In a letter still in my possession the Federation explained their decision by saying that during one of my appearances for the team I’d emptied a pack of nuts and refused to pick them up, and that I went to eat a pizza instead of going to eat along with the team; and that in the evenings I’d play table football. Later it was claimed on a chess forum, without any further details being given, that I’d committed very serious offences.
Last year, as French University Champion, I qualified to take part in the World University Championship. The full board cost of participating was 700 euros, which was to be split equally between the French University Sports Federation and the French Chess Federation. The FCF refused to pay that sum giving the pretext that they didn’t have enough money … At about the same time I made an oral request to take part in the U20 World Championship. I received the same response, once more depriving me of significant chances of taking one of the top places in that tournament, despite the fact that I’d have been one of the favourites at both those events.
At the time one of my relatives advised me to supplement my oral request to take part in the World Championship with one in writing, so there was a record of it. He thought that if someone subsequently asked why a French chess player with good chances of winning these prestigious events hadn’t even taken part the FCF would respond that he hadn’t even asked… Their dishonesty actually did reach that point, but fortunately I was able to point to the written document.
During my career the FCF has never helped me without being forced to do so, while other grandmasters favoured by the Federation have enjoyed its support.
3. Can you respond to the testimonies of certain grandmasters who’ve claimed that you made long series of computer moves?
It’s hard to respond to those “testimonies” given the fact that they change from one moment to the next: I was accused of playing 90% of the moves suggested by the computer but when we refuted that “argument” I was accused of playing a majority of moves using external assistance, and then, finally, a few moves…
How can you respond? My accusers don’t even know themselves what they’re accusing me of.
Despite what some people say and, by the way, that’s contested by others, my games at the Olympiad weren’t all that good, and you might even say they were very mediocre.
I lost to a player with a 2350 rating and in other games I alternated good moves with bad ones, which for a grandmaster at my level is very mediocre. My performance at the European Championship, in contrast, was excellent, even though my slightest movement was being observed, including if I went to the toilet, and I was under maximum pressure in a hostile environment (accusations, petitions, cameras present during the games…).
4. Have you considered changing federation?
Yes, but I want to play for France for as long as possible. The people behind these false accusations have sullied both the image of chess and of my country. I’ve got nothing to reproach myself with, and therefore I don’t want to leave. I want to keep fighting for France and preserve its dignity by forcing these people to quit (he has in mind some of the members of the FCF – WhyChess).
In my possession I’ve got extensive information on financial irregularities, much of it yet to be disclosed, which should help me in that regard.
And that’s not to mention the overly inflated salaries of some of those running the FCF.
As you know, my Federation is taking on a lot of initiatives on a global scale: to “oust”, in their words, the FIDE President, to establish a new international federation which it’s claimed will be the best in the world…
Unfortunately it’s already a dozen years since we’ve seen a world-class tournament in France.
6. When will you be able to give us all the details of this affair?
I think that for now it’s necessary to let justice run its course.
I’ve got a clear conscience and we (my counsel Charles Morel and myself) are confident of my chances.
Now that the case is in court (we’ve been waiting impatiently for this moment) we finally have the right to a just hearing and impartial judges.
The decision of the Versailles Court of Appeal was also a move in that direction.
7. How did those close to you react?
They’ve given me great support. Like many other observers of this situation, chess fans and even those far removed from the world of chess, they can’t understand the hatred and fury from the FCF leadership.
8. Has the FCF offered you a peaceful settlement?
Given the fact that I’m innocent no settlement is possible until the Federation withdraws its false accusations.
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Sebastien Feller's story