August 25, 2012 14:27

French Championship ends prematurely after family tragedy

Christian Bauer suffers family tragedy during French Championship

During the French Championship grandmaster Christian Bauer suffered the horrible loss of his 4-month-old baby. In agreement with all participants Friday's final round was cancelled, and later also a play-off. Given the circumstances, the French Chess Federation declared Etienne Bacrot, Christian Bauer, Romain Edouard and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave joint champions. Almira Skripchenko won her fifth women's title.

Our heartfelt condolences go to Christian Bauer and his family

Event French Championship | PGN: Open | Women
Dates August 13-, 2012
Location Pau, France
System Open: 12-player round robin
Women: 6-player round robin
Players Open: Edouard, Vachier-Lagrave, Bacrot, Bauer, Fressinet, Istratescu, Tkachiev, Hamdouchi, Maze, Vaisser, Lagarde, Mullon
Women: Skripchenko, Milliet, Collas, Maisuradze, Safranska, Bollengier
Rate of play

90 minutes for 40 moves + 30 minutes to finish the game + 30 seconds increment from move 1

The French Championships started August 13th, 2012 at the Parc Beaumont in Pau, a commune on the northern edge of the Pyrenees. This year's event contained three different sub-stories: whether Sebastien Feller would play or not, the tournament itself, and then the premature end due to a terrible tragedy.

The Feller case

Until the last moment it was unclear whether Feller would participate, after the FIDE Ethics Commission confirmed his suspension and that of Arnaud Hauchard and Cyril Marzolo. Two days later, in its announcement of the French Championships, the French Chess Federation had already replaced Feller by another Sebastien: Mazé.

Feller and Hauchard decided to fight this decision at the Higher Court of Versailles, but their request was dismissed. A day before the championships started, the French Chess Federation posted another communique at its website, stating that during their suspension the three banned players can only play non-FIDE events. (The federation seems to argue that a national championship is a FIDE event as soon as it is FIDE rated.)

The tournament

Let's look at a few fragments from the tournament. First, a very interesting fight from the first round which was won by Bauer against the oldest participant.

PGN string

Even more spectacular was the following perpetual, also from the first round, but alas, the whole game was theory:

PGN string

The following was a nice game by Fressinet, who held the initiative from start to finish.

PGN string

Vachier-Lagrave was in a sacrificing mood in the following encounter:

PGN string

Mazé, who finished on minus two, played an interesting King's Indian with Bacrot:

PGN string

Bauer was playing an excellent championship and defeated the top seed in round 8:

PGN string

The tragedy

After round 10 Etienne Bacrot, Christian Bauer, Romain Edouard and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave were sharing the lead with 7 points. Then the terrible news came out: Bauer's 4-month-old baby had died.

All the participants of the championship suggested to cancel the final round, and the federation did so. A play-off on Saturday between Bacrot, Edouard and Vachier-Lagrave would decide the winner, but later the three players told the federation that, given the exceptional circumstances, they did not feel able to participate. Thereupon the federation decided to grant all four players the collective title of French Champion.

Almira Skripchenko won her fifth national championship. Here's her win against Sophie Milliet who, like Skripchenko, was going for her fifth title.

PGN string

French Championship 2012 | Final standings (after 10 of 11 rounds)


French Championship 2012 | Women | Final standings



Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Anonymous's picture

Holy sh*t, that's not even funny, let's hope he can recuperate and keep on living. Strong men have been broken by things like these before.

NN's picture

Why and in what universe would something like this be funny?
Condolences are in order here, because losing a child is absolutely the worst thing that can happen to somebody.

Richard Fireman's picture

A very honorable and praiseworthy decision by the players and organizers to declare a 4-way tie for first, out of respect for GM Bauer. To have held a playoff without him would certainly not have been fair. I hope it is some consolation to him and his family that he has the support of the whole chess community for his loss.

st32's picture

My condolences for the tragedy. Although I cant help but be curious about how it happened.

Anonymous's picture

I refuse to believe that chessplayers can speak of "funny" or "curious" about this. Just back off.

