What it takes to be an Olympian

by Diana Mihajlova
7/29/2014 – Sometime in April WGM Nino Maisuradze, the reigning French woman champion, learnt that she had not been selected for the French Women's Olympic team. In a state of disbelief she vented her frustration publicly, not expecting the barrage of comments and criticism it provoked. Diana Mihajlova, who knows Nino as a kind, intelligent and dedicated chess player, describes the situation.

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What it takes to be an Olympian

By Diana Mihajlova

While the forthcoming Olympiad has been battered with colorful controversies, another incident, of a different type, has broken a debate on the social networks – a national champion has been overlooked by the selector in the composition of the national team. It may be about an individual case but it is also of a larger general interest that opens up questions about a professional and moral scrutiny.

WGM Nino Maisuradze, the reigning French woman champion, sometime in April learnt that she had not been selected as a member of the French Women's Olympic team. As the Olympiad is looming, still in a state of disbelief, she vented her frustration publicly, not expecting that it might provoke a barrage of comments. Her indignation is further strengthened by the fact that since becoming a French citizen in 2009, she has been regularly a member of the French national women’s team due to her achievements, even though she was not an actual champion.

A Georgian by birth, Nino has been living in France since 2003 and has been playing under the French flag for the last six years. While a resident of France, but still playing for Georgia, she already marked her impressive play by winning first place (women) at the 2008 Paris Championship (leaving behind Aleaxandra Kosteniuk). Soon after starting playing under the French flag, as a new member of the French women national team, at the 2010 Mitropa Cup, she won a gold medal for best result on the first board. The same year she was part of the Olympic team at Khanty-Mansiysk. The following 2011, she became the French woman vice-champion. The same year, at the European team championship in Greece, the French team finished fifth (beating Ukraine in last round). Their best result was the last Olympiad, in Istanbul 2012, where the French team reached 7th place. Last year, she played for the French team at the European Team Championship in Poland. Also, 2013 saw her as a woman champion of France. However, since becoming a champion, as if by curse, she is no longer part of the national team.

Nino (middle) with chess friends from her fatherland, the Georgians IM Lela
Javakhishvili (left) and GM Bela Khotenashvili, at the Gibraltar Open, 2014

Nino earned the title of a woman grandmaster in 2009 and is currently at 2317 rating points. She is ranked fifth among the active women chess players in France, after Marie Sebag, Almira Scripchenko, Sophie Milliet and Pauline Guichard. One would think that on the basis of this, Maisuradze would have been part of the national team, considering that the Olympic women teams are composed of five members. On the top of it she is also a reigning woman champion.

However, the French selector for this year’s Olympiad, GM Matthieu Cornette chose to exclude the French woman champion, from the national women team. The reason he gave Nino about why she is not selected is:"‘because the others play better than you." However, she has met on the board, on various occasions with all selected team members beyond GM Sebag, and the results show otherwise.

Pointing to the fact that Nino clinched the Champion title by a "mere" victory in the final tie-breaks of blitz games against, coincidentally, the fifth selected competitor, is a petty argument. The tie-break sessions of rapid and blitz games are a legitimate "make or break" point, which can decide even the World Champion in any sport.

The French Women Team at the 2012 Olympiad in Istanbul, with their captain GM Matthieu
Cornette: from left: Bollengier, Collas, Maisuradze, Cornette, Skripchenko, Milliet

Another consideration that has been floating in the air is that Nino experienced a drop in the rating sometime around the time of the selection. But, this is also a poor consideration on the basis of which to strike off a legitimate champion. The fluctuation in the rating is a natural occurrence in the life of a professional sport person. In spite of everything, at any one time, she was and she is higher rated than at least two of the selected competitors. That it was just a temporary ‘slip up’, has been confirmed by the fact that, in the meantime, she has re-bounced and has strengthened her performances, notably at the recent French team Championship, the French Highest League TOP-12, where in a strong competition she was the player with best score: 8,5/10, a 2514 performance and achieved her second IM norm.

Nino at the Top-12 French Team Championship in St Quentin, May 2014

It is understood that the selector has a free hand in making the selection according to his conviction, for the best of the nation and its teams, and in the best sporting spirit. However, it is odd that the reigning champion should suffer the axe, unless she has shown a particular drop in results or a slack sporting attitude, none of which is the case of Nino.

