HCM CITY(VNS) – Local title favourite Nguyễn Ngọc Trường Sơn successfully won the first two matches of the sixth HDBank Cup International Open Chess 2016 - Masters Tournament yesterday in HCM City.
Grandmaster Sơn beat young talent Tin Jingyao of Singapore in the second round in only 37 moves at Đệ Nhất Hotel.
Sơn also defeated international master Tô Minh Tuấn of Hungary after 74 moves.
The victories kept him in second place of the event’s top group.
He will next play against Bogdanovch Stanislav of Uzbekistan.
Sơn became Việt Nam’s top seed after his teammate, Lê Quang Liêm, withdrew because of sickness.
Liêm, who was expected to return home from the US to defend his title, had a fever and was hospitalised.
The reigning champion and second seed of the event, who had booked flight tickets to return to Việt Nam for the tournament, had to follow doctor’s orders and refrain from travelling long distances.
Liêm’s withdrawal caused Vietnamese chess fans to invest all hope in the second-best chess player, Sơn.
Without Liêm, No 4 seed Sơn, who has an Elo rating of 2,649, is now the only Vietnamese chess player among the tournament’s top 10 chess players.
Chinese GMs Wang Hao (Elo 2,707), Ni Hua (Elo 2,691) and Czech GM Laznicka Viktor (Elo 2,666) are the three top seeds, respectively.
Ni tied with Vietnamese IM Phạm Đức Thắng. Wang beat Vietnamese IM Lê Minh Tuấn while Viktor overcame FIDE master Nguyễn Anh Khôi to top the ranking.
Apart from Sơn, other Vietnamese also pocketed wins.
Master Nguyễn Thị Thanh An of the hosts continued to be a phenomenon after her draw with GM Đào Thiên Hải, the secondhand national team master, of the day.
Earlier, An made a splash when she won against GM Nguyễn Văn Huy after only 42 moves.
Trần Lê Đan Thùy defeated national team member Trần Tuấn Minh.
Nearly 180 masters from 16 countries and territories have taken part in the annual tournament, which provides a total US$40,000 to the best competitors. The winner receives $13,000. -- VNS