French Championship under way, with Feller

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

The French Championship has reached six of its eleven rounds, and top GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is sharing the lead with Romanian-born GM Andrei Istratescu. One of the participants is Sebastien Feller, who again fully denied that he cheated in Khanty-Mansiysk last year.The playing hall in the University of Caen | Photo © French Chess Federation

General info

The 86th French Championship is taking place August 14-25 in the University of Caen, a commune in northwestern France, located 15 km inland from the English Channel. This year Laurent Fressinet is defending his title against a strong field that includes Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Etienne Bacrot. The rate of play is 40 moves in 90 minutes, followed by 30 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment per move, from move one.

Rounds 1-6

The tournament started with a last-minute cancellation of Vlad Tkachiev, reportedly due to health reasons. He was replaced by Hicham Hamdouchi, who earlier this year changed federations. Despite a less than perfect preparation for the tournament, the Moroccan-born grandmaster started with a nice victory against Jean-Pierre Le Roux. In these first few rounds, a high number of games ended in draws at an early stage. Somehow, in many games the players started to repeat moves at some point. We give one example, which is also theoretically interesting. Hamdouchi-Bauer Caen, 2011 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bf5 6. Bd2 c6 7. Bc4 e6 8. Nd5 Qd8 9. Nxf6+ Qxf6 10. Qe2 Bg4 11. O-O-O Nd7 Always nice to see a grandmaster playing a system he wrote a book about. However, in his 2010 title for Quality Chess Play the Scandinavian, Christian Bauer advocates 11... Be7! 12. h4 Qf5 13. Qe3 Nd7 14. Be2 O-O-O 15. Ng5 Bxg5 16. hxg5 Bxe2 17. Qxe2 (Landa-Bauer, Bundesliga 2007) "and now 17...Qd5N would have secured a level game for Black." Did Hamdouchi have other thoughts? And did Bauer change his mind, or simply forget what he wrote? Anyway, after 12. d5 Bxf3 13. gxf3 cxd5 14. Bxd5 O-O-O Hamdouchi-Bauer where 15.Be4 looks slightly better for White, Hamdouchi suddenly forced a draw with 15. Bxb7+ Kxb7 16. Qe4+ Ka6 17. Qa4+ Kb7 18. Qe4+ Ka6 19. Qa4+ Kb7 1/2-1/2 After six rounds, and five to go, top GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is sharing the lead with Romanian-born GM Andrei Istratescu; both are on 4/6. The two 2700 players, Bacrot and the 'Frenchman with two names', still have to play against each other. Reigning champ Laurent Fressinet already met both, and drew twice.


One of the participants in this 86th Championship is Sebastien Feller. On July 3rd we reported that a Versailles court had suspended the French Chess Federation’s disciplinary sanctions against him and Arnaud Hauchard, due to a formal defect. The two grandmasters are allowed to play official chess games again, pending a ruling in a trial court on the merits of the case. Two days ago, Feller responded to questions from WhyChess. He again fully denied the accusations that he cheated at the Khanty-Mansiysk Olympiad, September last year. To the question 'Has the [French Chess Federation] offered you a peaceful settlement?', Feller responded:

Given the fact that I’m innocent no settlement is possible until the Federation withdraws its false accusations.

Selection of games rounds 1-6


Game viewer by ChessTempo

French Championship 2011 | Round 6 Standings


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