How Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Is Focusing On Qualifying For The Next Candidates Tournament

How Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Is Focusing On Qualifying For The Next Candidates Tournament

| 22 | Fun & Trivia

This month we are pleased to meet Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, known as MVL, the French number 1 and member of world top 5. France will follow closely his quest for the world title that will require being qualified for the next Candidates tournament. Thus, the next Grand Prix will be crucial. That's why we will watch it carefully on our channel. Jurmala Grand Prix (a seaside resort near Riga in Latvia) will take place from July 12 to 25, and our pair Vlad Tkachiev and Kevin Bordi will comment daily on our Twitch channel:

Maxime, how do you feel before this first Grand Prix ?

I am not very satisfied with my performances these last months. I think I could put more pressure on my opponents in openings. Also, I don't feel I played that badly but when you get a pleasant position; it's become easier.

Because we know that getting your ticket for the Candidates is your main goal, what do you think is the simplest way to qualify?

The Grand Prix, from far IOM (Isle of Man tournament, qualifying this year for the Candidates) is way too unpredictable. If such an open tournament must exist, then it should never guarantee only one ticket. Even I think that three should be a minimum. Also, it's very nice to add new tournaments qualifying for the Candidates..., but for me, it stifles an already very busy calendar. About the World Cup, the format suits well to my skills, but it remains harsh for the body and the nerves with a huge random factor. I remember that before World Cup 2017, I checked on the cross table and gave myself only 10 or 15% chances to reach the final. The GP will have a new format, which sounds exciting and which obviously gives me a relative advantage on the other players with the knockout, the tie breaks and the "consistency ranking" from which I should benefit, if I believe my last performances in World Cup. Nevertheless, we should not abuse it for three reasons: the free days are crucial, of course; the bonus point for the wins in classical games—a very good idea by the way; and also the adversity which remains very tough, particularly in rapids.

Because you have a busy agenda with also the Grand Chess Tour, how do you plan to manage your energy? Play everything "full on" or focus on Candidates?

I am obviously focused on Candidates, but I don't think I would prepare myself correctly to GP's playing half fig, half grap, the other tournaments.

Recently, it seems that Magnus resumed the climb on the competition with eight successes in a row! How do you explain that? And how do you think you can reduce the gap with him?

It's mainly connected to the fact that he found with his team many new ideas and approaches recently. Sveshnikov, for example, brings him lots of points, so did the Najdorf for me at some point. And as I said before, it's easier to play better in pleasant positions that suit to your style. Also, it adds value to his performance to have always preserved his rank of world number one even when his play was less convincing.

You just became world number 1 in blitz. Congratulations! Was it a real goal for you or "it just happened," thanks to your excellent results this year at this time control?

It really had been the product of my recent results in blitz. I was feeling that at the top of my shape, I could be part of a duo or a trio who could tickle Magnus. I was just lacking a bit of regularity. Nevertheless, after one year, including GCT of Saint-Louis, I just won every blitz tournaments I played, and I hope to keep going on. From this point of view, my goal is to win the World Blitz Championship, which would be much more significant.

Personally, what are your favorite games (including yours and also in general)?

Three games are drawing pretty easily: my game against Robert Fontaine in 2007; of course, the one with Moro in 2009; and the game against Ding Liren in 2013 at Paris—three pretty crazy wins but in three different styles! About historical games, it's more difficult to make some choices, but how not to say Kasparov-Topalov? 1999. I also loved the game Gashimov-Grischuk.

The famous starting position of the brilliant combination played by the 13th world champion in history, Garry Kasparov.

Now, let's watch the other favorite game of Maxim. Again, the back king goes off into the blue, but this time his excursion ends victoriously!

Also this year, you started streaming. How did the idea come about? Is this an activity you will keep doing regularly? What ideas do you have about a schedule like "In the mind of a pro player" so your fans can follow your tournaments with your post-games reactions and a short analysis, for example?

I had been approached by to make those streams. It's an activity I like and which creates a real interactivity with the audience. It's also very lucid and without any headache. Nevertheless, it takes lots of time and energy, so the next months won't allow me to stream a lot. I did not think yet about any streaming schedule, but it's obviously something I will consider as soon as I get more free time.

Thanks you, Maxime, for answering to my questions and good luck with Jurmala and all your following tournaments, wishing that it ends with you qualifying for the Candidates!

Now, let's look at three of MVL's best games!

#3 Robert Fontaine vs. MVL, National 2007:

#2 MVL vs. Ding Liren, Wijk Aan Zee 2015:

#1 Alexander Morozevich vs. MVL, Bienne 2009:

 MVL's schedule in the next few months to qualify for the Candidates:

FIDE Grand Prix (2nd stage) Jurmala:  July 11-25, 2019

World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk: September 9-October 2, 2019

Grand Swiss 2019 Isle of Man: October 8-22, 2019

FIDE Grand Prix (3rd stage) Hambourg: November 4-18, 2019

FIDE Grand Prix (4th stage) Tel Aviv: December 10-24, 2019

Book your agenda to root for MVL #MVLCandidat! Follow all of Maxime's games commentated on our channel Twitch

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