Bischwiller Leads Top 12 With 2 Rounds To Go

Bischwiller Leads Top 12 With 2 Rounds To Go

| 8 | Chess Event Coverage

After beating Clichy in round 6, Bischwiller has maintained its lead in the “Top 12.” With two rounds to go, the team led by GM Anish Giri is close wo winning the French Team Championship

This report starts with the 6th round, when the two top favorites Clichy (So, Vachier-Lagrave, Jakovenko, Fressinet, etc.) and Bischwiller (Giri, Naiditsch, Bacrot, Ragger, etc.) were topping the standings with 15 match points. These teams faced for a crucial match-up on Thursday.

Clichy, the winners of the last three seasons, were the favorite with an average rating of 2654 against 2600 for Bischwiller. However, the reigning champions stumbled on two boards, and a victory on the “ladies board” wasn't enough:

Bischwiller 2600 2-1 Clichy-Echecs-92 2654
GIRI Anish 2776 1-0 FRESSINET Laurent 2712
EDOUARD Romain 2627 0.5-0.5 SO Wesley 2778
RAGGER Markus 2668 0.5-0.5 VACHIER-LAGRAVE Maxime 2754
BACROT Etienne 2704 1-0 JAKOVENKO Dmitry 2738
NAIDITSCH Arkadij 2720 0.5-0.5 HAMDOUCHI Hicham 2608
MARCELIN Cyril 2476 0.5-0.5 TREGUBOV Pavel V. 2571
LE ROUX Jean-Pierre 2546 0.5-0.5 VAN WELY Loek 2653
MAISURADZE Nino 2279 0-1 SKRIPCHENKO Almira 2421

Both teams did not put their players completely in order of rating. Clichy's board one was occupied by GM Laurent Fressinet, who was outplayed by GM Anish Giri:

A friendly chat between Anish Giri and Loek van Wely, playing in opposing teams. | Photo courtesy of the French Chess Federation.

GM Wesley So failed to compensate for this; he was always better and won a pawn against GM Romain Edouard but the French player made no mistake and the rook ending was drawn.

On board three GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was reminded of one of the downsides of the Grünfeld: if White wants a draw, he can take it in e.g. the 8.Rb1 variation. That's what GM Markus Ragger did.

A theoretical draw in a Grünfeld. | Photo courtesy of the French Chess Federation.

A key game was GM Dmitry Jakovenko versus GM Etienne Bacrot. The latter had started badly in Grau du Roi with three draws againt lower-rated players and a loss against GM Michal Krasenkow.

But Bacrot peaked at the right moment as he won an excellent game with the black pieces:

Etienne Bacrot scored a very important point. | Photo Teiki Arii, courtesy of the French Chess Federation.

Also on board 4 Clichy's higher rated white player failed to win his game; GM Arkadij Naiditsch's extra (doubled) pawn wasn't worth much against GM Hicham Hamdouchi.

Tregubov vs Marcelin was quiet, correct and rather boring draw; Le Roux-Van Wely (a Benoni) was more fun but also there the point was split. Bischwiller could have scored a clean win if Maisuradze hadn't blundered:

One error and Maisuradze was lost. | Photo courtesy of the French Chess Federation.

In the next three rounds both Clichy and Bischwiller won their matches. In round 7 GM Loek van Wely scored an important win for the reigning champs against Chalons-En-Champagne's GM Michal Krasenkow:

Bischwiller crushed Evry Grand Roque, with another powerful win for Bacrot:

On Saturday Clichy continued strongly with a 8-0 sweep Poitiers-Migne, where the Elo difference was 200 ratings points or more on all boards (OK, slightly less on the ladies board).

Here's KingLoek one more time, because his game was arguably the most entertaining:

Van Wely, just before sacrificing the bishop. | Photo courtesy of the French Chess Federation.

However, Bischwiller won their eighth match in a row: a close battle with Mulhouse Philidor ended in 3-2. Bacrot won his third game in a row and GM Jean-Pierre le Roux also scored a full point.

Basically GM Arkadij Naiditsch is Bischwiller only weak spot; he's on minus two after his third loss against the legendary GM Andrey Sokolov. The German number one played for a win too long:

Andrey Sokolov can still be very dangerous. | Photo Teiki Arii, courtesy of the French Chess Federation.

The top scorer so far is Bois-Colombes' GM Jan Krzysztof Duda with an undefeated 7.5/9, good for a 2801 performance. It must be noted that, after drawing as black in the first round, the Polish GM was given the white pieces eight games in a row!

Duda won six straight, before he was held to a draw by Solodovnichenko (and then also Naiditsch). Here's his game from round 6:

Duda in his game vs Flear. | Photo courtesy of the French Chess Federation.

2015 French League (Top 12) | Round 9 Standings

# Club Pts j. d. p. c.
1 Bischwiller 27 9 27 36 9
2 Clichy 25 9 29 37 8
3 Bois-Colombes 22 9 14 27 13
4 Strasbourg 21 9 4 17 13
5 Evry Grand Roque 21 9 1 22 21
6 Mulhouse Philidor 19 9 7 23 16
7 Chalons-En-Champagne 18 9 2 22 20
8 Montpellier 17 9 -7 19 26
9 Vandoeuvre 14 9 -9 15 24
10 Metz Fischer 12 9 -14 12 26
11 Grasse 11 9 -17 9 26
12 Poitiers-Migne 9 9 -37 6 43

The Top 12 is the highest national division in France. It is a round robin event that runs for 11 days, and the winning club is crowned Club Champion of France. The teams consist of eight players, although it is allowed to bring more. One of the eight boards needs to be occupied by a female player. The 2015 edition is held at the yacht club Port Camargue Grau du Roi, from Saturday, May 30 till Tuesday, June 9.

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