Le Quang Liem, Vietnam’s top player, won the 7th HD Bank Cup in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, which ended Friday. A last-round victory by Le Quang over Stanislav Bogdanovich, a Ukrainian grandmaster, helped provide the margin of victory of half a point over the seven players who tied for second through eighth.
Wei Yi, the 17-year-old Chinese grandmaster, who was also the top seed, was among that group. Wei’s draw in the last round against one of his compatriots, Bu Xiangzhi, cost him a chance at the title. Nevertheless, Wei probably played the most exciting chess in the tournament. Four of his five wins were flashy attacking games involving sacrifices. He also suffered a spectacular upset in Round 2.
His Round 1 victory was over Tu Hoang Thong of Vietnam. Tu made a big mistake that gave Wei an easy path to victory, but he won in style rather than by prosaic means.
Round 2 featured a big upset as Wei was crushed by Viacheslav Diu, a Russian international master, after trying a very dubious opening experiment.
Wei bounced back in Round 3, winning a very speedy game against Le Huu Thai of Vietnam. The Spanish Four Knights isn’t generally thought of as a dangerous opening for Black, but any player who is careless can lose badly.
Wei won a nice game as Black in Round 4. White was doing well up until he faced the decision about how to meet the threat of 23…f4. Perhaps emboldened by Diu’s success against Wei in Round 2, Wei’s opponent, Vo Thanh Ninh, a Vietnamese international master, may have thought he could tactically outsmart his opponent by playing f4 himself. He was mistaken.
After a win in Round 5 and an easy draw with Black in Round 6 against Wang Hao, another of China’s top grandmasters, Wei beat Xu Yinglun, yet another one of his compatriots, in a beautiful and theoretically significant game.
Though Wei came up a bit short in the score table, as long as he plays like he did in this tournament, he will be a champion in the court of public opinion.
Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at ChessLecture.com. Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.
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