Le Quang Liem supreme at HDBank Cup

by Albert Silver
3/19/2017 – Playing as the superstar in front of one’s home crowd is often as much a disadvantage as an advantage. This is true even of World Champions. When it came to playing in the strongest event held in his native Vietnam, the HDBank Cup, elite GM Le Quang Liem, a student in the US, did not wilt, and for a third time took the top honors. Here is the report with a great miniature by Wei Yi.

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The strong open which sported 29 GMs among the 111 titled players, saw competitors from all over the globe, hailing from as far off as Argentina and Jamaica, coming to enjoy some chess in Vietnam. Even the Vietnamese star, Le Quang Liem, came all the way from St. Louis, where he has been studying at Webster University under Susan Polgar’s scholarship program since 2013.

Although he had won the event in 2013 and 2015, there was nothing assured of a win this year in the company of other Chinese heavy hitters such as Wei Yi, Bu Xiangzhi, and Wang Hao, not to mention Bulgarian GM Cheparinov who is always hovering around the 2700 mark.

15 year old IM Nguyen Anh Khoi had an excellent tournament, and scored a GM norm

Sandro Mareco vs Li Ruofan


(full solutions at end)

Wei Yi seemed to arrive in truly inspired form, not just winning his games but winning them in spectacular style as often as not. In fact, the Chinese prodigy might easily have been the name of the event were it not for a quite uncharacteristic slip in round two, when he really self-destructed at the board against Russian IM Viacheslav Diu, over 300 Elo his junior. After the game, taking full responsibility for it, he was heard saying he was furious with himself. This sort of comment can lead to good or bad things, depending on the player. In Wei Yi’s case, it meant a furious comeback with 5.0/6 in the next six rounds. This included the sparkling 21-move in in round seven, not to be missed!

Wei Yi vs Xu Yinglun

[Event "7th HDBank Cup 2017 Masters"] [Site "Ho Chi Minh City"] [Date "2017.03.16"] [Round "7"] [White "Wei, Yi"] [Black "Xu, Yinglun"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B94"] [WhiteElo "2725"] [BlackElo "2540"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [PlyCount "41"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "VIE"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. Bc4 Qb6 { B94: Sicilian Najdorf: 6 Bg5 Nbd7} 8. O-O (8. Bb3 e6 9. Qd2 Be7 10. O-O-O Nc5 11. Rhe1 h6 12. Bh4 O-O 13. g3 Qc7 14. f4 b5 15. e5 dxe5 16. fxe5 {0-1 (51) Dominguez Perez,L (2739) -Wojtaszek,R (2749) Doha 2016}) 8... Qxb2 9. Nd5 Nxd5 10. Rb1 Qc3 11. Bxd5 Qc7 12. f4 e6 13. Re1 (13. Bxe6 fxe6 14. Nxe6 Qc4 $15) 13... Nc5 $146 (13... Nf6 14. Bxf6 gxf6 15. Bb3 {0-1 (38) Adhiban,B (2646) -Zhou,J (2578) Hyderabad 2015} (15. Rb4 exd5 16. exd5+ Kd8 17. Qe2 Bd7 18. Rc4 Qa5 19. Ne6+ fxe6 20. dxe6 Bc6 21. e7+ Kc7 22. Rxc6+ Kxc6 23. e8=Q+ Rxe8 24. Qxe8+ Kc7 25. Qf7+ Kb8 26. Kf1 Qf5 27. Re8+ Ka7 {0-1 (51) Bobras,P (2535) -Ragger,M (2658) Germany 2015})) 14. f5 $1 $14 Be7 $2 ({Black should play} 14... h6 $14 15. Bh4 (15. Qh5 g6 16. fxg6 Rg8 17. Bxh6 fxg6 $11) 15... g5) ({ First, let's answer the obvious question: what happens after} 14... exd5 { ? The answer is} 15. exd5+ Kd7 16. Qe2 {and Black is helpless against the threats. Ex:} Ne6 17. Nxe6 {and Black will be mated.}) ({The attempt to lock down the house with} 14... e5 {avails to nothing.} 15. Qh5 g6 (15... exd4 16. e5 $1 dxe5 17. Rxe5+ $1) 16. fxg6 fxg6 17. Qf3 $16) 15. Bxe7 $18 Qxe7 16. fxe6 fxe6 {[#]} 17. Nf5 $3 ({And not} 17. Qf3 Rf8 18. Qg3 Qf6 $17) 17... Qc7 { [#] aiming for ...0-0.} (17... exf5 18. exf5) 18. Bc6+ $3 Qxc6 (18... bxc6 19. Nxd6+) 19. Nxd6+ Ke7 20. Qg4 Nd7 ({If} 20... Qxd6 {White bamboozles Black with} 21. Qxg7+ Ke8 22. Qxh8+ Qf8 23. Qe5) 21. e5 1-0

