89th French Championship gets started

by Christophe Philippe
8/23/2014 – In its 89th edition, the French Championship starts in Nimes with all the stars present. Among the more than 700 participants playing in the championship event and six opens is the local legend Roger Ferry who is playing his 55th consecutive championship! Leading the men's event is Laurent Fressinet and in the women Maisuradze and Safranska. It has seen over two thirds decisive games!

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The banners and posters of the tournament

About 700 players are gathered together for two weeks in the beautiful Gallo-Roman city of Nîmes, located in the south of France, just 30 km from the sea, for the 89th French Individual Championship.

The opening with the players and organizers

The large playing hall with the main event in the center surrounded by the myriad opens

Alongside the six opens for players of all levels, the best twelve men and twelve women are playing for the two official French titles. In the men's section, the only top French player missing is top-rated Maxime Vachier Lagrave, though the tournament is very strong with seven-time national champion Etienne Bacrot, as well as Laurent Fressinet and Romain Edouard from the French Olympic team.

The championship circle from which two champions will emerge

By a curious coincidence the exact same thing took place in the women's section with Marie Sebag missing from the lineup, though she is physically present as the trainer for children from her chess club!. Nevertheless, all the other top French female players are playing : Skripchenko, Milliet, Maisuradze, and Collas. For the spectators, it has been a great event to follow with many decisive games, and only ten draws from the thirty games in the men's section and eleven in the women's.

Almira Skripchenko is a five-time champion

Sophie Milliet has also won it four times

After five rounds played of the eleven total, French number three Laurent Fressinet is leading with a massive 4.5/5, pursued by Etienne Bacrot who is coming back from a surprising first round loss against Armenian born Tigran Gharamain, a freshly naturalized French citizen.

Laurent Fressinet has been imperial with a 4.5/5 start against a sterling field no less

The first surprise was Bacrot's loss to Gharamian in the first round

Jean-Luc Chabanon returns to competition of the highest level

The gentlemen all bundled up is not playing in the grandmaster group, but is a veritable legend
in French chess. Roger Ferry is participating in his 55th consecutive championship! (Ed: I had
the pleasure of playing him when I was a beginner, and he looked much the same. Very generous
and friendly under the dour look of concentration)

In the women's section, the favorite Almira Skripchenko (AKA madame Fressinet) had quite a bad start with only 3.0/5, but with her huge experience (she is five-time champion), she should probably be able to fight back in the last six rounds. Anda Safranska and the 2013 French champion Nino Maisuradze lead with 4.0/5.

Nino Maisuradze is quieting her critics by taking the lead in the 2014 event

Anda Safranska is the surprise co-leader

fifteen-year-old Cecile Haussernot

FM Sylvain Ravot and GM Eric Prié have provided the live color commentary at the official site.
The video commentary can be followed here.

The arbiters of all the events

Every day there is a lecture before the events. This oe is on the state of mind needed to
succeed in the competition.

During the day off, the very nice and popular event "Nuit des Echecs" (night of chess) took place right next to the beautiful antique "arena" of Nîmes. Four strong grandmasters played a huge three-hour simul in front of several thousand people: with fifteen boards for each champion, but with opponents filling in the empty spots as soon as one was vacated. As a result over 300 chess games were played!

The "Night of Chess"

Marie Sebag and Sebastien Mazé lost a few games, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave drew three, and Romain Edouard finished with a perfect and impressive 100% despite few very dubious positions as he admitted himself.

There was no fee to play and it was a rare opportunity to play in a simul against the world no.9

Top French female player GM Marie Sebag joined

GM Sebastian Mazé was also one of the grandmasters in the simul

Despite a few iffy positions, Romain Edouard was the only one to score 100%

It was a fantastic promotion for chess for the French Federation and the local chessclub. The night finished with a funny situation when Etienne Bacrot jokingly took one of the empty seats to join the simul against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave... It isn't every day that you see a simul with a 2720-player facing another rated 2768!

Etienne Bacrot quickly takes a seat for an unsuspecting Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Maxime could not help but laugh at his unexpected opponent, the seven-time champion The championship will finish on Thursday, August 28 with two 2014 French champions crowned.

Current men's standings after five rounds

Current women's standings after five rounds


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


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