Top-12 Under Way

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/6/2015 – The French Team Championship is reaching its conclusion, as the Top-12 has crossed the half-way mark in beautiful Grau-du-Roi. Top players are participating, including So, Giri, Jakovenko, and many others. The favorite by far is the team of Clichy, with an average rating of almost 2650, but they currently trail the strong team of Bischwiller, lead by Giri, Naiditsch and Bacrot.

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The Top-12, the nickname for the finals of the French Club Championship Finals, is one of the strongest league tournaments in the World. Only the German Bundesliga and the Russian Team Championship can boast of having a stronger league than France, and the tournament is reaching its climax.

The Top-12 is nicknamed such because it is the last portion of a large process. From October until April thousands of players compete in different leagues all over France, with teams varying in size and compositions. The winners of the different regional events qualify for the Top-12.

The event is a Round Robin team tournament, the format being eight vs. eight. There is a big difference in strength between some of the teams. The two favorites are definitely Clichy and Bischwiller.

Clichy

Name Rating Fed
So, Wesley 2778 USA
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2754 FRA
Jakovenko, Dmitry 2738 RUS
Fressinet, Laurent 2712 FRA
Matlakov, Maxim 2694 RUS
Hamdouchi, Hicham 2608 FRA
Van Wely, Loek 2653 NED
Tregubov, Pavel 2571 RUS
Lagarde, Maxime 2565 FRA
Skripchenko, Almira 2421 FRA

Bischwiller

Name Rating Fed
Giri, Anish 2776 NED
Naiditsch, Arkadij 2720 GER
Bacrot, Etienne 2704 FRA
Ragger, Markus 2668 AUT
Edouard, Romain 2627 FRA
Schlosse, Phillip 2577 GER
Le Roux JP 2546 FRA
Marcelin, Cyril 2476 FRA
Netzer, Jean 2396 FRA
Maisuradze, Nino 2279 FRA

Clichy has an average rating of well over 2600, while Bischwiller follows at 2570+. Just behind Bischwiller is the strong team of Mulhouse Philidor, with the top boards of Navara, Wojtaszek and Gajewski. Clichy is not only the highest rated team, but they are also the defending three-time champions! Several teams sport a rating average of well over 2400, nearing 2500 territory, and cannot be underestimated.

The tournament is being held in Grau-du-Roi, a commune in the Gard department in southern France, on the Mediterranean.

The Yacht Club is the host of the tournament

It certainly lives up to its name!

Not a bad view from the playing hall

The Top-12, with the old-school style of pairing board

After seven rounds, things are not looking good for Clichy to retain their title. A decisive encounter occurred in round six:

The official scoresheet!

The top two teams met in round six, and despite Skripchenko's victory against Maisuradze, Giri's win against Fressinet and Bacrot's over Jakovenko gave the win to Bischwiller. In the French League draws don't count, so the final tally was 2-1.