One can easily detect that she is obviously shaken by what she considers an injustice, when she says: "I’m not a pretentious chess player. I know that a lot of people are better than me. But I also know that a lot of people aren’t better than me."

Not pretentious: Nino at Le Cap d'Agde 2013, during the rapid
closed tournament ‘Karpov Trophy’

As Facebook becomes more and more a part of our lives I need to mention that it was there that this debate first caught my attention. Among the many pro and contra arguments provoked by this incident, on the theme "Does the national champion have an automatic right to represent the nation at the Olympiad?" I read with dismay that Nino has to take a further insult: she suffers the accusation from some corners because she has dared to announce the simple fact that this year, even though a national champion, she has not been selected for the Olympic team. Further, moral grounds are being waited upon her – she should have kept silent, because disclosing the fact may demoralise the selected players?! Ah, well, how much a snubbed champion has still to bear?

In a subsequent personal correspondence, Nino laments her predicament: "Just before the Olympiad my rating is 2317. The selector’s fourth choice is a 2284 rated, fifth choice is rated 2303. I’m better rated, I am still the current national champion, I am better titled than the fourth board, and I feel really silly sitting at home, having no right to play."

I met Nino at the 1st Open in El-Haouaria in Tunisia, two years ago and have enjoyed a company of a kind, intelligent and dedicated chess player. Her ambition appears subdued and modest but she is serious about her chess profession and has shown remarkable results.

WGM Adina Hamdouchi, Diana Mihajlova and Nino Maisuradze at the First El-Haouaria Open, Tunisia 2012

It is a common occurrence that chess federations stage national championships and urge their members to participate, even imposing penalties for the ones that choose not to, as a way of making easier and more transparent the composition of the national team. Often these championships are a measure of clearing out the uncertainties about players that are close to strength and rating and their results are taken as decisive for the selection of a national team.

It has been a common sense that the winner of a national championship would have earned automatically a place in the national team. Or, maybe not?

The French national champion, Nino Maisuradze, is presented to French
President, François Hollande on his recent visit to Tbilisi, Georgia

To exclude the national champion is to take a liberty too far: it is to challenge the ‘sacredness’ of the meaning and the role of a "champion". Since antiquity, and the creation of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, the champion was a revered figure representing a nation at international competitions.

Should the national champion be part of a national team "by its very essence?" The answer would not be a straight "yes", as exceptional incidents and circumstances may warrant otherwise. However, in the neat, small community of women’s chess, where all basic criteria and results are readily visible, and where, apart from the title, the reigning champion is fulfilling the majority of the other prerequisites, the case of WGM Nino Maisuradze’s removal from the Olympic national team should raise eyebrows.

Nino and her husband, Brazilian GM Alexander Fier

The French woman team for the 2014 Olympiad is composed of GM Marie Sebag (2480), IM Sophie Milliet (2406), WGM Pauline Guichard (2375), IM Silvia Collas (2302) and WIM Mathilde Congiu. Naturally, no one is shedding doubt on the worthiness of the actual selectees. However, Nino has been made to swallow a bitter pill, for no apparent reasons. None the less, she humbly says: "I still wish our teams good luck." And so do we, but the debate persists open: is not the reigning national champion deign to be part of the national team?


Addendum: We showed a preview of this article to friends in France and got the following reaction:

So ChessBase is publishing an article to defend Nino? Amazing! Well it's Nino's choice to make a fuss about a Championship she won twelve months ago. She played in the French team inbetween, and had 40 rating points less than everyone at the moment of the selection. The ratings fluctuate every month. At the moment of her selection she was at 2255. How could the selector guess she'd make +70 rating points immediately after the team was announced? I think that the French Captain was looking more at the results for the period from January till May. Anyway this will make big noise in France! Developments will be interesting.

We would be interested to know your opinion in the discussion section below...

A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.


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Mevel Mevel 8/6/2014 01:40

When raiting of Maisuradze improved after selection, you said “how could selector have it known before?”

When rating of Congiu improved one week ago, you said “selector has known it before” ….

