French Team Ch: Clichy and Bischwiller share lead

by Albert Silver
5/29/2014 – In Saint Quentin, France, eleven teams are fighting for the title of best team in France, bringing a roster of top grandmasters such as Vachier-Lagrave, Ivanchuk, Wojtaszek and many more. One thing that separates this event from others is that it runs for eleven days straight instead of spread out over the year. GM Alejandro Ramirez has annotated a couple of fantastic attacks.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!


Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!

More...

The French Chess Leagues are underway, and much like many top leagues such as the Bundesliga, the Russian Team championships, or the Chinese Chess League to name but a few, a wide assortment of top players can be found. Where it distinguishes itself from the others is that contrary to its colleagues that spread the competition out over a period of four to twelve months, the French 'Top 12' will play out all eleven rounds from May 24 to June 3 on successive days.

Eleven teams are playing eleven rounds, and will compete every day except on the day they have a Bye. Theoretically there would be twelve teams, hence the title 'Top 12', but Marseille declared forfeit and thus only eleven teams will play. The club Tours de Haute-Picardie in Saint-Quentin, France, recently promoted to the division, is hosting the competition in the Palais de Fervaques, one of the most beautiful buildings in the region.

Xavier Bertrand, Jocelyne Wolfangel and Frédéric Waquet follow their team's match

The reigning champion is Clichy, a team with an extremely long track record of championship titles. The other teams challenging it for the title are Bois-Colombes, Bischwiller, Châlons-en-Champagne, Clichy, Evry, Metz, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Rueil-Malmaison, Saint-Quentin and Strasbourg. Among the biggest names participating are Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Laurent Fressinet, and Romain Edouard on the French front, as well as international stars such as Vassily Ivanchuk, Dmitry Jakovenko, and Radoslaw Wojtaszek to name but a few.

Radoslaw Wojtaszek is one of the top players in the competition

All the teams have at least one female player, and it bears noting that by no means do they necessarily face each. Consider that in round two, GM Marie Sebag faced and defeated GM Hicham Hamdouchi, the current French champion.

GM Marie Sebag (right) scored an important win for her team by defeating Hicham Hamdouchi

GM Alejandro Ramirez has selected a couple of exciting games from the competition and annotated them. Here is one from round two, in which he comments "Black doesn't always win crushing attacks in the French, but when he does it certainly is a sweet feeling!"

[Event "TCh-FRA Top 12 2014"] [Site "Saint-Quentin FRA"] [Date "2014.05.25"] [Round "2.3"] [White "Volokitin, Andrei"] [Black "Baklan, Vladimir"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2638"] [BlackElo "2636"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "2014.05.24"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] [WhiteTeam "Bischwiller"] [BlackTeam "C.E. Strasbourg"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 {This move is becoming more and more common, it gives Black plenty of flexibility and it is not as forcing as some of the other variations in this type of French.} 8. dxc5 {releasing the tension immediately puts an interesting question to Black. He normally wants to recapture with the bishop, but this would cost him a tempo.} O-O 9. Qd2 Nxc5 {Baklan tries to take with the knight and begins an interesting plan, but it is not he most common recapture.} (9... Bxc5 10. O-O-O Qa5 11. a3 {has been giving Black a few headaches in the recent past.}) 10. O-O-O a6 11. Qf2 $5 {An interesting move. The point is that Black doesn't have a good way of protecting the knight and he doens't want to retreat it.} b6 (11... Qa5 12. a3 Nd7 {it is unclear if a3 was something White wanted to play or of it iwas provoked! Black threatens b5-b4, but maybe White has time for Ne2-d4. This will require many more practical tests.}) 12. g4 (12. f5 $5 {looks dangerous but it is not entirely clear what White's follow up will be as f6 isn't exactly a threat.} Bb7 (12... f6 $5 {is also possible.}) 13. f6 gxf6 14. Bh6 Kh8 $17) 12... f6 {The typical way of thwarting White's advances on the kingside. Now the game has a very sharp character.} 13. exf6 Bxf6 14. Bxc5 $6 {White picks up the gauntlet. He will be up a pawn but many files have been opened.} (14. Qe1 $13) 14... bxc5 15. Qxc5 Qc7 16. f5 (16. Ne5 Bb7 17. Bg2 Rac8 18. Bxd5 $1 {Was the only way to fight for equality. In many lines White ends up down a piece, but at least he has some material and activity to show for it. In the game continuation it becomes clear that Black's activity is far more dangerous than White's.}) 16... Rb8 17. fxe6 Bxe6 {It is rare that such a position arises in a French: All of his pieces are pointing towards the queenside, even his "bad" French bishop! White is surprisingly helpless in this position, despite his extra pawn and the pressure on d5.} 18. g5 Bxc3 19. Qxc3 Qf4+ $1 {A very important move. This clears the c-file, which will allow Black's rook to swing over with decisive effect.} 20. Nd2 Nb4 21. Qa3 (21. Qg3 Qxg3 22. hxg3 Nxa2+ 23. Kb1 Nc3+ {is light's out.}) 21... Rfc8 22. Bd3 Nxc2 $1 {Finally Black crashes through.} 23. Bxc2 Bf5 24. Qc3 {Desperation, everything else led to mate.} Rxc3 25. bxc3 Qe3 26. Rdf1 Be4 27. Rhg1 Qxc3 28. Nxe4 dxe4 {Black doesn't always win crushing attacks in the French, but when he does it certainly is a sweet feeling!} 0-1

The sumptuous playing hall is in Fervaques Palace

In round four, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, playing first board for Clichy, demolished Anatoly Vaisser with a fantastic combination. Annotations by GM Alejandro Ramirez.

[Event "TCh-FRA Top 12 2014"] [Site "Saint-Quentin FRA"] [Date "2014.05.27"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Black "Vaisser, Anatoly"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2758"] [BlackElo "2531"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "43"] [EventDate "2014.05.24"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] [WhiteTeam "Clichy-Echecs-92"] [BlackTeam "C.E. Strasbourg"] {Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is now in the top 10 players in the World, and he shows us exactly why.} 1. Nf3 f5 $6 {This move has always seemed dubious to me. White's follow-up is exactly why the Dutch cannot be played with this move-order against 1. Nf3} 2. d3 $1 {The eventual break on e4 proves to be quite strong.} d6 3. e4 e5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. exf5 Bxf5 6. d4 $1 {White must play energetically or he risks losing his opening advantage.} exd4 (6... Nf6 7. Bb5 {is close to costing Black a pawn already.}) 7. Nxd4 Nxd4 8. Qxd4 Nf6 (8... Bxc2 {certainly seems suicidal, but it is the only way to not fall into a passive position without compensation. I would have loved to see MVL's continuation. One possible line is:} 9. Qe3+ $5 Be7 (9... Ne7 {blocks in too many of Black's pieces.}) 10. Nb5 $1 $36 {An unusual move, but the threats of Qc3 and Nd4 are difficult to parry!}) 9. Bc4 c6 10. Bg5 h6 11. Bh4 d5 {Black has set up a strong pawn chain in the center that he is hoping will shield him against White's superior development, but as it so often happens, the pawn chain is not enough.} 12. O-O-O (12. Qe5+ $2 Qe7 $15) 12... Be7 (12... dxc4 13. Qe5+ Qe7 14. Qxf5 {is already completely hopeless.}) 13. Rhe1 O-O 14. Qe5 $1 { The only move to secure an advantage, but certainly sufficient.} Bg4 15. f3 Bd6 {Vaisser must have been counting on this intermediate move to save him, but he missed an important tactical detail} 16. Nxd5 $1 {Fabulous!} cxd5 (16... Nxd5 17. Rxd5 $1 cxd5 18. Qxd5+ Kh8 19. Bxd8 $18) (16... Bxe5 17. Nxf6+ Kh8 18. Rxd8 Raxd8 19. Nxg4 Bf4+ 20. Kb1 $18) (16... Kh8 17. Nxf6 $18) 17. Rxd5 $1 Bxe5 18. Rxd8+ Kh7 19. Bd3+ g6 20. Rxa8 Bf4+ 21. Kb1 Rxa8 22. Bxf6 {A complete demolition by MVL.} 1-0

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is the third player from France to break into the world top 10

After five rounds, Clichy leads with five match wins in five, followed by Bischwiler with the same score, but worse tiebreak. Mulhouse Philidor is third with four wins and one loss, after losing to Bischwiller in round five in a very tight match. The final deciding game, with the top seven boards drawn, was Nino Maisuradze's win over Cecile Haussernot which broke the tie.

Leaders Clichy and Bischwiller will meet in round six.

Pictures by D. Dervieux

Standings after five rounds

Rk
Team
Pts
M
diff
Gms+
Gms-
1
Clichy
15
5
18
21
3
2
Bischwiller
15
5
8
14
6
3
Mulhouse Philidor
13
5
14
17
3
4
Bois Colombes
10
4
5
12
7
5
Metz Fischer
9
4
1
9
8
6
Evry Grand Roque
7
4
-1
9
10
7
Montpellier
7
4
-5
7
12
8
Strasbourg
7
5
-10
8
18
9
Chalons en Champagne
6
4
-2
7
9
10
Tours de Haute Picardie
6
5
-10
6
16
11
Rueil Malmaison
5
5
-18
4
22

Links

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.




Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Discuss

Rules for reader comments

 
 

Not registered yet? Register