It has been missing from the last three Southeast Asian Games, but come November, chess will be checking in.
|GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (Source: cothongminh.com)|
And Vietnam’s masters will be going for golds in thePhilippines.
The event will see five rapid and blitz sections for men andwomen with local players pitting their wits against some of the best players inthe region.
“Ten best athletes, six male and four female, will make upthe national team,” said Nguyen Minh Thang, head of the National SportsAdministration’s Chess Department.
“We plan to win two gold medals in this yeartournament. And I believe it is in our reach.
“Vietnam is the strongest team in the region. Considering thelevel of the players we could even win all four events.
“However there are also different elements that could affectthe final result. Then, a target two is suitable.”
Thang believed former world blitz champion Le Quang Liem isVietnam’s best hope on the men’s side while either Pham Le Thao Nguyen or HoangThi 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 55in blitz categories. He places ninth in Asia and No 1 in Southeast Asia and ofcourse in Vietnam.
His teammate GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son is also a titlefavourite.
Son is not in the world top 100 due to his absence atinternational tournaments but he has always shown bags of potential.
Son is the first world champion of Vietnam, winning the U10class in 2000. He is also the youngest Vietnamese master to take the FIDE’stitle 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 Grandmasterlast month. The 17-year-old won the world championships twice when he was 10 in2012 and 12 two years later.
Minh, 23, is said to be a player with break-through tacticsthat coaches believe allow to play both rapid and blitz.
Minh overcome national powerhouses to win the national titlein both categories in 2018 before finished second in rapid and third inblitz this year.
On the women’s side, all four players are in top 100 in theworld with Nguyen is No 46 in blitz, Vo Thi Kim Phung No 56, Tram No 64 andNguyen Thi Mai Hung is No 83 in rapid.
Dao Thien Hai and Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy will play SoutheastAsian chess which may look the same but has different moves and rules thanchess.
“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 definitelycomplete the task,” he said.
“The organisers limited the number of categories this yearwhich will increase the competitiveness of the game,” said Son.
“We have to play carefully because just dropping one or twogames would waste our opportunity to win,” he said.
Players will have chances to sharpen their skills before SEAGames.
GMs Liem and Son are competing at the FIDE Grand Swiss 2019in England till October 22.
They will join the national team for the Southeast Asianchampionship from October 24 to November 4.
Then, players will return to wear their clubs’ uniforms totake part in the National Strong Masters Championship in Quang Ninh provincefrom November 14-24.
At the games, chess will take place at the Subic Bay TravelersHotel from December 1-8./.VNA