Thomas's picture

First, my condolences to Christian Bauer and his family - and also respect for how fellow players and federation handled the situation. I would assume that Bauer now also doesn't play the Olympiad. In that case it would be nice from FIDE/organizers to let France nominate a replacement even if the deadline has passed. And it might be particularly nice if Bacrot is, after all, willing and able to play in Istanbul?

On Feller: I would assume that he cannot play any rated events, else the punishment would be rather symbolic (the European Championship being the only FIDE event where he would be banned?). The exact French words of the FFE communique are: "Sébastien Feller et Arnaud Hauchard ne peuvent donc participer à aucune compétition homologuée par la FIDE, que ce soit en France ou à l'étranger. En revanche, ... [ils] conservent, dans l'attente d'un jugement au fond, la possibilité de participer à toutes les compétitions organisées par la FFE qui ne sont pas homologuées par la FIDE."
What does 'homologuée' mean? Note that Marzolo isn't mentioned, apparently confirming what appeared at a German blog (source: Ralph Alt, member of FIDE Ethics Commission): as he didn't appeal in court, he already sat out his ban and the remaining months are on probation. Hence he is currently allowed to play any chess event.

Finally if chess still matters: interesting that two national championships finished with a mass tie for first place - the Russian one with a fairly balanced field and many draws, and the French one with an uneven field and lots of decisive games.

columbo's picture

All my condolences to Christian Bauer
And his family

valg321's picture

my condolences to Christian Bauer & his family. i can only imagine how they must be feeling right now. Noone needs to know the details of this

Anonymous's picture

Deeply disturbing sad news. My heartfelt condolences go to Christian Bauer and his family.

Satranc's picture

All my condolences to Christian Bauer
And his family

Kamalakanta's picture

My condolences to Christian Bauer and his family. I am so proud of the way the other players and the French Chess Federation handled this situation. They show great humanity. It is moving to see so much oneness.

Efstratios's picture

My condolences to Christian Bauer and his family. There is nothing more to say in such cases...

Mindhunter's picture

Heartfelt condolences, shocking news :( The right decision by the other players and Federation. Respect.

uschess's picture

Sad news, the worst kind.

It is interesting that one poor fellow admits to being "curious" of the details and yet is criticized, however this IS a news site and the article is headlined "...Family Tragedy" thus everyone who clicked to read was also curious. The word itself may have a negative connotation in this instance but it no way signifies a lack of empathy as it is a natural part of trying to understand and cope with why such horrible things happen.

Thomas's picture

For me, "French Championship" or event the mere fact that it is a Chessvibes top story would have been reason enough to click on the link. Actually I already knew the sad story as it had been mentioned before at Whychess - who have much more detailed coverage of the event (possibly because Tkachiev was participating).

For what it's worth, the most likely explanation may be "Sudden infant death syndrome" - a baby dying in its sleep for no apparent reason and without any prior warning.
If the baby was seriously ill and Bauer knew about it, he probably wouldn't have participated in the first place? In the other case, even medical specialists don't really know "why such horrible things happen".

Thomascritic's picture

I've noticed that Thomas almost always seeks reasons for the news that's presented here. "Probably because", "it's likely that", always bringing up theories. Often they make sense, sometimes they're annoying and here it's just tasteless.

Anonymous's picture

Thomas likes to give his opinion. Thomas is always around and we all like him. Thomas devotes so much spare time to the ChessVibes forum. Sometimes he aims a bit over the top, but don't forget there is always a next time, you will always meet Thomas around here. Thank you Thomas.

Anonymous's picture

Your comment is absolutely ridiculous. The news is not in how the infant died. Recently Moro's illness was considered a doubtful topic and that is at least partially chess related.

Fiend's picture
uschess's picture

It seems certain people read into other's comments whatever they want, sometimes seeking a conflict. "Your comment is absolutely ridiculous"?! what an absolute and self righteous statement...I'm not sure where I said that the news was how the infant passed, but I only suggest that condemning someone else for being "curious" or rather from wanting more complete details seemed unwarranted. It's journalism, not an exact science and any reporter who says less is more is unemployed.

Robert's picture

My condolences to the Bauer family. The French showed incredible compassion and class in their decision to end the championship. An example for the world to follow.

abilite's picture

My condolences to the Bauer family.

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