Three French players accused of cheating; one pleads not guilty

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French chess federation accuses three of its players of cheating; one of them deniesIn a communiqué on its website the French Chess Federation (EFF) has accused GMs Sébastien Feller and Arnaud Hauchard and IM Cyril Marzolo of cheating. No details were given, but the federation announced that it has "initiated on December 22, 2010 disciplinary action". One of the players, GM Feller, has already issued an official statement denying everything.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave might be doing quite well in Wijk aan Zee, but still the French chess scene is talking about something else at the moment. Last Friday, the French Chess Federation issued the following communiqué on its website:

French Chess Federation engages its Disciplinary Committee against members of the France team for cheating

The French Chess Federation (EFF) announced that it has initiated on December 22, 2010 disciplinary action against the International Grandmasters Sébastien Feller and Arnaud Hauchard and against International Master Cyril Marzolo, following suspicions of "organized cheating, serious breach of ethics in sport and undermining the image of the Olympic national team during the Chess Olympiad that took place in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia), September 21 to October 3, 2010.

Information on this procedure has also been sent to the International Chess Federation (FIDE), and the Ministry of Sports, as the overseeing administration of the FFE.

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, 21 January 2011


Apparently the federation has good reason not to provide any details, and even better reasons to publish their accusation anyway. It's safe to say that the three players are accused of using computer help during games, which was also more or less confirmed in an interview with French Chess Federation's Vice President Leo Battesti, who mentions that it's "difficult to cope with technological developments" when games are being "live broadcasted".

In its communiqué the French Chess Federation refers to the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, where 19-year-old Sébastien Feller played very well. Rated 2649, he won the gold medal on board 5 with a score of 6/9 and a TPR of 2708. The other GM mentioned, Arnaud Hauchard, was team captain in Khanty-Mansiysk.

We tried to reach both Feller and Hauchard via email. The latter didn't respond yet, but Feller sent us the following "official statement" (translated into English by us):

I completely deny the accusations of cheating from the French Chess Federation. This disciplinary procedure is in fact related to the fact that during the Olympiad I supported the current FIDE President, which was contrary to the policy of the French Chess Federation. The President of FIDE is in fact defamed on the blog of Jean-Claude Moingt [President of the French Chess Federation - CV], which claims that the President has profited from fictitious proxies.

In addition, I have repeatedly mentioned in private conversations accounting irregularities of the French Chess Federation (details will be given later), which have angered the president. I asked my lawyer, Charles Morel, to initiate legal action against the French Chess Federation for creating damages on my side by having unjustifiably mentioned my name in a statement included on all French and foreign sites, as well as in the international press.


The aforementioned Leo Battesti calls Feller's accusations "pathetic":

And insulting to our president and his federation. I think this young player is ill advised because instead of taking responsibility, he tries to distract by disrespecting the honor of a great man of French Chess.


There are several examples of cheating in chess, but also several examples of accusations without proof. The fact that a federation is taking measures to some very strong players indicates that they possess at least some form of proof. We'll have to wait and see what it looks like, and what will happen to Hauchard, Feller and Marzolo (and Feller's gold medal).

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