Find a mistake of logic by yourself.
JeanBon JeanBon 8/1/2014 07:07
So you blame the selector for guessing that Mathilde's rating would increase and Nino's would decrease? Shame on him!
Mevel Mevel 8/1/2014 03:55
The selector which made the decision in April, he had not based his decision on august rating.
The exact circumstances of the month of April, when the selection took place, are illustrated above.

Talking like that, Maisuradze had 35 elo points more than Congiu on previous month, and 100 points more 12 months ago.
Jason Rihel Jason Rihel 8/1/2014 09:04
One of the reasons this is an interesting article is because it highlights the spotty selection processes across chess federations, even up to the highest levels. "Wild card" places might as well be called "corruption card" spots, or "favoritism cards". In the US, the Championship selection rules get rewritten, often at the last minute, or, when the sponsors and federation prefer another selection, ignored. Don't want a player to qualify, then impose some arbitrary rule late in the selection process. When that rule accidently excludes your friends, change the rule back. Even better, set aside a certain number of "wild card" spots and then make the "wild" choice of your favorite player.

Every Federation should make selection of the Olympiad and other top events based strictly on a set of rules that everyone knows. People could argue about the specific rules, but there would be no room for controversy over arbitrary exclusions if only the French Olympiad selection was announced a year ago to be based on ratings in X month's list.

But, let's face it, Svidler being Wild Carded into the Candidate's Tournament was one of the more shameful recent decisions, at the very highest level.
JoachimJo JoachimJo 8/1/2014 08:40
1 Sebag, Marie g FRA 2480 0 1986
2 Skripchenko, Almira m FRA 2438 11 1976
3 Milliet, Sophie m FRA 2385 13 1983
4 Guichard, Pauline wg FRA 2375 0 1988
5 Congiu, Mathilde wm FRA 2318 10 1989
6 Collas, Silvia m FRA 2316 11 1974
7 Maisuradze, Nino wg FRA 2291 9 1982

(Almira who is more or less retired from chess refused to play)
Mevel Mevel 8/1/2014 07:12
Here are some supplementary facts :

1) Nino Maisuradze was all her life better rated than 5th board Mathilde Congiu.

At the moment of the selection in April, Maisuradze was better rated comparing their last 3-month average ratings (or last 4 month, 5, 6, 7 months, or 1 year… )

2) Maisuradze was better titled (and is). She is a WGM with 2 IM norms, while Congiu hasn’t fulfilled her WGM norms yet at age of 25.

3) Maisuradze is beating Congiu in personal matches. Since the acquisition of french nationality in 2009, score is 5 - 2 in classical and 8 - 3 considering official rapid games too.

4) Plus to that, she was (and she still is) the reigning national female champion.
3 members of the team were participating in the championship where she won her title.

We know that the point of the article isn’t that. This isn’t an answer to the article. This is an answer to some unfair comments above, toward Maisuradze.

We also think that National Champion (will be it Maisuradze, Congiu or somebody else) deserves to be part of national team.
Ber Costanzo Ber Costanzo 7/31/2014 10:12
I agree with vdpandit with the idea that the national champion has to represent the country. I mean, after all, she has it well deserved because she won the competition, it doesn't matter the way she made it.
I want to share a personal situation that my school teammates and I had to live in July 2013. I'm from Argentina and we participated in a provincial championship in April 2013. We weren't the favourites because we weren't known by the organizers, but nevertheless we won the tournament despite not being the favourites, not because our quality of play because we simply steamrolled the competition [me myself scored 5,5/7 on the first board (4+ 3=), the second board 6.5/7 (6+ 1=) and the third 5/7 (5+ 2-)], and we were "offended" because people said that it was strange see a woman playing on the second board and winning against almost everyone. OK, we were the provincial champions, but what we didn't knew was that the top 3 will made it to the national instance. We weren't advised by the organizers but by the players who were playing the tournament with the hope to achieve their pass to the national instance. We started to investigate with our school's headmaster and we discovered that the organizers did what they wanted and gave our place to a school that didn't made it to the top 10 in the provincial instance and, incredibly, to a school that didn't played the tournament despite the only manner to qualify to the national instance was finishing in the top 4 in the provincial instance. Me myself talked with players from other provinces and all of them told me that they qualified for the national winning their respectives provincial instances.
Finally we had a discussion with the responsible of our province that lasted a month and we achieved our right to play in the national instance and made it to the third place :) . Curiously, we received the trophy from the hands of the same man who was impeding us to participate on the national instance, and we weren't even greeted.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/BernardoCostanzo06/posts/201172030042633

