Vietnamese chess ace exits Banter Series, qualifies for next big tournament

By Xuan Binh   September 27, 2020 | 10:45 pm PT
Vietnamese chess ace exits Banter Series, qualifies for next big tournament
Le Quang Liem at the Grand Chess Tour in November 2019. Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour.
Le Quang Liem qualified for Magnus Carlsen Tour 2 despite his Banter Series semifinal loss Sunday.

Liem lost to world number eight, American-Filipino Wesley So. Despite his efforts, Liem only managed one win and three draws during the match, while So secured four wins to see him through.

At a seemingly constant disadvantage, Liem often ran out of time, forcing unnecessary errors. In the first round, he narrowly avoided a loss, but was beaten by So in the following two.

Drawn equal, So managed another win in round six while Liem won round seven to make it 2.5-4.5. So played it safe in the next two rounds, drawing in both. The latter went on to dominate round nine.

"So delivered a brilliant form today. He played very fast and prepared well for opening moves. So deserves to be seen as one of the world’s best players at present," Liem said after the match.

So also praised his former Webster University teammate.

"On some beautiful days, Quang Liem plays like a machine. At those times, he can defeat any opponent."

In the remaining semifinal, world number one player Magnus Carlsen came from two games behind to beat Armenian Levon Aronian 5.5-2.5 and will clash with So in the final, set for September 30.

Regardless of his elimination, Liem still managed to qualify for Magnus Carlsen Tour 2 in November this year with a much bigger prize. According to Banter Series regulations, two tournament finalists would qualify for Magnus Carlsen Tour 2. However, So and Carlsen had already been invited to the event, so the two slots will go to semifinalists Liem and Aronian.

Banter Series is hosted by chess site Chess24 from September 22 to 30 featuring the world’s top players. The tournament has a total prize of $36,000, with the winner getting $14,000. Liem pocketed $3,500 as a semifinalist.

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