French Story

Recently the French Chess Federation accused three players that participated or trained in Khanty Mansiysk Chess Olympiad of cheating. These accusations are very unusual for chess in general, not to mention top OTB chess!

This is what the French Federation had to say:

French Chess Federation engages its Disciplinary Committee against members of the French team for “cheating”

The French Chess Federation (FFE) announced that it initiated on December 22, 2010, disciplinary action against the International Grandmasters Arnaud Hauchard and Sebastien Feller as well as against International Master Cyril Marzolo, on suspicion of “organized cheating, serious breach of sport ethics, undermining the image of the national Olympic team, at the World Team Chess Championship that took place in Khanty-Mansyik (Russia) from September 21 to October 3, 2010”.

Information on this procedure has also been sent to the International Chess Federation (FIDE), and Ministry of Sports, as the overseeing administration of the FFE.

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, January 21, 2011

This was a subject to an article in New York Times.

And here is an open letter (published on ChessBase in French and English) of GM Feller, who denies the accusation:


I completely deny the cheating accusations by the French Chess Federation. This disciplinary procedure is in fact related to my support, during the Olympiads, of the current FIDE president as opposed to the current administration of the French Chess Federation. The FIDE president is furthermore defamed in the blog of Jean-Claude Moingt (NdT: president of the FFE) who claims that he benefited from dummy proxies.

Furthermore, I mentioned in private conversations, which were repeated, of accounting irregularities by the French Federation (specifics will be provided at a later date) which angered the president.

I have requested my lawyer, Mr. Charles Morel, to initiate legal action for damages against the French Federation for having unjustifiably cited my name in a statement, republished by all the French and foreign sites, as well as the international press..

Best regards,
Sébastien Feller

and the interview with Mr. Battesti, a Sorbonne-educated lawyer, as the spokesperson for the Federation published on ChessBase website who speaks about the situation as well as about the letter:

What exactly is the cheating system that was used? Have the authors of the cheating admitted the facts?
You understand that it may be difficult for me to speak on facts that are the subject of an investigation. What I can tell you is that we, the federation leaders, are the last to wish to see such a procedure initiated. Unless we are masochists … It is indeed difficult and very painful. And I take this opportunity to congratulate Jean-Claude Moingt, our President, and Joanna Pomian, Vice-President, for their courage. Both are witnesses in this very serious case. They placed the sporting interest before their own comfort. They could have adopted an ostrich policy rather than assuming their responsibilities. They were perfectly right in doing so. It is in these situations that leaders are judged. In a world where cynicism often takes place before policy, it warms my heart to see such action. I want to say that with both being called to testify, the office designated me as the federal spokesperson for this case.

What prompted the FCF to make this matter public?

Precisely this concern of upholding sporting values. We highlight the social and educational virtues of chess, and we would have been in total contradiction by cowardly remaining silent to protect ourselves from the bother. Finally I can tell you, considering the testimony and facts brought to the attention of the office members, we are unfortunately justified in initiating such proceedings.

In Khanty-Mansysk, as everywhere now, officials are nevertheless very attentive to cheating, there there is no way to prevent it?

It is difficult to cope with technological developments. There is nothing easier, during live broadcasts, than to relay suggestions. A single help, in complex situations, and it is almost a guaranteed a win. As the organizer of international events I have often been alerted by certain behaviors. But often in the name of the legitimate presumption of innocence, and without evidence, without specific testimony, it is difficult to intervene.

However one must act, both via the body of arbiters and by technical means to limit the current drift. We will therefore propose to the next Administrative Committee of the FCF, on January 29, the technical means to organize the next European Championships in Aix-les-Bains: a delay of at least 15 minutes on the live internet broadcast of the games, banning mobile devices, etc. … It is true, however, that when there are financial stakes, the risks of cheating increase. In my opinion, and this is only my opinion, lacking the adequate technical means, one should fear the worst for the future of classical games endowed with prizes. We are not adrift in a generalized situation as in professional cycling, but we must be on our guards and act.

And now, what are the expected procedures, both national and international, for the rest?

The Disciplinary Committee of the FCF has been enacted. The investigation is underway. FIDE has obviously been informed. At no time did we hesitate to take appropriate action. We can neither compromise, nor negotiate under such circumstances. And this policy will prevail in all our future options.

In your opinion, what are the consequences on the image of chess in general and the France team in particular?

Ironically I think the federal image will be even more positive. I actually took a look at French and international forums and many users praise the political courage of the FCF. I think the moment we act to defend the sporting interests of chess, there is no need to fear. What would have been highly prejudicial, is silence. Both for our consciences and for the benefit of chess. What I also want to say is that the other members of the French team are absolutely not involved. They are even, in my opinion, the victims of this situation. But we are very proud of them, their natural talent and probity. Cheating is, thankfully, a very marginal event. 99% of our players are sportsmen. One can therefore be reasonably optimistic.

What do you think of Sebastien Feller’s denials?

Pathetic! And insulting to our president and his federation. I think this young player is ill-advised because instead of taking responsibility, he seeks to divert attention by sullying the honor of a great man of French Chess.

Source: Europe Echec – translated by Albert Silver

Yesterday four players from the national team of France published a statement (on ChessBase):


The French Chess Federation (FFE) has announced, on January 21st 2011, that it had taken, on December 22nd 2010, a disciplinary action against two International Grand Masters members of the French Team, as well as against a French International Master, suspecting them of “organized fraud, serious breach of sport ethics, damage caused to the image of the French Team, during the World Chess Olympiad which took place in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia), from September 21st to October 3rd 2010”.

As members of the French Chess Team playing in the above-mentioned competition, we wish to express our deepest amazement on reading the seriousness of the charges brought, and our firmest determination for truth to prevail in this case.

The charges referred to are grave, because they can not only bring discredit to the game of chess as a high level sport, but also as a leisure game, open to widest range of chess lovers, whether they be members of a chess club or simple “woodpusher” playing with friends.

This is why, without prejudging the outcome of current or forthcoming proceedings, we express our full support to the FFE in the quest to find truth it has undertaken, and and in the willingness it shows to undertake a fight against cheating. We fully trust the FFE Disciplinary Commission to decide on the veracity of the allegations, while respecting the necessary requirements for independence and impartiality. We remain entirely at its disposition. If the allegations are found to be true, we will condemn them firmly.

To conclude, we wish to reiterate the importance we attach to the values of fair play, respect for the opponent, and exemplarity role of those who surpass themselves; all this forms the universal ethic principle of the Olympic spirit, but also of the uniqueness of our sport, based on analysis and creativity talents, specific to human thinking.

Vladislav TKACHIEV

Members of the French Chess Team

I wonder WHAT IS NEXT?

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