Vachier-Lagrave Surmounts Tenacious So –

Vachier-Lagrave Surmounts Tenacious So -


GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave overcame GM Wesley So in the 2022 Speed Chess Championship on Wednesday. Early in the match, Vachier-Lagrave gained as high as a four-point lead, but So fought back to even the score in the bullet segment. With just 12 minutes left on the match clock, the French grandmaster entered a new gear, winning four games in a row to seal victory. 

GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Nihal Sarin will face off in the first semifinal match on December 15 at 6 a.m. PT / 15:00 CET.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 Speed Chess Championship on You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on The games can also be followed from our Events Page. Live broadcast of the match, hosted by GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Robert Hess.

Blitz 5|1: Vachier-Lagrave-So 6-3

So scored the first point with an impeccable win against Vachier-Lagrave’s trademark Najdorf.

Vachier-Lagrave struck back with two wins in a row, creating tactical play in the endgame with clever minor piece maneuvers in game three.

Game eight was absolute madness where both sides promoted to two queens each in the time scramble, but Vachier-Lagrave had a ladder mate prepared for the end―extending his lead to four points. This wild clash is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao.

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

So closed out the five-minute blitz with an explosive attacking victory. 

Blitz 3|1: Vachier-Lagrave-So 4-5

After a draw in game one, So won again in a complex queen and knight vs. two rooks and bishop ending. 

In game four, Vachier-Lagrave infiltrated So’s weakened dark squares to win a Maroczy Bind miniature. 

One crucial element to Vachier-Lagrave’s success was a more varied opening repertoire. Commentator Hess noted that the world blitz champion was “as diverse as he’s ever seen,” and Vachier-Lagrave confirmed this after the match: “It was the plan to experiment with openings, especially with Black.”

Nearing the end of the 3-1, So managed to cut Vachier-Lagrave’s lead in half to two points with insightful play in a better bishop vs. knight ending. 

It came down to the bullet portion between these two top-notch grandmasters. Would So’s comeback continue? Or would Vachier-Lagrave carry his lead to victory?

Bullet 1|1: Vachier-Lagrave-So 6.5-4.5

Out of the gates in game two, So brought this thrilling match to a one-point difference with precise play in an advantageous rook ending.

So nearly tied the match the following game, but Vachier-Lagrave’s amazing defensive abilities held despite being under considerable pressure for many moves.

However, in the very next game, So conjured an attack that chased his opponent’s king out of the kingside, through the center, to the queenside, and thenall the way back to the kingside for the final checkmate.

The newly tied score seemed to enliven Vachier-Lagrave, who immediately reclaimed his lead with tactical play in a complicated queenless middlegame. 

This kickstarted a four-game winning streak, convincingly sealing the match victory.

In the post-match interview, Vachier-Lagrave shared his approach on modern opening preparation: “Most of the time in the opening, you’re not really looking for an advantage. So, my thinking is: ‘Which line should I play against which opponent?’ … Choices vary depending on your opponent at this level because we still have definite strengths … big strengths that we’re trying to use.”

The reigning world blitz champion will face GM Magnus Carlsen in the semifinals. Vachier-Lagrave candidly shared his thoughts on his chances against the world champion: “No matter which kind of Magnus comes up on Friday, I will be ready for a big fight.”

No matter which Magnus comes up on Friday, I will be ready for a big fight.

-Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Vachier-Lagrave won $4,706.90 while So earned $1,293.10 for his efforts. 

Final Score

Player Flag 5+1 3+1 1+1 Total
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 6 4 6.5 16.5
Wesley So 3 5 4.5 12.5

All Games – Quarterfinal

Speed Chess Championship 2022 Bracket

The 2022 Speed Chess Championships Main Event started on November 23 and will conclude on December 16. Top speed-chess players are competing at three different time controls in a 16-player knockout as they vie for a share of the $100,000 prize fund along with the most prestigious title in online chess.

The likes of GMs Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Ding Liren, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, and many more battle it out to determine the 2022 speed chess champion.

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