France has a storied history and it one of the most iconic countries for chess. It is well-known that François-André Danican Philidor was one of the first chess pioneers and his Analyse du jeu des Échecs was a standard chess guide for more than a century. Even military commander Napoleon Bonaparte was a known chess aficionado. However, in modern history, France has no shortage of chess talent. In the late-80s and early-90s, a girl named Raphaelle Bujisho from Bastia region made her mark.
Photothèque © Europe-Echecs
Born during the “Fischer Boom” March 1st of 1976, Raphaelle began playing chess in the age group championships winning the French Girls’ Championship in 1989. She represented France internationally in the European Under-20 Girls (1992) and World Under-18 Girls (1994). At age 16, she crushed International Master (now GM) Vladimir Okhotnik at the 1992 LeTourquet Open.
As a young talent, she participated in the French national championships in 1993, 1995, 1998 and 1999 editions. As a 19-year old, she won clear 1st in 1995 with a sizzling 9-2. She placed joint 1st in 1998 with Christine Flear at 8-2 (Flear champion on tiebreaks). Her peak FIDE rating was 2245.
Raphaelle (then Delahaye) took a two-year hiatus from chess and in 2002 returned for the women’s championship, placing joint 2nd with 7½-3½. Also that year, she toppled Bulgarian Grandmaster Ivan Radulov of Bulgaria in the Nationale III Bastia-Antibes. What is more impressive is her steady play and handling of the K+B+R vs K+R ending against the experienced Grandmaster.
Raphaelle remarried and now carries the last name “Siebrecht,” but may also be known as the older brother of IM Benjamin Bujisho, a talented player in his own right. It is always a triumph for chess to have the game prominently played in a family. What is also important to note is her consistency and her unrelenting style of play. She was able to catch a couple of stronger players off guard. Following are a couple of games in the French Championships including the final game of her only clear 1st title.
Raphaelle Delahaye at 2002 French Women’s Championships.
Photo by Europe-Echecs