'Smooth Operator' MVL Wins Chess960 Championship
The super-grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave decided to join the field and ended up crushing that field. The French number-one scored 8.5/9 and won the very first Chess.com Chess960 Championship on Thursday.
It was the first edition of the official championship of Chess960, or Fischerrandom, on our site. Holding this tournament was inspired by the decision of the Reykjavik Open organizers to hold a Fischerrandom tournament on the rest day, on March 9, which would have been Bobby Fischer's 75th birthday.
Thursday's Chess.com Chess960 Championship (nine rounds, games of four minutes and two seconds increment) had a fairly strong field, with besides MVL also e.g. GMs Dmitry Andreikin, Grigoryi Oparin, Salem Saleh, Georg Meier and Benjamin Bok.
The two IMs who will face each other in a Death Match on January 9 here on Chess.com, John Bartholomew and Lawrence Trent, also participated.
It was also the debut of GM Yasser Seirawan on our site, invited as co-host (alongside IM Danny Rensch) since he is kind of an expert in Chess960. Besides his general chess experience, Seirawan has also participated in Fischerrandom tournaments in the Netherlands for many years.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was obviously the favorite, and he delivered. Not only was his score top-GM worthy, but he played some very nice games as well. Already in the second round he sacrificed not only his queen but then threw in a rook as well.
One of MVL's strongest opponents was Andreikin, but the Russian grandmaster broke a few rules of healthy chess in this game. Black was already very comfortable in this Caro-Kann type of middlegame when going for the h7-pawn was way too dangerous for White.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
There was only one scary moment where MVL needed the winner's luck to survive. Sergey Grigoriants, one of the Speed Chess qualifiers last year and the eventual runner-up behind MVL in this tournament, was doing quite well until he allowed a perpetual.
When the game finished, Seirawan literally applauded the players. "That game had something for everybody!"
By the end of the tournament Rensch described MVL as the "smooth operator," and Seirawan knew his classics as he instantly named Sade as the artist of that song.
Vachier-Lagrave won't be able to make it to Reykjavik in March, so he'll be taking the second prize instead. Chess.com has contacted the other top finishers for awarding the other prizes. One of these top finishers will be seen playing the Fischerrandom tournament during the Reykjavik Open, with expenses covered.
2018 Chess.com Chess960 Championship | Final Standings (Top 20)
|1||GM LyonBeast (3047)||Maxime Vachier-Lagrave||8.5||45.5|
|2||GM sergiochess83 (3043)||Sergey Grigoriants||8||44.75|
|3||GM 2Vladimirovich90 (2986)||Dmitry Andreikin||7||30.25|
|4||GM SamvelTerSahakyan (2837)||Samvel Ter-Sahakyan||7||26|
|5||GM GeorgMeier (2846)||Georg Meier||6.5||32|
|6||GM BartoszSocko (2906)||Bartosz Socko||6.5||30.5|
|7||IM renatoterrylujan (2895)||Renato Alfredo Terry Lujan||6.5||29.5|
|8||IM Keranke (2832)||Vladimir Seliverstov||6.5||27.5|
|9||GM Parhamov (2680)||Parham Maghsoodloo||6.5||27.25|
|10||GM DeviatkinAndrey (2655)||Andrey Deviatkin||6.5||27|
|11||GM Hanapazorya (2816)||Hrant Melkumyan||6.5||26|
|12||IM Fins0905 (2789)||John Bartholomew||6||25|
|12||GM Arabicfalcon (2879)||Salem Saleh||6||25|
|14||FM ChessIsEternal (2602)||Ankit Gajwa||6||23.5|
|15||FM alishersuleymenov (2753)||Alisher Suleymenov||6||22|
|16||FM yrtimd (2733)||(anonymous)||6||21|
|17||IM Patzel09 (2457)||Patrick Zelbel||5.5||23.75|
|18||GM JackSnipe (2965)||Benjamin Bok||5.5||21.75|
|19||GM OparinGrigoriy (2773)||Grigoriy Oparin||5.5||19.5|
|20||IM KNVB (2624)||Aman Hambleton||5.5||19|
(Ratings after playing the tournament; full standings here.)