Because of this, I think that I have a personal view in this case, and that's why I support Maisuradze on her claim. It's simple logic. Winning a national/international competition automatically gives you the chance to play the next one. I'll show some simple examples:
-The young players who win their respective national championships, acording to his/her category (U8-10-12, etc.) automatically qualifies to zonal, continental and world instances.
-The European Chess Championship qualifies the 23 top players to the World Cup, despite they aren't the 23 top seeds. As I know, al the other continets qualifies their players for the World Cup on the same manner.
-The winner of the World Cup qualifies to the Candidates Tournament.
-The winner of the Candidates Torunament, qualifies for the World Chess Championship Title.
-Almost every country gives the national champion the right to be part of the Olympic team. Search another case apart of France what didn't make it.

I mean, what would be the "benefit" of be the national champion if the players for the international competitions are selected only taking rating and not individual performances.
Bertman Bertman 7/31/2014 06:42
It is a thorny issue. It is impossible to know what all the federations do, but I can say that the Armenian federation chose their fifth player, rated only 2500, because he was the National champion, in spite of at least a dozen players rated much much higher (as much as 150 Elo more).

Take Fischer: he played in all those US Championships, not out of some inordinate sense of a patriotism, but because the title event was also the Zonal to qualify for the World Championship cycle. In other words, the US Championship was conidered so important that is was the best way to determine who most deserved to play in the world championship.

On the flip side, there is the curious devaluation the country makes of its own title. It is saying that becoming the national champion has no special merit. From a marketing point of view it is also a mistake, since because many federations have financial issues (most actually), many top players refuse to play in it, but if you were to say the prize was a seat in the team, I think the interest would increase even among the jaded professionals.
diana mihajlova diana mihajlova 7/31/2014 04:56

Jo, I do not know what would have happened had Mathilde beaten Nino in the French Championship.
I do not know how would have Mathilde reacted and what would she have found totally normal.
By the way, how do you know?

Would I have written an article for Chess Base? Maybe.

My point is the following: I personally believe that the national champion should enjoy certain privileges. Being part of the national team would be the most obvious one. Contrary, staging a National Championship becomes redundant.

My other personal belief is that even with the interim negative fluctuation in Nino’s rating, it was not serious to such an extent so as not to deserve a place on the national team, obliterating totally her title of a Champion.

Taking you for fools?? Is not that a bit too strong and unwarranted?

As I have said, I wrote the article guided by my personal belief. The rest is open to a debate and, hopefully, to a due consideration by the relevant parties.
JoachimJo JoachimJo 7/31/2014 03:45
Come on Diania, stop taking us for fools.
Had Mathilde Congiu beaten Nino in the tie break of the French championship but then had a poor season and Nino a great one, Nino would have been selected.
And she would have found this totally normal. Do you really think she would have refused the selection to let the champion play ?
Would you have written an article on chessbase to say that Nino doesn't deserve her selection but the champion does ?
You and Nino claim the champion must be selected only because she is the champion.
diana mihajlova diana mihajlova 7/31/2014 02:14
@ Dhiraj

There are various ways of tackling a subject. Yes, it could have been ‘an essay’, but it is an endless speculation of what ‘it could have been’, isn’t it? I chose to open a door, however slightly, into a ‘grey’ area by describing one individual incident. The article IS ‘a biographical piece’ on Nino, with a special emphasis on her non-selection on the Olympic team.

There has not been ‘an original article by Nino’, which you have not seen.
The Chess Base article was made as a result of a statement that Nino wrote on her Facebook: ‘Two weeks before the Olympiad ...This year I am not playing for France because I am not selected for the national team. France, a strange country, which does not let its Champion to represent it. It is ever more ludicrous, because the year that I am a Champion is the only year when I am not on the team. According to the selector, everybody plays better than I. However, I wish good luck to our teams!’

