Le Quang Liem, the number one chess player in Vietnam. Photo courtesy of the International Chess Federation.
Le Quang Liem took down reigning FIDE World Cup champion, Azerbaijani grandmaster Teimour Radjabov, in the Banter Series on Tuesday.
The two grandmasters put on a thrilling show with the match going back and forth. Liem won the first game despite playing with black, but the second and third rounds ended with a draw.
With the score 3-3, the Azerbaijani took the lead, but Liem won the next game to make it 4-4.
The turning point of the match came in the ninth game, when Radjabov made a crucial error. He did not foresee a move by Liem’s knight and lost a rook to trail 4-5.
Liem said on the stream: “What just happened? Radjabov just made a huge mistake and lost his rook. The situation got worse for him.
Radjabov said: “Oh my God, I totally missed that move! How could I miss it? There’s no chance now.”
With a one-point advantage, Liem only needed a draw in the last game, and said: “He had no choice but to win. Therefore, I had to play as safe as possible.”
Playing with white pieces, he dominated from the start and comprehensively beat Radjabov.
“I played well today although I made a mistake in round six and lost that one. But my opponent also made wrong moves in some rounds and I used them to my advantage. Nonetheless, Radjabov is a very strong opponent. I want to thank him for playing me in this match.”
Radjabov won the 2019 International Chess Federation (FIDE) World Cup by beating the current world No.3, China’s Ding Liren, in the final.
As a result, he was one of eight players to get direct entry to the Banter Series, while Liem had to qualify.
Next, in the quarterfinals, Liem faces the winner of the match between the U.S.’s Fabiano Caruana and Germany’s Matthias Blubaum.
The tournament offers a top prize of $14,000. The two finalists will qualify for the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, which has prize money of $140,000.