The 2019 French Chess Championship took place in Chartres, near Paris. The French Chess Federation treats this competition as its flagship event, hosting 10 simultaneous competitions that this year gathered a total of 1019 players from all around France.
This model has proven to be very successful: a big festival encourages participation, it offers some logistic advantages and creates the ideal conditions to attract the interest of the media and the sponsors.
The title is decided in a round-robin between ten players, and after 9 games Laurent Fressinet and Maxime Lagarde were tied with 6/9. As a result, a rapid tie-break was played between them. Laurent Fressinet won the first rapid game, but Maxime Lagarde returned the blow in the second. Only down to the blitz games Maxime managed to score a victory that decided the title on his favour – the first in his career.
The Women’s Championship lived a similar scenario. Sophie Milliet and Pauline Guichard topped the table, with 7 points. But Pauline Guichard managed to retain her title for a second consecutive year, winning the first rapid game and then sealing her victory with a draw in the second.
While the youngest participant in the event was just 6 years old, the oldest one was 95. This illustrious veteran is Roger Ferry, who twice in the past was part of the French National Team at the Chess Olympiads in Varna (1962) and Lugano (1968), where he drew with Vlastimil Hort. Roger, who refuses to play in the senior category, played this year his 60th consecutive French Championship. Such achievement also deserves recognition, and Roger was invited to the stage during the closing ceremony to receive an autographed chess board from the hands of the former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, who was the guest of honour at the ceremony.
Anatoly Karpov, who offered a masterclass during his visit to Chartres, was also one of the 22 Grandmasters who gave a simul during the “Chess Night”, an open-air event held in a centric square of the city. This is an effort from the organizers to popularize chess among the citizens of the host city.
A total of 18 articles were published by the French media about the event, and the live broadcast was followed by around 500,000 people throughout the event.
Official website: https://chartres2019.ffechecs.org
Photos Credit: Fédération Française des Échecs