MVL wins Tata Steel India Rapid with a round to spare

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/7/2023 – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid with 7 points and an undefeated performance. The Frenchman distanced himself from the rest of the field by 1½ points with a round to spare. Teimour Radjabov finished in sole second place with 5½ points, while Praggnanandha Rameshbabu, Alexander Grischuk and Vidit Gujrathi scored 5 points each. | Photo: Vivek Sohani

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


“Old-style Maxime”

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is the clear winner of the 5th Tata Steel India Chess Rapid tournament. The Frenchman set a good pace on the very first day with a win and two draws, and improved even more over the course of the three-day tournament. On the second day, he won two games and drew once, and on the last day he scored 2½ points again. In total, that amounted to 7 points in 9 rounds.

Naturally, MVL was very pleased with his result.

Tournament ambassador Vishy Anand — the only 2700+ Indian player not participating — had this to say about MVL’s performance:

In his game with Hari there were a couple of difficult tactics he navigated effortlessly. This is old-style Maxime!

MVL out-calculated Pentala Harikrishna in their round-8 encounter. The Indian thought he had found a nice tactical trick, but it was Vachier-Lagrave who had seen one move further.

28...Bf5 gives up the bishop, but Harikrishna apparently counted with creating a mating attack when he placed his bishop en prise: 29.Rxe8+ Qxe8 30.Bxf5 Qe1+ 31.Kh2 Bxf2

Only one move saves White from being checkmated on g1 here — 32.Qb1, a manoeuvre MVL played immediately in this position. The Frenchman had likely seen this from the start of the variation, and simply ended up a piece to the good in a rather stable position.

Resignation came on move 46, and Vachier-Lagrave secured tournament victory with a round to spare.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on the first day of action | Photo: Vivek Sohani

Only Teimour Radjabov from Azerbaijan was able to keep up with the Frenchman’s pace to some extent at the beginning, but then he was also left behind. On the last day of the rapid tournament, three draws were enough for Radjabov to clinch second place with 5½ points.

The two frontrunners met in the last round and saw no reason to play more than six moves before agreeing to a draw.

Teimour Radjabov

Teimour Radjabov | Photo: Vivek Sohani

Three players finished a half point behind Radjabov: Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, Alexander Grischuk and Vidit Gujrathi. Both Pragg and Vidit scored a full point in the final round. While Vidit got the better of Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Pragg beat Arjun Erigaisi after finding a nice pawn push in the middlegame.

21.c4 makes the most of Black’s issues with coordination, as proven by Pragg in the ensuing tactical sequence: 21...f5 (21...Bc6 fails to 22.Rd2 Nd6 23.fxe5) 22.cxd5 fxe4 23.Bg4

The e6-pawn is pinned, and Arjun’s 23...Nc7 — still the best continuation — loses to 24.Bxc7 Qxc7 25.Bxe6+, grabbing the exchange while keeping a number of strategic trumps.

Pragg converted his advantage into a 39-move win.

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu | Photo: Vivek Sohani

It is clear that the best time for Indian chess is yet to come, but in this tournament, the best Indian representatives (only Anand was missing) could not make their presence felt as the enthusiastic fans would surely have wished. The players will surely try to make up for this in the upcoming blitz tournament! 

Additional reporting by André Schulz

Final standings

All games


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.