Vietnam grandmaster makes history at Champion Chess Tour

By Xuan Binh   March 21, 2022 | 11:15 pm PT
Vietnam grandmaster makes history at Champion Chess Tour
Vietnamese grandmaster Le Quang Liem at Tata Steel chess tournament in India on November 17, 2021. Photo by Grand Chess Tour
Le Quang Liem claimed 27 points after 11 games at Charity Cup, the best start in the history of the prestigious grand series Champion Chess Tour.

He broke the record established by Russian grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi, who got 26 points at Airthings Masters, the first event of Champion Chess Tour (CCT) last month.

On Tuesday, the third day of Charity Cup, the second event of CCT, Liem scored seven points after four games. He advanced to the quarterfinals with one match day to spare and is the first player to do that in CCT.

Liem, 31, started his day with a victory over FIDE World Cup defending champion Jan-Kryzysztof Duda of Poland. With the usual approach, Liem played really fast while Duda took more time but couldn't put the game to bed and surrendered after 79 moves.

Both Duda and Liem were tired after the long match. Liem was able to get a draw against India's Pentala Harikrishna in the next match, while Duda slipped against Ju Wenjun of China.

Liem returned to form in the third match when he played white against Canada's Eric Hansen. At Charity Cup, Liem always wins when playing white and this game was not an exception. In the 28th move, Hansen made a mistake and finally gave up six moves later.

This win helped Liem score 27 out of 33 points possible. He ended his day with a loss against China grandmaster Ding Liren.

This defeat didn't affect Liem's position as he's still first with three points more than chess king Magnus Carlsen. The gap between Liem and the ninth position is 10 points, while the final day only has three matches left, which shot him into the quarterfinals early.

On the final day, Liem will play white facing Carlsen. In the last 14 encounters with Carlsen, Liem hasn't won once. During Airthings Masters last month, Liem was eliminated by Carlsen in the quarterfinals.

The online Charity Cup takes place from March 19 to 26. 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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