This innocuous statement, or ‘status’ in the Facebook's jargon, flared up a large exchange of comments, including Nino’s own, who, provoked, tried to speak in her defense. Surprisingly, she was chastised for the simple revealing of the truth.

Reading through these comments and the information they provided, I felt that the subject warranted to be given a form of an article and a public exposure.

‘Nino not being selected’ may not be ‘a significant news’, but ‘What It Takes to Be an Olympian’, is, as a way of addressing a problem which has been recurrent throughout the chess world.

The word ‘news’ encompasses a large range of information. Chess Base tends to be the most informative news page in the chess community airing various subjects, even if some appear somewhat controversial, for as long as they are relevant and contribute to inciting a fruitful debate.

As you imply yourself, the pot was already stirred up. By giving it a media exposure, the intention was to create awareness, which, hopefully, would help effect a positive change in the future.

The article starts (the title) and ends with a question, which is the core of the argument. None of us meant any offence to anyone involved.

vdpandit vdpandit 7/31/2014 10:20
A national champion by default must be a member of the Olympiad team irrespective of his/her elo rating. Otherwise what is the sanctity of holding national championship? If a nation does not respect her own champion, then who will? One seat of the Olympiad team must be reserved for the reigning National Champion. Other members of the team may then be selected on the basis of their elo ratings.
Dhiraj Dhiraj 7/31/2014 05:09
I appreciate what you're trying to do Diana. I don't necessarily think that Nino has been villiafied. People will leave negative feedback about the topic in question, but that doesn't mean that they personally hold a low opinion of Nino. I don't even mind that she has voiced her opinions publicly, after all she is perfectly in her rights to exercise freedom of expression. However, I'm simply not sure why ChessBase has chosen to publish this article. I confess that I didn't even see or hear about the original article by Nino, and I'm sure there are many others, who had no need to be swayed away from a negative view. Chessbase does quite frequently post opinion pieces, but they are almost always in relation to some significant news article previously published on ChessBase. I don't see Nino not being selected as significant news, and I don't see this article by yourself as adding any interesting news or information to the topic. Maybe if you'd written an objective an informative essay on the precedent of automatically selecting National Champions for the Olympiad. Or maybe if you'd just done a nice, biographical piece on Nino, that would be great. As it is, it just seems to me like this article is stirring the pot further.
JeanBon JeanBon 7/30/2014 08:23
To completely understand this matter, you need to know that Nino has recently very influenced by the behaviour of some players of the France national football team, as you can see here :

genem genem 7/30/2014 06:50
"Odd" case? Maybe. But not the oddest (see Mig's article).
Whatever else these cases have accomplished, they have devalued the luster they want their national titles to enjoy.
. . . . .
The Anna Hahn Memorial Tournament
By Mig Greengard on April 21, 2004 16:59
. . . . .
Don't worry, she's still alive, but it's hard to imagine more being done to bury a player than what the US chess scene has seen this year regarding Hahn.

In January, 2003 she committed the terrible crime of winning the US Women's Championship. She didn't break any rules or legs and won fair and square. She finished the regular tournament tied with past winners Irina Krush and Jennifer Shahade and then beat them both in a rapid-chess playoff to take the title and the $12,500 first prize put up by Erik Anderson and his fabulous America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C).

As I documented in my report from Seattle, the three finalists played very different tournaments. That's the nature of the event, a Swiss in which the women are mixed in with the men. The top women finish in the middle of the pack and the middle of a Swiss system is incredibly random. But Hahn shouldn't be blamed for winning just because she is rated lower than Krush and Shahade.

The problems started when a US women's Olympiad training squad was formed a few months later and Hahn wasn't on it. As the 2003 US Champion she was automatically seeded onto the team for the 2004 Olympiad in Spain, but the organizers of the team believed, and still believe, Hahn is too weak to play on the team. (Susan Polgar and her business partner Paul Truong are behind the training squad and have done a huge amount of work on it.)
Last month this all exploded when the Niro-Polgar agreement became public. Polgar insisted that it be honored or she'd sue the USCF.
Trying to find a loophole, the USCF declared that it was the reigning champion who was seeded onto the team, so they would run a hasty "championship" in New York in order to eliminate Hahn asap.
But there is already a 2004 championship scheduled...
That money is being put into this event is tragic considering the bankrupt state of the USCF.
Hahn is now left is an unfortunate position. She is being asked to play for something she already has, a spot on the 2004 women's Olympiad team.
There's more, believe it or not. New rules about inactivity are being pressed into service to exclude a few other unfavored players,...
For an opposing view, see:
diana mihajlova diana mihajlova 7/30/2014 06:36
It would be wrong and misguided to criticize Nino for 'making a public outcry', because she is not. The initiative and decision to write the article were entirely mine as are the selection of photos and their captions.

