MVL and Loek Van Wely in Corsica Rapid

by Albert Silver
7/30/2014 – In the pastoral area of Casanova in Corsica, a nine-round rapid event was held on a Sunday afternoon. What makes the event noteworthy isn't the open air photogenic playing area, but the presence of French no.1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, fresh from his win at Biel, and Corsican GM Loek Van Wely, both of whom came to play in the event. Here are pictures and videos.

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The Corsicans continue their efforts to popularize the game with a modest sounding nine-round rapid event just held at Casanova. So what makes it so special aside from the lovely backdrop? The presence and participation of French no.1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Loek Van Wely. Both these top GMs were not there to wave their hand and sign autographs, they were there to play, and put their reputations on the line.

The official tournament poster

In fact, this took place literally right after Biel, and having seen the haggard look of the Frenchman toward the end of his great victory, one can only imagine his state here. The competition was organized by the Corsican League of Chess, orchestrated by the Associu di l Scacchi di U Centru together with the municipality of Casanova and ASTP for this 25th edition.

Nine rounds were played at ten minutes plus a three-second increment per move, with a very modest eight Euro entry fee for adults, and four for youths. This included a free and open buffet at lunchtime for all participants and those accompanying offered by the municipality. With a chance to play one of the world's best players, set in a lush open area, and a generous lunch, what's not to like?

With only two grandmasters in the field, it meant that the other players would all have a
fair chance to meet with one of them. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave plays a young opponent.

It was a light-hearted, friendly atmosphere for all. Loek Van Wely plays regularly in Corsica.

In spite of serious opposition, and serious fatigue, Maxime swept the competition with a perfect 9.0/9, confirming his top-seed status. He defeated Loek Van Wely in his run, whom the Corsicans claim as one of their own, describing him as "Corso-Dutch". This label is not merely a friendly clap on the back, but is based on a little known detail: Van Wely's grandmother was in fact Corsican! This information was shared during the opening ceremony.

Loek Van Wely laughed when they announced his grandmother's origins


Scenes from the opening, the locale, the game between Van Wely and MVL, and the prize ceremony

There were prizes for all categories and age groups

About 100 players came to enjoy the sunny day to play chess in the open

The relaxed playing venue surrounded by nature was a joy

This is the idyllic view from the playing area

The winner's podium

A slideshow of pictures from the event

Final standings

Rk Ti. Name Rtg Pts Perf
1 g VACHIER-LAGRAVE Maxime 2766 9 3094
2 g VAN WELY Loek 2637 8 2683
3 g KAZAKOV Mikhail 2492 7 2494
4   LUCIANI Thibault 2124 7 2152
5   BIGONNET Jean-Michel 1969 6.5 2122
6 m MASSONI Michael 2429 6.5 2365
7 f SELETSKY Grigory 2320 6.5 2250
8 mf ZEPEDA Lorena 2189 6.5 2158
9   GERONIMI Pierre-Francois 2077 6.5 2012
10   GUYON Pascal 1923 6.5 2000
11   BUNOUST Lucas 1829 6.5 1905
12   BOUSLIMI Nabil 1896 6 1988
13   PIERI Pierre-Louis 2054 6 1970
14   PODVIN Antoine 1808 6 1965
15   UTRERA Ludovic 1966 6 1946
16   FABY Fabrice 2051 6 1969

Click for complete standings

Pictures and information from Corsican Chess League

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, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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