Fabulous Fressinet in First Half French Championship
GM Laurent Fressinet has had a fabulous first half at the French Championship in Nimes. The 32-year-old grandmaster from Dax scored 5.5/6 and with five rounds to go, he is a point and a half ahead of GMs Etienne Bacrot and Matthieu Cornette.
In the women's section, WGM Anda Safranska tops the standings with 5.0/6.
The top group of the French Championship, Le National, is a round robin among the 12 best French players –- only the number one in France (and world number nine) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is missing.
“I first declined to play because of an already tremendous schedule, and then I was invited in St. Louis for the Sinquefield Cup afterwards,” MVL explained to Chess.com.
The tournament is just beyond the halfway mark, and in the first six rounds Laurent Fressinet has dominated the headlines. His score of 5.5/6 makes him the clear favorite to clinch the title this year, although one of his opponents in the last five rounds is...Etienne Bacrot.
In the first round, Fressinet faced Sebastien Mazé, who served as his team captain the week before at the Olympiad in Tromsø. It was a classic Réti game where White first controls the center with a double fianchetto, and later with two nice pawns on e4 and d4.
It could have been a different tournament for Fressinet, who escaped with a draw against Andrei Sokolov. The ex-Soviet was at some point the world number three (!) behind Kasparov and Karpov in the 1980s, and so he always remains a force to be reckoned with.
Fressinet won four games in a row after that. Here's one more:
@EuropeEchecs) August 23, 2014
French Championship 2014 | Round 6 Standings
The top group is just one of a total of eight tournaments played at the same time. There is also the women's championship, the veterans' championship for players older than sixty, an open tournament that serves as a qualifier for 2015, and four more open groups.
The festival, which includes about 750 chess players in total, is underway in Nimes, a city in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France.