Reports | May 30, 2011 19:11

French Team Championship without Feller, Hauchard and Marzolo

The French Team Championship has started in Mulhouse and there are some strong GMs participating, e.g. David Navara, Pavel Eljanov, Le Quang Liem, Etienne Bacrot, Arkadij Naiditsch, Anish Giri and Loek van Wely. The three French players who were accused of cheating by the French Chess Federation saw their appeal rejected and their penalties increased.

The Top 12 in Mulhouse | Photo Chess Club Philidor Mulhouse The Top 12 of the French Team Championship takes place May 26th - June 5th, 2011 in Mulhouse, a city and commune in eastern France, close to the Swiss and German borders. In a round-robin, the strongest 12 teams fight for the French club title, with Chalons en Champagne defending their title. A number of strong grandmasters are participating in Mulhouse. To name a few: Laurent Fressinet, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, Alexei Dreev, David Navara, Pavel Eljanov, Le Quang Liem, Arkadij Naiditsch, Etienne Bacrot, Anish Giri, Loek van Wely and Mikhail Krasenkow. Three French players are notably absent: Sebastien Feller, Arnaud Hauchard and Cyril Marzolo. These three names dominated the news in the French and international chess scene in February and March of this year, in an ongoing story about cheating during the Olympiad last year. In our last report about the case, on March 20th, we mentioned that the Disciplinary Committee of the French Chess Federation had suspended Feller, Hauchard and Marzolo for being “guilty of a violation of sporting ethics”. The Committee had concluded that there was enough proof of cheating. Marzolo was sentenced to a 5-year suspension from play. Feller received a 3-year ban followed by 2 years of community service with the federation or another association. If he refused, the 2 years would be added to the suspension period. Hauchard was condemned to a lifetime ban from the duties of captain. Immediately after the verdict Feller's lawyer, Charles Morel, announced that he would address the Appeals Committee; the lawyers of the other two players joined him. Europe-Echecs reports that the appeal took place on Thursday, May 19th, 2011 in Paris. It didn't have the desired result for the players: the Appeals Committee not only confirmed the penalty by the French Chess Federation, but Sebastien Feller's ban was increased from 3 to 5 years and a 3-year ban as a player was added to Arnaud Hauchard's life ban as a captain or team manager. This was possible because not only the players, but also the French Chess Federation itself had appealed the first verdict in March. The case was also taken to an even higher body: the French National Sports and Olympics Committee. A hearing took place on Wednesday, May 25th, 2011. The lawyers of the players had requested a conciliation on the case, but because of the new verdicts by the Appeals Committee, their request had to be reformulated, to seek conciliation on the even stronger sanctions. French National Sports and Olympics Committee Neither Cyril Marzolo nor his lawyer were present and therefore his case was suspended. In the meantime, the penalty imposed by the Appeals Committee remained in effect, making it impossible for Marzolo to play for his team in the Top 12. To Feller and Hauchard, who were both represented by Charles Morel, the French National Sports and Olympics Committee offered a clear and simple conciliation: that they had to accept the verdict of the Appeals Committee. This verdict was effective immediately, making it impossible for Feller and Hauchard to participate in Mulhouse as well. However, the legal journey continued a day later in a court in Versailles, where Mr Morel had filed an emergency case that would suspend the decision of the Sports and Olympics Committee, at least till after the Top 12 had finished. This request was denied as well, in a verdict on May 27th, 2011 and the three players were each ordered to pay 1,000 Euro in costs. And so Feller, Hauchard and Marzolo are not playing in Mulhouse, and might not be playing official chess games for a while. FIDE hasn't banned them from rated events yet, but doesn't seem to have another option than doing so soon. The players' last resort seems to be opening a court case. Back to the French Team Championship, where after four rounds, four teams have won all their matches: Clichy, Evry Grand Roque, Marseille and host club Mulhouse Philidor. Also four players still have a 100% score: Alexander Riazantsev (one of Alexander Grischuk's seconds in Kazan), Andrey Sokolov, Almira Skripchenko and Adrien Demuth. Among the players with 3.5/4 are Giri, Navara and Le Quang Liem. Below you'll find the current standings (click on the club to see the team of players) and a selection of games played so far.

Place Team Points Played # + -
1 Clichy 12 4 17 18 1
2 Mulhouse Philidor 12 4 13 19 6
3 Evry Grand Roque 12 4 12 15 3
4 Marseille Echecs 12 4 9 14 5
5 Chalons en Champagne 10 4 10 16 6
6 Metz Fischer 10 4 9 13 4
7 Lutèce Echecs 6 4 -4 6 10
8 Vandoeuvre 6 4 -6 5 11
9 Strasbourg 4 4 -11 3 14
10 Noyon 4 4 -12 4 16
11 Rueil Malmaison 4 4 -17 5 22
12 Guingamp 4 4 -20 2 22

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Martin Fogg's picture

Totally support the decision of the French Chess Federation on this issue. Feller, Hauchard and Marzolo are a disgrace.

Eiae's picture

Maybe so, but is there another sport where you are such a severe punishment for cheating?
A 1-2 year ban would be sufficient for a first time offender, in my opinion.
A 5 year ban smells like vindictiveness to me.

Eiae's picture

*where's the edit button...? :)

William Stewart's picture

I think the 5 year ban is good, but it could be stricter. This is definitely not the first time these guys have cheated, its just the first time they've been caught. I would like to see even stricter punishments - stripping players of FIDE titles might be a nice deterrence to cheating in professional events? People make mistakes, however they usually aren't caught the first few dozen times. Who's to say they didn't cheat their to the GM title in the first place?

Thomas's picture

Actually, when will the World Cup pairings be announced? Feller qualified at the European Championship .... .

Thomas's picture

Hmm, you were testing my French ... I found it:
Article 4.2 states (my translation): "A won match counts 3 points, a drawn match 2 points, a match lost at the board 1 point. A match lost by forfeit counts 0 points."
In other words, the four teams currently at the bottom of the table got 4 points (4*1) just for showing up.

Some other rules of possible interest:
- Only decisive games count, hence a given result can be 3-0 (with five draws). There is some sort of "Bilbao bonus" because 6-2 or 5-1 is worth more than 4-0, representing a tiebreak criterion at the end of the competition.
- Each team has to have at least one French male and one French female. At least five team members have to be either French of European Community citizens living in France. (I was the latter case when I played French team events some 15 years ago - but it was in a lower league that didn't have "mercenaries" anyway).
- A bit funny: Players with Elo below 2000 cannot compete in the top12, the only exception is for the obligatory French female (but only for one woman if a team has several female players).

RainPiper's picture

Can someone explain how team points are awarded? Until now, there hasn't been any team match draw. Nevertheless there are teams whose team points are not divisible by three. Is there some special rule for wins/losses with a difference of a single individual game?

ClassicalChess's picture

Fressinet vs. Brunner is just a lovely miniature! He probably saw some old games by Petrosian ; )

quibbler's picture

That is fun. It must have felt good to play 16.Bg6.

Axel's picture

Thanks for pointing out this game. Made my day!

RainPiper's picture

Thanks for delving into this.

Septimus's picture

Game 5 Wojazek v Williams was crazy. Great stuff!

LMedemblik's picture

The link to the offcial website does not work. (On this page)

Peter Doggers's picture

Thanks, corrected.

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