In what some think could have been a prelude for a Speed World Championship match, traditional Chess World Champion Magnus Carlsen (NOR) faced Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) on the semifinals of the Speed Chess Championship.
The Speed Chess Championship is pitting the best speed chess players in the world. The format involves as many games as possible in an hour and a half, with each game with a time control of five minutes plus one second per move, per player, on the first match, and then three minutes plus one second per move, per player for the second match and a Blitz (1’+1”, 10 minutes toatl) for the last one.
Both players started taking two games each (Magnus the first two) and then they tied the third one for an equal score of 2.5. Maxime looked very solid and throughout the games ended with more time than Magnus, and he went up 4-3 when the time would only allow for one more game.
Maxime only needed a draw to win the first match and Maxime was able to block Magnus’ game, although at some point both players had less than ten seconds each and while logically the game would lead to a draw, they were at the expense of potential mistakes.
In a tough situation, Maxime was able to draw the game with just the King remaining per side. The first match ended with an “MVL” win 4.5-3.5!
The second match started with a draw and then Maxime took the win. Carlsen came back for the 5-6 but then he committed a blunder where he moved the wrong piece and instead of moving to a check he conceded the loss for a 5-7.
He has bounced back from these kinds of mistakes in the past and indeed it did not seem to affect him much but Maxime still looked dominating, both in the position, number of pieces and time. He won the 8-5 with five pieces to two remaining. Magnus took the next two. MLV won the last one with a “Berlin Wall” for the 9-5.
MVL recently defeated one of the world’s best Blitz players, Hikaru Nakamura (USA) and wanted to replicate that. He kept dominating and went up 12-9 when it looked like Magnus needed to win the rest of the matches. Maxine could have won the 13-9 by making Magnus lose time but he was a total sportsman and lost the point on the table.
Magnus won his fourth consecutive match for a 11-12 with just one to go. It was all down to two minutes! Maxine looked solid with a well-protected castling and Magnus ran out of time! The Frenchman upset the World Champion- 13-11 to go to the Final!
Maxine Vachier-Lagrave will give Hikaru Nakamura a rematch tomorrow to define the winner of this Speed Chess Championship. Hikaru could be the favorite but Maxine is on fire.