[Event "TCh-FRA Top 12 2015"] [Site "Montpellier FRA"] [Date "2015.06.04"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Fressinet, Laurent"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D35"] [WhiteElo "2776"] [BlackElo "2712"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2015.05.30"] [WhiteTeam "BISCHWILLER"] [BlackTeam "CLICHY-ECHECS-92"] 1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 {The exchange Queen's Gambit Declined is getting a solid reputation, even at the top levels of chess. It was scorned for several years as White was supposed to have a slight advantage from almost every line, but lately it seems that Black's chances of holding are increasing and increasing.} Be7 6. e3 c6 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. Nge2 {White has two main development patterns: Nf3 or Ne2, and the position of the knight usually changes his plans completely. The famous "minority attack" on the queenside is much more likely to happen with the knight on f3, as on e2 it does not support the attack well (on f3 it can at least go to e5 and pressure c6). Here White will probably go f3-e4 at some point.} h6 9. Bh4 Nh5 {All the ideas with Nh5 are the reason the exchange variation is gaining some momentum for the black players.} 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. O-O O-O 12. Qd2 Re8 13. Rae1 Nb6 14. Nc1 Qg5 15. f3 {White's plan isn't subtle: f3, e4 and take control of the center. Black has a few ways to play against this. In the old days it was recommended to play c5 early, but this isn't the best when the dark-squared bishops have already been traded.} Bf5 16. Bxf5 Qxf5 17. e4 Nc4 $1 {Anice intermediate move. Taking on f5 just ruins White's structure, so the queen has to move to a palce where it does not cover g5.} 18. Qe2 Qg5 {Now Nf4 can be annoying,} 19. Qf2 Nf4 20. Kh1 Qd8 21. e5 {White has gained some space, but Black's knight are well positioned and there is a real chance to blockade White's advances.} c5 $6 {The idea of opening the position is not the most accurate. Fressinet should have kept waiting.} 22. b3 $1 cxd4 23. Qxd4 Qg5 24. g3 Ne6 25. Qf2 Nb6 {Black has been driven back, and Giri wastes no time.} 26. f4 Qe7 27. f5 Ng5 28. Qd4 Rac8 29. Nd3 Red8 30. Nb5 $1 Nc4 $5 {Fressinet was feeling the pressure and he decided to liquidate some pieces with some tactics, but Giri was having none of it.} 31. Nf4 (31. bxc4 dxc4 32. Nd6 $1 cxd3 33. h4 $1 $18 (33. Nxc8 Qe8 $1 {Is almost brilliant. The strong threats of Qc6 and Rxc8 give White a bad position.})) 31... Na3 32. Nd6 $1 {Nicely calculated from Giri.} Nc2 (32... Rc7 33. Nxd5 {is beyond hopeless.}) 33. Nxc8 Qd7 34. Qd1 Rxc8 (34... Nxe1 35. Nd6 {and Black's knight finds itself trapped on e1!} Nef3 36. Rxf3 Nxf3 37. Qxf3 $18) 35. Qxd5 $1 Qxf5 (35... Qxd5+ 36. Nxd5 {and Black has no time to take on e1 due to threat of Ne7+, picking up the rook on c8.}) 36. e6 $1 fxe6 37. Rxe6 {It seems like White's pieces are hanging, but everything is under control.} Qxd5+ 38. Nxd5 Kh7 (38... Nxe6 39. Ne7+ Kh7 40. Nxc8 {is resignable, the exchange is too much.}) 39. Re7 Nd4 40. Rc7 Rd8 41. Nf4 {Black has no compensation for the lost exchange and simply resigned.} 1-0

There have been many brilliant individual performances so far. Duda has a 2874 performance (!) with a brilliant 6.5/7, only drawing his first game... against Wesley So! Not far behind is Romain Edouard who is doing great work, also with 6.5/7 and a 2825 performance. His draw... also against Wesley So!

Also interesting is that this is Sebastien Feller's return to chess after his ban expired. He so far has 2.5/7 and a mediocre 2558 performance, which perhaps is not terrible after years of being absent from the chess board.

We will be covering the final rounds daily in this exciting event.

Bilschwiller's top two: Giri and Naiditsch. They both lost in round two (against Vandouevre)
but their team rescued them with wins in the lower boards.

Christian Bauer thinking in his game against MVL

Top-rated player in the event: Wesley So

Fiona Steil-Antoni has been performing hundreds of points above her rating

The always energetic Alexander Ipatov here black against Sergey Fedrochuk

MVL and Dmitry Jakovenko are boards two and three for Clichy

Bacrot won a very important game against Jakovenko, giving Bichswiller the win

Nino Maisuradze is playing for Bischwiller, while her husband (Alexander Fier) plays for Montepellier

Standings After Round Seven

Pl. Team Pts
1 Bischwiller 21
2 Clichy 19
3 Bois-Colombes 18
4 Chalons-En-Champagne 16
5 Strasbourg 16
6 Evry Grand Roque 15
7 Mulhouse Philidor 15
8 Vandoeuvre 12
9 Montpellier 11
10 Grasse 9
11 Metz Fischer 9
12 Poitiers-Migne 7

