Le Quang Liem on a winning streak

by Shahid Ahmed
7/26/2019 – GM Le Quang Liem won his maiden Asian Continental for the very first time in his career, becoming the first Vietnamese player to do so. But he did not stop there and continued his momentum going on to win two more strong tournaments consecutively — the Saint Louis Summer Classic and World Open in Philadelphia — all in just a little over three weeks. Shahid Ahmed investigates how he maintains strong composure in such difficult fields? | Photo: Austin Fuller / Saint Louis Chess Club

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Le wins three strong tournaments in 22 days

After Le Quang Liem's amazing run of good form, Shahid Ahmed decided to find out how he achieved such a rare feat. The former World Blitz champion and Vietnam's top grandmaster agreed to an interview.

Shahid Ahmed (SA): How does it feel to win Asian Continental finally after coming close to it on numerous occasion?

Le Quang Liem (LQL): It is really special to win Asian Continental Open Championship, especially considering that no chess player from Vietnam ever got this title. I came close to it a couple of times before, but missed my chances in the end. So this achievement feels like a dream come true for me.

Player info


Name Le Quang Liem
Title GM
Starting rank 2
Rating 2694
Rating national 0
Rating international 2694
Performance rating 2783
FIDE rtg +/- 9,4
Points 7
Rank 1
Federation VIE
Ident-Number 0
Fide-ID 12401137
Round-by-round results
Rd. Bo. SNo   Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. we w-we K rtg+/-
1 2 39 IM Bilguun Sumiya 2478 MGL 5,0 s ½ 0,78 -0,28 10 -2,80
2 13 41 IM Vignesh N R 2459 IND 5,5 w 1 0,79 0,21 10 2,10
3 4 24 GM Praggnanandhaa R 2537 IND 4,5 s ½ 0,71 -0,21 10 -2,10
4 6 23 GM Xu Yinglun 2548 CHN 5,0 w ½ 0,70 -0,20 10 -2,00
5 9 30 GM Chanda Sandipan 2511 IND 5,5 s 1 0,74 0,26 10 2,60
6 3 19 GM Lalith Babu M R 2571 IND 6,0 w 1 0,67 0,33 10 3,30
7 3 5 GM Maghsoodloo Parham 2665 IRI 5,0 s ½ 0,54 -0,04 10 -0,40
8 4 3 GM Firouzja Alireza 2682 IRI 6,0 w 1 0,52 0,48 10 4,80
9 1 9 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2613 IND 6,5 w 1 0,61 0,39 10 3,90

Liem made a strong comeback and scored 4½ points out of the last 5 rounds

SA: After starting the tournament with the draw, did you expect to win the Asian tournament?

LQL: Obviously I was not happy with how I started the tournament, but I kept my hopes. I knew it was a long tournament, so everything was still under my control. I was not worried too much, but just focused on playing my best chess.

Le Quang Liem at Asian Continental 2019 | Photo: imsa.cn

Final standings

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Le Quang Liem 7,0 2576
2 Karthikeyan Murali 6,5 2610
3 Sethuraman S.P. 6,5 2604
4 Narayanan.S.L 6,5 2561
5 Jumabayev Rinat 6,5 2539
6 Firouzja Alireza 6,0 2591
7 Gupta Abhijeet 6,0 2565
8 Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 6,0 2554
9 Lu Shanglei 6,0 2536
10 Lalith Babu M R 6,0 2534

Final standings at the Asian Continental 2019

SA: Since winning the Asian Continental, you have won Summer Classic and World Open. Which tournament was the toughest for you?


Summer Classic 2019 final standings

World Open standings

Final standings at the World Open 2019 (click or tap to enlarge)

LQL: I would say each tournament has its own challenges. The Summer Classic was the toughest chess-wise because all the participants were very strong, while World Open was the most physically demanding due to its packed schedule. In terms of quality of the games, Summer Classic is perhaps my favourite victory.

SA: What is the secret of winning three events in a row?

