Previewing The Sinquefield Cup (6): Can Vachier-Lagrave Beat Carlsen?

In a previous article Previewing The Sinquefield Cup (5): Can Topalov Beat Carlsen?, I discussed the likelyhood of Topalov beating Carlsen during the upcoming Sinquefield Cup. In this follow-up I want to take a look at the number six on the starting list, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, or “MVL” for friends.


In the database I found only 5 encounters in classical chess between Magnus Carlsen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. In the overall head to head Vachier-Lagrave is behind with 40%, but with so little data, there is no real pattern yet. With two draws he has beaten Carlsen once, whereas Carlsen has beaten him twice.

Last Encounter

The last encounter in a classical game between the two is from a while back. It was played in 2011 in Biel. I will annotate the game below.
Click on the moves below to start playing and show a chess board:

Considering the small number of games and the fact that both contenders have not played in over three years, I find it hard so say anything useful about how these two players will compete.

Later today the fun starts.
Let the strongest man win the tournament (and I don’t necessarily mean Carlsen)!

By the way, enjoy the Karpov game:


  1. Marco Pernechele October 4, 2014

    In the last three years Vachier Lagrave’s play has improved in an impressive way , much more than fortyfive Elo points can tell . He is very young (20 ,I think ) , but shows no significant weaknesses , is self confident and is visibly becoming stronger and stronger.
    This game is untypical of his style ; moreover , in my opinion he chose the ‘ wrong ‘ opening in the hope to get a quick draw – what he does not do anymore . I’m curious to see him playing in some superstrong tournament . I’m sure in the next years he’ll do very well – provided he decides to become a true chess professional.

  2. Author
    Waldemar October 4, 2014

    Hi Marco,

    Yes he has grown enormously, which was part of the reason they invited him to St. Louis. He was simply one of the very next contestants on the ELO-list when Karjakin could not “finalize” his papers. Also he is known for his uncompromising style. I believe he is still showing some weaknesses though (who hasn’t got them), as became apparent in this super strong tournament. What did you think of his performance?

  3. Marco October 7, 2014

    MVL didn’t perform badly ( 4 / 10 ) and , above all , in the games I’ve seen he never blundered . As many young players , he probably relied a bit too much in his opening preparation and repertoire , and he felt the big tension of these superstrong tournaments , much bigger than , say , what I saw in Biel , where he dominated from day one or so . But in the second game against Carlsen he fought like a lion in an ‘ uncomfortable’ position and got a deserved draw. Much more disappointing than MVL was, once again , Nakamura , but , as I already said , he must change trainer and/or method of training , and is still very young.Let’s not forget that even Fischer’s legend really began in 1966 at Santa Monica , where after a catastrophical start ( 3,5/9) and three fast losses in a row he did 7,5 out of 9.

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