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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Vietnam Joins Global Chess Elite

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2013

Hi everyone, 
Vietnam has recently joined the elite group of global chess powers – countries that are leaders in world chess, using the ancient game as a component of their public education and culture. Vietnam achieved its latest chess milestone when Vietnamese national Le Quang Liem won the FIDE World Blitz Championship earlier this month in the northern Russian city of Khanty-Mansiysk, the largest city and regional capital of Yugra.

The 22 year-old Vietnamese grandmaster is seeded higher than any other competitive chess player from Vietnam. He has been playing chess since he was seven, starting at around the time the Vietnamese government began its efforts to promote chess in the nation of around 90 million people. After two days of blitz championship games, Liem scored a total of 20.5 points, 0.5 points ahead of silver medalist Alexander Grischuk and bronze medalist Ruslan Ponomariov, both of Ukraine.

Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, who won silver in the Rapid tournament one day earlier, finished fourth, missing out on the medals in the blitz. Together with his gold medal, Liem received a cash prize of US$40,000 for winning the blitz tournament and another US$22,500 for coming in fourth in the rapid championship the previous day. Liem’s teammate Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son ranked fifth in the blitz tournament, winning US$18,000 in prize money.

Liem’s coach Anatoly Shvedchkov started training the new blitz champion since age 7. “Liem is a very talented young man. A combination of an Eastern mindset and the fundamentals of the Soviet school of chess has produced amazing results,” said international chess master Shvedchkov who has been training Vietnamese chess players for the past 15 years.

This year’s contemporaneous FIDE-organized World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships were 15 and 30-round Swiss events respectively. The opening ceremony on June 6 included a concert by the host city’s leading performers and entertainers. Participants and guests are noting the pleasant atmosphere and fantastic organization that made them feel right at home in the capital city of the Russian central-northern Yugra Region. 

Chess fans worldwide had a chance to follow the tournaments online live, and more than 70,000 chess enthusiasts in 150 countries took the opportunity to do so. This was also an excellent occasion for the city to showcase its unique culture and features to the world outside. Khanty-Mansiysk has hosted its eighth major international chess competition in the past decade and a half, putting to good use its three-story Yugra Chess Academy, designed and built as a world-standard competitive chess venue.

Natalia Komarova, the governor of Yugra region, said: “We are thrilled to host major chess events and hope that chess enthusiasts from Russia and from around the world will get to know Khanty-Mansiysk and will come visit.”

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