Maxime Vachier-Lagrave bounces back and wins
The danger of having a badly-placed piece becomes concrete when the position opens up or the fight becomes sharper. That’s exactly what happened after black exchanged pawns on d4, as the white knight appeared on the dangerous square f5. Vachier-Lagrave increased the pressure with the strong manoeuver 23.f3 followed by 24.Qf2 and Qg3, ready to threaten mate on g7. With his position about to collapse, Mamedyarov sacrificed a pawn, but this did not ease his defence. Vachier-Lagrave confidently wrapped up the game with a few precise moves.
After a win for each contender, the final proceeds to a tie-break on Wednesday, which promises to be hard-fought. The outcome will depend on the shape of both players on that final day. Both have benefitted of several rest days during the event and could therefore save some energy. All these factors being equal, Vachier-Lagrave can be considered the favourite. His record in rapid chess has been slightly superior to Mamedyarov’s recently. Last but not least, the French leads the world ranking in blitz chess with a stunning rating of 2948. The games will start at 15:00.
Final, game 2:
Vachier-Lagrave – Mamedyarov 1 – 0 (1 – 1 on aggregate)
Text by Press Officer Yannick Pelletier; Photo courtesy: World Chess