Impressions from Cappelle la Grande

by Alina l'Ami
3/5/2015 – The traditional Cappelle la Grande tournament is now on its 31st edition. The huge open attracted over 550 chess players to a city with a population of less than 10,000. The tireless globetrotter Alina l'Ami could not pass the opportunity to participate in such a prestigious event, alongside her husband; she brings us beautiful impressions directly from France, where she made new friends.

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The 31st edition of the most famous open tournament in France, Cappelle la Grande, is currently taking place in the north part of the country. The event is famous because of the enormous amount of players it attracts, and also the huge amount of titled players. Despite the prize pool being only of a decent size, the organizers go out of their way to make sure that every titled player is treated very well and welcome in Dunkerque/Cappelle la Grande.

Our globetrotter, Alina l'Ami, ventured to this tournament and brings us some beautiful photographic impressions.

In the city hall of Dunkerque, getting interested in a piece
of history, even though technically I wasn't allowed in!

My newest friend: Hoenie! He likes to call himself Hoenie-Bee and he speaks Dutch. As I understood, he is an Australian bird but was born in South Africa and was actually brought to Belgium from Indonesia... small world.

Nordic influences in the architecture

The organizers have learned much after organizing the event 30 times! Everything is written down and in schedule, from the buses the pick up the players in their hotels in Dunkerque (a 10-15 minute bus ride from Cappelle la Grande) to the meal menu.

We are in France so.... wine for lunch and before the game - anyone?!
My husband went for water, and so did I, but just for lunch

Lunch and dinner atmosphere: all together

With so many players it is a big pairings list.The organizers have it in both styles: alphabetical and according to the number of points. Something for every taste and needs. Alexander Fier was happy to play yours truly as I was, unfortunately, completely out of it...but came back later on, in the next rounds!

In between rounds of lunch - game: chatting, killing time, energizing with coffee etc.

Chess players will remain chess players... instead of coffee
Erwin l'Ami and Konstantin Landa foound a better "Red Bull": chess books!

 the new superstar!

The Swedish player could not make an appearance, but a replacement was found just in time

The super star and her (his?) biggest fan

Li Chao from China started as the top seed

Igor Kovalenko

Vasilios Kotronias from Greece

Sandro Mareco came all the way from Argentina, or more than likely he simply stayed after playing Gibraltar

Alexander Fier, from Brazil, who lives in Georgia, though his wife used to live in France! Talk about a worldly couple.

Alexander Areschenko, number two in rating, had a very rough start

Playing on the first bords means playing on the podium

My friend and very good player: Irina Bulmaga

Do you recognize this gesture?

Konstantin Landa

Fabien Libiszewski

Axel Bachmann from Paraguay. Bachmann had a fantastic jump last year, going from high 2500 to mid 2600 in a series of European events... that started with Cappelle la Grande! He hopes to have the same string of success this year.

Trivia: guess who is playing here....

Athanasios Mastrovasilis

Friendly chat: Fier and l'Ami

Vladimir Baklan

The tournament hall

Andrew Vovk

The usual queue for lunch; I must say the French are very efficient and the food is good, too. Plus, everybody loves the wine! I just wonder how it is possible to drink before the game?! If in Ireland the games were not rated, and if the beer is much more consumer friendly, wine is no piece of cake! 

The usual postmortem

The port in Dunkerque

The tournament is currently playing its seventh round, after six games these are the top standings:

  Name Elo Fede Pts Perf
1 ONISCHUK Vladimir 2629 UKR 5 2838
2 KOVALENKO Igor 2656 LAT 5 2821
3 BACHMANN Axel 2601 PAR 5 2784
4 LI Chao B 2728 CHN 5 2772
5 KOTRONIAS Vasilios 2565 GRE 5 2702
6 MEKHITARIAN Krikor Sevag 2556 BRA 5 2690
7 ULYBIN Mikhail 2502 RUS 5 2672
8 KOVCHAN Alexander 2576 UKR 2682
9 VAZQUEZ IGARZA Renier 2592 ESP 2720
10 VOVK Andrey 2642 UKR 2712
11 DRAGUN Kamil 2558 POL 2682
12 PEREZ PONSA Federico 2558 ARG 2634
13 DJUKIC Nikola 2529 MNE 2621
14 PACHER Milan 2432 SVK 2714
15 L'AMI Erwin 2606 NED 2691
16 GUPTA Abhijeet 2621 IND 2670
17 ARUN PRASAD S. 2502 IND 2651
18 RYCHAGOV Andrey 2550 RUS 2625
19 KULAOTS Kaido 2558 EST 2676
20 VIDIT Santosh Gujrathi 2617 IND 2673

With three rounds still left to go anything can happen, especially when there are so many people tied for first and another bunch with only half a point less.

Replay Top Games up to Round Six

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Alina is an International Master and a very enthusiastic person in everything she does. She loves travelling to the world's most remote places in order to play chess tournaments and report about them here on ChessBase! As chance would have it Alina is also an excellent photographer.


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