Vietnamese chess master Le Quang Liem has jumped to the top spot of the HDBank Cup International Open Chess tournament after winning the fourth and fifth matches in Ho Chi Minh City on March 19.

Liem, the second seed, logged one win and one draw to accumulate 4.5 points, enough to set his lead in the tournament.

The world No. 65 easily beat Zhang Zhong of Singapore in the fourth round before tying with teammate Nguyen Duc Hoa in the fifth.

The No. 1 seed Li Chao of China also earned the same number of points and could steal Liem's position.

He has beaten veteran chess master Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam and temporary leader Pitra Andika from Indonesia.

Li is scheduled to meet Liem in the sixth round match at the De Nhat Hotel.

As the two top candidates vie for the title, their match at board No. 1 is expected to draw a lot of attention from spectators and experts.

The March 19 rounds saw the return of defending champions Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son.

After a losing streak during the first two days, Son logged two wins in a row, beating veteran rivals Liu Xiangyi of Singapore and Laylo Darwin of the Philippines.

The victories helped Son retain the hope of protecting his title as there are still four matches ahead.

He will compete against teammate Hoa in the morning.

Hoa, Zhang Zhong of Singapore and Pascua Harida of the Philippines have four points each and are tied with Son.

All of them are just 0.5 points short of the leading group.

During this year's tournament, organisers will award a bonus to the best female master. At present, Karavade Eesha of India is leading the chart with 3.5 points after five games.

Vietnamese Le Kieu Thien Kim is close behind with three points.-VNA