MVL supreme in Corsica

by Albert Silver
7/20/2015 – The summer always brings a wide variety of activities, not least among which is the vibrant Corsican chess federation that has made chess one of the most played games among youngsters. They recently held a blitz open which attracted not only the platoons of youth, but top French players Etienne Bacrot and Maxime Vachier Lagrave. Illustrated report with videos.

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The official tournament poster

It was more than a courtesy visit, the Corsican Blitz Championship did boast a prize fund of 8000 Euros, and with the world's third highest blitz rating, Maxime Vachier Lagrave could comfortably claim a degree of favoritism. That said, his compatriot and friend Etienne Bacrot came to make sure he would need to earn that top prize, and the competition enjoyed a good deal of friendly banter as well as hard fought competition.

It was a rare opportunity to play blitz face-to-face with one of the world's absolute best

The day was held with everyone in high spirits

Naturally everyone was excitied to be able to win a trophy

The event was held in the pastoral commune of Quenza in Corsica

It was a nine-round competition of five minutes plus three seconds increment. Unsurprisingly, the decisive game of the event was between the two stars, and neither was able to break the balance, leading to a draw. Since Maxime won all his other games, while Etienne conceded another draw, Maxime took the title with 8.5/9 and a 2851 performance, which was in line with his actual FIDE Blitz rating of 2854. Bacrot came in second with 8.0/9 followed by GM Mikhail Kazakov with 7.0/9, and Michael Massoni in forth with 7.0/9, who also became the Corsican Champion as a result.

Leo Battesti presents one of the prizes, while MVL and Bacrot look on. The large bag was
actually one of the special prizes, much appreciated: one of seven "Prisutti". These 7-8kg
hams are considered the very best in Corsica.

After the event, MVL gave a simul, where he won 34 of his games but lost one to Jean Liebenguth

In a jocular 'interview', MVL was quizzed on how he explained this terrible loss. He replied it was
the terrible weight of his many years (he is 24)

What are your goals for the rest of the year?

My goals are to perform well in the Grand Chess Tour (I still have St Louis and London) and qualify for the Candidates via the World Cup, which will be far from easy. All while keeping in mind to help the French team shine in the European Team Championship in Reykjavik, and perhaps do better than in 2013!

Have you finally improved in Belote?

I rarely have the chance to play belote. I play Tarot more regularly, but progress only very slowly. To each his field of expertise!

Ed: Belote and Tarot are eminently French card games, all played with great enthusiasm by the French. Tarot has the curiosity of playing with a singular deck that includes 26 extra cards: 21 trumps, a joker, and an extra face card called the knight ("cavalier"), placed between the jack and the queen. It is a strategic game played between three to five players and is great fun.

A video of the day and activities

Final standings

1 VACHIER-LAGRAVE Maxime 2731 N 8.5 47.5 2851
2 BACROT Etienne 2693 N 8 47 2717
3 KAZAKOV Mikhail 2491 N 7 46.5 2490
4 MASSONI Michael 2386 N 7 46 2359
5 PIERI Pierre-Louis 2026 N 7 43 2105
6 MORISON Julien 1872 N 7 42.5 2103
7 CALISTRI Tristan 2330 N 6.5 45.5 2204
8 PODVIN Antoine 1939 N 6.5 44 2068
9 BUNOUST Lucas 1870 N 6.5 41 1973
10 TOMASI Albert 2110 N 6.5 38.5 2018
11 CRISTOFARI Antoine 2060 N 6 46 2217
12 VILAISARN Akkhavanh 2184 N 6 45.5 2161
13 GERONIMI Pierre-Francois 2033 N 6 45.5 2064
14 BOUSLIMI Nabil 1912 N 6 45 1989
15 BIGONNET Jean-Michel 2012 N 6 42.5 2002
16 UTRERA Ludovic 1993 N 6 42 1886
17 LEIBENGUTH Pablo 1771 N 6 39 1886
18 FRANCESCHINI Francois-Marie 1777 N 6 39 1834
19 BEDINI Lucas 2006 N 6 38.5 1871
20 SABIANI Chjara 1644 N 6 38.5 1762


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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