The French Team Championships took place October 24-25 in Lans-en Vercors, near Grenoble, France. Would the defending champions, Grenoble 1, maintain their title by defeating the 13 challengers? Grenoble 1 had added Motoki Noguchi — who was unavailable last year — to their squad as a replacement for Denis Karadaban, who is studying in Korea. Logically they were in an excellent position to keep their title, their mean rank of 6 dan being three ranks above their nearest rivals. We note however, the increase in the number of teams with a mean rank of 2 to 3 dan, presented serious challengers for the podium places in Rennes, Lyon, Jussieu, Grenoble 2 and 3.
The first round passed without surprise for the strongest teams. In the closest matches Lyon bested La Rochelle and Toulouse beat Antony. In the second round, the surprises began. Suddenly, Grenoble 1 lost on boards 3 and 4, Toru Imamura-Cornuejols (4d) and Simon Billouet (4d) lost respectively to Louis Meckes (1d) and Robin Chauvin (1k), so Lyon grabbed a draw. Similarly between Toulouse 1 and Rennes 1, Benjamin Papazoglou (5d) lost to Li Haohan (3d) and Fabien Masson (1d) to Xavier Bonnefond (1k). Thus the top 2 seeds, the reigning champions and vice champions, got off to a rotten start. It was Grenoble 2 who took the lead in as they disposed of Jussieu – would they manage to upstage their club mates Grenoble 1?
On Sunday morning, Grenoble 1 regained their form with a 4-0 whitewash Toulouse 1. Rennes 1 overcame the obstacle of Jussieu with a 3-1 victory. Once again Lyon grabbed a draw, but this time with Grenoble 2. Before the last round then, the battle for the title was unclear: three teams had 5 points (Rennes 1, Grenoble 1 and 2), and none had played the other. Would we see a tie? The draw for the final round set Grenoble 1 against Grenoble 2 and Rennes 1 against Grenoble 3. Rennes 1 won 3-1 (Thibaud Naegele dropping a point against Chen Longteng) while Grenoble 1 also won 3-1 (Toru dropping the point to Xiao Chunyang).
Grenoble 1 and Rennes 1 were then tied for first place with 7 points; but the title stays with Grenoble 1 though, because they had 1 extra board win (13 to Rennes’s 12). Picking up third spot were the brave team from Lyon. Full results can be seen for team and individual games.
– Ian Davis, based on an original article in Revue Française de Go by Simon Billouet; photo by Olivier Dulac; artwork by Zoé Constans
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