Chess: Vachier-Lagrave Odds Cut To Win The Candidates 2020

Chess: Vachier-Lagrave Odds Cut To Win The Candidates 2020
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Ian ‘Nepo’ Nepomniachtchi, right, was a beaten favourite in Wednesday's meeting with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

A thrilling round seven of The 2020 Candidates Tournament concluded on Wednesday with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave besting favourite Ian ‘Nepo’ Nepomniachtchi to even up the scores and cement himself as second favourite outright.

29-year-old Nepo qualified for the Yekaterinburg tournament for the first time by winning FIDE Grand Prix 2019 in Moscow and Jerusalem in May and December 2019 respectively.

Immediately before the tournament he was listed between 10/1 and 14/1 to succeed, representing a decent profit to those who chose to chalk him up - but with Vachier-Lagrave catching up that profit may now be in doubt.

Pre-tournament, the Frenchman was 10/1 at various online bookmakers that offer chess betting. Today’s victory for Vachier-Lagrave was the only win of the day and he is now 2/1 to win.

Nepo’s full point lead going into round seven did not seem to faze Vachier-Lagrave, who played white and kept systemic pressure on to seal a decisive victory.

The Carlsen vs Vachier-Lagrave Saga

Vachier-Lagrave’s latest win moved the needle in his favour (albeit only slightly) to face off with World Champion Magnus Carlsen for the title later this year.

In the past Carlsen has played Vachier-Lagrave a total of 66 times across standard, rapid and blitz games.

In standard games while playing as white Carlsen has won 13 times while Vachier-Lagrave has won eight and there have been 13 draws.

As black during standard games Carlsen has won eight, while Vachier-Lagrave has won three and there have been 21 draws.

The blitz record between the two suggests that Vachier-Lagrave puts up a tougher fight in those games, with six wins as white to Carlsen’s four, and four wins as black to Carlsen’s five.

After today’s win Vachier-Lagrave has been installed at a best price of 2/1 with Unibet to go all the way and win at the World Championship later this year. Nepo currently sits at 6/4 with the same bookie for the same honour.

Caruana Performs to Rating

The Candidates’ pre-tournament favourite Fabiano Caruana has played well throughout but has struggled to sparkle amidst a competitive field.

The 27-year-old, who qualified for the tournament automatically by facing Carlsen in 2018’s World Chess Championship, ended Wednesday with another draw against Wang Hao and continues to be a part of the chasing pack.

Caruana, now 3/1 to win, will face off against Vachier-Lagrave for the second time in Wednesday’s game starting 11am GMT. The Candidates Tournament 2020 runs until April 5th, 2020.

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