Olivier Breisacher, a friend and colleague
Eulogy by Pascal Simon of ChessBase
In moments of pain and grief it is difficult to find the right words. With
the death of 44-year-old Oilvier Breisacher the chess world has lost one of
its driving figures. The Bieler journalist, working for a local newspaper (Tribune
de Genève) in Geneva in the department of sport, was one of the
organizers of the Biel Chess Festival.
For more than 15 years Olivier looked after the organisation, reporting and
external communicationsaround the grandmasters tournament in Biel, the flagship
of the annual festival. Through his excellent contacts in the chess world and
the right instinct for the needs of the players he succeeded, year after year,
to set up an interesting field of competitors. We owe the participation of Magnus
Carlsen to Olivier.
When you saw him chatting with the grandmasters, he was always surrounded by
an aura of joy. He always had a smile on his face, and he knew how to deal with
the great personalities of sport. This made him very valuable in his daily work.
He devoted a lot of time to ice-hockey, and especially to the team of Servette
Geneva. Most recently, he travelled to the European Football Championship, which
took place in Poland and Ukraine. The tennis Grand Slams were something like
a home for Olivier, and the personal highlights of his work were the one-on-one
interviews he conducted with his sporting idol Roger Federer. Whether in Melbourne,
Paris, London or New York, Olivier met with all the great players during the
past decade. When he told us about his travels and adventures we always listened
eagerly to what he has to say. His detailed knowledge of the subject matter
was amazing – the meticulousness and professionalism Olivier displayed
will not quickly find its match.
"Olivier was the soul of the International Chess Festival" says Peter
the Journal du Jura. He clearly enjoyed pulling the strings
in the background, making the chess festival to what it is today. Biel became
one of the highlights in the yearly chess calendar. And he showed how it can
be done: the games broadcast live with GM commentary on the Internet, you can
listen to the analysis of the players after their games, photos, videos, interviews
and radio reports are readily available during and after the rounds on the homepage.
Among the participants and visitors of the festival Olivier was a very popular
figure. He liked talking to people and had a great sense of humour. At the same
time he was very concerned about the well-being of the participants. If something
was wrong, Olivier would find out about it and resolve the matter.
In the past four years I have been working at Olivier's side, helping with
the Internet broadcasts and filing reports for the ChessBase news pages. I learnt
to appreciate his collegial and open demeanor, the way he would listen to his
colleagues and actively seek advice from them. There was plenty of discussion
and controversy over the 3-point scoring system, the Sofia draw offer rules,
the tournament mode and time controls. It impressed me to see that he was ready
to take risks and not afraid of trying new ways.
I will remember Olivier as a generous and extremely likeable personality, and
I am shocked that he went so soon from us. Our thoughts are with him and we
offer our deep condolences to his family. Rest in peace Olivier!