I do not consider the 'tone' of this article to be inappropriate. The article in itself is simply a profile of a worthy chess person at the time when she suffered a personal blow of not being selected in the Olympic team, contrary to her personal expectations. I was guided by human feelings caused by the simple knowledge that opposite the exaltation of the selected members for such a prestigious event where highest personal and professional ambitions are given a chance, there is the pain of a non-selected person who believes that her rightful place was taken away.

By describing the event, I touch to the 'grey' area which is the responsibilities and freedom of a selector, criteria for selection, timing of the selection, prevalence of the ratings at the time, a due recognition or a disregard towards the reigning national champion, etc.

I have a personal regard towards all concerned - the selector whose task is not an easy one and it is governed by heavy moral and professional duties and dilemmas; for the selectees who potentially ‘slipped’ through thanks to an opportune moment and the weight that the given chance bears on them; and for the potentially 'snubbed' member who feels that an injustice took place.

My belief was that an individual case like this one may lead to considerations of a more common interest. Mainly, that maybe there is a need to establish criteria that could help to avoid undue freedoms of a selector and unwarranted expectations of a non-selected member; where an accepted rule regarding the place of the reigning champion, an obligatory participation in the national championship, a precedence of the rating etc, could offer clearer measures upon which to build up a national team. On that basis, I felt that the Chess Base news page is not an inappropriate place to voice a case, which, undoubtedly, is not isolated.

On a more private note, I understand that members of the French Chess Federation were equally surprised at the non-inclusion of the reigning champion, which adds a question mark about their unclear relations and the unrestrained freedom of the selector.

Similar instances have occurred in the chess history, including even some of the grand names, causing heated discussions. That is exactly what our article does today. It opens up questions and invites a debate. That is its only scope and intention.
Jason Rihel Jason Rihel 7/30/2014 03:03
One wonders if the fact she isn't native French played a role.... I'm surprised no one has suggested that yet.
flachspieler flachspieler 7/30/2014 12:55
I think, Madam has not improved her chances
to be nominated next time.

Good luck for the French team!
JoachimJo JoachimJo 7/30/2014 10:15
Here are some facts :
At the time of the selection, Nino was rated below the 5 selected players.
On August the 1st, Nino will still be rated below the 5 selected players.
The French male champion Hicham Hamdouchi is also not taking part at the Olympiads but, as a classy and respectful person, he did not publicly complain about it.
When being told this, Nino replied on facebook " yes but the numbers 1, 2 and 3 " did not take part at the male championship.
At the women championship that Nino won, number 3 was playing but the numbers 1, 2 and 4 were not.
Anyway, there is no such rule as " the current champion have to be selected ".
The aim asked to the captain is to chose the team that will, a priori, have the best results.
Claiming publicly that one should have deserved to be selected means claiming publicly that the captain is incompetent and also that at least one chosen player does not deserve to be part of the team.
The above is undoubtly not the best thing to do when one really wishes the best to the team.

PS : claiming " not pretentious " as a legend of a picture of herself, in an article about herself, is it a sign of humoristic irony or blind vanity ?

