Young chess prodigy Duy dreams of becoming Việt Nam's next world champion

November 11, 2022 - 10:36
The 11-year-old master secured 6.5 points after eight games, leaving behind almost 50 powerful rivals, including International Masters (IM).


Đầu Khương Duy of Việt Nam (left) plays out a draw against German Grandmaster Schebler Gerhard at the Bangkok Chess Club Open in October. Duy finished the tournament as the youngest Vietnamese player to secure an International Master norm. Photo courtesy of Lương Trọng Minh

HÀ NỘI Đầu Khương Duy might be one of the youngest and smallest athletes at the 2022 Hà Nội Rapid Chess Open, but that didn't stop him from winning a trophy of the elite category.

The 11-year-old master secured 6.5 points after eight games, leaving behind almost 50 powerful rivals, including International Masters (IM).

Duy proved why he made a record of the youngest Vietnamese chess master earning a norm to be an IM on October 30 at the Bangkok Open.

After nine matches, Duy had six points and placed 16th in the Open category and third among U18 competitors. Notably, the young boy forced three Grandmasters (GM) to end games in a draw while he defeated two IMs.

His performance brought him the first of three norms to be an IM.

Besides two more norms, Duy will have to lift his FIDE Elo rating to 2,400. His current Elo is 2,017.

Việt Nam's youngest IM was Nguyễn Ngọc Trường Sơn at the age of 12 in September 2002. Sơn was also the country's youngest GM when he grabbed the title at 14 in December 2004.

A chess talent

Duy was born in 2011 in Hà Nội. The boy began playing chess when he was seven with his father Đầu Anh Bắc.

Duy's first matches were for fun only, but when his father Bắc found his son's potential, he sent Duy to a chess club for pro training.

Đầu Khương Duy and his coach pose for a photo after winning Việt Nam's only medal, a bronze, at the World Cadet Chess Championship in China in 2019. Photo courtesy of Đầu Khương Duy

"He is a special boy who could read since he was two. I found his chess potential when I tried to teach him the first lessons. Now, I will support my son to develop his ability and nurture his passion," said Bắc.

From a fresh boy who lost all seven matches in the club's internal tournament, he championed the U7 class four months later.

Duy grabbed his first bronze medal at the National Junior Championship in 2018.

Almost a year later, he took a blitz gold in the 2019 ASEAN Age Group Chess Championship.

In September 2019, Duy made his name internationally as the only Vietnamese athlete to win a medal at the World Cadet Chess Championship's boys' U8 class in China.

"At that time, Duy was not a national team member yet, so I had to pay myself for his participation. He brought home a bronze, the only medal for Việt Nam from the tournament. After that, he began to get more attention in the chess community," Bắc recalled.

He also made a bang in domestic chess as a young unseeded player who defeated a GM-level Cao Sang at the National Top Chess Masters Championship in November 2019 when he was eight.

Unseeded Đầu Khương Duy (left) before beating GM Cao Sang when he was only eight in 2019. Photo courtesy of Đầu Khương Duy

Last month he pocketed three gold medals in a rapid chess event at the Asian Youth Championship's Boys U12 individual and team categories in Indonesia.

"Duy has a good memory, the best among my hundreds of players. Therefore, he can absorb lessons quickly. With the same lessons at the club, Duy needs only several sessions to understand and apply in his games, while the others need much more time," said coach Lương Trọng Minh.

"He is an iron-minded and highly competitive boy. His playing style is flexible and diverse, with clear tactics, which helps him win against more experienced players at a higher level. In case of a loss, he asks himself to win in the next game. Such an athlete, I think, will develop strongly in the future," he said.

World champion dream

"I love to calculate in chess. I am really interested in doing exercises with complicated moves," said Duy, who was born on International Chess Day on July 20.

Đầu Khương Duy dreams of being a world chess champion one day. Photo courtesy of Đầu Khương Duy

My goal is to secure the remaining two norms to be an IM as soon as possible and then grab the GM title. I dream of the day when I am the world champion."

He knows that there is much work to do. First, he has to participate in all national championships and opens, which deliver Elo raking to high-ranking participants.

He must also join international competitions to improve his technique and secure Elo points.

The life of the Asian junior champion is mainly around the chess board.

"He practises a lot. After school, he is friends with chess books. He reads and does exercises, and plays online games. He also plays sports to improve his fitness and sharpen his mind for better chess skills," Bắc said.

Bắc was happy and proud witnessing his boy growing up with achievement. The architect said he was not rich but would support his boy to be a pro master.

Đầu Khương Duy and his father, who supports his son in chasing his dream of being a professional chess master. Photo courtesy of Kts Đầu Bắc

"Money can be earned any time. But my boy's golden time to develop is right now. If I let his time passes away without doing anything, it would waste his talent, and no money can buy it back," said Bắc.

Bắc and coach Minh set a plan to make their boy a GM before he is 14.

He will be sent to Russia to learn and practise for two years to make his dream come true. VNS