Speed Chess Championship: The Cubano vs The Croissant
For this Speed Chess Championship match, both men have three names.

Speed Chess Championship: The Cubano vs The Croissant

| 14 | Chess Players

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave against GM Leinier Dominguez Perez: The "man with three names" meets yet another man with three names. But only 2800s get hyphens, it seems.

The two sesquipedalian chess players are the next two to face off in the opening round of the 2018 Speed Chess Championship. Counting the hyphen, both men have 21 characters in their names, but let's dig much deeper.

You can catch all the action live at or on Thursday, August 2, 12 p.m. Pacific, 3 p.m. Eastern, 9 p.m. Central Europe.


No matter your rooting interest, Speed Chess Championship fans are hoping for their first close match of 2018.

The two have played only one decisive game in classical, a win for the Frenchman way back at the 2013 World Cup. They've actually played an equal number of accelerated time controls as slow chess, with Vachier-Lagrave edging Dominguez 2-1 with three more draws.

But before you go thinking that France is a favorite just like in this year's World Cup final, remember that it is Dominguez who was primero in the 2008 World Blitz Championship. Vachier-Lagrave's best finish was deuxième in 2015. To be fair, the Frenchman does also have a world title on his CV, the 2009 World Junior Championship.


Interestingly, despite being the "8-vs.-9" matchup, this one doesn't have the closest prediction. Still, 72 percent is far from a sure thing!

So while we don't know who will come out on top after three hours of bullet and blitz, let's at least learn more about the players.

1. (Finish the sentence) When France won the World Cup, I ________________.

MVL: When France won the World Cup, I was 8 years old and watching the match while on vacation. Oh wait, that was '98. [MK: Vachier-Lagrave confirmed after this joke that he did watch France's win in 2018, and some of his "bravest" friends, himself included, may or may not but definitely did walk three miles down Champs Elysées chanting the entire way.]

LDP: Felt a bit sorry for the Croatians who played so well in general, but at the same time realized that it was a fully deserved victory.

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave playing a sport he's more accustomed to. While notably a fan of France and of Olympique Lyonnaise, on this day he appeared to be wearing a Borussia Dortmund jersey of Marco Reus, who did score a goal at this year's World Cup, although it didn't help Germany advance.

2. Did you see any of the first two SCC matches (Aronian-Caruana and Nakamura-Hou Yifan)? And if so, what were your thoughts?

MVL: I did see some parts and the highlights. Things started going very wrong for Fabi at the start and it's very hard to recover from that. As for Hou Yifan, you can't expect to do anything at all against Hikaru if you miss all of your chances. That being said, even if that had gone in her favor Hikaru is just too much better in this format.

LDP: Yes, I saw both matches and was slightly surprised by the fact that they were so one-sided. One would expect more of a fight, but in this kind of format when you have a bad day things can go really wrong!


3. Of course you are both in Nakamura's bracket, and the winner of your match plays him next. Without giving me the "I just take it one match at a time" line, seriously, what kind of strategy is there to beat Nakamura?

MVL: Play better than the first two times I faced him! [MK: While Vachier-Lagrave went down to Nakamura in the 2016 version of the event, he did beat Nakamura in an over-the-board blitz playoff this year in Gibraltar.]

LDP: Well if you find out about such strategy let me know! Seriously though, he is obviously one of the toughest opponents in this kind of format. I guess you would have to play really well and especially you would have to do it consistently.


4. If added a variant to Speed Chess (any variant, not just the ones available now on our live server), which one would help you the most (three-check, blindfold, crazyhouse, progressive, anything)?

MVL: I guess blindfold could be nice though it's much more demanding than all other variants. [MK: Note that Vachier-Lagrave has actually defeated Dominguez in a blindfold game at the MindGames event in 2011. Knights are even trickier without sight!]

LDP: Progressive would be fun I think; I used to be not so bad at it.

5. What's your take? Caruana's bad loss to Aronian will help him (perhaps give him more time to prepare) or hurt time (psychologically perhaps) or have no effect on his world championship chances?

MVL: I really don't think it will make any difference. You can't let one bad day influence the outcome of an almost month-long match.

LDP: I would go with no effect at all because he will probably play some tournaments before the match and there he will get different/new emotions.

6. Convince me why Cuban or French food is better.

MVL: I don't need to convince you, you already know it!

LDP: Cuban food is better because nothing can beat tamales and roasted pork in traditional cuban style!


Fusion cuisine? We have no idea if this will actually taste good, but here's the recipe if you want to try. For Dominguez, yes, that's pork!

7. Which time control do you think will be your strength, and which one are you worried about?

MVL: Our match will be very disputed in all time controls, so I think whoever has the best reactions and feelings during the match will end up bagging it. 

LDP: I am always worried about having less time, so 1/1. I am bit worried and maybe I will do better in 5/1. 


8. Final question, and a changeup or sorts—what's the most impressive game that your opponent has ever played (not against you, I mean in his entire career)?

MVL: I'll only have a look at Leinier's games after I finish my own tournament in Biel! [MK: We will impose the "fairness doctrine" and select a game on behalf of Vachier-Lagrave. Why not another swashbuckler against GM Alexander Morozevich, just like Dominguez's choice!]

LDP: I will never forget Morozevich-Vachier-Lagrave, Biel 2009. An amazing game with lots of nice and unusual motifs!

Don't forget to warm up those Cuban French-bread sandwiches later this week. You can catch all the action live at or on Thursday, August 2, 12 p.m. Pacific, 3 p.m. Eastern, 9 p.m. Central Europe.

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