88th French Championship sees surprise winners

8/31/2013 – The 88th French chess championship was held in Nancy, France this year, and with the biggest guns missing, it seemed like the contenders would finally have their shot. Yet this was the year of the underdog, as the top prizes were taken by unlikely champions. Over 800 players came to fight for prizes or just enjoy some chess, and for two weeks Nancy went chess crazy.

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88th French Chess Championship 2013

By Christophe Philippe

The 2013 French Chess Championship took place in Nancy from 11 to 23 of August. 846 players took part in the nine official tournaments, not counting all the players in the many blitz and other chess activities around the official competition, which were organised directly by the French Chess Federation and its newly elected president, Diego Salazar.

The drawing lots ceremony. Players had to discover their number under a giant
chess piece, here local hero GM Christian Bauer shows his.

24 professionals fought in the two National championships to decide the official titles of 2013 Absolute French Chess Champion and the 2013 French Women Chess Champion.

Chess fans had the possibility to come close to the players and to follow the
games on big TV screens at the same time.

The Absolute championship, with eleven men and one woman: GM Marie Sebag

The impressive playing hall, usually the home of the professional basketball
team of Nancy, can fit up to 6000 spectators!

The scoreboards

In the Absolute championship there were only eleven men because GM Marie Sebag – the top French female player and number ten in the world - chose to play with the men, having already won the female tournament at age 14! Amongst her male colleagues, she suffered a bit, finishing last with 3.0/11, but most likely learning a lot.

Marie had a rough time in the men's event but did not leave without a win.
Here she beat GM Manuel Apicella.

In the absence of the three stars in the 2700 club: Vachier-Lagrave, Bacrot and Fressinet, all of whom were committed to playing in the World Cup, the favorites were the young Romain Edouard (2662), the ex-European Champion Vladislav Tkachiev (2637) and the local boy Christian Bauer (2633). It was quite a surprise therefore that not only did they not one, but no one of them made it even to the top three!

Commentators live and on the Internet: GM Eric Prié and Joachim Iglesias

For two weeks, chess was everywhere in the the city of Nancy with a chess tent
on one of the main squares, the “Charles III”.

Some GMs came to visit the big top during their free time. Here Christian Bauer
poses with one of the organisers, Hélène Rossinot, the daughter of the mayor
of Nancy and a chess player herself in her younger years.

Here was a nice open conference with five champions describing the life of a grandmaster.
"After I arrive, I am picked up by the Rolls Royce and taken to the palace..."

The biggest show outside the official competition was a huge simul on the
beautiful “Place Stanislas”. Four GMs (GM Christian Bauer, GM Matthieu Cornette,
WGM Nino Maizuradze, GM Anthony Wirig) and 60 chess boards full for five hours!

GM Christian Bauer

The people who made Nancy 2013 a big success : French Federation president,
Diego Salazar, Nancy major André Rossinot, and the organisers Hélène Rossinot
and IM Christophe Philippe.

The twelve arbiters of the events

The invaluable volunteers who helped make it a smooth operation

The top laurels went to two experienced GMs in their forties who played an impressive tournament : Hicham Hamdouchi (2613 and 41 years old) and Jean-Marc Degraeve (2563 and 42 years old) finishing equal first with 7.5/11.

A similar surprise took place in the Women’s tournament, where the big favourite Sophie Milliet (2401) finished only third, while two players had the tournament of their life : Nino Maizuradze (2288) and Mathilde Congiu (2190), finishing equal first with 8.5/11.

In round one, it was clear the favorites were vulnerable as Sophie Milliet lost

The two vases offered by the French president, François Hollande!

The beautiful “Daum” trophy is a limited edition with only 425 in the world

Proud FFE president Diego Salazar in front of the trophies

As a result of the two ties for first, tie-break matches were necessary to award two special “Vases de Sèvres” offered by the French president since 1914(!), plus a beautiful sculpture from “Daum”, a luxury company from Nancy. Hamdouchi quickly secured his trophies with one draw and one win in the rapid games, whereas the girls had to decide it in blitz games after two draws in the rapids. Finally Maizuradze won both her games and earned her first French Champion title.

The beginning of the tiebreaks to decide the titles and trophies

The women's podium with Nino Maisurdze (first), Mathilde Congiu (second),
and Sophie Milliet (third).

The overall winners Hicham Hamdouchi (first), Jean-Marc Degraeve (second),
and Andrei Sokolov (third).

A proud Hicham Hamdouchi is the 2013 Champion of France

GM Jean-Luc Chabanon earned a spot in next year's championship

The organisers IM Christophe Philippe and Hélène Rossinot

Final French Open Championship ranking

Final French Women Championship ranking


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