1st European Corporate Chess Championship

By admin

On 24 and 25 November 2017, the 1st European Corporate Chess Championship was held in Asnières, near Paris. Europchess as a genuine corporate chess club could of course not miss such an event and so, Christophe Keller, Szymon Pozimski, Johannes Bertram, Luis Parreira and Angeliki Dedopoulou travelled to the French capital and defended the EU colours in a strong field of company, administration and academic teams.

left to right: Johannes, Luis, Christophe, Angeliki, Szymon

In an impressive setting, the festive hall of Asnières’ town hall, the players were welcomed by the organisers, Manuel Aeschlimann, the mayor of Asnières, himself a passionate chess player, Bachar Kouatly, the President of the French Chess Federation and GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili, the President of the European Chess Union, under the patronage of which the event was organised. Over one and a half days, 33 teams composed of four players (plus one possible reserve player) played a nine-round Swiss tournament of rapid games (15 min. + 3 sec. increment).

Welcome by the organisers and officials

The tournament regulations required teams to have only one player actually linked to the represented corporate entity, while the others could be external players. The only other requirements were that only one player could be rated above 2400, and minimum one needed to be below 2000. As a consequence, there were very strong teams, going for the attractive prize fund of 6000 € (3000 for 1st place, 2000 for 2nd, 1000 for 3rd). Not less than 11 Grandmasters and about as many International Masters participated. On the other hand, many other teams stuck to their corporate character and participated in a more Olympic spirit, Europchess included.

Already in round 1, against Microsoft Europe, we found ourselves against a team that was more than 200 points higher rated on every board. Nonetheless, the games were quite tight, and Johannes even managed to pull off a win. After this 1-3 to start with, we played another software company, Axway, with a devastating result. Even though our opponents were mostly unrated, we suffered a 0.5-3.5 loss. But things became better: with two narrow 2.5-1.5 wins against ENGIE II and Abyss Propreté (a company specialised in industrial cleaning), we finished the first day with 50%. On Saturday, a draw against another second side followed (Dassault Systèmes II). The strong Académie de Paris (association of all teachers and professors of Paris) crushed us 3.5-0.5 and after a more unfortunate 1.5-2.5 against the consultants of EY I, we received a deserved break, in form of a bye. This was however not so disappointing, as it gave us the opportunity to watch the teams battling for the title. Also it helped us to concentrate for one last effort, as a last round win would bring us back to 50%. And indeed, with a 3-1 against USEP, another teachers association, we reached that objective, and finished the tournament on a respectable 22nd place.

Getting ready for Round 5

Christophe, who was playing practically on home turf, his team of Clichy being based just on the other side of the river Seine, had to struggle with the fact that most teams, even the more amateurial ones, had at least one very strong player on board 1. Szymon, who had just joined the Commission and Europchess some weeks ago, had some mixed results, with some good positions that did not end with the desired result. Johannes had a good score, came generally well out of the openings, but was also lucky that several of his opponents against whom he had thrown away advantageous positions, had weaker nerves and let themselves be checkmated without much need. Luis did not achieve much against stronger opponents but reliably scored against the weaker ones. And Angeliki played her first tournament, and gained experience that should help her to develop her game on the future.

Europchess’ results:

The tournament was dominated by two Russian teams. In the end, the Russian Railways, RZD, led by GM Sergey Rublevsky, were the winners. The runners-up were Sberbank, with GM Denis Khismatullin.

Winners RZD

Runners-up Sberbank

All in all, it was a very nice tournament – well organised, friendly atmosphere and the unique mix of professionals and amateurs, ranging from nearly beginners to grandmasters. It was also nice to see that many teams had a female player among them. In order to strengthen the corporate character, maybe teams should be required to have at least two internal players. In any case, the five of us can recommend this event and, as it has been several years now that there are no more corporate chess competitions any more in Brussels, it would surely be a nice thing for Europchess, if it became a regular one. The organisers for their part announced their intention to hold it for the next five years in Paris.

More photos:

Christophe & Szymon

Luis & Angeliki

GM Laurent Fressinet vs GM Namig Guliyev

GM Marie Sebag

WGM Almira Skripchenko vs. GM Jonathan Dourerasso

GM Klaus Bischoff (Deutsche Bank)

GM Denis Khismatullin (Sberbank, right)

GM Sergey Rublevsky (RZD, left, vs. GM Erald Dervishi)

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