Vietnamese chess masters expected to dominate SEA Games hinh anh 1GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (Source:
Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - It has been missing from the last three Southeast Asian Games, but come November, chess will be checking in.

And Vietnam’s masters will be going for golds in the Philippines.

The event will see five rapid and blitz sections for men and women with local players pitting their wits against some of the best players in the region.

“Ten best athletes, six male and four female, will make up the national team,” said Nguyen Minh Thang, head of the National Sports Administration’s Chess Department.

 “We plan to win two gold medals in this year tournament. And I believe it is in our reach.

“Vietnam is the strongest team in the region. Considering the level of the players we could even win all four events.

“However there are also different elements that could affect the final result. Then, a target two is suitable.”

Thang believed former world blitz champion Le Quang Liem is Vietnam’s best hope on the men’s side while either Pham Le Thao Nguyen or Hoang Thi Bao Tram are aiming for glory in the women’s section.

Liem is the world No 35 in standard, No 25 in rapid and No 55 in blitz categories. He places ninth in Asia and No 1 in Southeast Asia and of course in Vietnam.

His teammate GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son is also a title favourite.

Son is not in the world top 100 due to his absence at international tournaments but he has always shown bags of potential.

Son is the first world champion of Vietnam, winning the U10 class in 2000. He is also the youngest Vietnamese master to take the FIDE’s title at the age of 14 in 2004.

Two other rising stars are Nguyen Anh Khoi and Le Tuan Minh.

Khoi just recently became Vietnam’s 11th Grandmaster last month. The 17-year-old won the world championships twice when he was 10 in 2012 and 12 two years later.

Minh, 23, is said to be a player with break-through tactics that coaches believe allow to play both rapid and blitz.

Minh overcome national powerhouses to win the national title in both categories in 2018 before finished second in rapid and third in blitz this year.

On the women’s side, all four players are in top 100 in the world with Nguyen is No 46 in blitz, Vo Thi Kim Phung No 56, Tram No 64 and Nguyen Thi Mai Hung is No 83 in rapid.

Dao Thien Hai and Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy will play Southeast Asian chess which may look the same but has different moves and rules than chess.

“In the Philippines, each player could register one category. Therefore we must send players to suitable classes,” said coach Lam Minh Chau.

“If players maintain their peak form we would definitely complete the task,” he said.

“The organisers limited the number of categories this year which will increase the competitiveness of the game,” said Son.

“We have to play carefully because just dropping one or two games would waste our opportunity to win,” he said.

Players will have chances to sharpen their skills before SEA Games.

GMs Liem and Son are competing at the FIDE Grand Swiss 2019 in England till October 22.

They will join the national team for the Southeast Asian championship from October 24 to November 4.

Then, players will return to wear their clubs’ uniforms to take part in the National Strong Masters Championship in Quang Ninh province from November 14-24.

At the games, chess will take place at the Subic Bay Travelers Hotel from December 1-8./.