By Issy Ronald, CNN
Vachier-Lagrave had to first defeat Carlsen in a four-game match and again in a two-game “reset” to win the AI Cup and he began his unlikely title tilt in impressive style.
The Frenchman won the first game in the first match of the Grand Final before the next four games ended in draws as neither player could break down the other’s defense.
By winning the first match, Vachier-Lagrave forced a Grand Final “Reset” and he took victory in both games of the second match too.
“I’m disappointed obviously,” Carlsen said afterwards, according to Chess.com. “I was hoping to do quite a bit better today, but Maxime was strong and I failed at the critical moments, so that’s I think a fair outcome.”
In both matches, the first game proved crucial for Vachier-Lagrave’s victoires. Carlsen went for a queen sacrifice in the first game of the second match but his gamble ultimately failed as Vachier-Lagrave took victory.
In the second game of the second match, however, it seemed as if Carlsen was regaining his form and salvaging his position before Vachier-Lagrave went for a bishop sacrifice that turned the game on its head.
“I thought it might disrupt the course of the game,” he said afterwards, according to Chess.com. “At that moment, he had too much flow going for him, all his moves were coming in easy.
“I thought that’s not what I want, especially I’m down 3-4 minutes, and he can just apply pressure and play forever, so this was a practical decision. Of course, if it loses by force then I look very stupid, but it worked out very well in the end!”
His decision paid off and he sealed a comprehensive series of wins over Carlsen to win the tournament and book the last remaining spot in the Champions Chess Tour Finals in Toronto.
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