Maxime is a chess prodigy who won his first French Championship (Under 8) as a 6-year-old. He went on to become a grandmaster at 14, won the adult French Championship at 16, crossed the 2700-rating barrier at 17 and won the World Junior Championship at 19. He’s since gone on to win the French Championship again in 2011 and 2012.
In Biel 2009 "MVL" (as Maxime is nicknamed in chess circles) bested Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexander Morozevich, Boris Gelfand and Fabiano
Caruana. His best result to date was clear first place in Dortmund 2016, where he scored four wins and three draws to finish ahead of Fabiano Caruana and Vladimir Kramnik. That result saw him break through the 2800 rating mark and rise to number 2 in the world.
Despite his success he’s so far struggled to match the progress of Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin, who were also born in 1990. A partial explanation is that in contrast to those grandmasters Vachier-Lagrave took time out to gain a university degree in mathematics, which he completed in 2010.
Photo: Georgios Souleidis