Light-weight wins Wine Open

by Evi Zickelbein
8/5/2018 – The fourth edition of the Wine Open took place in Hourtin, near Bordeaux. The traditional prices in this unique event are bottle of wines delivered according to the winners' weight. 15-year-old Antoine Bournel took first place and took home 51 bottles after the weigh-in was made. | Photos: Eva Maria Zickelbein, Jean-Luc Feit, Paula Nenciu Lazar

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The fourth Wine Open in Hourtin

When July came, we knew it was time to go to the beautiful French region of Aquitaine, as the fourth edition of the Wine Open was about to begin! The tournament took place during 20 years — up until 2014 — at Naujac-sur-Mer, where Rike and Jules Armas organized a great chess camp. Then, the tournament moved to the small port of Hourtin, near France's (supposedly) largest lake, in the immediate vicinity of campsites, apartments and beach houses. The participants get special rates at the very nice Western Village campsite!

Hourtin-Plage beach is 8 km away, while Gironde, with its many wineries and picturesque castles, is also just a short drive away. A trip to Bordeaux is of course also recommended, and you can also visit Arcachon, where Europe's largest dune, the Dune du Pilat, is located.

Refreshment at the Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux

sand dune

The Dune du Pilat is 108 meters high and moves up to five meters east each year

road to beach

Finally, the sea!

During the beginning of summer, there is not much going on and you have the beach almost to yourself!

After a small remission last year, the tournament had over 60 participants once again. It was especially nice that many international guests showed up: a whole group of Belgians arrived in good spirits, as did the Spaniards — despite their loss against Russia in the World Cup — and a large group of Romanians.

At the top of the rating list the tournament had very strong players, such as grandmaster Paul Velten, international masters Antoine Favarel and Vincent Colin, and a large number of FIDE masters.

Paul Velten and Antoine Favarel travelled with a group of young players from Champagne. They train youngsters at Échiquier Châlonnais and do a very good job at coaching promising talents. Nevertheless, the tournament result for a particular youngster was not to be expected: 15-year-old Antoine Bournel was trained during four and a half years by Antoine Favarel and, before the tournament, had a 2066 Elo rating. He managed to incredibly gather seven points in nine rounds! He drew in hard-fought games against his coaches Velten and Favarel, drew against two FIDE masters — Ollier and Robin — and defeated the rest of his opponents, including IM Vincent Colin. As three players reached seven points in the end, the tiebreak criteria decided the tournament winner, and Antoine Bournel prevailed by a nose, with a half-point advantage! Congratulations on this great success and the gigantic rating gain!

Samy Robin could not beat young Antoin Bournel
 Last round: Samy Robin could not beat young Antoin Bournel with White

Before going to the scales, the organizers were not afraid at all: Antoine is quite tall, but also very slim, so this was more likely to be a lowest-weight-ever record situation.

Antoine Bournel

Antoine Bournel on the scales and looking into the audience: "Yes, I know, I do not weigh much..."

Jules Armas

Jules Armas had to recount... Are there really only 51 bottles? Yes, it is correct!

As expected, Antoine became the player who took the least amount of bottles ever from the Wine Open. Another curious fact that was probably appreciated by the hosts Rike and Jules Armas was that the players that finished second to sixth also did not need too many bottles to balance the scales:

  • GM Paul Velten - 51 bottles
  • Samy Robin - 49 bottles
  • IM Antoine Favarel - 64 bottles
  • IM Vincent Colin - 60 bottles
  • Jeremie Devalllée - 54 bottles

Let us hope that one or two of the bottles that survived the weigh-in remain intact for next year. And a tip to heavier players: come back to Aquitaine next year!

The winner of the tournament commented his game from the eighth round. At that time, he was tied with two other players half a point behind the leader, Antoine Favarel. If he wanted to keep a chance of winning the event, he needed to win this game with White necessarily.

Bournel-Hristodorescu commentated by Antoine Bournel:


The consolation prize for the rest was a Magnum bottle of Médoc. This year, we must thank the Châteaux that supported the tournament with donations, the organizers Rike and Jules Armas, the referee Jean-Luc Feit and the many volunteers who made the event possible.
We should mention FM Dan Mitaru, who after 20 years of retirement from chess became the best senior — he knows Jules Armas from playing youth tournaments in Romania. He now trains kids in his homeland!

Escape Game: In addition to their chess activities, Rike and Jules Armas have been creating their own room escape game since last year, with great attention to detail ( Of course, it has some chess in it, but you can escape without mastering the rules of chess. We created a small group with people from Spain, Romania and Germany and tried it one evening.
The game is in English and French, so we had to translate not only to communicate with each other but also to read the instructions. We managed. That is all we can reveal, as maybe some readers will go and participate themselves. Next year there will be a second room — the theme: pirates!
As a farewell, we had some oysters and wine at the market in Montalivet. À l'année prochaine!

Translation from German: Antonio Pereira

Eva Maria Zickelbein has been playing chess for many years and, as a daughter of Christan Zickelbein, has been firmly attached to the Hamburg chess club, where she plays for the Women's Bundesliga.


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