Vachier-Lagrave Sacs Exchange, Queen For King Hunt - Top 10 of the 2000s - Fontaine vs. MVL, 2007
Is this Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's finest win?

Vachier-Lagrave Sacs Exchange, Queen For King Hunt - Top 10 of the 2000s - Fontaine vs. MVL, 2007

SamCopeland
NM SamCopeland
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6

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is one of the finest chess players on the planet today, but everyone starts somewhere; he too was once a young prodigy, hungering for his first elite victories.

In his first (but possibly not last?) game on this list, a 17-year-old Maxime Vachier-Lagrave achieved a spectacular victory that helped him earn his first victory in the French National Championship.

Top 10 Games of the 2000s

The game is exciting throughout as MVL announces his intentions for speculative and creative play on move 10 with a purely positional exchange sacrifice. His ensuing kingside counterplay probably should have been refuted with direct and accurate play in the middle of the board, but it only takes a few small missteps from Fontaine for his game to start looking up.

When Fontaine initiates tactics, MVL sacrifices his queen for a promising and complex h-file attack that is nicely complemented by the minor pieces. The game seems likely to resolve in perpetual check when MVL tries one last trick with 29...b5!? When Fontaine accepts, MVL's accurate play leads to an incredibly satisfying checkmating attack.

Lessons:

  • Exchange sacrifices are about piece quality, not quantity.
  • Don't take your opponent's suspicious gifts (Qxb5?).
  • Don't forget about the possibility of underpromotion.

My notes are below. Enjoy the game!

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