Will Maxime Vachier-Legrave continue his magic at the Basel Chess Festival?

The Basel Chess Festival, or Schachfestival Basel 2013, has just begun. This seven round event is scheduled to run between January 1st 2013 and January 5th 2013. With live updates of the top four games being broadcast by the event’s organisers, it is well worth tuning in to see what is going to be some amazing chess unfolding, particularly on the final day of the festival when the winner is crowned.

This year, the top seed in the festival is French Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Legrave. 2012 has been something of a charmed year for 22 year old Vachier-Legrave. He was the winner of the SPICE Cup at Webster University for example, and towards the end of the year he shared the first prize at the European Rapid Championships 2012 with Alexey Dreev, Sergei Rublevsky, and Alexei Shirov whilst also winning the Amplico Blitz at Warsaw.

Vachier-Legrave is currently rated at a very respectable 2711. Chess fans will no doubt be intrigued at the least to see if he can continue to work his magic at the 2013 Basel Chess Festival. So far, he has put in a great performance. For instance, he has already beaten Germany player Udo Duessel. The endgame between Duessel and Vachier-Legrave was characterised by careful play with the pawns. Keeping his king carefully guarded with pawns on g2 and h3, Vachier-Legrave simultaneously edged a pawn towards e8, draining Duessel’s reserves as he tried to prevent this move to e8 and keeping his attention partly distracted by that end of the board.

If he does not win outright at Basel, Vachier-Legrave looks likely to end up very near the top of the leaderboard. And yet, whatever happens at Basel, Vachier-Legrave has plenty of opportunities to shine in 2013. For example, he is also set to appear at the 2013 Tradewise Masters beginning on January 21st in Gibraltar.

Polgar and Carlsen are confirmed to be the world’s top players

FIDE has now finalised and published its ratings lists for January 2013. Magnus Carlsen has been confirmed to be the top player out of the men, and Judit Polgar is once more the top female player in the world.

Magnus Carlsen’s rating of 2861 is particularly jaw-dropping in that he has beaten the previous world record holder for the highest ever rating, Gary Kasparov’s 2851, by a full 10 points. Carlsen’s top position in the FIDE January 2013 ratings and his smashing of Kasparov’s record, were both confirmed by the end of the London Chess Classic event on December 10th when his ratings hit the roof estimated to have reached up to 2994 during the event. The London Chess Classic was both decisive and prophetic in other ways, too. For instance, this was the event when Vladimir Kramnik rose up to try and defeat Carlsen, but was knocked back, after some close games, to second place. This confirmed his position in the January 2013 FIDE ratings as the second best player in the world as well.
As for Hungarian Grandmaster Judit Polgar, with 2696 she is very definitely the best female player in the

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world. Her position in the January 2013 FIDE ratings will come as a surprise to virtually no-one as she has long been regarded as the best woman player around, as well as the best female player in history. Polgar has beaten Carlsen several times in individual games and has also beaten a number of other top players, including Kasparov. Indeed one of her earliest wins was against the then World Champion Boris Spassky in 1993, only two years after she gained her Grandmaster norm.