Paris Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour: Vachier-Lagrave Struggles, Still Leads
After a less than perfect first day of blitz, MVL still leads in Paris. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Paris Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour: Vachier-Lagrave Struggles, Still Leads

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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22 | Chess Event Coverage

Local hero Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is two points ahead of Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk with nine blitz rounds to go at the Paris Grand Chess Tour. The tournament resumes with the remaining nine rounds of blitz on Thursday.

Vachier-Lagrave can call himself fortunate that he is still topping the standings after a somewhat disappointing first day of blitz. He is the world number-one-rated blitz player after all, and he scored only 50 percent on Wednesday.

That actually means MVL is not wearing the "yellow jersey" anymore in the blitz live ratings; combined with two games from the Riga Grand Prix final, he lost almost 50 points and dropped to third place, behind Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave yellow jersey Tour de France
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was wearing a yellow Tour de France t-shirt on Sunday, when the tour finished in Paris. He is not the world number-one blitz player anymore. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Nakamura "won" the first nine rounds of blitz, scoring 6.5/9. Nepomniachtchi got 5.5 points to reach shared second place in the tournament standings, alongside Grischuk. 

Fabiano Caruana scored the same and is now tied for fourth with Vishy Anand. The Dutch GM Anish Giri is still in last place after his 4/9 in the blitz.

Anish Giri Paris Grand Chess Tour
Anish Giri has been struggling so far in Paris. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Nakamura is still three points behind MVL with nine rounds to go. The American GM started right away with a win against the former world blitz champion Alexander Grischuk but the following loss, where he dropped a full piece, might cost him dearly:

Hikaru Nakamura Paris Blitz 2019
Nakamura's 6.5/9 was the best blitz score. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Nakamura did win the direct encounter with MVL, using an interesting idea in the opening. Accepting the pawn sacrifice seems better than what Vachier-Lagrave did:

Our annotator looked at another good game by Nakamura; his win vs. Jan-Krzysztof Duda. It was a Trompowsky, turned-French Rubinstein, turned-Panov Caro-Kann:

Vachier-Lagrave also lost to Duda, Grischuk and Giri.

MVL was nicely outplaying Grischuk from a King's Indian, but completely missed the last trick built into the position by the Russian player—a trick that was possible earlier in the game as well!

MVL Paris Grand Chess Tour.
MVL couldn't avoid a few blunders. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Giri played spoiler as MVL forgot about his back rank for a moment:

There was a nice tactic in the game between Anand and Daniil Dubov, but also not too difficult, so this should be categorized as a blunder as well:

Daniil Dubov 2019 Paris Grand Chess Tour.
Daniil Dubov. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

With nine rounds to got it's the two Russians Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi who are the biggest threat to Vachier-Lagrave. "Nepo" played two Pircs, and won both (although he was lost against Giri). The first was spectacular:

Nepomniachtchi 2019 Paris Grand Chess Tour.
Ian Nepomniachtchi. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

2019 Paris Grand Chess Tour Blitz standings round 18

The standings after rapid and nine rounds of blitz. | Image: Spectrum Studios.

The Paris Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour takes place July 27-August 1. After three days of rapid (nine rounds), two days of blitz will follow with nine rounds on each day.  The first four days start at 3 p.m. local time (GMT+2), 6 a.m. Pacific. The last day starts an hour earlier.

Chess.com is providing daily coverage on Twitch.tv/Chess and Chess.com/TV. (See also our press release.)

Paris Rapid & Blitz 2019 Chess.com coverage

Day 4 coverage:

All games of rounds 10-18 for replay/download:


You can find all games here as part of our live portal. More photos from the event can be found here. The official site is here.


Correction: an earlier version erroneously stated that Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was only a point ahead of Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk.


Previous reports:

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