Wesley So drew on the second day, but in the end Le Quang Liem lost 0.5-1.5 in the final and accepted the second place of the Chessable Masters online super tournament on the morning of August 9.
Quang Liem won the first game, and only needed to draw the remaining three games to bring the final to the tie-break. He escaped the loss in the second game, missed the chance to draw the third game, and then missed the victory in the last game. Before the opponent who had reached the final of the Champions Chess Tour three times, Quang Liem fought fairly but missed the decisive moment.
In the first game, Quang Liem held a white piece, gave a pawn and a horse to put the pieces in an active position to attack the opponent. Thanks to that, he recaptured the car, and at the same time weakened the black king. Quang Liem brought all three heavy pieces to the bottom row to focus his fire on attacking the black king. In the last moves, So missed move 30…Qf1 to project the bridge invariant. Quang Liem won and took the lead on the second day.
In the second game, Quang Liem took the black piece and chose the opposite plan to join the castle. Compare the horse to attack the citadel, chase the king and then capture the black horse. So’s pressure caused Quang Liem to lose his car, but the number one player in Vietnam threatened the white king with the water in the first row. In a critical moment, So again made a mistake with the 43.Qf4. That move allowed Quang Liem to remain unchanged and So was forced to draw, or else he would lose the match.
In the third game, So held the black piece but did not enter the castle, pushing the g column well and stacking two vehicles there. Being attacked by the citadel, Quang Liem took a long time to find a way to defend. There was a time when the pressure seemed to have passed when the Vietnamese player pushed the two rear pawns near the bottom row, and blocked the black rear. However, a move to jump the code 37.Nf1 to strengthen the defense, became a weak move of Quang Liem, leading to failure. The computer assessed that if Quang Liem counterattacked with water 37.Qb4, White had a chance to hold a draw.
In the last game Quang Liem held the black piece, forced to win to bring the match into the tie-break, and he almost made it. Southeast Asia’s only super grandmaster caught a good opponent, and put great pressure in the center area. But, a bit of a hasty move made Quang Liem’s chance to win passed.
If Quang Liem chooses the 30…Nxd6 option, that is, returns the code to catch the white pawn at d6, he will keep a great advantage. Because then, the white rearview water in So’s e5 will no longer work. “I had a great advantage in this game, but I caught white too quickly and missed the Nxd6,” Quang Liem said after the match.
The final was highly appreciated for both professionalism and drama. Latvian Grandmaster Arturs Neiksans commented on Chess24: “I think Quang Liem used a great opening up to a point, but So turned the situation around interestingly. It was a very high level match.”
Quang Liem received a $15,000 reward for second place, while So received $30,000. Quang Liem rose to 10th in the Champions Chess Tour rankings. The top 8 players in this group will play in the Tour Finals. Quang Liem may be invited to the next leg, also the last leg of the Tour, to improve his performance. If not, he still has a chance to attend the Tour Finals when the organizers reserve invitations for some players outside the top 8.
“About my performance at the tournament, I’m very happy,” Quang Liem said. “This is probably my best result in a year and a half, since the outbreak of Covid-19. I will work hard to earn a place in the Tour Finals.”
This is Wesley So’s third win in the four finals of the Champions Tour stages. In the previous three finals, his opponent was chess King Magnus Carlsen – and also the initiator of the tournament. So won two and lost one of those three matches.
Chessable Masters is the eighth leg of the Champions Chess Tour series. The ninth leg takes place from August 28, and the Tour Finals begins on September 25.
Quang Liem’s arrival in the Chessable Masters final was a surprise, as he eliminated two stronger players, Alireza Firouzja and Levon Aronian, in the quarter-finals and semi-finals. On the first day of the final on August 7, Quang Liem lost two, drew a game and was led 0-1. The players who have reached the finals at the stages of the Tour have all achieved Elo of 2,760 or more, except for Quang Liem – who has the highest career Elo of 2,739.
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