Chess will be developed into one of Vietnam's major sports this decade, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ho Xuan Son told the opening ceremony of the country's most important international mind game event that opened in HCM City on Mar.2.

The second annual HD Bank International Open Chess Tournament, the biggest chess event in Vietnam , has attracted 45 players from 13 countries, including some strong ones like China , India , the UK , Georgia , Ukraine , and the Philippines , besides 48 local players.
But it is the host nation's Grandmaster Le Quang Liem, who has an Elo rating of 2698, and GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (2662) who start as favourites. In fact, only one other player, China 's Ni Hua has an Elo rating of above 2,600.

After the opening ceremony, competitors played the first round. There are no surprises when favourites won.

Top seed Liem beat Rhobel Legaspi of the Philippines after only 36 moves while second seed Son also overcame Mikhail Vasilyev after 76 moves.

Pham Le Thao Nguyen, Nguyen Thi Mai Hung and China 's Ni Hua also scored wins.

The HB Bank International Open Chess Tournament, which will finish on Mar. 6, offers a cash prize of 10,000 USD to the winner. /.