GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (@Lyonbeast) defeated GM Nihal Sarin (@NihalSarin) 16.5-11.5 in the first match of the 2020 Speed Chess Championship Main Event. Winning the Junior Speed Chess Championship was a fine achievement by Sarin, but on Sunday he had to admit that the Speed Chess Main Event is a whole other ball game. World number-three in blitz, Vachier-Lagrave won in all three time-controls, while Sarin put up a great fight that included some fine tactical shots.
Sarin could keep the pace for four games when the match was still tied. Vachier-Lagrave then won game five and, after two draws, also games eight and nine to finish the five-minute segment with a three-point lead. That became four points after the second three-minute game as MVL successfully tried a knight sacrifice that is almost certainly stored in Sarin’s laptop, but the young Indian GM forgot about how to draw against it.
The match seemed over. However, with two fine wins in a row, Sarin was back. However, Vachier-Lagrave won the next two games to restore the four-point margin, and Sarin never got close again. Like in the three-minute portion, the French GM won the bullet segment with a one-point difference.
Sarin earned $821.43 based on win percentage; MVL won $2,000 for the victory plus $1,178.57 on percentage, totaling $3,178.57. He moves on to the quarterfinals, where he will play the winner of GM Levon Aronian vs. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi.