Interview with Jean Michel Rapaire, president of Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo

June 27, 2008

Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo (CEMC) have completed their registration for the European Chess Club Cup 2008. They will participate with a men team “pour le plaisir”, but what really will make a strong difference in the competition is their women team – GM Humpy Koneru, GM Pia Cramling, GM Xie Jun, IM Monika Socko, and IM Almira Skripchenko.

We had the chance to talk to Jean Michel Rapaire, who is president of CEMC since December 1990.

Dear Jean Michel Rapaire, tell us about Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo (CEMC) and its history.

Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo (CEMC) has been established in 1949. The first league appearance has been in the French league IV on 19th of November, 1994. Step by step we succeed to reach Top 16 during the season 1998. In the next 8 seasons we achieved nice results in the competition – CEMC is 3 times vice champion (1999, 2004, 2006) and two times champion (2001, 2002). We participated at the ECC 2004 in Izmir, as Vice Champion of France, so with French flag. There we managed to take 8th place.

Many GMs have played for Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo – Vassily Ivanchuk, Igor Efimov, David Norwood, Bachar Kouatly, Ulf Andersson, Arkadij Rotstein, Michael Adams, John Nunn, David Marciano, Anthony Kosten, Gilles Miralles, Matthew Sadler, Jeroen Piket, Eloi Relange, Marc Santo-Roman, Alexander Morozevich, Arnaud Hauchard, Christian Bauer, Iossif Dorfman, Alexander Baburin, Alexei Shirov, Olivier Renet, Nigel Short, Vladimir Malakhov, Zoltan Almasi, Pavel Eljanov, Ivan Sokolov, Michal Krasenkow, Almira Skripchenko, Humpy Koneru, etc.

In May 2006, we decided to stop to participating in French Top 16 and we proposed to Mr. and Mrs. Van Oosteroom to try to win the Women European Club Cup and to play with the flag of Monaco. With the agreement of Van Oosterom’s family, we started building a “dream team”. It is build around the captain Almira Skripchenko and she does a wonderful job. For our first participation last year we reached our goal, to be club champions of Europe. It has converted in a perpetual challenge and we will try to win this year again.

For ECC 2008, in Kallithea we will be present with a strong women team and with a men team which will participate “pour le plaisir”.

Tell us about your expectations for the ECC 2008 in Kallithea

We are very happy to go in Kallithea, this will be the first time for me. I like the fact that ECU and the organizing Committee encourages all the teams to be in the same sports appearance during the games.We totally agree and we prepare T-shirts and sweat Shirts with logos of CEMC and our sponsor “Group SBM Monte-Carlo” (Casino de Monte-Carlo) for our Men Team and Women Team.

Another interesting innovation is that the organizing Committee offers free accommodation and full board in a single room for 7 nights for each team player equal or over 2700 fide rating in the latest list. It is very nice for clubs who uses services of Super Grand Master, but for the promotion of women chess we are sad there is no offer for women with Fide rating over 2600 or 2550. I understand Judith Polgar has a rating over 2700, but she doesn’t play in women competitions. You can tell me, why there should be a difference between men and women for the Elo? You are right to ask, but if you look at the prize fund there is difference as well – 5000 eur for women teams and 15 000 eur for men teams.

You will certainly be favorites for the title one more time. How do
you evaluate your chances?

Perhaps we are one of the favorites, I don’t know. We have to wait and see the others team’s composition. For CEMC we will see GM Humpy Koneru, GM Pia Cramling, GM Xie Jun, IM Monika Socko, and IM Almira Skripchenko.

GM Zhu Chen is pregnant, so GM and World Champion Xie Jun will play for CEMC. I am very happy Xie Jun joins CEMC Team, and one detail, Xie Jun won her second world Title 19 November 1993 in Monte-Carlo.

Official site of CEMC: www.monaco-chess-club.com

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