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Chalons-en-Champagne win the French league for the first time

The French league is one of the strongest with a large number of GMs from around the world. However none of the 2700+ players present were in the winning team.
A fine reward for a small provincial town that has put great effort into developing chess over the last few years.

The strongest side were the defending champions Evry who were fielding four 2700+ GMs for the crucial match. However they were unable to outgun the Chalons team over the whole season and (after both teams had won their first ten matches) were obliged to beat their rivals in the crunch match.

Chalons however held the draw (despite being outrated on six boards from eight) and thus won the championship for the first time in their history. Svidler (Evry) beat Anish Giri (Chalons), but this was negated by Van Wely (Chalons) beating Gashimov (Evry) whereas the other six games were drawn.

There have been sixteen teams for many years playing at the highest level in France but this will change next season when the Top-16 will become the Top-12 and the event will switch to the round robin system.

At present, the sixteen are divided into two groups of eight, the top half of which qualify for the 'poule haute', whereas the bottom half play in the so-called 'poule basse'.

In the final 4-game long week-end, the teams in the 'poule haut' compete to decide the title and podium places, whereas the 'poule basse' typically involves a frantic fight to avoid relegation.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

The traditionally high-placed teams struggled in the 2010 season. Many-time champions Clichy were outgunned by some ambitious up-and-coming teams and finished well off the pace in fifth place.

Cannes have finished in second place so often they are known as the 'eternal runners-up'. This year they didn't even make the top pool and had to content themselves with winning the lower pool, which at least ensures their participation next year.

Montpellier have been at this level for a generation but financial problems have left them with a reduced squad hence their predictable relegation to the second tier.

Evry, Chalons and Marseille have younger squads and the finance to enable them to afford competitive squads.

Here were their star players:

Evry (just south of Paris)

Pavel Eljanov 2751

Peter Svidler 2735

Vugar Gashimov 2734

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2710

Eljanov has been in good form, but only made a disappointing 1.5/3 in the final week-end

Chalons-en-Champagne (North-East France between Paris and Luxemburg)

Michal Krasenkow 2628

Loek Van Wely 2653

Anish Giri 2642

Ilia Smirin 2634

Romain Edouard 2611

Marseille

Etienne Bacrot 2710

Aleksander Delchev 2625

Mateusz Bartel 2609

Kamil Miton 2608

Here is the final table for the top eight.

PlaceTeamPointsgame averagewon gameslost games
1Evry Grand Roque32+41476
2Chalons-en-Champagne32+324210
3Marseille Echecs27+324311
4Metz Fischer26+32926
5Clichy26+233815
6Mulhouse Philidor22+103323
7Vandoeuvre2402828
8Noyon19-131932

Metz beat Clichy in their individual encounter and therefore placed ahead of them in the table.

The second group of eight left only two teams happy with their lot.

PlaceTeamPointsgame averagewon gameslost games
9Cannes25163519
10Strasbourg22-32831
11Guingamp20-72431
12Drancy19-131831
13Lyon Olympique Echecs19-142337
14Deauville15-192039
15Montpellier Echecs13-331548
16Bischwiller0-550-55

Bischwiller were unable to compete due to serious financial problems.

The bottom six teams are relegated with two teams being promoted (Rueil-Malmaison and Lut├Ęce, both essentially Paris-based) to next season's new-look TOP 12.


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