Liem Quang Le’s debut in elite chess was hugely impressive. In 2010, aged 18, the Vietnamese player won the fiercely tough Aeroflot Open in Moscow to qualify for that year’s Dortmund supertournament. Despite being the lowest-rated player he nevertheless finished in clear second place on 5.5/10, ahead of Vladimir Kramnik, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Arkadij Naiditsch and Peter Leko. That was an extremely impressive feat, but repeating it almost exactly the following year was verging on the incredible – no-one had previously managed to win the Aeroflot Open twice, and this time Le Quang finished ahead of stars like Anish Giri, Ruslan Ponomariov and Hikaru Nakamura in Dortmund.
Perhaps surprisingly, those achievements didn’t lead to a glut of invitations to top tournaments and Liem also missed out on taking part in the 2012 Tal Memorial despite leading an on-line poll to determine a player by a wide margin. Some of his compatriots may have manipulated the vote, but his popularity in Vietnam was in no doubt and his success went a long way to justifying heavy government investment in chess. Although Le Quang worked with Russian grandmasters he’s generally considered a phenomenal tactical player who is somewhat weaker in positional play.
In 2013 Le Quang dazzled in speed chess, winning the Asian Continental Blitz Chess Championships with 8.5/9 before claiming the World Blitz Championship with 20.5/30. In the same year he took up a scholarship to study at Webster University in Saint Louis, USA. That seemed to put his chess career on hold and perhaps prevented Liem becoming a fixture among the elite, but he remains a formidable player. In 2019, for instance, he won the Asian Continental Championship, beating Alireza Firouzja along the way.
In 2020 Liem began as a qualifier but went on to knock Teimour Radjabov and Fabiano Caruana out of the chess24 Banter Series Finals, earning a spot on the Champions Chess Tour.