Wodzu Wodzu 7/30/2014 09:28
1 Nino MAISURADZE gf 2288 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 8½ 40¾ 2427
2 Mathilde CONGIU mf 2190 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8½ 38½ 2436
3 Sophie MILLIET m 2401 ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 7½ 38¾ 2338
4 Maria LECONTE gf 2246 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 7½ 34½ 2352
5 Silvia COLLAS m 2286 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ 1 7 36¼ 2314
6 Laurie DELORME mf 2183 0 0 1 0 ½ 0 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 5 23½ 2191
7 Anda SAFRANSKA gf 2312 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 0 ½ 1 5 23½ 2180
8 Mathilde CHOISY ff 2150 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 4 16¾ 2129
9 Andreea-Cristiana NAVROTESCU ff 2110 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 4 16½ 2133
10 Emma RICHARD 2108 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 4 14½ 2133
11 Adina-Maria HAMDOUCHI gf 2211 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 3 15¾ 2052
12 Marina MARTSYNOVSKAYA mf 2156 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 2 9¾ 1973
Niima Niima 7/30/2014 09:08
@ Copablanco:

Why are you "astonished by both the tone and the content of the above article"? What is wrong with discussing this matter and scrutinizing it? So what if the team captain has the responsibility for team selection? Does that mean that no one can question the selection? You wish to give someone full power and no questions asked? If the team captain wishes to respond, I am sure that ChessBase will publish the reply.
Copablanco Copablanco 7/30/2014 05:52
I am astonished by both the tone and the content of the above article, and by the fact that Chess News has chosen to publish it.
I will not go into the professional merits of Mrs Maisuradze, which I'm not qualified to judge. The main point is that the French Federation has appointed a team captain, who is amongst other things in charge of the selection of the team - this is the same process than in other Chess Federations around the world, or for that matter for other team events in other sports.
The captain has made a selection, most probably in agreement with his Federation, taking into account a various mix of factors: individual strength of the players, latest performances, team spirit and dynamics, and so forth. At the end of the day, the captain is accountable for his choices, and only the performance of the team can validate them (or not) in hindsight.
Does Chess News intend to award publishing space to every disgruntled professional player for the promotion of their own interests?
Ber Costanzo Ber Costanzo 7/30/2014 03:53
I think the French Chess Federation was really unfair about not selecting WGM Maisuradze for the Olympiads. The 2013 Women's French Chess Championship was won by Maisuradze, it doesn't matter if tiebreaks were required or not.
In my country, Argentina, the Olympic team is conformed by the national champions of 2013-2014 and the three top players in the ELO rankings. For the upcoming Olympiads, there was an only exception because the 2012 championship wasn't organized by the former president Nicolás Barrera. So this time the national times include the 2012, 2013 and 2014 national champions and the top two players in the rankings. If one of the two top ranked players win one champhionship that qualifies him/her for the Olympiads, the place goes to the next top ranked player (this time, WGM Claudia Amura qualified for the Olympiads because she won the 2014 national women's championship altough she was already on the team because of her rating, so the second spot for rating qualification will be occupied by WIM Martinez).
I think that Maisuradze should participate on the upcoming Olympiads. She is, after all, the national women's champion and she deserves respect, she placed first ahead of IMs Milliet and Collas. In the mentioned French Highest League TOP-12 she scored a win against Congiu.
Dhiraj Dhiraj 7/30/2014 02:09
At the time players were probably selected (May), Mathilde Congiu was rated 2279, whereas Nino Maisuradze was rated 2258. Another thing to consider is that Mathilde Congiu is a 'young gun' at 19 years old, with a consistent upward rating trend, and thus could outperform her rating at the Olympiad and gain valuable experience. I'm not saying that Nino isn't a contender, but this doesn't seem like a case of discrimination, and does seem to fit into the category of reasonable selector discretion. All credit to Nino for winning the French Championship, but she and Diana are wrong to assume that the national championship is an automatic pass to the Olympiad. Maybe this will be the case in the future, but there's no evidence of this being the norm currently. If anything is considered 'sacred' in chess, it is the rating system. It should be noted that Nina and Diana are not exactly critisizing selector discretion, because if members were selected purely on rating, she would still not have been selected, since her rating was lower at the time of selection. So she seems to be arguing instead FOR an exception to be made based on the French Championship or based on her rating previous to May. This is all fair enough, but it doesn't seem to warrent a public outcry.
Bill Alg Bill Alg 7/29/2014 09:53
In my country, also, the (men's) champion is not invited in the National Team, not only this year but also in previous years. One reason is that the best grandmasters in the country do not compete in the national championship (because in the last years it has very small prizes for the winners).
I think this is a very important factor, and in your -- very lengthy -- article you failed to mention whether the championship that Nino Maisuradze won was a strong tournament where the strongest players participated or not.