When round eight arrived, the leaderboard was quite packed, and the fate of the tournament could hardly be less clear. Five players stood at 6.0/8: Wang Haop, Bu Xiangzhi, Le Quang Liem, Wei YI, and the event’s surprise, Stanislav Bogdanovich (2602), from Ukraine.

Top seeds Le Quang Liem and Wi Yi drew in round eight

Le Quang Liem vs Vo Thanh Ninh


Vishnu Prasanna vs Chu Wei Chao


If Wei Yi had suffered an early slip, Bogdanovich suffered what could only be described as a fall down a full flight of stairs, losing to Nouri Hamed (2344) and Kyaw Lin Naing (2289) in the very first two rounds. Many a player has all but given up on an event, not to say withdrawn outright after such a disastrous start, but not Bogdanovich! He then went on a tear of six straight wins, to actually place him in contention of gold! However, he faced Le Quang Liem, easily his strongest opponent thus far.

The Vietnamese player played a superb game, and pulled off the win, however this only guaranteed a share of the podium at best, as three others were still in the running. Both Chinese players Wei Yi and Bu Xiangzhi faced each other, and of ever there were an example of fair-play, this was it. Either player could have snatched gold with a superior tiebreak, by winning over each other. The only result that was never going to give anything certain was a draw, yet that was the result of their game.

Bu Xiangzhi vs Tran Tuan Minh


As it turned out, there were no other decisive results among the leaders, leaving sole first for Le Quang Liem with 7.0/9 while Bu Xiangzhi took 2nd place with 6.5/9, followed by Wang Hao in 3rd and Wei Yi in 4th.

Commenting on the tournament, the new champion Le Quang Liem said that this is really a tough challenge when the players have to compete with a schedule in which three days saw double-rounds. He did however add that the success at the 2017 HDBank Cup would motivate him to seek out further successes and give him confidence looking ahead at the World Cup in early September and the SportAccord World Mind Games.

The winners (from left): Wang Hao in third, Dinara Saduakassova (Best Female), Le Quang Liem in first, and Bu Xiangzhi in second

Final standings after nine rounds

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts  TB  rtg+/-
1 2 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2712 7,0 51,0 8,8
2 3 GM Bu Xiangzhi CHN 2711 6,5 52,5 2,2
3 5 GM Wang Hao CHN 2683 6,5 52,0 6,5
4 1 GM Wei Yi CHN 2725 6,5 51,0 -2,0
  19 IM Tran Tuan Minh VIE 2503 6,5 51,0 22,9
6 12 GM Rozum Ivan RUS 2600 6,5 48,5 2,8
7 17 GM Vishnu Prasanna. V IND 2534 6,5 44,0 9,4
8 7 GM Mareco Sandro ARG 2664 6,5 42,5 -9,0
9 6 GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo VEN 2673 6,0 49,0 -8,8
10 26 IM Le Tuan Minh VIE 2475 6,0 48,5 22,3
11 4 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2698 6,0 47,0 -10,2
12 15   Xu Yinglun CHN 2540 6,0 45,0 3,4
13 10 GM Zhou Jianchao CHN 2619 6,0 44,0 -7,9
14 16 GM Shyam Sundar M. IND 2536 6,0 41,5 -0,7
15 11 GM Bogdanovich Stanislav UKR 2602 6,0 39,0 -5,8
16 28 IM Nguyen Anh Khoi VIE 2459 5,5 50,0 16,2
17 34 IM Shyaamnikhil P IND 2440 5,5 47,5 13,8
18 8 GM Lu Shanglei CHN 2624 5,5 46,5 -13,4
19 36 WGM Saduakassova Dinara KAZ 2428 5,5 46,0 13,6
20 21 GM Gomez John Paul PHI 2481 5,5 46,0 5,1

Click for complete standings



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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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