SUPERMAN’S DAY OFF
This talented 24-year old French youngster (born March 11,1991) has just last month finished a 3-year suspension from FIDE for cheating. The whole sordid business brought a lot of pain to himself and his family; to his fans and supporters; to French chess. Today–a lot more mature from the experience– grandmaster Sebastien Feller wants to prove just how good he is capable of being in chess. To himself and to the world. ESPECIALLY to the world.
Sebastien crashed and burned towards the end of 2010. Then a cocky 19-year old, Feller and several other top French chess-icons made headlines in the international media when the French Chess Federation (FFE) exposed their notorious cheating scheme at the 2010 chess Olympiad. Somehow Feller had got involved with the wrong people, the wrong life-style and found himself buried in gambling debts. He allowed himself to be convinced that cheating in chess was his way out. He and his co-conspirators got caught…this episode is now considered ground-zero for what has today become epidemic in chess: cheating.
Flashback to the past. Feller’s relationships with the other members of the 2010 French National Team have been badly damaged and will take a long time to recover. Here is Feller flanked by Vachier-LaGrave (r) and Fressinet (l)
When FIDE announced that Feller’s suspsension had been lifted, he almost immediately jumped back into competitive chess. He first played in a relatively obscure tournament at Fourmies. Feller’s results were modest, to say the least: while drawing several 2500-rated players, he could only beat 2200-2300-rated players. Feller finished in a tie for 6th to 9th place. He lost 1-rating point.
Sebastien Feller’s next competition was the tough TOP-12 which just finished a couple of days ago. This is France’s most prestigious team championship, and one of the chess world’s strongest competitions. Sebastian was part of the EVRY team, which finished in 5th place.
Feller’s own results showed a marked improvement over Fourmies, even though he started with a dismal half-point from the first four games. It is not easy to recover after a 3-year lay-off from top competition, as many of the essential skills of a top-level competitor (like Sebastien) need constant practice and upgrading. What is required as one gets back into practice is patience and understanding: at first the results will be frustrating and disappointing. Then , little by little, you begin to notice small changes and improvements. The aim is to achieve consistent results.
Feller quietly chatting with Poitiers-Migne grandmaster Adrien Demuth after their complicated and very hard fought game. (Feller won) The advantage switched side several times before Feller took the point.
At the Montpellier TOP-12 team tournament, Feller played all 11 rounds. He scored a respectable minus-1. Feller won against Donchenko and Demuth. He lost to Navara, Duda and Fier. Draws against Doettling, Riazantsev, Naiditsch, Krasenkov, Vachier-LaGrave and Sasikiran.
I take a look at some positions from Feller’s games in this event.
Round 1. Position before White’s 14th move. White has not played a very good line against Navara’s Queen’s Indian, but is still quite OK. He should now proceed 14.Bb2, and if 14…BxN 15.BxB Nxc4 16.NxN RxN 17.Qxa7 and things are undercontrol, for instance 17…Bxb4?! 18.Bxf6! QxB 19.Qxb6 and if anyone is better, it is White!
INSTEAD, Feller miscalculated:
Perhaps Feller simply overlooked Navara’s move…
Lack of top-level practice can do this to you! Feller overlooked that 15.NxN loses to 15…Be4! 16.Qb3 BxR 17.QxB RxN etc. What is worse, White’s position falls apart even if he tries to minimize the damage. In the game, however, Feller speeded things up…
15.QxN?! BxN 16.BxB RxQ 17.NxQ Qc7 18.Na3 d5
White is completely lost. Feller played on another 7 moves before throwing in the towel.
Feller’s game against the young Jan-Krzysztof Duda has to be one of the WORST played games in all of Montpellier! Feller started to be better from move 25 and soon had a clearly crushing game, but REFUSED numerous opportunities to put his young opponent out of his misery.
Jan-Krzysztof Duda, born April 26, 1998, became a grandmaster at age 15. In Montpellier Jan scored an amazing 75% out of ten games, achieving a 2782 performance rating.