Death Matches have officially reached new heights. For Death Match 24, Chess.com has secured a reigning World Champion against a World Champion Candidate!
Current World Blitz Champion GM Le Quang Liem will test his title against recent World Champion Candidate GM Dmitry Andreikin in the highest-rated Death Match ever! The three-hour event will take place on Chess.com/TV on Saturday, May 3 at 17:00 CET (Amsterdam), 11 a.m. Eastern (New York time, GMT -5), 8 a.m. Pacific (Los Angeles), 7 p.m. in Moscow.
The average FIDE (classical) rating of the duo is 2716, surpassing the previous highest-rated Death Match (Van Wely-Naiditsch averaged 2706 in Death Match 17).
GM Dmitry Andreikin -- FIDE 2722. The recent Candidate for the World Championship, Andreikin has become much more widely known around the chess world as of the last year. He qualified for the chance to challenge GM Magnus Carlsen by virtue of making it to the Finals of the 2013 FIDE World Cup.
Dmitry Andreikin (left) against Vladimir Kramnik in the 2013 FIDE World Cup Finals | Photo © Paul Truong
Despite being ranked 21st amongst the 138-player field, Andreikin got past lower players in the first three rounds (including the Vietnamese number two). He then upset GM Sergey Karjakin 3-1 in the fourth round and GM Peter Svidler in the Quarterfinals (themselves both in the Candidates’ Tournament). Eventually his run ended in the Finals as GM Vladimir Kramnik, yet another Candidate, won their four-game match 2.5-1.5.
The performance netted him a coveted spot in last month's 2014 Candidates’ Tournament. Despite being the lowest-rated, he acquitted himself adroitly. Andreikin played .500 chess, winning two and losing two en route to a third-place tie and a performance rating near 2800.
These two performances should not have surprised too many. He proved in the 2013 Tal Memorial that he can play with the big boys. He was the low-man there too but finished without any losses (his lone win, to Kramnik, helped him secure another tie for third). He finished just below the middle of the pack in the blitz, but that included wins over GMs Morozevich, Caruana, and Mamedyarov.
His biggest tournament win came in 2012 when he bested four other tied competitors in a playoff to win the Russian Championship.
Although he's never won the World Blitz Championship like his Death Match opponent, it is safe to say his blitz skills have some bite. Here in the 2010 event he borrows a trap that can also occur in the Three Knights Opening to win in only 10 moves!
You could rightly call him a World Champion also - he won the World Junior Championship in 2010!
GM Le Quang Liem -- FIDE 2710. The strongest-ever Vietnamese player is best known for winning the 2013 World Blitz Championship. He played 30 games over two days and finished with 20.5 points, just clear of three other strong GMs. FIDE's blitz ratings have not been downloadable for a while, but at last check he was over 2800!
Le Quang Liem (left) against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov at the 2013 World Blitz Championship | Photo © Kirill Merkuryev courtesy of FIDE
Le Quang Liem also anchored his Olympiad team to a big result at the last Olympiad in Istanbul. Vietnam finished 7th - a full 20 places ahead of their ranking. He finished with six wins and no losses, playing all but one round (Le Quang Liem's first rest in four Olympiad appearances - he's played 45 out of 46 possible rounds!). His performance rating of 2787 was helped by beating GM Michael Adams along the way.
He has the distinction of being the only player to have won the super strong Aeroflot Open twice. He also nearly won the 2011 Capablanca Memorial, losing only on tiebreak to GM Vassily Ivanchuk.
He now attends Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. His team there is actually much stronger than Vietnam's National Team! GMs Wesley So, Ray Robson, and Georg Meier (all Death Match graduates!) have destroyed collegiate competition this year. They won the 2013 Pan-American Team Championships without dropping a single game, and in fact only ceded five draws out of 24 contests. Then they repeated as champions of the Final Four of College Chess.
What better way to close out the introduction than to show an Olympiad win from Le Quang Liem, and against yet another Death Match veteran:
Tune in to Chess.com/TV on Saturday, May 3 at 11 a.m. Eastern (New York time, GMT -5), 8 a.m. Pacific (Los Angeles), 7 p.m. in Moscow. (NOTE: Time for match is still tentative due to player's schedules and different time zones.) Commentators IM Danny Rensch and GM Ben Finegold will commentate and show you how the Super-GMs do it. See if they can keep up with these blitz masters!