The sea, the sun and chess

10/30/2002 – Cap d'Agde, a beautiful French costal town, has been host to a rapid chess tournament with 633 participants, amateurs next to top GMs. The final was held today, with Israeli GM Boris Gelfand beating ex world champion Anatoly Karpov in the beautiful Salle Molière. More

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Sea, sun and chess

The 5th edition of the Trophée C.C.A.S., also called "La Rencontre des Continents" (the encounter of the continents), is a fantastic demonstration of the fact that simple amateurs and top players can live in a perfect harmony, under the sun and near the sea. The tournament is being played in the quiet holiday centre of the Electricians and Gas workers of France, at the sea site resort of Cap d'Agde. The food and the wines are excellent, as it should be in France, the historical world centre of gastronomy. All in all, since one week, 633 competitors take part in eight tournaments.


Finalists Anatoly Karpov, Russia, vs Boris Gelfand, Israel

The Trophée C.C.A.S. is now officially candidate to organize the world championship in rapid chess in 2003! And it is definitely a good idea. First of all because it is may be the only tournament in the world where you can really speak of "supporters" in Chess. During the entrance of the grandmasters in the Salle Molière, the auditorium reverberates like the famous Liverpool stadium in football. Boris Gelfand enjoys, like all the players, this particular atmosphere. As he said: "It's terrible! I love it, but I feel no difficulty to keep my concentration. I just need to isolate myself in my mind." Even more, this unique atmosphere leads the grandmasters to play attractive games, always fighting for the win, often choosing the most spectacular lines, better for the public than an easy draw.

Here, also, you can see the legendary Anatoly Karpov playing his best chess and, a few minutes later, analysing the games of his opponents, seated among dozens of spectators. And everybody is very respectful! The 12th world champion, 51 years old, is still at the top, and his attitude on the board is really prodigious, increasing every day since the first game of the first round of qualifications. In the defence Anatoly always finds the best moves. When he controls the game and has the initiative he plays very precisely and leaves no chance to his opponent to come back in the game. That's the way he beat Evgueny Bareev in the first semi-final, played on Tuesday.


Vladislav Tkatchiev (left) with Olivier Touzane after a match

You can also see Vlad Tkatchiev, actually classified number 10 in rapid chess, playing tennis or football each morning with a dozen of his young fans. Vlad lost his match in the second semi-final 1.5-0.5 yesterday night against his "dark angel" Boris Gelfand, against whom he always has great difficulties.


Pascal Lazare et Bob Textoris, the two organisers of the Trophée C.C.A.S., always cool in their mind, but so professional, with a particular sense of the details.

And so this tournament is a new demonstration that rapid chess, played at the highest level, is a fantastic show! The players' tension is really tangible to the public, and it increases to its height during the zeitnot. At that decisive moment of the game the one who loses his nerves, loses the game. Surely rapid chess is a strategic part of the future of chess, to attract TV and to popularise chess for the largest possible audience.


Igor Nataf (above) played a fantastic match against Mikhail Gurevich: in two games the GMs analysed their moves live and simultaneously, move after move. Neither could hear what the other was saying, but the audience could follow both commentaries, thus entering their minds and following their plans. It is the first time that such a show was tried anywhere in the world! And it was great success, even if it was very tiring for both champions. These are the things that can make chess more attractive in the future.

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