Vietnam’s top player, Le Quang Liem, remained fearless while facing opponents more than 20 places above him in the world rankings during the ongoing 2017 Grand Chess Tour event in the U.S.
The Vietnamese grandmaster, with an Elo rating of 2739, has wowed fans at home with his impressive performance at the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz style tournament competition, which runs from August 14 to 19.
The ten-player round robin competition involves three rounds of rapid chess a day from August 14 to 16, and nine rounds of blitz a day on August 17 and 18.
Liem, currently ranked 23rd on the FIDE’s Top 100 Players list from August 2017, met the world’s number three, Caruana Fabiano in his opening game on Monday.
Fabiano, who was the 2016 U.S. chess champion, pressed Liem with repeated strong attacks, but the brave Vietnamese managed to turn the tide in the final moves, forcing the U.S. player to surrender after 53 moves.
In the second round, Liem had to surrender himself after 69 moves against world No.12 Karjakin Sergey of Russia.
But the Vietnamese did not let the loss discourage him, next beating U.S. player Nakamura Hikaru, ranked 7th in the world, after 75 moves.
|Le Quang Liem (L) and Aronian Levon|
Liem started the competition’s second day with a loss to Cuban Dominguez Perez Leinier, but regained his confidence to beat the world number five Aronian Levon of Armenia in his fifth match.
Levon, who once achieved the world’s fourth highest ever Elo rating of 2830, failed to withstand the pressure of his Vietnamese opponent and had to concede after 45 moves.
Liem then drew Russia’s Nepomniachtchi Ian, the tournament’s only undefeated player at that stage in his final game on Tuesday.
After two days, Ian secured top spot with four points from six games, while Liem and other three players were just behind him on 3.5 points.
Later today, Liem will meet former world champion Anand Viswanathan of India, and the legendary grandmaster Garry Kasparov of Russia in the last rapid rounds of chess. Kasparov, along with other players including Liem, were offered wildcard entries into the US$150,000 tournament.
The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz is one of six chess tournaments held throughout the year and across the globe as part of the Grand Chess Tour.
The winner at the end of six days of ten-player competition in St Louis will take home a grand prize of $US37,500.