Person of day   -  15 OCTOBER 2023



Marie Rachel Sebag was born on 15thOctober 1986 in Paris. In the early 1990s, France experienced a chess boom as grandmasters and trainers alike immigrated in droves, from Lev Polugaevsky and Josif Dorfman to Anatoly Vaisser. Furthermore, France produced its own notable rising players in the form of Joel Lautier and Etienne Bacrot. French chess began to attract large sponsors and a French super-club even won the European Cup. However, the city on the Seine was bereft of talented female players. But then a little girl in large glasses attended the open Parisian championship. 

The names of the finest French grandmasters are inevitably linked to famous trainers, like Polugaevsky, Dorfman or Belyavsky. Sebag’s path was different: Marie-Rachel grew up self-educated, which did not prevent her from achieving impressive results in sport. The young French lady confidently won juniors’ championships in Europe and created a real sensation when she played in the world U18 championship, where she almost came first among far older competitors. 

From 2000 onwards, Marie Sebag became the leader of French women’s chess after she won the national championship for the first time. The rising star had little competition- her closest rival, Anna Miller, had a rating of 2135. Marie has played for her country since 2001. France’s best results are 7thplace at the 2015 European championship and 9thplace at the 2008 Olympiad. French women began to look like a serious force after Almira Skripchenko transferred to their federation, followed by Collas, Millet and other formidable chess players. 

At the 2006 world championship, a young Sebag sensationally outplayed titled opponents Elena Zaiats, Humpy Koneru and Qin Kanying, but she lost to Svetlana Matveeva in the quarterfinals. In the future, Marie would win matches against men; for example, in 2007, she decisively defeated former FIDE world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Her rating reached 2533 in 2008, which made Marie one of the five strongest female players in the world. The French woman has defeated seven female world champions: Zhu Chen, Antoaneta Stefanova, Xu Yuhua, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Mariya Muzychuk and Anna Ushenina.  

Marie Sebag went on to play in many more world championships. She also won several difficult women’s tournaments, won prizes and gold medals at the European Cup and achieved success in women’s Grand Prixes. The French woman is well-known for her fanatical passion for online blitz and she often plays on popular servers. 

Marie Sebag’s interests are by no means limited to chess. In 2012, she took part in the most popular French TV show: Secret Story. However, she didn’t manage to overcome local pop-stars and crashed out before the final. Marie-Rachel has diplomas from two universities- Paris Nanterre University and Saint-Denis- and she specialised in psychology. 

In recent years, the celebrated grandmaster has become less active in her performances; Marie gave birth to a daughter called Shaina.