Replay Games

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games

Photos from the official website

Schedule

Round One
Vandoeuvre 3 - 1 Grasse
Bischwiller 6 - 1 Metz Fischer
Chalons-En-Champagne 4 - 3 Montpellier
Poitiers-Migne 2 - 4 Strasbourg
Clichy 3 - 0 Bois-Colombes
Evry Grand Roque 4 - 2 Mulhouse Philidor
Round Two
Grasse 0 - 4 Mulhouse Philidor
Bois-Colombes 5 - 0 Evry Grand Roque
Strasbourg 2 - 3 Clichy
Montpellier 3 - 2 Poitiers-Migne
Metz Fischer 1 - 2 Chalons-En-Champagne
Vandoeuvre 2 - 4 Bischwiller
Round Three
Bischwiller 4 - 1 Grasse
Chalons-En-Champagne 2 - 2 Vandoeuvre
Poitiers-Migne 1 - 3 Metz Fischer
Clichy 5 - 0 Montpellier
Evry Grand Roque 1 - 2 Strasbourg
Mulhouse Philidor 3 - 3 Bois-Colombes
Round Four
Grasse 0 - 4 Bois-Colombes
Strasbourg 1 - 1 Mulhouse Philidor
Montpellier 2 - 3 Evry Grand Roque
Metz Fischer 0 - 5 Clichy
Vandoeuvre 4 - 0 Poitiers-Migne
Bischwiller 3 - 2 Chalons-En-Champagne
Round Five
Chalons-En-Champagne 2 - 0 Grasse
Poitiers-Migne 0 - 6 Bischwiller
Clichy 4 - 1 Vandoeuvre
Evry Grand Roque 2 - 1 Metz Fischer
Mulhouse Philidor 2 - 3 Montpellier
Bois-Colombes 3 - 1 Strasbourg
Round Six
Grasse 0 - 1 Strasbourg
Montpellier 1 - 4 Bois-Colombes
Metz Fischer 2 - 3 Mulhouse Philidor
Vandoeuvre 2 - 3 Evry Grand Roque
Bischwiller 2 - 1 Clichy
Chalons-En-Champagne 5 - 1 Poitiers-Migne
Round Seven
Poitiers-Migne 0 - 4 Grasse
Clichy 3 - 2 Chalons-En-Champagne
Evry Grand Roque 0 - 5 Bischwiller
Mulhouse Philidor 3 - 0 Vandoeuvre
Bois-Colombes 3 - 1 Metz Fischer
Strasbourg 2 - 1 Montpellier
Round Eight
Grasse   -   Montpellier
Metz Fischer   -   Strasbourg
Vandoeuvre   -   Bois-Colombes
Bischwiller   -   Mulhouse Philidor
Chalons-En-Champagne   -   Evry Grand Roque
Poitiers-Migne   -   Clichy
Round Nine
Clichy   -   Grasse
Evry Grand Roque   -   Poitiers-Migne
Mulhouse Philidor   -   Chalons-En-Champagne
Bois-Colombes   -   Bischwiller
Strasbourg   -   Vandoeuvre
Montpellier   -   Metz Fischer
Round Ten
Grasse   -   Metz Fischer
Vandoeuvre   -   Montpellier
Bischwiller   -   Strasbourg
Chalons-En-Champagne   -   Bois-Colombes
Poitiers-Migne   -   Mulhouse Philidor
Clichy   -   Evry Grand Roque
Round Eleven
Evry Grand Roque   -   Grasse
Mulhouse Philidor   -   Clichy
Bois-Colombes   -   Poitiers-Migne
Strasbourg   -   Chalons-En-Champagne
Montpellier   -   Bischwiller
Metz Fischer   -   Vandoeuvre

Links

The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. 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.


Topics France, League

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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KevinC KevinC 6/8/2015 02:15
@Pionki, Actually, I know that, but I am not sure it matters. She might just fly in for the fun of it.
Pionki Pionki 6/7/2015 09:46
KevinC - Zhukova is not playing here. No such danger.
Rational Rational 6/7/2015 09:34
I don't know how anyone can agree to play Feller. are players allowed to refuse to face him?
HarryHaller HarryHaller 6/7/2015 09:18
Shame on Evry for employing Feller!
VincentB VincentB 6/7/2015 09:14
Please write "Montpellier" and not "Montepellier" :-)
KevinC KevinC 6/6/2015 11:12
"Duda has a 2874 performance (!) with a brilliant 6.5/7, only drawing his first game", and "Fiona Steil-Antoni has been performing hundreds of points above her rating".

Isn't this where Zhukova shows up with a letter and anal probe?
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