sun.


SA: Japan is not known to have a lot of chess tournaments, so how did you decide to play this?

Sriram's championship trophy | Photo: Sriram Jha

SJ: Yes Japan is not exactly known as a chess destination. This was in fact my motivation to go and play there. The organizer of Nagoya Open Mr Takahiro Horie was kind enough to invite me for the tournament . Nagoya Open is a traditional tournament in Japan and most of the top Japanese players play there. Nagoya city is around 350 KM from Tokyo in central Japan and it was exciting to first travel to Tokyo and stay there for a couple of days and then proceed to Nagoya for the tournament.


SA: Which game was the best from the tournament and who was the toughest opponent?

SJ: The toughest opponent was Japanese Number one player IM Shinya Kojima who has a couple of GM norms and my best game was also against him.


SA: What is the major difference did you notice playing there?

Artwork of Sensoji Temple | Photo: Sriram Jha

SJ: The major difference was the chess culture and the number of players. Chess as is known is not very popular in Japan. In fact Japanese Chess known as Shogi is extremely popular and good Shogi players are national stars. The Nagoya Open is a big tournament in Japan but still it could attract only 27 players. The players level was quiet high though. Most of them are very tactical players but due to lack of tournament exposure there overall rating remains low.


SA: What's next for you?

SJ: Next is National Senior's in Sikkim.


SA: Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

SJ: Thank you very much for your kind wishes!

Sriram Jha with the other participants | Photo: Nagoya Chess Club

My overall experience in Japan was just amazing. Japan is one of the safest countries in the world to visit. People are extremely friendly and nice. Indians have a very positive image there and Indo-Japanese friendship is very much evident. Visa procedures for Indians to visit Japan is very simple and with the help of very less documentation one can get a Japanese visa.


Final Standings

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
12GMSriram JhaIND23846,029,524,502384
28Iinuma PaulUSA20845,528,020,002163
31IM小島 慎也JPN25045,030,019,502202
43FM渡辺 暁JPN23385,028,020,002231
54FM山田 弘平JPN22685,023,514,501954

Complete standings

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