Vietnam GM retains int'l chess cup lead

By Xuan Binh   March 21, 2022 | 01:37 am PT
Vietnam GM retains int'l chess cup lead
Le Quang Liem and 15 other players competing in the first stage for Charity Cup on March 21, 2022. Photo by Champion Chess Tour
Le Quang Liem continued his lead during the second day of Charity Cup on Monday, earning 20 points and four points more than chess king Magnus Carlsen.

Liem, 31, started the day with a quick win against English Gawain Jones. Despite playing black, he pushed forward, forcing Jones to surrender after just 27 moves.

In the next match, Liem still played black and drew against young American talent Hans Niemann. He then got another win against China GM Ju Wenjun, playing white. But Liem didn't expect to win the remaining match against India number two Vidit Gujrathi after 50 moves.

So far, Liem has won six and drew two games in the tournament. He's leading with 20 points, followed by Norwegian Carlsen and Poland's Jan-Krzszytof Duda with 16. Only Liem and Duda remain unbeaten in the tournament.

Charity Cup is the second tournament in the prestigious grand series Champion Chess Tour. In the first tournament, Airthings Masters, Liem got 22 points after the first stage to advance to the semifinals. In Charity Cup, Liem has seven more games to go.

"It's amazing. This result went beyond my expectations. This is my best start in Champion Tour and I had not expected much in this tournament. In the past weeks, I was busy organizing a big competition for Webster University, so I didn't have much time to prepare for Charity Cup," Liem said.

Liem is currently the coach of the U.S. school's chess team. After being appointed the new coach last April, he helped the team win three national titles in 2021.

Charity Cup takes place from March 19 to 26. Just like Airthings Masters, 16 players will compete in the first stage in a round-robin format with $750 awarded for every game won and $250 for a draw.

"I think I have gotten used to the playing format of Champion Tour. I didn't feel much pressure, I just try to play fast and avoid making big mistakes. Everything went smoothly although I had to play black in three games today," Liem added.

The top eight players of the first stage will advance to the knockout stage that features four-game matches, one each for the quarterfinals and semi-finals, and two such matches for the final. If still tied, two blitz games will be followed, if needed, by an Armageddon game, where white has five minutes to black's four, but black only needs a draw to win. The winner will pocket $25,000.

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