LQL: I don't have any secret. I simply work hard to improve my skills, and it pays off. Also, once you win a big tournament, your confidence gets a boost, and you will often be able to carry that good form to the next tournament.

SA: At the halfway mark in Summer Classic you were trailing in the last place. How did you manage to make a comeback and win the tournament?


Standings at the halfway mark in Summer Classic 2019

LQL: I think one of the reasons I played poorly in the first half of Summer Classic is that I had so little time to overcome the jet lag. After Asian Continental Championship in China, I got back to St. Louis in the evening of June 16th, and Summer Classic started in the afternoon of June 18th. After the first half, I just tried to have some rest and adjusted my strategy for the rest of the games. Fortunately I got three whites in the second half, and I managed to win all the must-win games.

Howell and Le

Le chats with David Howell in the lobby of the Saint Louis Chess Club | Photo: Austin Fuller

SA: Which games are your personal favorite from Asian Continental, Summer Classic and World Open?

LQL: My favourite games are my wins against Firoujza (Asian Continental), against Xiong (Summer Classic), and against Nyzhnyk (World Open).

We have all three games annotated below by IM Sagar Shah. One position that is worth checking out for Le Quang Liem's timing is his win over Jeffery Xiong. Check if you can play like Liem.


SA: We all know that you have won World Blitz Championship in 2013 and you are strong at all formats of the game. Which format is your personal favourite?

LQL: Lately I have been focusing mostly on classical chess. I am the type of player who always aims to play the best moves, so I like classical chess the most because I have time to think thoroughly.

Le Quang Liem receives his World Blitz medal in 2013 | Photo: Official site

SA: Since you did so well in two consecutive tournaments in USA, is there any plan for you to change federations?

LQL: I have never given much thought to the idea of changing federations, and I don't see any reason to do it now.

SA: Who is your coach/second?

LQL: I often train/study chess with some friends, but I do not have a regular coach/second. Occasionally I have a strong GM friend to help me during important tournaments. If I get to top 10-20, I may be able to hire a full-time second then.

SA: What do you do currently in terms of profession/academics?

LQL: I graduated from Webster University (in St. Louis) 2 years ago with double majors in Finance and Management. Since my graduation, I have been focusing on chess. I would like to see how far I can go as a professional chess player.

SA: What are your thoughts on the new Asian Junior champion IM Nguyen Anh Khoi?

LQL: I am happy with the new success of Nguyen Anh Khoi, and that he will become Vietnam's 11th grandmaster soon. While he definitely has good potential, it is still too early to tell if he can get to 2600 or 2700. There are so many promising young players nowadays, and getting the GM title is only the first step towards the world of professional chess. Hopefully he can still improve.

IM Nguyen Anh Khoi (center) won Gold in both Standard and Rapid in Asian Junior 2019 | Photo: Mulyadi R

SA: How is the chess scene in Vietnam?

LQL: Chess has become much more popular in Vietnam in recent years. We have some governmental support especially for the young players. However, the main problem most chess players face in Vietnam currently is to choose between chess or academics when they get older. We (myself included) do not have any corporate sponsorship like chess players in many other countries, so it's harder to dedicate your life to chess. The only player I know who received a significant amount of private sponsorship from a Vietnamese company is IM Nguyen Anh Khoi.

SA: You have won many last round games on demand. How do you prepare for such a game before the round mentally?

LQL: I believe the main thing is to focus on the chess board and learn to control your own emotions. At the end of the day, whoever plays the better chess will win.

SA: What's next for you?

LQL: My next tournament is Belt and Road China Hunan International Chess Open, which takes place in Hunan from July 28th to August 7th.

SA: Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions. Wish you the best in your future endeavors.

LQL: Thank you.

Video gallery

Le Quang Liem interviewed by ChessBase India at the Batumi Olympiad 2019

Le Quang Liem speaks about his victory over M.R. Venkatesh at the Sharjah Masters 2019

Shahid Ahmed is the senior coordinator and editor of ChessBase India. He enjoys covering chess tournaments and also likes to play in chess events from time to time.


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