Chess ace Liem under pressure in home tourney

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Vietnam's chess ace Le Quang Liem is expected to shine again at the HDBank International Open Chess Tournament 2012 held in Ho Chi Minh City from March 1-8

Le Quang Liem plays against several children in an exhibition match at the head office of HDBank in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday

Fans are hoping 29th-ranked Liem will do well after a lack of success in the two international events he participated in recently.

He finished 7th at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival early this month and failed to retain his championship, and finished in 56th spot at the Aeroflot Open in Moscow last week.

At the press conference held Wednesday to introduce the HDBank chess tourney, Liem was in the spotlight. Home fans wanted to know what was behind his recent failures.

"To be successful at any competition, both good form and good luck are important elements. Some problems in preparation for the events in the UK and Russia made it impossible for me to be at my best," Liem said.

"Also, impatience in some games made it hard for me in the final moves of the games. I learned some good lessons from those contests and hope that the support from the Vietnam Chess Federation and the Ho Chi Minh City Chess Federation as well as home fans will drive me on."

At the HDBank competition last year, though Liem was the top seed, he and the other Vietnamese chess players suffered failed to win a top spot. Liem could only finish fourth.

At the event this year, Liem, with an elo of 2,714, is still the top seed but he faces big challenges. He said he is always confident and aims to win the championship, but admitted that the recent failures put him under heavy pressure.

Not easy

The HBBank International Open Chess Tournament 2012 has attracted 90 players (20 female players) from 15 countries and territories.

In addition to compatriot Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, ranked 84 globally with an elo of 2,662, there are strong competitors from countries like China, India, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Singapore, Australia, Greece, Switzerland, the UK and the Philippines.

Among the strong rivals are Ni Hua from China, elo 2,641, Shanava Konstantine from Georgia, elo 2,586, Gopal Geetha Narayanan from India, elo 2,566, and Li Shilong from China, elo 2,550.

Dang Tat Thang, vice chairman of the Vietnam Chess Federation, said that Liem has a higher elo than Chinese players but it doesn't mean he will not face a lot of difficulties.

Thang said the Chinese players have low elos because they do not participate in a lot of international contests. However, they are very good players and will pose a stiff challenge.

The victory for the Chinese players at the HDBank competition last year is what Liem should keep in mind because he will pay the price if he makes similar mistakes. Also, playing two games a day at this year's event requires Liem to be even more careful, because fatigue could set in near the end of the event, Thang said.

To heighten Liem's spirit, the HDBank chess contest organizers arranged for him to play against 20 local players at the same time. Only Vo Tuan Anh drew with Liem, the other players all lost.

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