GM Liem pips Cuban rival at the post to take SPICE Cup

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Vietnam's chess ace Le Quang Liem pulled off a remarkable come-from-behind victory to take the SPICE Cup 2011 in Lubbock, Texas.

Before the final round on Wednesday morning Hanoi time, the 25th-ranked Liem was in the third spot with the same 14 points as second-placed German Georg Meier and a point adrift of Cuban rival Leinier Dominguez Perez who had the title in his sights.

It was extremely hard task for Liem, because he had to beat the 38th-ranked Perez to keep his title hopes alive while in another match, the 100th-ranked Meier was predicted to beat the 77th-ranked French Sebastien Feller, already out of the title race.

Liem, the only Vietnamese player to enter the world top 100, reached his goal of winning the game against Perez after 27 moves. The Vietnamese GM didn't play very well in the game but the Cuban rival made serious mistakes as the game was drawing to an end, and Liem took the opportunity with both his hands.

More importantly, France's No.5 Feller, who had not played very well in the previous games, fought a hard game to draw with Germany's No.3 Meier in another game that was taking place at the same time as the match between Liem and Perez.

Feller's high spirits indirectly helped Liem take the championship with 17 points from 10 games, ahead of second-placed Perez and third-placed Meier with 15 points each.

Speaking to Thanh Nien, Liem said: "I am very happy with this achievement because, as everyone knows, in the final round, three players had a chance to win the championship, making the fight for the top spot extremely fierce.

"I started the final game under the pressure of having to win. Also, there had been a lot of discussion among fans on chess forums about my performances at the tournament.

"I didn't care about the outside elements and focused all my efforts on the decisive game and now I am very satisfied with my achievement."

Liem will now fly home to prepare for the 26th South East Asian Games in Indonesia next month.

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