Bischwiller dominate French Team Championship

by Antonio Pereira
6/6/2018 – The Top 12 French Team Championship finished on Tuesday, but the champions were already known on Sunday. Bischwiller took the trophy with a perfect score, leaving Clichy a distant five match points behind in second place. Bois Colombes seized third place despite losing their final round match. | Photos: French Chess Federation

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A commanding performance

After taking silver in 2016 and 2017 behind Clichy, Bischwiller repeated their perfect performance from three years ago — back then, they also scored eleven match victories to finish first. This year, however, they were not even in danger of losing the lead in the final round, as they had already secured the title two days earlier. In a highly competitive league, it will be hard to repeat this feat in coming years.

Bischwiller

Bischwiller, the new French champions | Photo: French Chess Federation

They probably owe their success to a highly flexible line-up, as no less than four members of the team played on first board at some point in the tournament. Maxim Rodshtein was the one who received this responsibility the most, and he did not let the team down, getting four wins — all with Black — and seven draws. 

Arkadij Naiditsch played on first board in the most important match of the tournament, against Clichy. However, he spent most of the event on boards 3-5, where he was able to show he can beat lower rated players with his usual uncompromising style. The Azeri gathered no less than seven wins to finish on 8½/11. His final streak of four consecutive victories included a flashy 24-mover against Yuri Solodovnichenko:

 

A key feature of the French Team Championship is the fact that the teams must include a French female player in their line-up. Therefore, having a good player in this post — usually the eighth board — tends to be crucial. And Nino Maisuradze proved to be up to the task for Bischwiller this year. Just like Naiditsch, she scored 8½/11, losing only to Pauline Guichard, who, by the way, managed to outscore everybody in the event with an outstanding 10/11.

Guichard "led" Clichy from the last board and was vital for their final second place. The defending champions did not have it easy, however, as they only took silver thanks to a final round loss by Bois Colombes. Besides Guichard, their most stable player was Russian GM Pavel Tregubov, who achieved an undefeated 7/11 score. 

Pauline Guichard and Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo: French Chess Federation

As mentioned, third place went to Bois Colombes. They had finished fifth last year, but found in Viktor Laznicka and Jan-Krzysztof Duda a good pair of leaders to take home the bronze. The latter, Duda, is having a great year, as he won the Polish Championship and became the best-rated junior player in the world. In round seven, he defeated the strong Ukrainian GM Pavel Eljanov:

 

It is worth mentioning that the highest rated player in the field, David Navara, also had a great performance. He won six, lost one and drew four games for a gain of 7.1 rating points. His team, Mulhouse, finished sixth, but played an important role in the final round, as they were the ones that gave Clichy second place by defeating Bois Colombes.

Bluebaum and Navara

Matthias Bluebaum and David Navara | Photo: French Chess Federation

We can only wait for next year's edition, when Clichy will most likely try to take back the trophy from the dashing Bischwiller squad.

Final standings

(Note that the French Team Championship awards 3 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 for a loss and 0 for a no-show)

Pl. Team Pts j. d. p. c.
1 Bischwiller 33 11 37 41 4
2 Clichy Echecs 92 28 11 24 34 10
3 Bois Colombes 27 11 12 25 13
4 Grasse Echecs 26 11 11 22 11
5 Nice Alekhine 24 11 11 25 14
6 Mulhouse Philidor 23 11 11 26 15
7 Metz Fischer 23 11 9 26 17
8 T H F Saint-Quentin 19 11 -21 16 37
9 Tremblay en France 18 11 -6 23 29
10 Evry Grand Roque 18 11 -15 15 30
11 Cemc Monaco 13 11 -39 14 53
12 Vandoeuvre Echecs 12 11 -34 10 44

All games

 

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Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.
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