France has had its share of strong players, but few made as big a splash as when a young Marie Sebag burst onto the seen. Born in Paris in 1986, Sebag won the European Youth Championships three times, one each for Girl’s U12, U14, and U16. She also shared first place at the World Youth in Girl’s U18. Marie truly made headlines, however, at the Grand Prix de Sénat rapid event in 2003. The upstart 16-year-old defeated 2600+ GM Laurent Fresinet 2-0 in the semis, and came close to defeating GM Anatoly Vaisser in the finals, though regrettably came up short.
Sebag played in several Women’s World Championship knockout events, her best result coming in 2006 when she made the quarterfinals. She has also manned board 1 for the French Women’s team in many international competitions. Another milestone in Marie’s career came at the Hogeschool Zeeland tournament in 2007, where she not only achieved her second GM norm, but beat former FIDE World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Few players can claim to have defeated a former World Champion, never mind doing so at age 21. Marie is the only woman to secure the GM title from her country, and is currently their #1 female player by a wide margin. It will be interesting to see how the French star fares at the Cairns Cup.