The Masters section of the 8th Johor International Open was for most of the round very hard fought. The likely winners and norm candidates were effectively playing a mini round robin amongst themselves.

The 24 players had by the second round dropped to 22 players with one illness and then later to 20 due to exhaustion!

PHOTO: Priasmoro with Johor Chess Association Vice President and his Trophy

Defending champion Indonesian Grandmaster Novendra Priasmoro, the fourth seed, was one of the favourite. He is no stranger to winning tournaments in the region – the Bangkok Open when just an International Master, and of course the Malaysian Open. He had used all that experiences to already be the champion before the last round with 7/9.

PHOTO: Fighting chess. Priasmoro’s final round game against China’s Chen Kallin was almost the last to finish!

Top seeded Indian Grandmaster Diptayan Ghosh did his best but was clearly feeling the effects of several months on the road in three different countries – Singapore, Chiangmai and now Johor Bahru. He had indeed chalked up some amazing results with one first place and two unbeaten second places.

The 8th Johor International Open Chess Championship 2023 is part of the ASEAN Chess Series, a number of events designed by ASEAN Chess Confederation President Ignatius Leong to revive and accelerate the development of chess in the region. While the open event will now take a break, a series of title norm round robin tournaments are being planned.

Even if the main objectives are title norms and the chance to get or increase ratings, the Johor Open offered a record prize fund and number of prizes for a regional event, and with the proposed addition of a third section – Challengers – to the existing Masters and Amateur at the Laos International Open in 2024, these opportunities will only increase.

PHOTO: Perhaps Diptayan’s biggest impact was the example he showed to the young local players of how a chess professional conducts himself – both an excellent role model and an organiser’s dream.

PHOTO: Singapore International Master Jagadeesh Siddharth had an excellent tournament, sharing second place with Diptayan with 6/9 but short of the Grandmaster title norm he was in contention for earlier.
13 year old Ainul Mardhiah Mohd Afif is handicapped and from a small town in Johor with little chess experience but still became the Malaysian Women Champion! She is clearly talented and is part of an emerging new generation of young women players so the future could be bright indeed for women’s chess in Malaysia.

PHOTO: In the Amateurs there as always only going to be one winner – China’s Jiang Haochen – the boy in perpetual movement but without a doubt would be back next year in the Masters and perhaps even a contender!

On the third day, no less than 166 participants showed up for the Rapid Chess Tournament in the afternoon, and after seven rounds, in first and second with 6.5/7 were International Masters Azarya Jodi Setyaki from Indonesia and Pavel Shkapenko who is playing with the FIDE Flag, winning RM 1,200 and RM 1,000 respectively.

PHOTO: Jodi’s win in Rapid, together with a share of fourth place in the Masters, all added up to a significant pay day and the ratings gain was a consolation for not getting a second Grandmaster title norm.
PHOTO: Any successful event needs leadership. Here is Andrew Tan, the right hand man and fixer of Organiser Steven Cheong (holding camera) before a winner takes all game with Ignatius Leong
PHOTO: Here is Steven Cheong on the left

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