Speed Chess Championship: The Frenchman vs The X-Man
This Wednesday's second-to-last Speed Chess Championship opening-round clash will feature the world's new number-two and the youngest player of the event.
GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, fresh off his career's marquee victory at the 2017 Sinquefield Cup, will face off against upstart GM Jeffery Xiong, one of the event's four qualifiers.
The match will be August 30 at 9 a.m. Pacific, 12 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central Europe and will be shown live on Chess.com/TV.
Does the X-man have what it takes to be an x-factor in the Speed Chess Championship? No upsets according to seeding have ever occurred in the event's two-year history. While this is a #4 vs. #13 matchup, the rating spread is not the largest of the first round (October's Carlsen-Guisenov matchup is slightly more imbalanced according to current classical ratings).
GM Jeffrey Xiong, the X-man?
When he shows his face, it's to feel sad for his opponents!
Are they really that different, or are they just at different stages in their careers? After all, it's a battle of two world champions. Vachier-Lagrave won the world junior championship in 2009 at the age of 19. Xiong would not be impressed. He's the reigning junior champion, winning last year at 15, before most U.S. states would let him drive a car. Vachier-Lagrave was driving Peugeots; Xiong was climbing podiums.
But score one for the world number-two: While both became grandmasters at 14, Vachier-Lagrave earned the title a few weeks quicker. And there's that whole bit about being 2800 and the most feared Najdorf player of the era!
GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, le roi.
Xiong might be hoping that coming of age solely in the internet era will give him the edge online (even though Vachier-Lagrave is online a ton these days!). Xiong, who is exactly 10 years and nine days younger than the Frenchman, never even knew the 1900s.
Or the American might just be hoping that a fellow countryman gave an assist, and significantly wore out Vachier-Lagrave, in what has been called the world giant chess championship.
How do you settle a battle of players a decade apart? Let's look at their best tactics. Let us know in the comments who impresses you more from the sample below!
GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Bonus game! We present this without analysis. Just the starting position shows you what kind of creativity Vachier-Lagrave is capable of. As original as GMs Jobava and Rapport are in the first 10 moves, the Frenchman is equally flamboyant in the next 10 moves.
Now for the teenager's best tactics:
GM Jeffrey Xiong
Who will show more tactical prowess Wednesday? Give your predictions in the comments, and tune in to Chess.com/TV to find out. Remember that all the actin starts August 30 at 9 a.m. Pacific, 12 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central Europe.