More than 300 chess enthusiasts from 40 countries are preparing to descend on Pattaya to do battle in the ballroom of the Dusit Thani Hotel during the forthcoming Thailand Open Chess Championships.
Organised on an annual basis by the Bangkok Chess Club and scheduled to be held this year from April 14 to 21, this has quietly become the most important such event in Asia, attracting players of all levels, from aspiring juniors to seasoned professionals. The women's world champion, grandmaster Hou Yifan from China, participated in last year's championships.
Grandmaster Nigel Short of Britain, the defending champion and former world title contender, will be vying with grandmaster Humpy Koneru, the world No.3 ladies' champion, and other players to win this year's crown.
Participants are arriving from most Asian and European nations, as well as North and South America, Africa and Australia, so the championships will be a melting pot of cultures and playing styles.
And with Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong recently named president of the Thailand Chess Association, the game is perhaps set to take on a greater prominence in this country.
Spectators are both encouraged and welcomed to attend what looks like being the biggest international open chess tournament ever held in the Kingdom.
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