5th International Chess Meeting of the Francophone Countries

by Paul Kohler
11/26/2017 – The Fifth International Chess Meeting of the Francophone Countries took place from October 28th to November 4th, in Yasmine Hammamet in Tunisia. Here is a report about the tournament which was played throughout the Meeting. A French version is available for our French speaking readers.

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"Association Internationale des Échecs Francophones"

Cliquez ici pour la version française

The 5th international summit of francophone chess was held from October 28th to November 4th, 2017 in Yasmine Hammamet, Tunisia. 

Yasmine Hammamet

The event was held in Tunisia. The Tunisian federation as one of nine founding members has been very active in the work of the "Association Internationale des Échecs Francophones" (AIDEF), ever since its creation in 2007.  On the occasion of its 60th birthday, the Tunisian federation was particularly keen to organize the AIDEF’s Fifth Meeting...

Mohamed Zouaoui (right) with GM Dervishi

With the help of the tournament’s director, Mohamed Zouaoui, and the AIDEF’s president, Patrick van Hoolandt, the participants were welcomed very warmly.

Patrick van Hoolandt on an excursion with a surprise guest

The hotel offered spacious rooms as well as generous buffets in the morning, midday and evening. The players were offered a free bottle of water and free coffee during the games, as well as a free entrance to the amusement park Carthageland. Additionally, the players received as souvenirs a T-Shirt and a mug. 

The summit has been organised in these premises

During the Meeting, the participants could also enjoy excursions and thus profit from non-chess activity. One gets to know the host country better, make contact with the locals and spin new networks.

The participants at an excursion at Cartagena

241 participants from 21 federations took part in the event. 

The Albanian GM Erald Dervishi was the favourite of the tournament with 2552 Elo, followed by the young and ambitious Bilel Bellahcene from France who is still an IM despite an Elo of 2507. Five other GMs and eleven IMs also played. In the women's section, the WGM Elvira Berend was the top seed in front of WGM Nino Maisuradze and WGM Marina Sheremetieva.

The Francophonie Championship — classic time control

Bilel Bellhacene saw his ambitions reshuffled already in the 3rd round when he had to draw against the Lebanese Faisal Khairallah (2274 Elo). Another draw in the fourth round, against the Tunisian Oussama Douissa (2226 Elo), put him against the wall. In the end, he lost all hope of finishing on the podium by losing to Nino Maisuradze in the 7th round.


The novelty 9...Bd6 proved a fiasco for Bellahcene

A tournament to forget for the young French hope. The top seed Erald Dervishi, on the other hand, had perfect control over the tournament. He won half a point ahead of two the French GMs Gilles Mirallès and Thal Abergel.

Final standings (top 10)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Dervishi Erald 7,5 56,5
2 Miralles Gilles 7,0 56,5
3 Abergel Thal 7,0 56,0
4 Bellia Fabrizio 7,0 55,0
5 Legky Nikolay A 7,0 54,0
6 El Adnani Mokliss 7,0 53,5
7 Barbaria Yacine 7,0 50,5
8 Aloma Vidal Robert 6,5 54,0
9 Villegas Pierre 6,5 54,0
10 Zaibi Amir 6,5 53,0

The French GM Gilles Mirallès (left) faces the best Tunisian of the tournament, Yacine Barbaria


In a game of round 7 IM El Adnani has played the unfortunate 28.Nf3?. After 29...Be3 Mirallès got a winning initiative.

In the women’s section, the third attempt proved good for Nino Maisuradze, who this time did not let go of her bone. She won the tiebreaker with 6½ in front of the young and promising Canadian WIM Maili-Jade Ouellet. The No. 1 woman, Elvira Berend, dropped to 3rd place.

The Champion of the Francophonie Nino Maisuradze

All games


The Francophonie Championship — rapid play 

On the rest day, a rapid play championship took place. More than 200 players joined in. The top seed was once again Erald Dervishi, followed by Slim Belkhodja. In the end, three players finished with 8/9 but Dervishi had the best tiebreak.

Final standings (top 10)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Dervishi Erald 8,0 60,5
2 Abergel Thal 8,0 58,0
3 Bellahcene Bilel 8,0 54,0
4 Bellia Fabrizio 7,5 55,0
5 Ouellet Maili-Jade 7,0 54,0
6 Berend Elvira 7,0 52,0
7 El Adnani Mokliss 7,0 52,0
8 Levacic Damir 7,0 51,0
9 Hebert Jean 7,0 51,0
10 Zaibi Amir 7,0 49,5

GM Erald Dhervishi (right) is the Champion of the Francophonie of both Rapid and Classic Play. Additionally, he finished third in the blitz event


In the 5th round of the classic play, Dervishi won an important game against Abergel by manoeuvring his knight from b3 on move 23 to f1 by move 34.

In the women's section, 15-year-old Maili-Jade Ouellet won the rapid play with 7 points. Elvira Berend and Nino Maisuradze followed in second and third place respectively. 

The Canadian Mail-Jade Ouellet also won three medals: she is a Francophone champion in rapid and wins money in the classic and blitz

The Francophonie Championship — Blitz

The Meeting ended with the blitz tournament, with a time control of 3 min + 2 sec per move. The top seeds showed their strength and 5 players amongst the top 4 seeds finished on 7½/9. Thal Abergel won gold, De La Riva silver and Dervishi bronze.

The French GM Thal Abergel on the right. 1st place in blitz, 2nd in rapid play and 3rd in classical play


Facing the Canadian MI Hebert (4th round in slow pace), Abergel plays a decisive prophylactic move before the exchange on f5: 26.Bc6! 

In the women's section, Elvira Berend won the tournament in front of Ouellet and Sheremetieva.

Elvira Berend from Luxembourg, here against Ouellet, won three medals: Gold in blitz, silver in rapidplay and bronze in classic play 

Prize giving ceremony

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Geoffrey Borg were in attendence and afterward the meeting ended with the theme of 1001 nights.

This event showed how popular chess is in this Tunisia, and in the future, it's likely that similar events will be held in the country. The presence of the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the CEO Geoffrey Borg confirmed its importance — a good sign for the next event held by the AIDEF.

Patrick van Hoolandt (left), Thal Abergel, Erald Dervishi, Gilles Mirallès, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Tahar Battikh (president of the chess federation of Tunisia)

The judge Justin Brou, head of the Ivorian delegation performed a show at the end of theprize-givingg ceremony: a song written and interpreted by the likely future president of the Ivory Coast’s Federation, who plans to organize the Meeting in 2019, after the one of 2018, for which the applications are open until 31st December; see the call for applications.

The judge Justin Brou and his team at the closing ceremony

Translation from French: Pascal Simon


After more than 20 years in the OK of the Biel International Chess Festival, in Switzerland, Paul Kohler is now the Technical Director of the tournament. And since September 2016, the French-speaking chessfans can follow his posts and tweets for ChessBase in the language of Molière on a daily basis.


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