Krasenkow storms Corsica's Porticcio Open

by Deimante Daulyte
7/15/2017 – The traditional Porticcio Open took place for the fourth year in a row on Corsica island, gathering 139 participants from 18 countries and beating all the records of the previous years. Tournament winner Michal Krasenkow from Poland had an impressive 8/9 score and 2834 performance. Eltaj Safarli and Gadir Guseinov finished 2nd and 3rd. IM Nino Batsiashvili was the top woman. Surprise upsets were 14-year-old Corsican prospect Albert Tomasi (rated just 2141) beating GM Sergei Zhigalko, and 10-year-old Maurizzi Marc Andria (a mere 1841) downing French grandmaster Fabien Libiszewski (2542)!

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Chess by the sea

The growing popularity of the Porticcio Open is not surprising — the organizers are doing their best to offer excellent conditions and besides a number of loyal players coming to Corsica every year there are always some new faces joining the tournament. Even the top grandmasters fighting for the best money prizes do not miss the opportunity to combine chess with pleasure and enjoy the beautiful seaside.

Porticcio seaside

Porticcio seaside

Already the very beginning of the tournament promised an interesting event full of surprises. The tournament number two seed, GM Sergei Zhigalko from Belarus (Elo 2648) suffered an unexpected loss against the local young talent, 14-year-old Albert Tomasi (2141) in the first round. The following day, another Corsican hope, Maurizzi Marc Andria (just 10 years old and rated 1841) managed to first survive in a difficult position and then even won against French grandmaster Fabien Libiszewski (2542). Incroyable!

The great Corsican hope (in the right): Maurizzi Marc Andria (photo: Fiona Steil- Antoni)

The great Corsican hope Maurizzi Marc Andria (right) | Photo: Fiona Steil-Antoni

In the next round one of the favourites, GM Michal Krasenkow (2630) had a lucky escape and eventually drew his game against Paul Geuss (2234) from Germany. Nevertheless, as often happens in such situations, the rating favourites managed to deal well with their defeats and came back to the top places in the final standings. Replay the games below.

The strongest this year proved to be Krasenkow who finished with an impressive 8/9, beating his closest rival for the title — GM Gawain Jones — in the last round. In fact a draw was enough for Michal to win the tournament, but in Corsica it is forbidden to make draws by the mutual agreement, thus there were no quick draws throughout the whole event. As one of the tournament organizers Léo Battesti noted before the last round, he considers chess as a sport, and short draws are not acceptable. He plainly stated that in fact players can make a quick draw but in this case would never be invited to Corsica again. This was enough to encourage players to do their best in the final game.

Second place was shared between five participants with 7 points, and thanks to the best tie-break it was Azerbaijan grandmasters Eltaj Safarli and Gadir Guseinov who finished second and third respectively.

Top 5 finishers

(Left to right) Tournament winner Michal Krasenkow had an impressive 2834 performance; 2nd & 3rd place: Eltaj Safarli and Gadir Guseinov from Azerbaijan; current French champion Matthieu Cornette was pleased with 4th; Sergei Zhigalko suffered a painful loss in round 1 but battled back to finished 5th | Photos: Fiona Steil-Antoni

This year’s edition broke the record not only by the biggest number of participants overall, but also by a number of women taking part in the event.

Top female players

(Left to right) IM Nino Batsiashvili from Georgia didn’t show her best chess, but still managed to finish 1st among women; IM Dorsa Derakshani from Iran; IM Deimante Daulyte did not have a great event, but nevertheless enjoyed her stay; WFM Tatiana Revo from Belarus; WIM Sue Maroroa | Photo: Fiona Steil-Antoni

Besides the main event, traditionally there was a tournament for kids (rated under 1300) as well as a simultaneous exhibition. This year it was the French champion Matthieu Cornette who tested the skills of the young chess lovers.

There were plenty of prizes to encourage the best players of the children’ tournament (photo: Ligue Corse d’echecs)

There were plenty of prizes to encourage the best players of the children’ tournament | Photo: Ligue Corse d’echecs

The event was not only an open tournament, but also determined the champion of Corsica. Traditionally the best among Corsican players was IM Pierluigi Piscopo, the beloved coach of the local kids who applauded him much more enthusiastically than the rest of the winners. The prize for best performance among young Corsican players went to Albert Tomasi.

IM Pierluigi Piscopo, Albert and Marie Tomasi

IM Pierluigi Piscopo (left) receiving his prize and giving his speech; The charming organizer of the tournament Marie Paule Mondoloni Tomasi (middle right) had a few reasons to celebrate: the conclusion of a successful event as well as an incredible performance of her son Albert whose upset of GM Zhigalko gave him lots to smile about | Photo: Ligue Corse d’echecs

Once the players received their awards it was time to leave for another exciting event — the Ciamannacce blitz tournament in the mountains. Even though the trip to the mountains was not the most pleasant part of the stay, it was worth it for the stunning views, great food and prizes on offer. The patron of the tournament was the mayor of the village, Felicia Francisci, who gave a warm welcome to all the participants.

Winners of the blitz tournament

Winners of the tournament (from left to right): Matthieu Cornette (2nd), Gadir Guseinov (1st), Sergei Zhigalko (3rd) together with Léo Battesti and Mayor Felicia Francisci (next to Guseinov) | Photo: Ligue Corse d’echecs

After the closing ceremony of the blitz tournament it was time to start packing and preparing for the return trip. But the evening was far from over. The players were invited to a local restaurant for dinner which finished with dances, songs and traditional French games. One traditional 'game' coming from the French city Bayonne and called 'paquito', was originally invented by rugby fans, expressing support for their team. Participants need to sit, sing and carry someone above their heads, all at the same time! Once the person reaches the end of the line, he sits down and waits for the next to arrive.

Closing festivities

Indian IM Viani Antonio Dcunha flying in the hands of the grandmasters | Photo: Sue Maroroa

The dates have been already announced for next year’s edition which will take place from June 30th to July 7th. What's more, instead of two double rounds next time there will be only one, so the players will have an extra day to enjoy the beauty of Corsica.


If you are interested to learn the Noteboom Variation the following DVD is perfect for you:

The Triangle Setup - A complete defense to 1.d4

The polish GM Michal Krasenkow presents a repertoire based on the Noteboom and the Stonewall. Black's set-up may lead to a whole range of different and interesting positions, which help the black player to broaden his strategic and tactical understanding.

The Semi-Slav defense (1.d4 d5 followed by ...e7-e6 and ...c7-c6) is one of the most popular opening set-ups for Black. Black can follow two entirely different concepts.


Deimantė Daulytė (born 22 February 1989) is a Lithuanian chess player who holds the FIDE titles of International Master and Woman Grandmaster. She won the women's Lithuanian Chess Championship in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013.


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